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A year since the police murder of George Floyd

 A year since the police murder of George Floyd

A year ago Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd Jr was murdered by Minneapolis Police in broad daylight, with Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes. Floyd pleaded for his life, repeatedly exclaiming "I can't breathe!" as he was handcuffed face down in the street and passers-by begged the police to stop.

A year since the police murder of George Floyd
Family members praying next to the pyre of a deceased COVID-19 person at a crematorium in Srinagar on May 25, 2021 (AP Photo / Dar Yasin)

The protests that followed George Floyd's death quickly gathered pace, from local unrest in Minneapolis to a wave of global protests demanding an end to police brutality. The protests were multi-ethnic and multinational. Protests have been reported on all inhabited continents, in more than 2,000 cities. In the United States alone, an estimated 15 to 26 million people participated in the protests at any given time, making them the largest in US history. Workers took to the streets of larger towns, and the protests spread to many small rural towns, mostly white, as well.

If the immediate spark of the mass protests was outrage at the epidemic of police killings in the United States, it expressed deeper social processes. Floyd's murder took place at a critical time in the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.

After handing over trillions of dollars to the banks at the end of March, the ruling class embarked on a systematic campaign to force workers back to work. At the same time, the ruling class response to the pandemic has dramatically intensified the prolonged decline in living standards for workers and young people, crushing levels of debt and the extreme growth of social inequalities.

The brutal response to the protests, spearheaded by the Trump administration, expressed fears of a wider social explosion. Cities have imposed curfews, while the White House and more than 30 states have deployed more than 96,000 troops from the National Guard and other military agencies. Police raged violently in American cities, under the supervision of Democrats and Republicans.

The Trump administration's response was an attempt to stage a presidential coup. A week after the murder, Trump gave a speech at the White House in which he threatened to invoke the insurgency law to deploy the military on national soil, and where he told governors he It was a “movement” that had to be “neutralized”.

The Democrats, meanwhile, while supporting police repression, intervened to hijack the protests and steer them along racialist lines. According to Democrats and their pseudo-left affiliates, the killings by the police had nothing to do with social class. Rather, it was a question of "systematic racism", for which the police as a state institution, but also the population as a whole were responsible. It was a high-profile and well-funded campaign, with companies donating tens of millions to organizations like Black Lives Matter.

There is no doubt that racism plays a role in many murders committed by the police. The most backward and brutal social elements are cultivated in the ranks of the "special detachments of armed men" whose task is to defend the interests of the ruling capitalist elite.

However, the disproportion with which racial minorities are killed is primarily due to the high level of poverty among racial minority groups. The common point that unites the overwhelming majority of those killed by the police is that they come from poor or working-class backgrounds, whatever the color of their skin.

In the year since Floyd's murder, more than 1,000 people have been killed by police, the majority of whom were white. Whites represent the largest number of people killed by police each year.

On Monday, nearly a year after Floyd's death, a recently released Tennessee video shows Marshall County Jail officers kneeling on the back of a man tied up for nearly four minutes. William Jennette, a 48-year-old white man, died in the altercation on May 6, 2020, just days before police murdered Floyd.

In the video, police are heard mocking Jennette as he pleads with officers that he can't breathe. We hear him shout: “Help! They are going to kill me! ” and scream that he can't breathe. One of them replied, "You shouldn't be able to breathe, you asshole." The Marshall County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Jennette's death a homicide, but a grand jury refused to charge any of the officers involved.

The capitalist media of the time did not cover Jennette's horrific death because her death - caused almost exactly the same way as that of George Floyd - does not fit the narrative that police violence is a problem of racism. systemic rooted in American society. The New York Times and other mainstream media hardly ever report on the murders of white workers and youth by police.

As the World Socialist Web Site explained, the attempt to make police brutality a purely racial issue, to the point of ignoring white victims, only serves to mask the class issues that are the real cause. of the epidemic of police violence in America.

The effort to hide class issues aims to block what is necessary to oppose police violence: its link to the development of a movement in the working class uniting workers of all ethnicities and nationalities. It is on this sole basis that it is possible to oppose inequality, oppression and all forms of backward thinking, including the promotion of racism by the ruling class to divide the workers.

The prevalence of police violence in the United States is the product of a society torn by class antagonisms, characterized by unprecedented levels of social inequality. The concentration of wealth in the hands of the upper echelons of society has increased massively over the past year: 412 new billionaires were born in 2020.

What has changed in a year? Democrats - who now run the White House and both houses of Congress - have promised workers reform, but police have continued to murder people at the same rate since 2013, averaging three people a day. The widely-exaggerated 'George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020' bill, which was supposed to introduce policies to hold law enforcement accountable, has lost momentum in Congress and is set to exceed Tuesday's deadline set by President Joe Biden for passage of a Police Reform Bill.

The Biden government once again demonstrates that Democrats, just as much as Republicans, are ruthless defenders of the capitalist state and its police.

But there is also another development: the initial growth of an explosive working class opposition to the policies of the ruling class in the form of the struggles of auto workers, educators, health workers, workers. steel, miners and other sections of the working class who are trying to free themselves from the control of the corporate unions.

The pandemic has had a huge radical impact on the consciousness of workers and young people of all ethnicities and nationalities. It is this social force, mobilized around a socialist program, which constitutes the real basis of opposition to the epidemic of police murders in the United States.

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