The surge in violence against people of color in the US is a systemic problem rooted in the legacy of slavery and legalized segregation in the country, a US-based journalist and political analyst said.
In an interview with Press TV, Dr. Abayomi Azikwe held that the police practices employed in the US today have their origins in the slave patrols of the 19th century that were designed to keep incarcerated Africans under the control of white landowners, merchants and officials.
“The holding of the (Derek Chauvin) trial in Minneapolis has inflamed tensions among African Americans and other anti-racists along with creating a social backlash by the right-wing and the police forces,” he said, referring to the ongoing trial of the former US police officer in the murder of George Flyod.
The high-profile televised trial entered its third week Monday, barely hours after a young Black man was shot dead by a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb, triggering spontanerous protests.
Dr. Azikwe, who is the editor of Pan-African News Wire, said the evidence against Chauvin is “overwhelming”, but it remains to be seen if he is convicted on the second and third degree murder charges as well as manslaughter.
“Even if Chauvin is found guilty by the jury, it will not transform the racist character of policing in the US,” he asserted, calling for “drastic reforms” and “reconstruction of a public safety apparatus” that is committed to “protecting the communities they patrol rather than terrorizing them”.
Commenting on largescale protests that broke out in Brooklyn Center, a bustling suburb north of Minneapolis, after a 20-year-old Black man Daunte Wright was shot dead by cops at a traffic stop on Sunday, he said these “social dynamics will continue to unfold in 2021.”
To improve the situation that is becoming increasingly stifling for vulnerable minorties in the US, Dr. Azikwe said the US President Joe Biden must “speak forcefully against police terrorism” being unleashed on hapless black and brown communities.
“The US Congress should pass pending legislation aimed at ending police misconduct in all its forms,” he remarked. “Otherwise, the police killings of civilians will continue sparking more mass demonstrations and urban rebellions.”
The veteran journalist, who champions human rights issues in the US, said the real force behind proliferation of handguns and automatic weapons in the US is the arms industry that “earns billions in profits from the military, police and the broader population.”
The failure to pass gun control laws in the country that continues to report mass shootings, he added, is the “institutional racism fostered by the ruling class.”
“Many whites feel strongly that they should own a personal arsenal in fear of a revolt by the oppressed. These views are often held by white supremacists and neo-fascists who are well armed,” Dr. Azikwe said.
He maintained that only a “structural transformation of the US state” can end police brutality and racist vigilante violence against people of color and others “who refuse to accept their hateful ideology and politics.”
The debate over police brutality toward people of color in the US was revived following Floyd’s murder in May 2020, which gave fresh impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement at the global level.
Besides alarmingly surging violence against African Americans, there has also been a spate of attacks on Asian Americans in recent years, which activists have mainly attributed to former US President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric.
An unclassified report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in November 2020 noted a staggering rise in hate crimes in the US, with Black people at the receiving end mostly.