Dec 08 2012

We Charge Genocide…

Just a couple of days ago, I learned about two more incidents of police violence against black people. In one case, a teenage boy is said to have shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police car; it is the second such documented incident this year. In another case, a 55 year old black man was paralyzed & claims that his injuries were sustained from a police beating. The police say that he fell.

It has long been open season on black people in this country. As the gatekeepers for the State, police officers are the enforcers of oppression. There is a sense of hopelessness among many that this extra-judicial maiming and killing of black people is inevitable & unending. For some, these incidents of police violence are part of a larger genocidal regime against black people in the U.S.

In fact, in 1951, a group of U.S. citizens filed a petition at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland charging the government with genocide against black people. William Patterson, Chairman of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), introduced the petition with these words:

Out of the inhuman black ghettos of American cities, out of the cotton plantations of the South, comes this record of mass slayings on the basis of race, of lives deliberately warped and distorted by the willful creation of conditions making for premature death, poverty and disease. It is a record that calls aloud for condemnation, for an end to these terrible injustices that constitute a daily and ever-increasing violation of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The petition titled “We Charge Genocide” was delivered to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights. It documented 153 racial killings and other human rights abuses from 1945-1951. The following is a summary of the evidence that is presented in the petition to the UN:

There was a time when racist violence had its center in the South. But as the Negro people spread to the north, east and west seeking to escape the southern hell, the violence, impelled in the first instance by economic motives, followed them, its cause also economic. Once most of the violence against Negroes occurred in the countryside, but that was before the Negro emigrations of the twenties and thirties. Now there is not a great American city from New York to Cleveland or Detroit, from Washington, the nation’s capital, to Chicago, from Memphis to Atlanta or Birmingham, from New Orleans to Los Angeles, that is not disgraced by the wanton killing of innocent Negroes. It is no longer a sectional phenomenon.

Once the classic method of lynching was the rope. Now it is the policeman’s bullet. To many an American the police are the government, certainly its most visible representative. We submit that the evidence suggests that the killing of Negroes has become police policy in the United States and that police policy is the most practical expression of government policy.

Our evidence is admittedly incomplete. It is our hope that the United Nations will complete it. Much of the evidence, particularly of violence, was gained from the files of Negro newspapers, from the labor press, from the annual reports of Negro societies and established Negro year books. A list is appended.

But by far the majority of Negro murders are never recorded, never known except to the perpetrators and the bereaved survivors of the victim. Negro men and women leave their homes and are never seen alive again. Sometimes weeks later their bodies, or bodies thought to be theirs and often horribly mutilated, are found in the woods or washed up on the shore of a river or lake. This is a well known pattern of American culture. In many sections of the country police do not even bother to record the murder of Negroes. Most white newspapers have a policy of not publishing anything concerning murders of Negroes or assaults upon them. These unrecorded deaths are the rule rather than the exception—thus our evidence, though voluminous, is scanty when compared to the actuality.

You can read the opening statement of the lengthy (nearly 200 pages) petition here. In my opinion, It is well-past time for us to submit an updated petition charging black genocide to the United Nations…