On 25 May 2020, George Floyd was killed with brutal violence inflicted by a police officer who forcefully blocked his windpipe by kneeling on his neck for minutes, while his colleagues stood there and watched. “I can’t breathe” were Floyd’s last words.
Originally published by Indymedia NL.
Words that remind us of the Eric Garner’s police murder in New York in 2014. On March 12, nurse Breonna Taylor was shot dead at her home by police when they were “looking for a suspect.” On February 23, #AhmaudArbery was murdered by a former cop and his son while out jogging. On May 27, Tony McDade, a black Trans man, was murdered by police in Florida. These black Americans are only the most recent in a long list of victims of systematic institutional racism in the US. All across the country, people are rising up against racist violence. On 1 June 2020, a protest event will also be organized in the Netherlands in solidarity with the movement in the US and against anti-black violence in the Netherlands. Throughout the week, other demonstrations will also be organized in different cities by different individuals and groups, including a manifestation in The Hague on Tuesday.
Institutional anti-black racism
Violence in the USA has been a problem for decades and has been widely condemned by both people and the media. Institutional racist violence against black people is however not only an American issue, it is also a recurring problem in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.
On 28 June 2020, it will be exactly 5 years since #MitchHenriquez was murdered by police brutality in the Hague. The same police force refused to fire a police officer who attacked a Moroccan-Dutch man and gave himself the nickname ‘Morrocan purger’, instead the whistleblower was removed from her position. For years, The Dutch Tax office targeted people for fraud inspection based on their nationality. Numerous studies have shown proof of structural racism on the job market, in education, in the police force and other institutions.
The past years institutional racism against black people has been particularly expressed in the response to peaceful protests organized by Kick Out Zwarte Piet. The last words spoken by #GeorgeFloyd “I can’t breathe” are reminiscent of the excessive police aggression used during the arrest of Jerry Afriyie during the parade in Gouda in 2014. The mass arrests in Rotterdam in 2016 made a lasting impression due to violence police used against black protesters. In the years after, there were repeated transgressions against of anti-black-pete protesters, both by the police and pro-Pete defenders. The attack against the national manifestation by #KOZP was a low point in Dutch democracy and the pretense of equal rights for Black people. Although only a few suspects were arrested, no charges have been pressed.
The failure to enforce the constitutional laws against racism within government and society is a recurring theme. The chief of the national police issued an employment guarantee for officers that engaged in excessive violence on the job. Amber alerts for missing black children are issued too late. Black children are more quickly framed as dangerous, are confronted with police violence at an earlier age and their rights to psycho-social safety and equal treatment are systematically violated. In the Carribean part of the Dutch Kingdom, black people are treated as second-class citizens.
Anti-blackness in Europe
At the borders of ‘Fort Europe’ thousands of people – predominantly black people – have lost their lives because of the lethal immigration policy supported by the Dutch state. An immigration policy that moreover gives illegalized people prey to exploitation by working in European construction, farming and service industries. Black illegalized people are systematically charged and incarcerated with no regard for human rights, and illegally deported to unsafe countries. We can no longer look away from the (lethal) consequences of institutional anti-black racism in the Netherlands and in Europe. Black Lives Matter in the Netherlands and Europe Too.
Keti Koti month: racism is the heritage of colonialism and slavery
Both in the USA and the Netherlands, anti-black racism is rooted in a long history of colonialism, slavery and imperialism. On June 1 2020, the yearly Keti Koti month is opened in Amsterdam with a manifestation on Dam Square. After all, the city of Amsterdam was co-owner of the colony of Suriname and the head office of the Society of Surinam was located on Dam Square. Because of the corona crisis, this opening of the Keti Koti month has been cancelled. Due to the current uprising of worldwide anti-black racism we still invite you to join a protest action on this important day. We call all people to show solidarity with the protesters in the USA and to take a stand against institutional racism in the Netherlands and Europe.
When? 1 June 2 2020
Where? Dam, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
*** Safety precautions 1.5 meter protest: we are aware that the corona crisis is not over yet. Although the number of infections has dropped, we call for all participants to wear a mask or face protection and maintain 1.5 meter distance at all times. If you have any symptoms, stay home! People who are in a potential risk grou can follow the protest manifestation through our livestream.
*** We aim for a peaceful protest. We are not inciting violent activities, riots, or other forms of protest that can lead to undesirable provocation and aggression. Be mindful of the safety of the other people protesting, and their close ones who are counting on their safe return. We however do not distance ourselves from the other forms of dissent being expressed in the USA. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: ‘A riot is the language of the unheard’.
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