[WSMDiscuss] The US aflame : May the Screams and Tears and Protests Shake the Very Conscience of This Nation (Rev Dr William J Barber II) / Minneapolis Bus Drivers Refuse to Transport George Floyd Protesters to Jail (Lauren Kaori Gurley)

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Sun May 31 18:14:20 CEST 2020

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Viruses in movement…, The US in movement…, The world in movement…

[In the US, it’s clear that there are many movements, and movements of movements, that are taking place and shape… In this post, two articles :

·      May the Screams and Tears and Protests Shake the Very Conscience of This Nation (Rev Dr William J Barber II)

·      Minneapolis Bus Drivers Refuse to Transport George Floyd Protesters to Jail (Lauren Kaori Gurley)

May the Screams and Tears and Protests Shake the Very Conscience of This Nation

If we want to reach a better place on the other side of this, we must refuse to be comforted too quickly

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II <https://www.commondreams.org/author/rev-dr-william-j-barber-ii>
https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/31/may-screams-and-tears-and-protests-shake-very-conscience-nation?cd-origin=rss&utm_term=AO&utm_campaign=Weekly%20Newsletter&utm_content=email&utm_source=Weekly%20Newsletter&utm_medium=Email <https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/31/may-screams-and-tears-and-protests-shake-very-conscience-nation?cd-origin=rss&utm_term=AO&utm_campaign=Weekly%20Newsletter&utm_content=email&utm_source=Weekly%20Newsletter&utm_medium=Email>

No one wants to see their community burn. But the fires burning in Minneapolis, just like the fire burning in the spirits of so many marginalized Americans today, are a natural response to the trauma black communities have experienced, generation after generation.
No one wants the fires – even activists on the ground have said this. But they have also shared how their non-violent pleas and protests have gone unnoticed for years as the situation has gotten out of hand. No one knows who and what is behind the violence, but we do know that countless activists, grassroots leaders and preachers were screaming non-violently long before now: “Change, America! Change, Minneapolis!” Rather than listen, many of those in power saw even their non-violent protest as an unwelcome development.

"If we take time to listen to this nation’s wounds, they tell us where to look for hope."

This is so often the case because many Americans struggle to imagine that our government’s policies and its long train of abuses demand radical transformation. Too many want to believe racism is merely caused by a few bad actors. We often turn racism into a spectacle, only considering the cruel legacy of racism when an egregious action escalates outrage to this level.

Black Americans have rarely been able to sustain such illusions. Deadly racism is always with us, and not only through police brutality. In the midst of the current pandemic we are painfully aware that our families bear a disproportionate burden of Covid-19 deaths. In some cities where racial data is available, we know that black people are six times as likely to die from the virus as their white counterparts. Even before Covid, large numbers of black Americans died because of the racial disparities in healthcare, which are systemic and not unintentional.

African Americans are three times more likely to die from particulate air pollution than our fellow Americans. The percentage of black children suffering from asthma is nearly double that of white people, and the death rate is 10 times higher. This is but a reflection of the fissures of inequality that run through every institution in our public life, where the black wealth gap, education gap and healthcare gap have persisted despite the civil rights movement, legal desegregation and symbolic affirmative action. We understand that the same mentality that will accept and defend the violence of armed officers against unarmed black people will also send black, brown and poor people into harm’s way during a pandemic in the name of “liberty” and “the economy”.

Many have cited Dr King to remind Americans that a riot is the language of the unheard. But I have been reflecting on the eulogy he offered when another man – a white man who came to Selma, Alabama, to work for voting rights—was brutally murdered by racist violence in 1965. At the funeral for James Reed, Dr King said it is not enough to ask who killed the victim in a case like the murder of George Floyd. Weak and unacceptable charges have been brought against the officer whose knee choked George Floyd <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/george-floyd>, staying on his neck for three minutes after he went unconscious, but no charges have been filed against the other officers who stood by and watched. Even still, dealing with who did the killing is not all that justice demands. Dr King said the question is not only who killed him, but also what killed him?

The systemic racism that killed George Floyd has taken untold souls from us for over 400 years. And it is killing the very possibility of American democracy today. I join those screaming that this is all screwed up, and it’s been screwed up far too long. But we are not screwed as long we have the consciousness and humanity to know what is right and wrong.

Those of us who have faced the lethal force of systemic racism have also learned something else in the American story. We can be wounded healers. We don’t have to be arbitrarily destructive. We can be determined to never accept the destruction of our bodies and dreams by any police, person or policy. We have learned that there is a force more powerful. When hands that once picked cotton have joined together with white hands and Native hands, brown hands and Asian hands, we have been able to fundamentally reconstruct this democracy. Slavery was abolished. Women did gain the right to vote. Labor did win a 40-hour work week and a minimum wage. The civil rights movement in the face of lynching and shooting did expand voting rights to African Americans.

If we take time to listen to this nation’s wounds, they tell us where to look for hope. The hope is in the mourning and the screams, which make us want to rush from this place. There is a sense in which right now we must refuse to be comforted too quickly. Only if these screams and tears and protests shake the very conscience of this nation –and until there is real political and judicial repentance—can we hope for a better society on the other side of this.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II  <https://www.commondreams.org/author/rev-dr-william-j-barber-ii>is national president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. His latest book is The Third Reconstruction: How A Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear <https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Third+Reconstruction%3A+How+A+Moral+Movement+is+Overcoming+the+Politics+of+Division+and+Fear>. Follow him on Twitter: @RevDrBarber <https://twitter.com/RevDrBarber>

Minneapolis Bus Drivers Refuse to Transport George Floyd Protesters to Jail

Organized labor throughout the city is banding together in solidarity against police violence in the aftermath of Floyd’s death

Lauren Kaori Gurley, on Vice <https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bv8zaw/minneapolis-bus-drivers-refuse-to-transport-george-floyd-protesters-to-jail>https://portside.org/2020-05-30/minneapolis-bus-drivers-refuse-transport-george-floyd-protesters-jail <https://portside.org/2020-05-30/minneapolis-bus-drivers-refuse-transport-george-floyd-protesters-jail> 

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police has sparked several days of protests, including the burning of a police precinct <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/protests-looting-erupt-again-minneapolis-area-following-death-george-floyd-n1216881> on Thursday night.

In solidarity with protestors, union bus drivers in Minneapolis signed a petition and refused to transport police officers <https://paydayreport.com/covid-19-strike-wave-interactive-map/> and arrested protestors to jail on Thursday, PayDay Report <https://paydayreport.com/covid-19-strike-wave-interactive-map/> first reported and independently confirmed by Motherboard. At one bus garage in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday evening, some workers refused to drive buses that were being dispatched to transport police officers.

“We are willing to do what we can to ensure our labor is not used to help the Minneapolis Police Department shut down calls for justice,” the petition reads <https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScpv6V1R2DVjUWulp1NQWP_o34OowQanGc0OCE6FL6PgmRnKA/viewform?fbclid=IwAR0gV533rbpGD_gCSIfVX1L619giJZtPdA1I92-XgvdLCVvqSmXRlJ4D5bE>. “For example, I am a bus driver with ATU 1005, and I urged people to call MetroTransit and the Governor the second I heard our buses and members were being organized to make mass arrests hours before the protests escalated.”

On Thursday, the city of Minneapolis shut down its light rail and bus services <https://www.startribune.com/metro-transit-halts-bus-light-rail-service-in-twin-cities-through-weekend/570838362/> out of concern for employee and rider safety.

More than 400 union workers, including Minneapolis postal workers, nurses, teachers, and hotel workers have signed the petition posted on the Facebook group Union Members for #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd <https://www.facebook.com/groups/926629131143248> pledging not to aid the policing of the protests with their labor, according to Adam Birch, a Minneapolis bus driver who wrote the petition.

“I was on my route on Wednesday evening and there was a message that came over transit control asking for a bus to transport police officers,” Birch told Motherboard. “I interpreted this as Minneapolis police department preparing for mass arrests so when I had a moment on a layover, I created a post on Facebook saying that I’m a metro transit bus driver, and I don’t feel comfortable assisting the Minneapolis police department to make arrests. It got a lot of reaction, which was surprising so I created a petition.”

Since the release of a video earlier this week showing an officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he died, unions and workers in Minneapolis, a city with a strong organized labor movement, have condemned the killing. Among them, Minneapolis’s teacher union <https://www.mft59.org/5-28-2020-release?fbclid=IwAR2icj-NkGe1tsNfrUY9EBOh8Br2KdR7wohF_wlY37G7WqrT671ozDOJ2vs> and the Awood Center <https://twitter.com/AwoodMpls/status/1265816030544363521>, which organizes Amazon warehouse workers in the area, have also issued statements condemning the killing as an act of racism.

“If we feel if something is unjust, then workers should have the right not to support the situation or provide their services,” Ryan Timlin, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, which represents the bus drivers and 2,500 public transportation workers in the Twin Cities, told Motherboard. “This was not a strike."

Many members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, which represents 2,500 public transportation workers in the Twin Cities, live in south Minneapolis, where Floyd lived and was killed and where recent protests have taken place.

“ATU members live with similar fears on a daily basis. ATU members face racism daily. Our members live in and work in neighborhoods where actions like this happen, and where this took place, now watched in horror across the globe,” a press statement from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said.

“In ATU, we have a saying: 'NOT ONE MORE' when dealing with driver assaults in some cases have led to members being murdered while doing their job," the union said. "We say 'NOT ONE MORE' execution of a black life by the hands of the police. NOT ONE MORE! JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD.”

The Minneapolis police department, which has a history of misconduct allegations and racist violence, is represented itself by a powerful union. The Minneapolis Police Union has continued to offer “warrior-style training” <https://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-police-union-offers-free-warrior-training-in-defiance-of-mayor-s-ban/509025622/?refresh=true> to any officers that want it, despite the city’s mayor putting a ban on the style of training last year, which was linked <https://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-police-union-offers-free-warrior-training-in-defiance-of-mayor-s-ban/509025622/?refresh=true> to the shooting of Philando Castile in 2016.

When the police shot and killed 32-year-old Castile in Minnesota, the local teacher’s union <https://www.startribune.com/teachers-join-activists-to-protest-castile-shooting/387511391/> took action to protest the death of Castile, who was a nutrition services supervisor, and 14-year member of the Teamsters Local 320, which also represents law enforcement officials in the Twin Cities.

Birch says the Facebook group Union Members for #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd  <https://www.facebook.com/groups/926629131143248>is organizing a coalition of union members to attend a protest in Minneapolis on Saturday.


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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