Defend the Right to Protest statement in solidarity with Baltimore protests
We stand with the protesters in Baltimore. Black people are courageously fighting back against police racism, state violence, and white supremacy. The protests are both legitimate and necessary. The killing of Freddie Gray is the latest injustice in a long history of everyday police brutality (http://data.baltimoresun.com/news/police-settlements/), deaths in custody, mass incarceration, and entrenched socio-economic racial inequality. The response by working class black people in Baltimore is the latest incarnation of a movement which has seen black people rise up against the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson and countless others in Ferguson, Oakland, New York and elsewhere: the #BlackSpring.
Despite the charges against six police officers, the state continues to attack the right of Black people to protest against injustice. Following a curfew and occupation by the National Guard, hundreds of protesters have been (and continue to be) arrested, and bail sums of up to $500000 have been set – more than the bail for the officers who killed Freddie Gray. The state repression of Black protests against injustice is on a continuum with the police violence that harasses and takes Black lives.
We call on all who oppose the injustice of police racism and brutality to support the protests in Baltimore and to help resist the repressive state response. That means providing material support where possible: such as money and support for bail, defence campaigns, and provisions for protests.
We demand the release of all those being held in custody, and for no charges to be brought against anyone for their part in the Baltimore uprising. We demand that the right of Black people to protest against state violence and racism be respected and supported.
In the UK Black communities also face racist policing, deaths in custody, and the state repression of protests against police injustice. The 2011 uprisings in response to the police killing of Mark Duggan were met with ferocious state repression with thousands sent to prison and subject to draconian punishments.
In May 2013 Julian Cole suffered similar injuries to Freddie Gray in an incident involving six police officers. He suffered a “hangman’s fracture” and is now paralysed and brain damaged. On the second anniversary we call on everyone to support Julian and his family in their struggle for justice. (https://colefamilytruthcampaign.wordpress.com) And we call on everyone to support all the families in the UK who’ve lost loved ones at the hands of the police, and all those engaged in the struggle against police violence and racism here.