Student - December 17, 2014

Meanwhile in the United States

Meanwhile in the United States
In the news: The American government is investigating whether 38-year-old Louis Head can be charged for incitement to riot after
he called ‘burn this bitch down’ on 24 November when a police officer was found not guilty of the murder of his stepson Michael
Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This led to major unrest.

Commentary by Elizabeth Lara from Los Angeles, doing an MSc in Leisure, Tourism and Environment.

‘It is fascinating how “well” the justice system functions when a black man is on trial. That shows how fundamentally racist the American government is. The law no longer allows explicit segregation like in the past, but structurally embedded social inequality can still be found at all levels in society. The fact that Louis Head’s emotional statement is apparently a crime while shooting an innocent boy is not shows that the police state is more concerned with protecting private property than human lives. It is a pity that the media only shows pictures of houses on fire and damaged cars because this deprives the riots of their legitimacy. Because this revolt is actually a legitimate response to a long history of exclusion from a justice system that provides more protection for capital than for people. Labour rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights – all these movements would never have got so far without riots.

Peaceful protest is a luxury. You can only use a petition to ask for change if your life is not in immediate danger. Also, these riots are not about one isolated incident. There have been other cases recently in which a white police officer got away with murdering a black man. And when people of colour are not being shot down in the streets, they are being stuffed into prisons or housed in the city districts with the worst services and poorest quality schools. The main strategy in protests is to disrupt the normal course of affairs. You can do that by blocking freeways, organizing die-ins or simply by not going shopping. We don’t want this order in our country: “no justice, no peace!” At UC Davis, where I studied, students are changing their entire daily routine to support a lengthy occupation of the campus. If I was there now, I’d be preparing a huge pan of food. Not to eat at home but to take to campus to share with whoever is there.’