Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Trayvon Martin, Wendell Allen, Justin Sipp: One Month Later. Still No Justice? Still No Peace!

RIP Justin Sipp spotted at the Moonwalk in downtown New Orleans.
It has been over a month since Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen were murdered. It has been almost 2 months since George Zimmerman put a bullet through the chest of Trayvon Martin. In all three cases, there have still been no arrests, though in all 3 cases, the names of the people who murdered these young African-Americans are known to everyone.

Why is our system so afraid to use it's own criminal justice system to put the shooters on trial in a public court to determine whether they're guilty of a crime or not?
That is the only thing the families of these 3 dead young men are asking for. They are not asking for a summary execution, even though that was exactly the level of respect their sons received. They refuse to relinquish their humanity and lower themselves to the level of brutality that those who killed their sons stooped to.
This system is afraid of putting cops and racist neighborhood watch captains on trial because it would send the signal to both the blue-uniformed and civilian variety of racist vigilantes that this country does care about the victims of their violence, and that their paranoid, racist violence against young black men will not go unquestioned.

The problem with doing that, though, is that for hundreds of years, such violence has gone unquestioned. From the whipping and murder of slaves, to the lynching of blacks during Jim Crow, to the massive violence of the prison industrial complex, violence against those most oppressed in our society has always been disregarded. In fact, it has been recognized by those in power as necessary to maintain their control over those with the least reason to believe in the "American Dream" (because for the most exploited people in this country, it's always really been more of an American Nightmare).

So the system, which relies on the allegiance of those who are offered scraps of power and privilege (badges, guns, lower unemployment rates, less stops by the police while driving, lighter sentences in court, easier access to education, better mortgage terms, access to home ownership, etc...) in exchange for the racist, classist violence they inflict on people they otherwise should have a common class alliance with in a capitalist society, shows that in a time of economic hardship, the system cannot afford to have whites questioning whether they will continue to be afforded a relatively less oppressed position than black Americans.

If white cops begin to think they will not be treated "like the heroes they are" and instead "like common criminals" when they kill unarmed teenagers, they might begin to question why they have an allegiance to this capitalist social order -- an order that keeps them obeying orders from the rich as much as it gives them power to give orders to the poor -- at all.

They might question why they obey orders to throw crying mothers out of their homes when they can't pay the rent or the mortgage, instead of having allegiance to other working and middle class people. People who, like themselves, are mostly debt slaves, one missed paycheck away from disaster, and yet are still better off than many people in New Orleans who can't even get the "opportunity" from creditors to be a debt slave, but are stuck struggling to get by day to day in poverty.

That is the reason there is such stalwart systemic resistance to prosecuting George Zimmerman, and an even greater resistance to prosecuting the 3 cops who murdered Justin Sipp or NOPD officer Josh Colclough, who murdered Wendell Allen. This system is scared of the Occupy movement and the emerging movement against racism, police violence, and the New Jim Crow combining into to a united movement of people demanding racial, social, and economic justice and freedom. They are scared we will take our communities back. They are terrified we will take their power away and put it in the hands of the people.

That moment, that movement, that unstoppable force, when we rise like lions from our slumber, when any injustice, anywhere, to any person, is enough for us to force the gears of this system to cease their insufferable grind,  is already beginning to formulate itself:

While there is no justice for these 3 young men, whose whole lives laid ahead of them -- marriages they will never experience, children they will never get to be so proud to bring home after they're born, children they'll never get to bring to a park or a basketball game, children they'll never get to see graduate high school and start adult lives, siblings they'll never get to celebrate another birthday party with, parents they'll never get to say thank you to one last time for all they've done for them -- while there is no justice for them, there will be no peace for those in power. 

In Sanford, FL courageous people staged a sit-in at Sanford Police Headquarters, and the cowardly cops were so scared that they closed the station down for the day rather than be seen arresting those blocking the doors. Anonymous individuals also shot up an un-manned Sanford police cruiser. People have also marched and protested around the nation for Trayvon, spoken out publicly, and created music in his honor. Black writers from New Orleans have also written eloquently about Trayvon's case, while also helping publicize the police murders in New Orleans to a national audience. Others have made the connections that need to be made between the New Jim Crow and Trayvon's case.

In New Orleans, LA the momentum also continues to build:
-Prior to Justin and Wendell's murders, in response to the Danziger and Henry Glover cases, police brutality of the Krewe of Eris, and continuing arrests of many friends on bullshit charges for everything from busking to drunk in public, anarchists had already been organizing noise demonstrations outside OPP, and had held an anti-police brutality march through the French Quarter.
-Statues celebrating racists were scandalously vandalized in honor of Trayvon, Wendell, and Justin.
-The 400 person protest march at City Hall was an incredible show of force.
-Wendell Allen's family continues to protest periodically at Canal St. and Broad St.
-The Allen family made a video about their son's murder.
-More posters and graffiti for Wendell and Justin continue to go up around the city.
-The monthly "Slingshots, Anyone?" column in AntiGravity Magazine focuses on the ongoing struggle (on pg. 5).
-A powerful video about Wendell Allen, Ramarley Graham, and Rekia Boyd was recently created for spreading awareness on YouTube.
-This Sunday, April 15th, a stop on the Ole & Nu Style Fellas second line is going to be a memorial to Trayvon, Wendell, and Justin. It will be at the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home at 1615 Saint Philip St.

Further actions are being planned, and no one is stopping until Justin and Wendell's killers face a trial in front of the public like anyone else responsible for the violent death of another New Orleanian would face. If we have to do civil disobedience like in Sanford, we will. If we have to turn this city upside down, like they did for Oscar Grant, we will.  
The ability for an NOPD cop to murder a young black man without consequences ends here and now!
A second line passes by RIP Justin Sipp graffiti in New Orleans.
This is not over. Far from it. Make sure the city knows it!  
The city can end this cresting tidal wave of rage at injustice at any time by putting on trial the people who shot bullets through the flesh of Wendell Allen, Justin Sipp, and his brother Earl Sipp so we can all hear exactly what the hell happened when these 3 young black men were shot. 

Why won't they have a trial? 
What are they hiding?

They better hurry up, before more of us start to question whether they are interested in protecting and serving any of us. Some of us have already figured out the answer to that question.

"An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  
--MLK, Jr.


  1. Update: Zimmerman has been charged with 2nd degree murder and has been arrested.

    Let's hope he recognizes what he did was terrible and wrong and vows to spend the rest of his life talking to neighborhood watch groups and police officers about the problems with racial profiling and the war on young black men.