... the other Black experience

NYPD infiltrating BLM confirms that U.S. authorities are hellbent on squashing Black liberation

On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the NYPD had infiltrated a group of Black Lives Matter organizers and accessed their communications. "Undercover officers in the New York police department infiltrated small groups of Black Lives Matter activists and gained access to their text messages," the report read, further explaining that the records were produced in response to a freedom of information lawsuit by law firm Stecklow & Thompson.

The news confirms what many activists have feared all along, that authorities have been working meticulously to dismantle the Movement for Black Lives from the inside. Often dismissed as nothing more than conspiracy theory, this fear is in fact rooted in a legacy of similar covert activity by local and federal law enforcement bodies alike that usually only comes to light quietly many years later, if at all. The most obvious example of this being COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram), a series of (often illegal) surveillance and infiltration projects conducted by the FBI aimed at discrediting and disrupting American political organizations. Among the most famous targets of COINTELPRO were Martin Luther King, Jr.–whose phones were wiretapped and reputation pro-actively smeared–and the Blank Panther Party, an organization that was effectively crushed in large part due to these underhanded efforts.

By Hari Ziyad*, AFROPUNK Writer

In 1969, 21-year-old Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, was assassinated in his sleep during a raid by the Chicago Police Department in conjunction with the FBI. Showing remarkable promise as an organizer for racial justice, Hampton was targeted early on in his organizing career for surveillance. Before it was raided, the structure of Hampton's apartment was relayed by a mole planted in his office who also slipped barbiturates in the organizer's drink the night of his murder. Although an investigation found that police fired over ninety shots while the Panthers only shot once (probably in defense), Hampton's death was ruled a justifiable homicide by the inquest.

The four centuries in which American police have been perfecting the violent oppression of Black communities is well-documented. On top of the infiltration of Black freedom movements and organizations, there have been countless studies showing how Black people are more likely to be viewed as older and less innocent than they actually are in courts of law, are more likely to be seen as dangerous, more likely to receive harsher punishment for the same crime, and more likely to be killed by the police. Despite all of this evidence, there is hardly any way to prove misdeeds by authorities because so many find comfort in giving law-enforcement the benefit of the doubt even though they already benefit from the way "proof" is legally established in the first place. The alternative of an abolition-based resistance being so often accepted to be unthinkable, many are content to lay back and "let the law do its job," even though the job of the law has been proven to be undermining Black freedom projects by any means necessary.

This is why abolition-based perspectives and real alternatives to this system of policing are imperative to highlight and propel. The fact is, a world where safety is not built on the backs of Black people is not impossible, and there are many people and organizations working toward that future. At some point, the only people asking for more evidence that this law enforcement system cannot work for Black people will be those who won't be satisfied by any evidence at all. And we should also recognize how, for many, that point has already passed.

*Hari Ziyad is a New York based storyteller and writer for AFROPUNK. They are also the editor-in-chief of RaceBaitR, deputy editor of Black Youth Project, and assistant editor of Vinyl Poetry & Prose. You can follow them on Twitter @hariziyad.

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Comment by theblackjacobins on April 6, 2017 at 7:02pm

BLM is an LGBT organization. . . while Our Black lives do matter regardless of our sexual preferences, political affiliaations and life choices, an organization is NOT the vehicle of our 'liberation' . . . we are Black first, and Lawful American Citizens at a close second. . . only with unity on this account, can we properly convey our Birthright as Americans, to stolen property under "color of law" that set the whole wheel of Black Oppression in motion. The only distinction between you and I is that which you choose to inject Fam. Laser focus, to Honor and Integrity of what was lost since the first dock of the first slave ship, and the subsequent four hundred Years, must steel our laser-like focus. Now, more than any other time before.

Comment by theblackjacobins on April 6, 2017 at 6:55pm

Do any of you actually read Wikileaks?

Look, the only "Black Liberation" any of us stand to regard is either "Lawful recovery that the Black descendants of the American Negro slaves be made "more whole under our laws" despite the FOUR TORTIOUS centuries we’ve suffered arbitrary subjugation, unjust economic terrorism, Property violations of stolen Black labor, under chattel laws, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow evincing "actual, circumstantial and explicit disparity" based in significant part upon protected characteristics . . .Our injuries define exactly, a Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 litigation. Many Afro-punks might necessarily recall, the Law referred to as a § 1983 litigation, was enacted on Apr 20 1871 as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. This Law was also briefly regarded at the time, as the Ku Klux Klan Act (certainly not a flattering designation), as a legal remedy for the unconstitutional abuses oft committed in the southern states) . . We should all apprise ourselves, this Act/Law was intended by the Legislature to provide a PRIVATE remedy for a violation of federal law. All Black descendants of the American slaves need to understand THIS law in particular. . . often in cases of abuse by state actors performing discretionary functions, those Public Defenders are too burdened to see the cross complaint as our lawful right. . . allowing an eager District Attorney to make short work of their Client, an egregious tactical error is lost and many of us Blacks in the Diaspora, are lost in the translation.


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