Worldwide attention has been focused on the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black youth, by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida on Feb. 26. 45 days after the local police department refused to arrest Zimmerman on the charge of murder, Zimmerman turned himself in to authorities after national media coverage looked into the case; various petitions/signature gathering events; dozens of global demonstrations and marches; and the shake-up of various officials and the appointment of a special prosecutor.
This scenario is unfortunately the norm and not an anomaly in the U.S. When it comes to the murder of Black people by law enforcement and racist vigilantes, tremendous amounts of resources, energy and pressure must be applied simply to initiate the process of holding individuals accountable for their crimes.
Within the United States historically, local law enforcement agencies and vigilante hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan have operated as parallel organizations and as “mutually reinforcing types of organizations.” In his book Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America, author and activist Kristian Williams writes that “… historically, police offer a degree of validation to Klan activity … by refusing to treat racist violence as a crime. At times the police have supplied the institutional nucleus around which vigilante activity could orbit.”
Since the killing of Trayvon Martin, research compiled by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement has shown an epidemic of at least 23 Black men and women who have been murdered by local law enforcement, security personnel, and self-proclaimed “keepers of the peace.” In all, over 40 Black women and men have been killed by these forces since January 1, 2012. Within the U.S., murder – the unlawful killing of human beings – is usually determined by a jury in a court of law however very few law enforcement personnel have ever been charged with murder while performing their jobs. Police murder is simply not considered a crime.
To address this epidemic of police murder, it is imperative that the Obama Administration immediately implement a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice. This national plan of action must consist of 1) a national database to document the killing of Black people by the police; 2) eliminate racial profiling; and 3) ending the policies of mass incarceration targeting Black people.
“There is only one way to address the upsurge of racist violence being committed against Black people, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, and immigrants in this country”, says Kali Akuno, organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, “and that is for the Obama administration to implement a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice that addresses all levels of government and demands compliance with all the provisions of the CERD treaty. All the resources being used to enforce racially-biased policies like S-Comm (Secure Communities) or stop and frisk throughout the country can just as easily be used in fact to end racial violence and discrimination.”
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,(ICERD, or more commonly, CERD), is an international treaty designed to protect individuals from discrimination based on race, whether that discrimination is intentional, or is the result of seemingly neutral policies. The United States ratified CERD in 1994 and is therefore bound by all provisions of the treaty. The National Plan of Action would provide the Obama administration with the means to implement the general recommendations of the CERD. National Plans of Action for Racial Justice are a product of the World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
Currently in the U.S., there exists no independent, national human rights institution that could serve as a check on domestic human rights abuses. A National Plan of Action for Racial Justice should pave the way for the establishment of such an institution that would be in accordance with United Nations principles that the U.S. has already accepted.
Additionally, no national, independent mechanisms are currently established for the monitoring of police abuses within the United States. Given the history of racial antagonisms in the U.S. and along the border with Mexico, a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice must make its priority the reporting of police brutality and excessive use of force; that the allegations are independently, promptly and thoroughly investigated; and that the perpetrators are prosecuted and appropriately held to a count.
We are calling on all those who genuinely seek justice for Trayvon Martin; all those who truly want a concrete “next step” to prevent future Trayvon Martins, to join us in this demand to hold the United States government accountable for its failure to fully address the systemic problem of institutionalized racism.
We are calling for people of goodwill across the nation to endorse the demand for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and its allies will be delivering a petition to the Obama administration in June demanding that it implement a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice. “It is time that the US government play by the same rules and standards that it demands of other nations around the world”, says Kali Akuno. “The US government must respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of everyone person under its jurisdiction to ensure that there are No More Trayvon Martin’s, and we intend on demanding compliance to ensure that it does so.”
For more information about the Petition for a National Plan of Action visit http://mxgm.org/trayvon-martin-is-all-of-us/.
For more background information on What A National Plan of Action for Racial Justice is visit http://mxgm.org/the-national-plan-of-action-for-racial-justice-short-explanation-of-what-it-is/.