In The News #bigisms #BlackLivesMatter
Violence in Minneapolis is rooted in the history of racist policing in America
Keisha N. Blain, May 30, 2020, The Washington Post
Protests erupted in Minneapolis on Thursday following the police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man. The widely circulated video of Floyd’s arrest Monday showed a white police officer pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck. Reminiscent of New York police killing Eric Garner, Floyd yelled “I can’t breathe” in anguish as the officer ignored his pleas. Floyd’s death came two months after a Louisville police officer fatally shot Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, during a raid of her apartment.
As the virus ravages black communities at a disproportionately higher rate than other racial groups, black people must continue to contend with another threat: police violence. Although both problems are the consequences of structural racism in the United States, the police violence on display today runs deep in the fabric of American life and will likely outlast the threat of the coronavirus.
The deaths of Floyd and Taylor follow a tragic pattern of racist state-sanctioned violence that has shaped U.S. history for centuries. During slavery, black people’s lives were circumscribed by organized groups of white men who policed the enslaved. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the emergence of “Black Codes,” which curtailed black rights and mobility, emboldened nascent police forces and white vigilante groups to carry out violent acts under the guise of “law and order.” In cities across the nation, black people were targeted by police forces, arrested at higher rates than their white counterparts and, in Southern states, trapped in a system of bondage that mirrored slavery.
The Conspiracy Theories That Fueled the Civil War
Annika Neklason, May 29, 2020, The Atlantic
In the months leading up to the Civil War, fear festered in southern living rooms and legislative chambers. Newspapers reported that the newly elected president, Abraham Lincoln, held a “hatred of the South and its institutions [that would] cause him to use all the power at hand to destroy our country” and that his vice president, Hannibal Hamlin, was not only sympathetic to the plight of black Americans but was himself part black—“what we call,” the editor of one Charleston, South Carolina, paper stated, “a mulatto.” Warnings circulated in pamphlets and the press that an antislavery federal government would inspire a wave of violent slave revolts and then allow the South to burn, rather than stepping in to quell resistance. Texas’s declaration of secession asserted that northern abolitionists had for decades been sending “emissaries” to “bring blood and carnage to our firesides.” Georgia’s insisted that the “avowed purpose” of Republican leaders was to “subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes [and] our altars.”
These claims were not relegated to the fringes of southern society; they emanated from its center. The most powerful people and institutions in the region voiced and acted upon them as fact. But they were unfounded: conspiracy theories, born of white supremacy and the desire to justify and maintain slavery. Even as they helped shield the antebellum South against the rising abolitionism in the North and in other countries, these theories deepened sectional divisions and made the question of slavery all but impossible to settle peacefully. They helped fuel the deadliest war in the nation’s history. And their violent legacy has lingered across centuries.
Citizen’s Arrest: Racist at its Roots
Alan J. Singer, May 24, 2020, History News Network
The video-recorded murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black man killed by two white vigilantes while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia, has focused attention on Georgia’s Civil War era Citizen’s Arrest law.
The current version of Georgia Citizen’s Arrest Law, 17-4-60 (2010), states: “A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.” A private individual who makes a “citizen’s arrest” is instructed “without any unnecessary delay” to “take the person arrested before a judicial officer . . . or deliver the person and all effects removed from him to a peace officer of this state.”
Georgia’s laws were formally codified in 1861 by Thomas Cobb, a lawyer and slaveholder who died at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. It was the first formal codification of state common law in the United States. It was also racist. In the original code, African Americans were assumed to be enslaved unless they could prove free status. Georgia’s Citizen’s Arrest statues were first entered into the Law Code of Georgia in 1863.
‘The other slavery’ a part of Utah history
Sarah Barringer Gordon and Kevin Waite, May 30, 2020, The Salt Lake Tribune
Four hundred years since the first captive Africans were dragged onto the shores of North America, interest in the history of slavery is at a new high. Media and scholarly debate has proliferated in the wake of the 1619 Project, among other major works. Yet the centuries-long tradition of Native American enslavement — what one historian calls “the other slavery” — remains a blind spot.
Slavery in North America predated the arrival of European colonizers. Indigenous peoples across the continent raided rival polities and seized captives, who they treated as sources of labor or even as adopted family members. But after the European invasions of North America in the 16th and 17th centuries, trade in indigenous slaves became commodified and endemic. By the end of the 19th century, historian Andrés Reséndez estimates, somewhere between 2.5 to 5 million Native Americans had fallen victim to enslavement.
Utah played an overlooked role in this history. As the first Latter-day Saints carved settlements from Utah’s arid landscape in the mid-19th century, they supplemented their own hard work with hundreds of coerced Indian laborers, mostly children. These practices persisted long after the 13th Amendment (1865) outlawed slavery in the United States.
50 Years After New Haven's 'May Day,' Yale Alum Reflects On The Role Of Black Student Leaders (audio)
Carmen Baskauf, May 26, 2020, WNPR Radio
On May 1, 1970, tens of thousands of protesters gathered on the New Haven Green and the campus of Yale University. They came in support of Black Panther Party leaders Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins, who were on trial in New Haven for the murder of a fellow Black Panther, even though several other Panthers had already pleaded guilty to the murder.
Many New Haven residents feared violence would break out during the May Day protests. Some demonstrators threatened to tear down Yale, and hundreds of state troopers and members of the Connecticut National Guard were deployed to the city. And yet on that day, New Haven remained relatively peaceful, largely due to a behind-the-scenes alliance among the New Haven Police Department, Yale administrators and students, and certain protest leaders.
The Author’s Corner with Trevor Burnard
John Fea talks with Trevor Burnard about Jamaica in the Age of Revolution, May 25, 2020, The Way of Improvement Leads Home
Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation and Director of the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull. This interview is based on his new book, Jamaica in the Age of Revolution (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020).
JF: What led you to write Jamaica in the Age of Revolution?
TB: I have always been interested in how Jamaica might be seen as part of Atlantic history; as part of Britain’s involvement in the wider world; and as one of the most important colonies in eighteenth century British America. Because it did not become the 14th colony to join in the American Revolution, its history has been underdone, especially in matters such as why it did not join in that conflict. My belief is that the history of colonial America and the American revolution looks different if Jamaica is included–it starts earlier, with the great slave rebellion of 1760 and finishes later, with abolitionism in 1787-8. That movement became more vital after the scandal of the murder of slaves on the Zong to gain insurance monies became well known in 1783. This work is a natural extension of previous books on Jamaica in the period of the Seven Years War and the American Revolution and is a contribution to Atlantic, British imperial and American revolutionary scholarship.