From McDuffie to Reefa: Stop the Miami PD’s reign of terror against the black and Latino communities

Arthur McDuffie

December 17th 1979, Arthur McDuffie was on a late night motorcycle ride through his neighborhood of Liberty City when the cops started to aggressively chase him through the streets. That would be the last motorcycle ride McDuffie would ever make. The coroner determined that McDuffie was brutally beaten to death. Bludgeoned by night-sticks to the point that his skull was cracked open “like an egg”.

The Miami PD did their best to cover up the blatant murder carried out by four white cops, Charles Verka, Ira Diggs, Michael Watts, and Alex Marrero. The black community of Liberty City would not stand for this!

McDuffie was a well-known figure in the community; this was also amidst the climate of economic unrest in the black community when Miami had displaced most of the community to build Interstate 95, altering the landscape for business development and resources that were sustaining the thriving black community. By the period that McDuffie was murdered, housing projects and poverty were prevalent.  Along with this were frequent attacks by the police, harassing and beating people. The cops, all veterans of Miami PD, were indicted for manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the cover up of McDuffie’s death. After a months-long trial, all four cops were ultimately acquitted.

tactics and strategy The response from the black community was united resistance. They would not stand by idly with the ongoing violence carried out by the Miami PD thugs; following the verdict 5,000 people rebelled, lasting days, the African community shook the foundations of the city of Miami, a fierce struggle that provoked governor Bob Graham to call in the National Guard. Situated among the African resistance, the Uhuru Movement was on the ground organizing the people.

Arthur McDuffie’s murder is one amongst many murders over the years, carried out by Miami police.

This past August, the Miami PD attacked teenager Israel “Reefa” Hernandez. The police claim Reefa was painting the side of an abandoned McDonalds, as if that is a justification for chasing down and tasering a teenager.  Officer Jorge Mercado hounded down Reefa, tasered him in the chest so brutally and relentlessly that he died. Reefa was a popular graffiti artist in the street art community of Miami and the community has been demanding justice, but no charges have been brought against the officer, and no apology even to the family.

Israel “Reefa” Hernandez

34 years after the murder of Arthur McDuffie, Reefa’s death did not happen in isolation from a social system built on the oppression of African and Indigenous people, a violent and oppressive system whose front line troops are the police.

As the Uhuru Solidarity Movement understands, led by the principles of African Internationalism, Reefa’s death happened within the system of colonialism, where cops are murdering black people every 28 hours, and if they are not killed, they wind up imprisoned, adding to the massive prison population that provides businesses with cheap labor and the economy with a trillion dollar industry.

This system has depended on the work of the police department to separate communities from the “haves” and “have-nots” to serve the interest of the State.

As Chairman Omali Yeshitela describes: “The state is this organized bureaucracy. It is the police department. It is the army, the navy. It is the prison system, the courts, and what have you. This is the state — it is a repressive organization. The police become necessary in human society only at that junction in human society where it is split between those who have and those who ain’t got.”

The black community, such as in Liberty City and Overtown, has faced the gravest economic conditions and rampant police containment. This is a stark contrast to what we see in Wynwood or the downtown areas of Miami, where white people freely engage in public intoxication and disruption without fear of police intervention.

It is time that we, white people and other allies, recognize the history of this vicious system and how we have benefited from it. There is such a great divide and serious stigma when it comes to even driving through Overtown.  We must dig deep to the root of why and recognize that African people in these communities lack economic opportunities and are constantly facing the brutal force of police presence, while white people are free to fearlessly traverse the streets during Art Walk and other public events.

There is no equality or freedom under the system of colonialism and parasitic capitalism, and it occurs at the expense of African and indigenous people. The same police department that murdered Reefa in August, are the same thugs that murdered McDuffie, Decarlos Moore, and 7 black men alone in 2011!

We must go beyond simply demanding “Justice for Reefa”. We must demand justice for the African and Latino communities! If each death is treated as an isolated case, then we will never see this end. The only answer comes from the oppressed communities demanding justice and control over their community. It is our responsibility, as those that have benefited from this system, to jump off the pedestal and join the African community in solidarity, under their leadership.

USM organizers in Miami

This is why we call on others to Take the Pledge of Solidarity with African people, to say you do not unite with the historical and on-going violence and murders carried out by the Miami Police  Department. Instead we want to see real economic development and self-determination for the African community, led by African people. The Uhuru Movement, led by the African People’s Socialist Party, is at the forefront of leading campaigns against the ongoing terror of police containment and imprisonment of the African community, while also leading programs such as community kitchens, gardens, health programs, that address the grave disparities inflicted by this system.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement Miami calls on people to attend the Days in Solidarity with African People benefit show happening at Churchill’s, this Thursday, October 17th at 9pm. The show will feature local bands, from folk to hardcore punk to experimental. We call on supporters that unite with this message to attend the show, which will raise money to support the programs of the Uhuru Movement. This event will be the biggest event happening in Miami to help raise funds to reach the Uhuru Solidarity Movement’s overall goal of raising $14,000 for these programs.

Finally and most importantly, we call for white people to join in solidarity with the struggle of African people to organize for political and economic control over their lives.  Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and register today to attend the 6th Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party, a five day event on December 7-11, 2013, addressing the conditions faced by the black community in this country and the program of the African working class to overturn those conditions through revolutionary struggle.

We say No Justice! No Peace! Police out of the Black and Latino community! Reparations now!

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