AFRICAN FEMINIST INITIATIVE STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY AND SYSTEMIC VIOLENCE IN THE US, IN AFRICA AND GLOBALLY

June 5, 2020

Over the last two weeks we have seen rallies and demonstrations against the public lynching of George Floyd turn into a global movement against police brutality and systemic racism. We condemn the killing of George Floyd and we mourn his death. We condemn the killing of Collins Khosa by South Africa Defence Forces and Thalente Ngidi who was savagely beaten by metro police agents in Johannesburg and we mourn their deaths.

We condemn the killing of Breonna Taylor and Nina Pop and hundreds of black women, cis and trans, whose deaths at the hands of the police are most likely to go unnoticed. These are women who are assaulted and killed in public in broad daylight, in the privacy of their homes and while driving in their cars with their kids. Women with mental health challenges, homeless women, women on wheelchairs and non-disabled women. Women young and old, who are daughters, mothers and grandmothers.

Much of the current public discourse that coins rioting as ‘looting’ and justifies militarized police violence as the need to protect civilians reveals the very makings of white supremacy that has historically resulted in the disregard for black and brown lives. We are outraged by the way media outlets continue to question the humanity of black and brown people. The questions that urgently beg for answers are, “why this violence by the police?” “why have black and brown bodies been rendered disposable?” instead of “why are people rioting?” It is not possible to break the cycle of violence without turning the gaze to whiteness as a system of oppression, without examining white pathology, its claims to humanity and its insistence on innocence. The constant pressuring and demanding of black and brown people to prove their humanity has to stop. 

The current public unrest in the US, and its rippling global effects directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, has exposed serious racial disparities which are the result of state-based forms of violence: mass incarcerations, dismal rates of unemployment, the failure of the state to provide adequate health care and to protect black and brown service workers.

We stand in solidarity with people in the US, in Africa and around the world in their outrage against state sanctioned violence and systemic inequalities and we join all those who affirm all black lives that have been brutalized by the police and rendered invisible, during and before the pandemic.

Signed by the African Feminist Initiative.

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