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'We can't breathe until we're free': Palestinians stand in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter US protests

The killing by police of George Floyd triggered protests in the US [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 June, 2020

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The largest Palestinian boycott coalition released a statement to announce its resolute solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter protesters demonstrating against police brutality in the US and elsewhere.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee [BNC] has come out to support the anti-police brutality protests in the United States, confirming its unwavering support for black organisations and the Black Lives Matter movement.

BNC, the largest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions [BDS] movement, extended its "solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters across the US who are calling for justice in the wake of the latest wave of insufferable police murders of Black Americans", a statement released by the organisation on Sunday evening said.

"The genocidal destruction of native American nations, the pillage of their wealth and resources, and the savage enslavement of millions of Africans constitute the most profound pillars of what became the US.

"The deeply-seated white supremacist ideology that has guided and attempted to whitewash these crimes is still alive, albeit in different forms.

"This exclusionary ideology is encouraged by the flagrantly racist Trump White House and an insidious, less-audaciously racist liberal establishment that rhetorically condemns racism, even spews some empty promises, yet consistently fails to act on reparations, racial and economic justice, and ending the horrific system of criminalisation and mass incarceration of Black Americans.

"Black people in the US, in South Africa and many other countries have survived centuries of the most inhumane forms of enslavement and racial oppression ever seen, teaching humanity as a whole precious lessons in perseverance, resistance and ingeniousness.

"To our Black brothers and sisters, your resilience in the face of brutal dehumanisation is a source of inspiration to our own struggle against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. We support calls such as this initiative from Minneapolis organisers to divest from militarism and policing and instead invest in community-led health and safety.

"We can't breathe until we're free from oppression and racism. #BlackLivesMatter," the statement concluded, echoing the last words of unarmed Black American George Floyd, whose brutal killing by police triggered the protests.

The statement is especially poignant after it was revealed that an employee at a Palestinian-owned shop called the police on Floyd after he allegedly attempted to pay for cigarettes using a suspected counterfeit twenty dollar bill.

Owner of Minneapolis store Cup Foods Mahmoud Abumayyaleh has condemned the actions of the police, calling what they did to Floyd an "execution".


The statement also came as President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the United States would be classifying the loose-knit ANTIFA [Anti-Fascist] movement as a terrorist group after accusing it for some of the recent spasm of violence in US cities.

"The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization," Trump announced on Twitter, with little elaboration.

In a series of tweets, the US president also congratulated national guard troops for restoring order Saturday in Minneapolis after days of unrest.

"The ANTIFA led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly. Should have been done by Mayor on first night and there would have been no trouble!" Trump tweeted.

He was referring to Jacob Frey, the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, where a horrifying video of Floyd's death - after a police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes- sparked the nationwide outpouring of mourning and rage, as well as protests elsewhere in the world.

Derek Chauvin, the officer who kept his knee on Floyd's neck even as onlookers pleaded with him, has been fired and charged with third-degree homicide.

Read also: Unconditional solidarity: Palestinians rally support for family of George Floyd, African-American killed by Minneapolis police

ANTIFA - the name is a contraction for anti-fascist - is a secretive grouping of radical activists that has emerged in recent years, in part in opposition to racist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

It is not known to have official leaders. Its members, often dressed entirely in black, protest against racism, far-right values and what they consider fascism, and say violent tactics are sometimes justified as self-defence.

The group's loose, diffuse organisation would seem to make it a difficult target for the terrorist listing.

Domestic terrorist groups, the FBI says on its website, promote "the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence ... against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives".

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