New York Times' Article Links Dallas Shooter To Garvey's "Racist" Red, Black, and Green Flag

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[Editorial]

In the aftermath of the shooting to death of five Dallas police officers on Thursday we can expect a pushback aimed at silencing even legitimate opposition against police brutality.

There will even be an attempt to link peaceful protests with the gunman, who has been identified as ex-U.S. Army Reservist, Micah Johnson, 25.

Johnson is accused of shooting to death five Dallas police officers and injuring several more following the protest march Thursday over the killings by police of Alton Sterling and of Philando Castile , on Wednesday and Tuesday, respectively.

Yes, there will be a call to "rally around the American flag," by the political class and the corporate media; just as the call went out for  "patriotism" after the 9-11 attacks. At that time, in the aftermath of the attacks, it wasn't popular to be contrarian for fear of being labeled a "traitor." As George W. Bush famously told any foreign would-be doubters or potential contrarians, there is no in-between: "Either you're with us, or you're with the enemy."

Protest marches against police brutality have grown larger allover the country since the killings of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014.  There were more protests when, in both cases, the officers were not indicted.

Many of the marches, all peaceful and focused on ending egregious shooting of civilians by the officers who'd sworn to protect them, brought out multi-ethnic and multi-racial crowds. They were organized by Black Lives Matter, a informal grouping of youth around the country, who soon gained national attention.

Black Lives Matter was so effective in organizing rallies that they soon became the focus of backlash by police departments, police benevolent associations, and conservative White groups. The group was accused of being "anti police" and "anti White"; this was an attempt to coerce them into stopping the demonstrations even though there have been no shortage of outrageous killings since Brown's and Garner's.

But the attacks against Black Lives Matter specifically, and all those who protest police brutality generally, escalated after two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, were killed on Dec. 20, 2014 following weeks of protest when Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold, wasn't indicted.

The president of the New York PBA, Pat Lynch, even outrageously accused New York mayor Bill de Blasio of having "blood" in his hands.

Now with the killing of the Dallas officers, we can expect the attacks to escalate. Which brings us to the New York Times' article about the alleged shooter, Johnson.

According to the Times' article, "Mr. Johnson’s Facebook profile page, which has since been taken down, paid homage to black pride, featuring images of a raised fist and pictures of the red, black and green Pan-African flag. Both have been symbols of nonviolent black empowerment for decades, and have also been co-opted by violent extremist groups with racist views."

This is really malicious and dangerous and could invite open season against African Americans with the Red, Black, and Green Flag by police officers by suggesting that those who display the flag are are identified with "violent extremist groups with racist views."  The implication is that such groups are inspired by the flag, much in the same way as racist White Southerners are inspired by the Dixie flag which was specifically designed to represent White supremacy.Some reactionaries embrace the red-white-and-blue; does that mean they're inspired by the flag? So why place the Red, Black, and Green Flag in that context?

The Red, Black, and Green flag was founded during Marcus Garvey's era. In the contemporary era, the African National Congress, the party of Mandela, has those colors. Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana and scores of other African and Caribbean nations also either have the same colors or some variation.

As an article in The Atlanta Black Star reports: "According to the official website of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), the flag was developed in the 1920’s by the UNIA and with the support of Marcus Garvey, as a response to a racially derogatory song. The ridiculously popular 1900 coon song 'Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon,' helped to solidify the term 'coon' in the American vernacular."

The Atlanta Black Star's article continues, "For years, the flag has been utilized as a symbol for the idea of Pan-Africanism and the Pan-African Movement. Dr. Minkah Makalani, a Black Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies describes Pan-Africanism as the following: 'Pan-Africanism represents the complexities of Black political and intellectual thought over two hundred years. What constitutes Pan-Africanism, what one might include in a Pan-African movement often changes according to whether the focus is on politics, ideology, organizations, or culture. Pan-Africanism actually reflects a range of political views. At a basic level, it is a belief that African peoples, both on the African continent and in the Diaspora , share not merely a common history, but a common destiny. This sense of interconnected pasts and futures has taken many forms, especially in the creation of political institutions.”"

Yes, millions of African Americans, descendants of those who built this country, are proud of their African heritage and have a special place for Africa in their hearts and their allegiance should not be questioned; just like many Jewish Americans cherish Israel.

Millions of African Americans are familiar with the Red, Black, and Green; whether in the form of the flag itself, T-shirts, other forms of clothing, key chains, wallets, and assortment of items. To try and link this legacy of Marcus Garvey with "extremists" or "racists" or "anti-Semitism" as The New York Times story attempts to do is obnoxious and dangerous.Police officers don't need any more excuses to view African Americans as "enemies."

 

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