8th June 2020
A Press Release
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Organized Labour in Nigeria identify with the global “Black Lives Matter” anti-racism protests going on in different parts of the world. Like the rest of the world, we are horrified at the cruel execution of Mr. George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota United States of America on May 25, 2020. Those gory nine minutes before Mr. Floyd’s life was brutally snuffed out by Derek Chauvin, a police officer, in cohort with three other police officers will continue to evoke outrage from all people of conscience.
Before George Floyd, there was Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Stephorn Clark, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Jamar Clark, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and thousands more. Eric Garner died on the streets of Staten Island, NY, on July 17, 2014 in the hands of police officer Daniel Pantaleo with the same mortal pant as George Floyd “I can’t breathe”. Six years later, African Americans are still struggling to breathe. The fact that in more than 80% of racial executions, police officers responsible were exonerated from criminal charges, indictment and discipline does very little to disclaim allegations of institutionalized racial profiling and persecution in United States. This is not the example we expect from the acclaimed bastion of democracy.
The history of racism in the United States especially as institutionalized by heavy-handed treatment of black people and other non-Caucasian races by the police are well documented. Between 1877 and 1950, more than 4000 black people were extrajudicially killed in the United States of America by either the police or white supremacists.
Many have described the persistence of the dehumanization of the black race as a virulent mutation of the slave trade which saw more than 12 million Africans kidnapped from the mother continent and traded as commodities in European and American slave markets. More than two million Africans perished at sea en-route the slave harbours. So, when the protesters say “Black Lives Matter”, there is rich vein of history to it.
The Nigeria Labour Congress condemns the dastardly murder of George Floyd in the hands of law enforcement officers paid with public funds to protect lives. We demand justice on George Floyd’s killing and the extrajudicial killing of other African Americans. We condemn the institutionalized racial profiling of black people in America, Europe, Asia and all over the world. We condemn the dehumanization of black people through colour profiling, racial discrimination, human trafficking, slave labour and sexual exploitation. We demand that world governments and institutions must take very strong and stern steps to stamp out racism in all its shades on the streets, in the workplace, and on play grounds. The manifestation of racism anywhere on the planet is a severe mockery to civilization, globalization, and development.
We expect African countries to take the lead in the campaign to stop the dehumanization of black people. The near silence of African leaders and institutions on the murder of George Floyd is worrying. It is against our culture for outsiders to cry more than the bereaved. Beyond grief, African leaders must also exemplify the fact that “Black Lives Matter”.
African governments must treat their citizens right through good governance and accountable leadership. Every boot on the neck of Africans – black, coloured or white – must be taken off. Our police must deconstruct the institutionalized demonization of protests and protesters. Now is the time to demonstrate that black lives truly matter by ending all the wars, ethnic conflicts, terrorism and criminalities that keep killing, maiming and impoverishing fellow Africans. Ultimately, we can show the world that we are serious about “Black Lives Matter” by working hard to increase the life expectancy of the average African.
We stand in solidarity with the American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and all the working people of America who have condemned and are protesting against the institutional brutality in the United States and anywhere else on the planet. We also share in their pain and loss especially as occasioned by the torching of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington DC, just a few steps away from the White House. It is heartwarming that the criminality of a few misguided elements who have turned a genuine struggle for rights into an opportunity for looting and lighting has not dampened the commitment of the largest trade union centre in the United States to the great social campaign for civil rights and liberties.
We commend all people of goodwill and conscience from all races who have identified in one way or the other with the “Black Matter Lives”. We expect that all the efforts invested in this struggle would yield fundamental reforms of law enforcement institutions in the United States of America. We also expect the prioritization of social welfare and better funding of social protection schemes for minority communities.
Aluta Continua… Victoria Ascerta!
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni