Statement by Black Alliance for Peace, January 30, 2023
The State Murder of Tortuguita in Atlanta and Tyre Nichols in Memphis Are Inextricably Linked
The cold-blooded assassination of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, Spanish for “Little Turtle,” is a reminder that fascism in the United States cannot be reduced to the political intentions of avowed white nationalists. African/Black and Indigenous people residing in the settler-colonial project known as the United States continue to be subjected to a cycle of state-sanctioned violence and political repression with bipartisan consensus. People of the global majority and their allies must not allow these latest episodes of injustice to go unanswered.
The Atlanta City-Wide Alliance of the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP-Atlanta) has been working with a coalition of Indigenous people, African/Black people, other people of color, and Euro-Americans to prevent the construction of “Cop City,” as BAP-Atlanta expressed in a recent statement. The statement highlighted the obvious nexus between the proposed $90 million police-training facility site, where Tortuguita was killed on January 18, and the white supremacy-fueled genocide, militarism, and oppression the U.S. empire exercises both outside and within. Both domestically and internationally (including within sovereign Indigenous nations), the United States continues to carry out wanton abuses of human rights with impunity via the illegal use of militarized force. Tortuguita’s execution, and the obvious attempts by law enforcement to cover it up and suppress the truth, are yet another example of the abject malfeasance of this state’s law-enforcement apparatus.
That Tortuguita was standing in defiance of an urban-warfare training facility which has now perpetuated their brutal execution should be lost on no one. Given the function of policing in this settler colony, the race of the perpetrators who brutalize protestors and commit other forms of state sanctioned violence should surprise no one. The brutal execution of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee is the most recent evidence highlighting this obvious point.
Proponents of increasing military and police budgets also rally behind gentrification, deforestation, further extraction and use of fossil fuels, as well as other drivers of the racialized climate crisis. The root causes of the cataclysms, including the state murders of Tortuguita and Tyre Nichols can no longer be ignored: White supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy and colonization.
BAP asserts the inexorable link of liberation African/Black and Indigenous people share, just as we proclaim the need for a set of intersectional solutions to the interlinked forms of oppression subjecting Indigenous and African/Black people to the irrefutable war crimes the United States and local law-enforcement regimes have committed. To this end, we call on all social-justice movements, including the larger environmental community, to demonstrate solidarity and support for Tortuguita, their family, other justice seekers working to shut down “Cop City,” and African/Black people and Indigenous people writ large.
Until we exercise and implement a program of defiant activities that stop bellicose militarism and policing, these acts of state-sanctioned violence will increase in frequency and intensity. These latest murders reaffirm the absolute necessity for nationally oppressed peoples to build the capacities to defend their collective human rights.
In the process of building that independent power, we will also struggle for accountability against state authorities that violate human rights.
We demand accountability for Tortuguita in Atlanta. We demand an impartial and transparent investigation of Tortuguita’s assassination, we demand all charges against demonstrators supporting the Stop Cop City movement be dropped, and we demand an immediate cessation of all activities that contribute to the construction and operation of “Cop City.”
*Featured Image: Demonstrators protest the death of environmental activist Tortuguita on January 21 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington Post via Getty Images
No Compromise, No Retreat!
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