Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential frontrunner, called this morning for a concerted national campaign to eliminate hate crimes and racist violence once and for all. On Saturday, five people were randomly shot on the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, allegedly by two men apparently targeting them because they were Black. This follows on weeks of protests following the killing of an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman.
Returning from a protest held this weekend in her home state of Massachusetts calling for justice for Trayvon Martin, Dr. Stein said that “This terrible tragedy reflects the dire convergence of injustice and fear in many parts of our society. African American men have been demonized on multiple fronts, by the racist war on drugs, the violence wracking impoverished communities, and the prison-industrial complex. Fears have been intensified by the climate of economic insecurity that makes some people vulnerable to racist ideologies in the first place.”
Stein said that some members of the media, and in particular those tied to the Republican Party, share responsibility for demonizing Black men and fostering racist violence. She pointed out that the election of Barack Obama had been met with racial incitement by figures like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, as well as by Republican officials who have repeatedly referred to the President as a “monkey,” an “angry black guy,” a non-American, and of course, a “Muslim.” Stein said that these prominent racist verbal attacks on the nation’s first citizen and his family provided cover for racist actions by others.
Commentators such as Michelle Alexander have argued that a new Jim Crow era has taken hold in America, and Stein says she agrees. “It is terrible that some individuals now believe they can shoot Black people on our streets and get away with it, but it is not surprising given that they have seen that police forces across the country make use of racial profiling and that our prison and criminal justice systems reinforce racial disparities in every imaginable way.”
Dr. Stein added that this new Jim Crow mentality has also been reinforced by the realities of discrimination in jobs, housing, education, health care, and voting rights that have together cemented a racial caste system in America.
“This increase in racist violence cannot become the new normal, and solutions that eliminate such violence must be put in place,” said Stein. Among these solutions, Stein concluded, are active support for campaigns like the upcoming National Day of Action to Stop Mass Incarceration together with ending the racist war on drugs – which sweeps up users and nonusers alike. She called for repeal of the racial profiling laws like New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” law that has been used to stop and search over 684,000 people last year, of whom nearly 90 percent were Black and Latino. She also called for repeal of the “stand your ground” laws that make it harder to hold shooters accountable for their actions and have resulted in as much as a tripling in “justifiable homicides” among the 31 states in which they’ve been passed.
Stein further called for wiping out economic racism through the implementation of policies designed to end discrimination entirely in employment, education, health, and housing, as Stein’s Green New Deal program would accomplish.
And finally, Stein demanded that the Republican Party take responsibility for its role –especially in 2009 and 2010– in creating the current climate of racial intolerance that fosters racial violence, and demanded that the Democratic Party stop ducking the issue of racism in America’s criminal justice justice and prison systems.