[News] Execution in Grand Rapids Illustrates Failure to End Police Terrorism

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Fri Apr 22 13:01:03 EDT 2022


newsghana.com.gh
<https://newsghana.com.gh/execution-in-grand-rapids-illustrates-failure-to-end-police-terrorism/>
Execution in Grand Rapids Illustrates Failure to End Police Terrorism |
News Ghana
Abayomi Azikiwe - April 21, 2022
------------------------------

*African immigrant Patrick Lyoya was shot at point blank range to the back
of the head while the police officer remains on the payroll and at-large*

This is a link to the police bodycam video of the encounter with Patrick
Lyoya which led to his death: (18) Bodycam footage from fatal Grand Rapids
police shooting of Patrick Lyoya – YouTube

Over two weeks after Patrick Lyoya, 26, was stopped, chased, tackled and
shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids patrolman, killing him
instantly, there still has not been any punitive action taken against the
white officer responsible for the death of the Congolese immigrant.

The City of Grand Rapids has refused to even release the name of the
officer since he has not yet been charged with a crime.

This incident in a major midwestern municipality clearly illustrates the
systematic refusal by the local, state and federal government agencies to
address the ongoing deaths at the hands of the police. Two years after the
brutal shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and
many others, the relevant authorities responsible for the funding and
oversight of law-enforcement have refused to take any action to reform the
operational culture of the police.

Lyoya’s family immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) in 2014, according to quotes cited in the press from his
father. Both of his parents are demanding justice in the case.

A videocam from the police officer illustrates the aggressive questioning
and posture of the white Grand Rapids patrolman. After Lyoya attempted to
get away from the officer, he was pursued and tased. Later the videocam
shows Lyoya being tackled and further abused physically. At the instance
that the fatal shot was fired to the rear of the head, the police videocam
appears to have been turned off by the officer. An independent autopsy
requested by the Lyoya family confirmed that he died from a gunshot wound
to the back of the head.

Since the killing of Lyoya, people in Grand Rapids have demanded the
release of the officer’s name and that he be terminated from the police
department. They are also insisting that prosecutors file criminal charges
against the unnamed law-enforcement agent. The case has gained
international attention due to the fact that Lyoya was an immigrant from
Africa and was unarmed.

The government of the DRC and its Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde
discussed the killing of Lyoya at a cabinet meeting on April 15 in
Kinshasha, the capital of the central African state. The U.S. has extensive
business interests in the DRC which is a major producer of strategic
minerals.

An article published in the Guardian from the Agence France Press (AFP)
said of the situation that: “During a government meeting on Friday (April
15), DR Congo Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde ‘forcefully condemned
the cowardly assassination by a white police officer in the United States
of a citizen of Congolese origin Patrick Lyoya, unarmed, during a traffic
stop,’ according to the minutes of the meeting. He said the U.S. ambassador
in DR Congo had expressed ‘his deep regrets and his government’s
condolences following this despicable act.’
U.S. (Grand Rapids) police have released four videos from the incident, one
of which shows the officer — who has not been named — lying on top of Lyoya
as the two scuffled, and then appearing to shoot him in the head.” (
https://guardian.ng/news/world/dr-congo-condemns-us-police-shooting-of-its-expat/
)

This incident has revealed the actual social character of the U.S. to not
only the Lyoya family but to over 1.3 billion Africans living on the
continent. The U.S. promotes itself as the paragon of democracy, human
rights and peace. However, the country is one of the most violent in the
world with thousands killed annually.

A CBS report on the incident notes: “The father of Patrick Lyoya said his
son was ‘killed like an animal’ after recently released videos showed the
26-year-old Black man being fatally shot by a police officer during a
traffic stop. The family fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014
for a safer life in the U.S. ‘I came here to save my family,’ Peter Lyoya
told CBS News. ‘My son has been killed like an animal. The one [who] was
supposed to be protecting Patrick’s life, is the one [who] killed Patrick
and take Patrick’s life away,’ he added.” (
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/patrick-lyoya-shooting-grand-rapids-michigan-police-father-statement/
)

U.S. Role in the Historic Destabilization of the DRC

The region where the DRC is today has been for centuries a center for
exploitation and national oppression. During the period of African
enslavement, the Angola and Congo areas were victimized by the Portuguese
and French role in the Triangular Trade in human beings and natural
resources.

By 1876, the Belgian monarchy had seized large swaths of territory in order
to force Africans to engage in rubber production. The Berlin Conference of
1884-1885 awarded the Congo area to Belgian colonial corporations.
Conditions were so brutal that millions of Africans died under the rule of
colonial agents at the direction of the monarchy. In 1908, the colonial
project in Congo was brought under the tutelage of the government in
Brussels.

Between 1908 and 1960, Africans were denied education, equal employment,
the control over their land and natural resources as well as political
rights. A rebellion during 1959 created the conditions for multi-party
elections which led to national independence on June 30, 1960.

The first elected leader was Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, a
Pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist with a mass base among the Congolese
people. Since Lumumba wanted to end Belgian domination over the resources
of his country, he was targeted for liquidation by the U.S. administration
of then President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Lumumba was overthrown just three
months into his tenure as prime minister. He attempted to flee to the
eastern region of the country where his supporters had taken control of
several cities and provinces.

However, he was captured with the complicity of the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) in January 1961. He was held illegally by the puppet
collaborators of the U.S. and other imperialist states. By late January he
was tortured to death along with two other cabinet ministers in his
government.

A series of neo-colonial surrogate regimes were imposed on the vast country
for 36 years until Mobutu Sese Seko was forced out of office in May 1997.
Nonetheless, the continued domination of the resources of the DRC has
hampered its capacity for a much-deserved political stability and economic
prosperity.

Consequently, the underdevelopment in the DRC and in other African states,
can be linked directly to the ongoing interference into the internal
affairs of these mineral rich countries. Therefore, many Congolese
nationals have migrated to the U.S. in search of economic opportunities and
social stability. However, the U.S. still remains a racist-capitalist and
imperialist country. The African American people brought to the U.S. as
enslaved persons have been denied full equality, economic justice and
self-determination for more than 400 years. Africans from the continent are
viewed by the ruling class and their police agencies as being deserving of
the same degree of brutality as all Black people.

U.S. Government Guilty of Systematic Brutality and Terrorism

The police execution of Patrick Lyoya is a direct result of the legacy of
policing in the U.S. which dates back to the early period of European
colonial enslavement. Despite the mass demonstrations and rebellions which
swept many municipalities during 2020, the current administration of
President Joe Biden maintains a similar position as successive leaders:
they are all committed to the maintenance of the status-quo as it relates
to the role of police in containing the African American people and other
oppressed groups.

Biden made his position clear in the State of the Union Address earlier in
the year. He denounced the mass slogans calling for the defunding of the
police and instead urged more public money for law-enforcement. Additional
funding for police departments has been bolstered by the American Rescue
Plan (ARP) which was supposedly designed to assist workers and oppressed
peoples suffering from the economic and social impact of the COVID-19
pandemic.

Independent activists and mass organizations within the labor and
nationally oppressed movements will undoubtedly continue the demands aimed
at defunding and dismantling the existing system of policing. This system
of policing on a domestic level is reflected in the foreign policy
imperatives of the White House and Wall Street.

The Biden administration has pursued the same policies of war and economic
domination of the peoples of the world. Russia, China, Iran, Cuba,
Venezuela, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and a host of other states are considered
principal enemies of the imperialist ruling class in the U.S. Therefore,
the struggle against police terrorism with impunity is inherently linked to
broader issues aimed guaranteeing peace and stability from the DRC to the
streets of Western Europe and North America.


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