Prosecution of BLM activists is a danger to democracy

BY: Michigan District, CPUSA| June 10, 2022
Prosecution of BLM activists is a danger to democracy


In Detroit, the Black Lives Matter movement that took off around the country in 2020 coalesced around an organization called Detroit Will Breathe. In October 2020, DWB protesters marched in Shelby Township, to protest police brutality, at one point blocking a street. Seven protesters were arrested, and five were charged with felonious assault on police officers, among other charges.

The Michigan District of the Communist Party USA extends solidarity to the Shelby 5 regarding the wrongful felony and misdemeanor charges filed against them. These charges represent the anti-democratic and anti-people character of the Macomb County prosecutor Peter Lucido, Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide, and the Judge Michael Servitto, who is presiding over the cases. This serves as a warning to the entire working class about the fascist danger posed to our fragile democracy. In the background of this case, the working class is being bombarded with targeted voter suppression tactics, union-busting schemes, assaults on women’s and LGBTQ rights, and the march by the Pentagon towards the next imperialist war.

Following the international uprising for Black lives and against police brutality in 2020, Shelide tweeted, regarding the racial justice protests for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, that he “[wished] to God I would have been there. Body bags for these vicious subhumans” and that “real cops” would “take care of these barbarians.”

And what of the “crimes” to which the Shelby 5 are being charged? In October 2020, activists rightfully called on Shelide to resign or be terminated for making those violent, racist remarks and organized a protest to demonstrate that this type of fascist language from public officials will not be tolerated. The protestors were met with police brutality and then charged with trumped-up felonies and misdemeanors for their justified and constitutionally protected actions. The newly elected Trumpite prosecutor Lucido then added additional misdemeanor charges against protestors that were previously found to be baseless.

In fact, during the May 23, 2022, court hearing for Tristan Taylor, an organizer with Detroit Will Breathe and part of the Shelby 5, Judge Servitto denied his lawyer’s motion to dismiss the charges even though he admitted to not reviewing the evidence in the case. Furthermore, the judge went on to compare Taylor, who is Black, to “terrorists” in the film Die Hard.

This underscores the anti-democratic nature of the Macomb County prosecutor and judge, as well as the entire criminal-legal system they serve. The criminal charges targeting these racial justice protestors in Michigan are an example of an alarming trend and yet another push towards fascism, in which local Republican politicians and the shock troops in the police department are on the front lines. This is a national trend and a reaction to the millions of working-class and oppressed who rose up in the summer of 2020 to defend Black lives, as well as the rejuvenation of the trade union movement spearheaded by primarily young workers. This trend towards fascism culminated in the violent coup attempt on January 6, 2021, and is playing out in local state houses with targeted racist voter suppression and chauvinistic, anti-women and anti-LGBTQ legislation. Therefore, the Michigan District of the Communist Party USA calls for:

  • The Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido and the Shelby Police Department to DROP ALL THE CHARGES against the protestors.
  • The Shelby Township Board of Trustees TO FIRE POLICE CHIEF ROBERT SHELIDE for his violently racist public comments in 2020.

We also call on our members and supporters to sign and circulate the petition put out by the Shelby 5 Defense Committee seeking to drop all the charges against the protestors.

Image: Detroit Will Breathe (Facebook).


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