On Friday, September 1st, the Evansville Police Departmentreleased footage of the execution of Daniel Wooters by police in March.
The release of this footage comes in the midst of a nation-wide wave of protest focused on police murders of black and brown people, which began with the riots that followed the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. These protests and riots have overwhelmingly focused on the murder of black men by police, and rightly so. According to the Washington Post, which has been collecting data on fatal police shootings since 2015, black people in the U.S. are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
But that doesn’t mean that police murder is not a reality for white people in this country as well. The police kill poor, homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable white people shockingly often—Daniel Wooters being only the most recent example. According to the website The Counted, The Guardian’s project devoted to keeping track of fatal police shootings, 368 white people have been killed by police in 2016 at the time of this writing. That’s more than one person per day.
Despite this glaring reality and the obvious points of connection between the experience of working-class white people and working-class people of color, white people continue to swell the ranks of the cop-loving, white-supremacist “Alternative Right.” Inspired by the Trump campaign’s attacks on racial minorities and reacting to the upsurge of black rebellion, many working-class white people are turning to Nazi-style fascism rather than finding a common cause with those fighting against power.
In Madisonville, Kentucky, just an hour south of Evansville, the openly racist and homophobic Traditionalist Worker Party has an active branch. In a recent article, their leader Matthew Heimbach reports going door to door in a trailer park in Madisonville, promoting their fascist ideas among its white working-class residents. The group also recently held a tabling event at Murray State University, in Murray, Kentucky. These efforts must be aggressively countered by white-folks in the Tri-state who do not share their visions of a totalitarian government and the persecution of ethnic and racial minorities. It’s only by hitting the streets, countering their demos and doing our own outreach that we’ll stop them from laying the groundwork for the nightmare world they dream of.
Despite these obstacles, occasionally, as in the case of William Bowers in Los Angeles and Dylan Noble in Fresno, fatal police shootings of white people have led to action and expressions of solidarity from the Black Lives Matter Movement. Although these moments have also included a variety of misunderstandings and have demonstrated how deeply divided the racialized working-class in the U.S. is, they nonetheless offer a glimpse of what could be an inspiring turn the fight against police violence could take.
Black and brown people will continue to fight back against police murders with or without the collaboration of white people. Indeed, they show no signs of slowing. But white people who are concerned about freedom from tyrannical government and who also do not want to see their friends and family murdered by state agents with impunity, may find this a unique opportunity to link up with a powerful movement determined to fight against power and for a better world.
The sites Redneck Revolt and NC Piece Corps offer a variety of articles and analysis on the white working class and its history of fighting alongside people of color against tyranny and domination.
For news and analysis on the white supremacist movement in the U.S. and resistance to it, check out Anti-Fascist News.
1. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
Synonyms: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, autocracy;
2. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice, often involving persecution of ethnic, racial or religious minorities.
“I don’t believe in democracy. What we need is a transgression to a fascist state and ultimately to a monarchy.” Matthew Heimbach, quoted in an interview with the online news source Imagine 2050.