Spirit of Mandela – Press Release
A distinguished panel of nine international jurists has released its detailed final verdict finding the United States guilty of genocide against Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples on five counts, based on testimony and documents presented at last October’s historic human-rights Tribunal held in New York. The 46-page document builds on the historic legal and political precedents represented by such previous findings as the Civil Rights Congress’s 1951 “We Charge Genocide” petition, presented to the United Nations by Paul Robeson and William Patterson, Malcolm X’s 1964 call for bringing the U.S. before the World Court for human rights violations, and last year’s report by the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent, which found that the recent spate of police shootings of civilians constitute “crimes against humanity.” The International Panel of Jurists is an independent body made up of legal scholars, human rights advocates and activists, and community leaders. The full verdict of the 2021 International Tribunal fleshes out the preliminary verdict issued by the jurists last October. They concluded, “After having heard the testimony of numerous victims of Police Racism, Hyper-Mass Incarceration, Environmental Racism, Public Health Inequities, and of Political Prisoners/Prisoners of War, together with the expert testimonies and graphic presentations, as well as the copious documentation submitted and admitted in the record, the Panel of Jurists find the U.S. and its subdivisions GUILTY of all five counts. We find that Acts of Genocide have been committed.” The jurists relied on the definition codified in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, ratified by 152 nations. Besides forbidding mass murders, the Convention also outlaws “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
The Tribunal was organized by The Spirit of Mandela, an unprecedented U.S. alliance of attorneys, academics, and organizers from the Black Liberation, human rights, Puerto Rican decolonization, immigrant rights, and Indigenous sovereignty/earth protection movements. “This is another historic – and now fully updated – finding that the U.S. is continuing to engage in institutional genocide on multiple fronts against Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples,” said one Coordinating Committee member of the Spirit of Mandela coalition, urging community, religious and political groups to organize talks and publish articles on the Jurists’ findings, and to join in efforts to hold the U.S. government legally accountable for its genocidal crimes.
Opening their final verdict, the Jurists evaluated the testimonies of evidence of genocide, in particular against Indigenous and Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples in the U.S. The Jurists noted the widespread acceptance by scholars that “a total, relentless and pervasive genocide in the Americas” had occurred against Indigenous peoples since 1492. They also noted, both historically and today, “the consistency of broken treaties between the U.S. government and Native peoples.” As to the Black population, the Jurists quoted the citations by Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Nkechi Taifa of “racially biased executions and extrajudicial killings … whether by lynch mobs or officers of the law,” as well as “discriminatory treatment … embedded in police departments, prosecutor’s offices, and courtrooms.” Taifa summarized, “The cumulative impact of destructive treatment against Blacks in the criminal justice system, combined with challenging conditions of life negatively impacting generations, constitutes institutionalized genocide—the human rights crisis facing 21st Century Black America.”
The Jurists’ Verdict summarized the testimony evidence of 30 witnesses over two days, as well as detailed documentation, finding that “the wrongs have been historic and deliberate,” and found that the various acts of genocide currently manifest as “medical and digital apartheid, chemical warfare, environmental violence and racism, divestment, and a pandemic of accessible guns and drugs – with the majority of gun violence perpetrated by police and security forces.” They also cited “new forms of colonialism” such as “the Prison Industrial Complex, the Military Industrial Complex, and the commercialization of our health and privatization/ commodification of all social services.”
The Verdict proceeded to summarize the testimony and documentation as to each of the five counts of Genocide.
The Jurists’ Verdict closed by calling for authorities to go beyond simple apologies. “The continued disparity of police killings and hyper-mass incarcerations; the continued incarceration of such prisoners as Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Imam Jamil Al- Amin; the ongoing extreme health inequities causing the avoidable deaths of countless members of the affected groups, all indicate a need for urgent and immediate remediation.”