Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times journalist and Howard University journalism professor, is the architect of the revised and expanded book version of “A New Origin Story: The 1619 Project, published in late 2021. Hannah-Jones often discusses the influence of 19th and early 20th century journalist, women’s rights organizer, anti-lynching campaigner and public speaker, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931), on her initial interests and pursuit of a career as a writer focused on themes related to racial justice in the United States. Many of the issues which Wells-Barnett was engaged in during her lifetime remain as key elements of the repressive apparatus of state power. Therefore, two chapters in the latest iteration of the 1619 Project examines the questions of self-defense and punishment as they relate to the continuing plight of African Americans living under national oppression and institutional racism in the 21st century.
Greece has been in national lockdown on and off for the last year, with the current lockdown reaching five months. Civil liberties and freedom of movement have been considerably restricted through a number of emergency measures such as a night curfew. People are only allowed to leave their houses for a limited time and with a specific reason, after sending an SMS to the relevant monitoring authority. The police have been charged with enforcing these measures, leading to many incidents of abuse of power. At the same time, the government has passed unpopular legislation to police academic institutions and has unconstitutionally criminalised the freedom to protest. The reaction of the police to any form of protest – from healthcare workers asking for more PPE to anti-fascist/pro-democracy actions to recent student protests – has been zero-tolerance and often the excessive use of violence.
Against the backdrop of state and gang violence, some of the continent’s most affected communities have taken radical measures to defend themselves and build new social counter-powers from below. In much of Latin America, the state does not protect its citizens. This is particularly true for the popular sectors, indigenous peoples, people of color and mestizos, who are exposed to the onslaught of drugs trafficking, criminal gangs, the private security guards of multinational corporations and, paradoxically, from state security forces such as the police and the army. There have been several massacres in Mexico, for instance, such as the killing of 43 students in Ayotzinapa in September 2014 — and they are no exception. There continues to be impunity for the 30,000 who have disappeared and 200,000 who have died since Mexico declared its “war on drugs” in 2007.
August 21, 2014 will be the one year anniversary of Nestora’s arrest and imprisonment. For 12 months, she has been denied the right to see her lawyers. Orders to free her by a federal judge have been ignored. Kept in isolation without medical attention, she represents hundreds of people in self defense groups who have been jailed for defending their communities against powerful, politically connected criminal cartels. In June, the Mexican government expanded its occupation and repression in Michoacán, arresting Dr. José Mireles and nearly 100 of his followers. They were on their way to regain public control of Lázaro Cárdenas port, the largest seaport in Mexico, from a drug cartel known as the Knights Templar. This criminal syndicate used the port to export goods and resources stolen from the people of the region. Today Nestora Salgado and Dr. José Mireles are powerful symbols of popular resistance against Mexican government corruption and unbridled crime. As U.S. military aid to Mexico increases, the violence continues. August 21 will be a day of International protest calling for the release of Nestora, Dr. Mireles, and all political prisoners. Join a location near you in international solidarity!