Human Rights Day in Minnesota prompted a discussion of race relations both in the U.S. and abroad.
“Make no mistake, the justice system isn’t broken, it was built to work this way,” Misty Rowan, Minneapolis poet and peace activist, told a Human Rights Day rally on December 6, 2014. “It’s important to remember that the police are only the enforcers of this order — that it comes from a much higher place, a much deeper well of hatred and this is not about just a few bad apples who’ve misbehaved. This is how the police are trained.”
“White privilege is alive and well in this country,” said Rowan. “We won’t allow ourselves to be deceived by the state of the justice system today. Shocked, but not surprised.”
Karmel Sabri, says that the race problem extends to U.S. supported Israel where Palestinians and Israelis wage war. “I see an apartheid state that exists under racist laws and I see essentially what is the ethnic cleansing of an indigenous people of Palestine.”
“It’s easy for people to look back in retrospect and say ‘oh yeah, you know, slavery. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe we shouldn’t kill people on the basis of their skin color or their religious beliefs.’ But when it’s happening right now, people just for some reason are blind to it.”
So how to fix the problem? Rowan says people need to start the conversation. Talk to people we don’t even know. As for Israel, Sabri says the responsibility is with each U.S. taxpayer and voter since the U.S. continues to send financial support to the Israelis.
Immigration Fraud Conviction In U.S. Discussed
Other speakers discussed the recent conviction of Rasmea Odeh, a woman who fled Israel saying she had been tortured there. She was convicted of immigration fraud because she didn’t reveal on her immigration application that she had been sentenced to life in prison in Israel for her involvement in two terrorist bombings in Jerusalem in 1969, one of which killed two people, and involvement in an illegal organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She spent 10 years in prison before she was released in a prisoner exchange with the PFLP in 1980.
Odeh’s counsel maintains she did not receive a “full and fair trial” because the judge would not allow her to testify to her claim that she was tortured by the Israeli military, which he ruled irrelevant to the issue of whether she lied on her immigration application.
Jim Dimock of Minnesota State University, Mankato discussed the human rights conditions he witnessed in Columbia where he says afro-columbians, small farmers, indigenous persons face persecution.