CAMBRIDGE, Mass.––On March 31, 2016 a Pinellas, Florida sheriff’s deputy was responsible for the drowning deaths of three teenage African girls, Laniya Miller, Ashaunti Butler (both 15 years of age) and Dominique Battle (16).
Despite an attempted cover-up by the Sheriff’s Department, there is police evidence that Howard Skaggs, head of the Department’s DUI undercover unit pursued the three girls in a county-prohibited high-speed chase, with no official markings or blue lights required to identify law enforcement.
Deliberately chasing the girls into a trap in which there was no light and a pond at the end of the road, the girls’ vehicle did as Skaggs thought it would, and crashed 15 feet into the water. Despite hearing the girls’ cries for help over a period of at least six minutes, a helicopter, 12 police cars, 17 deputies, and Skaggs failed to rescue the drowning girls. What is more, Skaggs had done the same thing to Laboriel Felton, an 18-year-old Black youth in 2002. Claiming to be rescuing Laboriel’s dog, Skaggs beat Laboriel to death by crushing in his skull. The incident was ruled to be a justifiable homicide because there were no witnesses.
The Sheriff’s Department claimed in their cover story that the three girls had stolen the car at a Wal-Mart, and yet the facts behind the case are murky at best, and point directly to the pattern of colonial oppression imposed upon colonized peoples, and especially African—not only in Florida, but around the US and the world.
Since the murder of the three girls, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) has been on the ground, hosting demonstration after demonstration, distributing over 10,000 fliers over all the communities, the African community, and the white community, throughout the month of July 2016 to change the narrative of the Sheriff’s department who continue to put out these lies and this slander.
In the last few days the same racist sheriff and his henchmen illegally car chased down six black boys killing 3 and landing the other three in the hospital. International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) is putting enormous energy into raising funds for justice not only for the 3 girls, but now also the boys, so all funds raised at the CILD presentation went to those defense efforts.
The InPDUM is the working class Black-led mass organization under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, which is fighting for Black community control of the police and created the Committee for Justice for the 3 Drowned Black Girls to not only fight for justice in and around St. Petersburg, but for everybody to join on an international level.
On Wednesday, August 9, the Committee for International Labor Defense hosted KC Makey, of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, who gave a presentation to the public at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was joined by Dexter Mlimwengu of InPDUM, and together they painted a vivid picture of vicious attacks experienced by the victims and their families, and of the fightback mobilization.
The CILD joins with the families and friends of the three girls, and now the three boys as well as the larger community, to demand that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri be removed from office. Furthermore, a proper investigation and criminal charges should be brought against the deputies for their role in these murders. The constant attacks by US law enforcement and imperialist military campaigns overseas, on colonized peoples, and especially Africans, is a shameful part of the neocolonialism, capitalism and racial oppression.
International Labor Defense calls on all workers, in all countries, to unite against these injustices and show solidarity with the movement to demand justice for Laniya Miller, Ashaunti Butler, Dominique Battle, and the countless other Black victims of racist imperialism.
How to get involved in the 3DBG Campaign:
There is a weekly call-in campaign every Wednesday. The list of African children they kill keeps getting longer. Please sign up to make the calls. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.