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Reparations: An Alternative Legal Preview to the Charge of Genocide

February 11, 2005

Submitted by Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Michael Covington, Ali Gibran, on behalf of the Georgia State Black Studies Department (Dr. Akinyele 0. Umoja)

As a result of America’s crime[s] against humanity, regardless of the direct or indirect victimization, we as a people suffer and will continue to do so until there is psychological, economical, educational, and monetary atonement. It is imperative that as a nation we reap the benefits of the blood, sweat, and tears that our ancestors poured into this land. The perpetrators of these crimes have yet to embrace our claim for reparations or even acknowledge it as a crime in and of itself. Therefore, if we are to be students of history (which we are), it will take a strategic conspiracy, secretly and overtly, to apply espionage and sacrifice in bringing the defendants of these crimes into negotiation.

We are conscious that legal, political, and moral persuasion, collectively, represents the utopia of opportunities to rectify these crime[s]. However, within our strategic approach towards reparations, we must filter out the opportunist, neo-colonist, apologist, and the immediate gratification seeker. The appropriation of reparations must have a long term objective and not be viewed as a quick payday, only to have the long sought after compensation returned to the hands of the perpetrators, leaving our people worse off than before and without merit for future claims.

The inclusion of the multitude of talent, intellectually, diplomatically, economically, of the African Diaspora, on a national and international theater, is essential to the comprehensive context of our victory.

Most importantly, the only true super power, which is the mass of a people on one accord, must be firmly entrenched in the justness for reparations, the benefits of reparations, the hope for reparations, and the ultimate demand for reparations. Then and only then will these crime[s] against humanity be rectified.


It is important that the reparation formation have full understanding of the significance of the three Seminole Wars. These wars are hidden in the history of the African’s struggle for freedom in North America. In this context, the Anti Slavery Struggle.

The conflict/war between the American Government and the Seminole Nation set the stage for the first International Treaty between the U.S. and a foreign nation. A true legal and political study of these wars would reveal this government’s historical role in the violation of international law from its inception. Even more so, its use of international law to force other nation[s] to diminish our standard as human beings to property is in legal standing. The predicate acts of a conspiracy that makes the government clearly a defendant in any pursuit of judicial remedy for compensation for our suffering.

The United States Government must become a defendant because of the courageous struggle of our ancestors, who fought waves of wars against this conspiracy that we now recognize. The forty five years of those sacrifices are viewed not as rebellion and revolt, but wars of the classical character of wars of the 19th century. The Seminole Wars were fought and initiated by this government on behalf of slave holders and businessmen of the south for the economic commerce to enhance the wealth of this government. So it logically follows why our struggle for reparations on a legal front demands inclusion of the United States Government as a defendant.

The Gabriel Prosser Revolt, the Nat Turner Revolt, the John Brown Revolt are distinguished from the three Seminole Wars, though, they parallel the same time line. However, these revolts are deemed internal conflicts subject to domestic law and remedies and the Seminole Wars are considered by their nature international conflicts, requiring the application of international law to its resolution. This also factors in a basis to hold this government as a conspirator which amassed economic superiority over the world at the cost of our suffering, which was a grave violation of human rights history.

Because the issues surrounding reparations affects the entire New African nation, including prisoners, we at U.S. Penitentiary Atlanta offer the following:


The push for reparation must be a deliberate action in which all the various experiences of N’COBRA, the Minister Louis Farrakhan, Conrad Worrell, et. al., must be structured so that the whole represents a holistic view. In particular, we must focus on all viable regional strategies. Also, it is equally important that we stress active engagement through top-down organizational schemes where power is centralized. Such an approach would allow us to make better use of our extended networks, ultimately granting us the capacity to fight on different fronts simultaneously. We must adopt a strategy where operation is on a level where we can compete for our rights in court, while influencing Congress from a philosophical standpoint of slavery being a crime against humanity that bears their remedial consideration. Additionally, centralized power could better assist in the organizing of ideas needed to educate the masses because it is vital that there be only one ideology. Due to the many dimensions and identities of various groups vying for reparations, the masses have been subjected to discordant viewpoints, further enhancing the divide and conquer potential of a disorderly house where the masses rank and choose, which in turn, destroys the natural and normal channels of cooperative unity.


The crime[s] against humanity that resulted in the capture, enslavement and brutality of the African people has no other parallel. Our struggle is global. These crimes have shaped the worldview of modern civilization and even governs the experiences and expectations of all citizens worldwide today. Unaware of this historical reality, African people have been unable to recognize the unique character of their contributions (albeit forced) to the global economy. As long as we are ignorant of the central role our enslavement has played in the awesome wizardry of present day technology, we will continue to be easily manipulated. We have been systematically “Bamboozled” so that we cannot accept our self-alienation from the rest of the human family as the rule of law. Another significant cost of our social and political debilitation is that we, as a people, have yet to realize the prohibited price tag of thinking logically. Slavery, with its related violence and brutality, is a crime against humanity whose very nature insists that the matter be decided in international court (i.e. the World Court). If, as a matter of principle, the United States Congress, the court system, or corporate america, either individually or collectively, address and remedy our injustices, then this would be accepted as a first step towards adjusting their national debt to us. If not, we should demand redress in the global and international arena.


The crimes against humanity inflicted upon African people changed the course of human existence. Therefore, the resolution of this crime will have global implications. It has always been fashionable for the government to delude us with the belief that slavery ended in 1865. In contrast, we deny this institutionalized fallacy. In this country, slavery is virtually synonymous with inner city living. The same symptoms that made plantation life such a horror are still intact in the urban environment; therefore, slavery continues today. And it will continue to enjoy a perpetual shelf life as long as oppression and inequality are the ingrained expression of this country’s natural character. As long as nothing is done to reverse the misery and suffering of people of color, or to correct the vision of the greedy, shortsighted leaders who initiate the politics that circumvent our economical, educational, political, social, and human rights, then slavery will continue as an elaborate system to break the universal spirit of people of color. In brief, how can slavery have received a proper burial when the people supposedly emancipated by its death still have every facet of their existence dominated and controlled by an ideological, spiritual, and educational body that demeans them? How can any people not be deemed slaves when they have been taught to offer unquestioning obedience and subservience to a government that has emotionally crippled them? Historically, any people who have been trained to be dependent are slaves. In this country, urban slavery is the organized racketeering of the state.


Where there exists any crime, especially a crime against humanity, in a period where no domestic law existed, to remedy such crime, international law must be used. We contend that the formalized internment of the Japanese during World War II, though inhumane, does not rise to the standard of gross inhumanity inflicted upon African people during the horrific centuries of slavery. So, the formalized redress of Komosotus is not applicable. In fact, we believe that the legal objectives of the Japanese remedy would denigrate the human suffering of the African Holocaust. To focus our energy on “Komosotus-type” remedies would only divert our attention from the international aspects of our claims, thus allowing our enemies to preempt our duty to present our case before an international court. We must understand the full dimension of our claim for reparations. It will be that much easier for the U.S. Courts to label the terms and conditions of our remedy. As the injured party, African people must decide how they want their demands for reparations to be perceived instead of trying to evaluate our plight, which has no parallel, to that of another people. It is not equal terms with Komosotus that we are seeking, but superior ones. The reparations that we seek are for genocide, not internment.


Post official slavery didn’t end in 1865. In fact, the conditions of slavery and the continued acts of genocide, as interpreted and developed in international law still exist today. To be successful we must cease and desist from contentment with piece-meal solutions. We must search for absolutes. However, in order to reach this level of accomplishment, we must recognize what laws infringe upon our autonomy. If people of color are to understand the nature of their current condition in this country, then we must realize that long before we even know what was occurring, the government was initiating domestic law and policy that violated international law. This is nothing new. The practice dates back to the New York Treaty of 1785-1789, which was a law (signed by George Washington) to circumvent the international law against the transportation of slaves. By mutual agreement with Congress and the Supreme Court, this law was the legal cement that helped prevent us from gaining our autonomy and human dignity buy superceding our classification as “humans,” instead declaring that we were property. This law doomed our future well being because to one degree or another property was mere cargo which could be sold, transferred or bought at the owner’s discretion. This act was the first legal endorsement against our ethnic identity. Yet, others were to follow, most definitely the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. Sadly, people of color have made an industry of not being able to recognize the “our side” and the “enemy side” of the laws in this country, and for that reason we applaud the external authority of the Constitution and lesser laws that impose restraints upon us. In brief, we envisioned enjoying security and racial fulfillment, via the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. But rather than being ethnocentric (centered around our ethnic being) these laws were egocentric (an attempt to relieve white guilt). In any event, these amendments conjured up a picture of us that had nothing to do with our self image as newly freed men. We wanted rights. We got privileges.


For reasons that need to be fully developed, we have discovered through a variety of studies that there is sufficient evidence to establish that slavery, via genetics, is the hereditary basis for the physical and social conditions of our people. Due to the knowledge of genetics it can no longer be held that descendants of slaves were not directly harmed by the ravages of slavery. In the same way that our collective gene pool contained a gene that made us less susceptible to malaria during slavery, our ancestors soaked up all the knowledge of how to be a slave and as a conditioning mechanism to ensure our survival, the information was encoded in the structure of our ancestors DNA, performing its function of fitting us for survival in an environment where it would have been impossible to exist without the proper coping devices. So the death of our ancestors does not vindicate the slave masters because the gene of slavery still exists within us and our thoughts, ideas and attitudes clearly demonstrate this. Because our desires and fears are so closely related to the mindset of our ancestors, we still promote an image that is not compatible with our pre-slavery heritage. Having learned how to internalize slavery has only tended to make us more adept at playing the games of slaves and slave masters. We have become neurotic in that all our socially motivated behavior is premised upon our powerlessness. Our social and political inadequacies compel us to beg. We engage in this self-condemning behavior because our sense of purpose has been diluted by the environmental DNA we inherited from our ancestors.


It is imperative that we take an in-depth look at the economic gap between “US” and “THEM.” In this way, we will get a grand view of the intimate relationship that weds corporate america to the big government. If we are to take responsibility for our future, we must grasp the fundamental fact that our bondage represented the ultimate quick-fix solution to this country’s laws of economics, and every time we act without reference to America’s national addiction to slave labor, we doom our own experiment with seeking justice. The government has aggressively promoted and supported corporate thievery, encouraging it by lax laws and regulations that allow big businesses to generate enormous profits at the expense of the people and the environment. So, to ignore that the government and corporate media are a team would be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. We can better prepare ourselves to confront both our traditional enemies, the government, and our non-traditional enemies, big businesses, by understanding that the long odds we face in gaining economic parity has political consequences, that the system was designed to induce our failure and hence our dependency. What we must realize is that by being unaware, we acquire boundaries which not only limit us economically, but which also circumscribe what we can become as a people. Because from the issues that we’ve faced in this country, the public institutions most willing to crush our efforts have been the government and corporate america. Why? Because time and time again, no matter how far back in the history of our affairs in this country, you will find that the devilish partnership of corporate america and the government have intentionally stifled us. When it comes to us, the very nature of their complicity forced them to unite against us.

This commercial pact between government and big businesses can actually be traced back to the beginning of the slave trade, and it was not merely the merchants involved in the Royal Africa Company whose charter states:

We hereby for us, our heirs and successors grant unto the same Royal Africa Company of England… That it shall and may be lawful to… set to the sea such as many ships as shall be thought fitting… for the buying, selling, bartering, and exchanging of, for or with any gold, silver, negroes, slaves… witness the King at Westminster the seven and twentieth day of September 1672.

Now, what must be remembered is that many of the so mentioned heirs ended up in America. In 1651, Samuel Vassall, a major shareholder in the Guinea Company, was one of the main founders of Massachusetts. He also combined with Lord Berkeley to develop Virginia. In fact, when a group of businessmen called the Royal Adventurers were granted a license on the slave trade for a thousand years, the list of investors included four members of the Royal family, two Dukes, a Marquis, five Earls, and seven Knights. For them the traffic in blacks was a treasure hunt. Most of the persons involved in the various slave trading companies came to own land in America, thus, now having two major investments to protect, so that by the 1700s, slavery was a nationalized industry. When the treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1713, it gave the British government the greatest commercial prize of all times: the contract to import slaves to the Spanish West Indies. However, the British government sold the contract to the South Sea Company. What this demonstrates is that international law has never mattered when it came to people of color. Governments bought and sold the contract to import slaves as convenience dictated, never opposed by international law. The same is true today. The government and corporate america are twin evils, albeit, the most powerful forces in our path for self-determination, and we seek new innovative strategies by which to confront them. International law, as shown by the United Nations, is impotent in the face of a super power, so how can we depend on international law when it cannot defend its own principles. We must struggle in the trenches, in the streets, and then on to the high heavens if we are to succeed, all the while remembering that we are alone.


The Treaty of New York is thus an example of how, as Joseph Singer has argued, “[t]he history of the United States law, from the beginning of the nation to the present, is premised on the use of sovereign power to allocate property rights in ways that discriminated—and continue to discriminate—against the original inhabitants of the land.” However, this first treaty did more than impose the white settlers’ system of land ownership on the Creeks, it also imposed on the Creek settlers racial hierarchy and laws that defined people as property. The Treaty provided that the Creeks were to “deliver, as soon as practicable… all citizens of the United States, white inhabitants or negroes, who are now prisoners in any part of said nation.” The United States interpreted this to mean that the Creeks not only had to return fugitive slaves, but were supposed to capture Black Seminoles, many of whom had been free for generations, and turn them over to the United States to be enslaved. This Treaty illustrates a pattern which has continued to the present day, i.e., the use of international law by the United States to enforce its particular system of property rights, a system inextricably related to the maintenance of racial hierarchy. This symposium focuses on the intersection of critical race theory, which endeavors to analyze the influence of race and racism in the legal system, and international law. Although these bodies of law and theory are usually regarded as separate disciplines, when we look at race and racism in American law and the relationship of our government and domestic legal system to international law—how we shape and promote, as well as disregard, the global rule of law—we see that these two areas not only intersect, but have been inextricably related throughout U.S. history. The United States government was formed to protect and promote the interests of a relatively small group of people. This was accomplished in part by the creation of a system of laws particularly favorable to property interests, and by defining “property” under the law to include human beings. The emergence of “race” and racism in the United States must be understood in the context of an economic system heavily dependent on slave labor. One cannot understand the United States Constitution without knowing that it owes its existence to the elaborate protections of slavery built into it. Similarly, to understand the United States’ complex and contradictory relationship to international law, it is important to know that many of the first encounters with international law, including the first treaties, wars and violations of other nations’ sovereignty, were rooted in a determination to protect the institution of slavery and the economic interests of slaveholders.

The Seminole Nation is an Indian tribe formed after the European conquest
of American and composed of both Native Americans and African peoples. Some members of the Seminole Nation are descended from escaped African slaves who resided among several Native American groups living in what is now Florida. These Native American groups, along with the Africans living among them, became known as the Seminoles.

Pressured by powerful slaveholding interests, the United States government attempted, with considerable success, to build protections for slavery into international law. Beginning with the new nation’s first treaty, U.S. agents tried to negotiate international agreements requiring other sovereign nations—the Creeks and Seminoles, as well as Britain, Spain and later Mexico—to capture black Seminoles and turn them over to U.S. agents who would enslave or re-enslave them. In treaties with these nations, the U.S. included indemnification for lost property, and then tried to enforce a definition of “property” which included both people who had escaped from slavery, and those who, by virtue of their African heritage, were presumed under U.S. law to be slaves. Under this interpretation of the law, if another nation gave sanctuary to people fleeing slavery, it owed the United Stares money, as if its citizens had stolen horses or ships. The United States engaged in three wars against the Seminoles (1st—1818-1823; 2nd—1835-1842; 3rd—1855-1858). Each was, as commanding General Jesup said of the second Seminole War, “a negro war,” not because the Indians happened to have Black allies who fought with them, but because the U.S. government was fighting people of African descent to preserve the institution of slavery. Tens of millions of federal dollars and thousands of lives were lost trying to keep Florida from becoming a safe haven for fugitive slaves and, in the process, allowing military forces to engage in profitable ventures of slave-catching and piracy.


The National Bar Association Magazine summarized the case:

According to the complaint [in Davis v. the United States], the plaintiffs… are Estelusti Seminoles, descendants of Black fugitives who fled plantations in the south and in the Caribbean to join secessionists from the Creek, Micco-suckee, and other Native American [nations]. Together these African American and Native American people settled in Florida in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and formed the Seminole Nation… [I]n the 1820s and 30s, after bitter warfare against the U.S. government, the Seminoles, including the Estelusti, were deprived of their lands and sent to what is now Oklahoma. In 1990, the United States government provided some $56 million in compensation for this land taking.

International law, formerly known as the Law of Nations, is a component of this nation’s domestic law, enforceable in federal courts. Independent of the Acts of Congress, Justice Marshall said, an Act of Congress ought never to be construed to violate the Law of Nations. If any other possible construction remains, international law is part of “our” law and must be ascertained and administered by the Court of Justice of the appropriate jurisdiction as often as the question of rights are relevant.


If forced to prove the survivors direct causation, we, in a scientific presentation, can show through genetic testing that lack of certain enzymes can be found in children who have abusive parents, they will have an emotional reaction, which demonstrates a lack to control anger. Clearly, there are other prevailing medical phenomena that point to hereditary traits, ills associated with emotion and physical contradictions. The search for DNA markers for disease would be realistic to prove direct causation. We should understand the potential political philosophy of DNA genetics. When pushed to prove a crime against humanity, of such proportion, we must at least review science theory on both sides, such as James Watson, Dr. Francis Wesling, Jewel Pookrum, and Naim Akbar. The Japanese American precedent for reparations, legislation in cases such as Komosotus, which has the potential of becoming standard in civil law, which is a proposition we must reject as not applicable as outlined in the Natsu Taylor Suito essay on race and property in international RICO Act (Racketeering, Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act), 18 USC 1961. Slave owners and others who profited from chattel slavery and its racist Jim Crow offspring constitute a continuing criminal enterprise. The kingpins of slavery used profits derived from their crimes against humanity to invest in “legitimate” businesses, not unlike the mafia. Acts considered racketeering under RICO are many and include kidnapping, theft and obstruction of justice. Under RICO, an economic or other identifiable goal is required. Slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, convict leasing, etc. all conceivably fall under the rubric of racketeering acts. There are many wealthy American corporations whose economic roots are embedded in the blood and suffering of slaves. There is much American wealth steeped in the ideology and practice of white supremacy. Any group of individuals associated or who acquire, conduct or participate in an enterprise, through a pattern of racketeering activity, are subject to criminal and/or civil prosecution under RICO. A finding of guilt subjects them to enormous forfeitures and civil remedies, including monetary awards of triple the amount of damages claimed. Power and wealth derived from slavery and its legacy form the basis for criminal and civil liability under RICO. It is time for the estates of the original American racketeers to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity and for their descendants to pay up.

When the United States government manipulates its laws and treaties in order to further an horrendous, illegal activity such as slavery, for the purpose of benefiting economically and financially from said illegality, they become co-conspirators.


The incidents of September 11, 2001, place international issues at our doorstep. As more African Americans, as well as, so called White America, come to acknowledge the impact of international policies on their lives, morally, as well as principally, the legal and political strategist of the reparation movement must familiarizes themselves with the past and present international norms of human rights, intellectual property rights and law to gather the historical, social and legal impact so that we may be better able to prove in the World Court that the United States government initiated conspiracies to manipulate international law from its inception. Their primary objectives to continue the dehumanization of our ancestors for the purpose of commerce and racial superiority, are a violation of past and present law.

We look forward to the struggle intensifying. We understand that we can learn a lot from the Jewish struggle for land, just as we can learn from the horrors of the genocide of the indigenous native people in America. We will continue to pursue our responsibility for healing within our own nation by self-criticism, preventing horizontal aggression, self-hate, and self-destruction. We must be able to reach a higher spiritual plane.

Atlanta, Georgia July, 2003

Dr. Mutulu Shakur (83205-012)
P.O. Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa
USA 50947-0001


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