by Ellen Isaacs
At least 4 young men of color have been killed by the police in the last 2 weeks: Pedro Villanueva, Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, although there has been little publicity or outrage about the first two. Even the mass rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore have not changed the impunity with which cops can murder black and Latin citizens. Although many cities have paid millions of dollars to the families of murdered relatives in the last two years, conceding that malfeasance occurred, and some cops have been fired, not one has gone to jail.
Even though we have a black President and Attorney General, the racist violence continues. It is not a correct response to set out on an individual rampage, as did the Dallas shooter, whose killing skills were taught and mind warped by the racist New Black Panther Party and by serving in the US military slaughterhouse of Afghanistan. It is also not a correct response, as do liberal politicians and “community leaders”, to call for better police training or more minority police. They are relieved that the murder of the cops in Dallas can be used to promote sympathy for the police and mitigate the anger against police murders.
Since their origin as slave catchers, the police have played a role in society: to control and intimidate the poor, minorities, and the rebellious. As political science professor E. B sharp says (Social Science Quarterly, 87:2, 2006), “Heightened police staffing still appears to be part of a social-control phenomenon of subduing a population perceived to be rebellious.” When police harass poor people on the street for selling merchandise (a result of high unemployment), for congregating in their own decrepit housing, for driving cars with broken down parts, they are carrying out purposeful intimidation. The aim is to discourage rebellion against poverty and its consequences. The police also serve as strike-breakers and to contain protesters who step off the sidewalk or raise their fists too high. By concentrating in communities of color and arresting far more residents there than in white areas, they build on racist perceptions and fears.
It is heartening to see the large, multiracial protests that have erupted around the country. But we must remember that when such movements grew after Ferguson and Baltimore, many devolved into nationalism. Even Black Lives Matter, which has been on the forefront of much protest, has chosen to marginalize white and Latino supporters into separate “allied” groups. As our blog posts have emphasized, the entire working class is hurt by racism and capitalism. If we are not united together, we will not have the strength to maintain a mass movement that questions the role of the police and the exploitative system they uphold. We must be united to resist the role of politicians or police chiefs who claim to be our friends because they are of the same color. They do not represent our interests. We must see ourselves as united with working people and students around the globe to resist being drawn into ever more resource wars, building lasting movements on the job and in our schools. There is no doubt that as wars escalate, climate change worsens, and the economic system deteriorates, all of us will be targeted by increasingly aggressive police, as we have seen in Ferguson and Baton Rouge, trying to quell our outrage.
FIGHT RACISM AND POLICE TERROR, IN THE US AND AROUND THE WORLD