The police agencies attacks against minorities in the United States does not seem to end; cases of abuse and death of blacks and Latinos in the hands of the police are daily.
By Corriente Obrera – U.S.
The reasons that justify these actions (according to police) are almost always the same: “the life of our agents were in danger, so they fired”; the results of the investigations (also by the police) in most cases yields the same result: “the agents acted within the rules and procedures of the institution”. Thus justifying the murder of a black man who sold cigarettes in a parking lot and the child playing with a toy rifle in a park. In the case of a young black woman who did not make the appropriate signal to change lanes on a highway (arrested and found dead in her cell the next day), the police version is that she committed suicide. That of a motorist who was stopped by the police and according to the agent “brought his hand to his waist as if going for a gun”; the driver ended up dead but no weapon was found. There is also the case of a homeless woman with mental problems who allegedly threatened the agents with an utensil… and so on.
The victims are always black and [email protected] from poor neighborhoods. In 2015, 990 killings by law enforcement agencies across the country were reported, according to the Washington Post -1200 according to The Guardian-; so far this year it is reported that over 925 have been killed, and the list undoubtedly will continue to grow.
The Chronic Crisis Of Capitalism And The Laws Against The Poor
Capitalism’s chronic crisis condemns daily large segments of the population to permanent poverty, preventing large sections of minorities to access decent work and wages that would enable them to live with dignity. This leads to the impossibility of access to good healthcare, denial of decent housing and healthy food, limited access to transportation, limited access to children’s quality education, etc.
In some cases, many of the repressive and racist laws date back many years, as the laws of racial segregation against blacks, which has existed since the founding of the Republic. Although these laws were officially abolished as a result of the glorious struggles for civil rights of the 50’s-60’s of the last century, its existence is very palpable today in the form of economic oppression and police repression, just to mention some forms of “subtle” modern racism.
But there are also modern laws passed under recent governments. We have to mention in particular the Democrat government of Bill Clinton, whose administration played a very special role in passing laws that have a fatal impact on impoverished minorities and the middle class:
1) The Glass–Steagall law for bank deregulation, which was instrumental in the explosion of the 2008 crisis, fading bank accounts of the “common”, of “Juan and Pedro”, retired workers whose deposits vanished when they were used in the Wall Street “lottery” game.
2) The NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement; which was presented as a panacea for all ills, and made it possible to send many industries southwards in search of cheap labor, leaving thousands without jobs in the U.S. and in the process destroying trade unions.
3) The “Crime Bill”; a law that imprisons under long sentences any individual for possession of marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, and a series of misdemeanors, mainly affecting large segments of black and [email protected] youth, under the policy known as “War on drugs” (which began under Nixon, in 1971), and at the same time creating the basis for the development of the “prison Industrial complex”, which has the shameful record of hosting the highest number of imprisoned population (mostly Black and Latino) of the so-called ‘industrialized nations’.
4) The “Welfare Reform”; a reform of social programs that also affected the Black and Latino and poor whites, and threw millions of families into a destructive spiral: single mothers who were totally dependent on these programs sank into poverty; many of them ended up in the streets (homeless), others succumbed to drug addiction producing the tragic result of family disintegration. A large number of the population also ended up trapped in the project of Prisons (Prison Industrial Complex).
All these are laws were passed by the federal government.
Others worthy of mention, by the impact they had in minority youth, are: the policy of “broken windows”; Bill Bratton, the New York police chief who also served as such in Los Angeles, has been one of the driving champions of this policy that punishes and jails for the slightest offenses, arguing that such procedures will prevent a person from committing more serious crimes in the future.
It is also necessary to mention the procedure known as “ Stop, Question and Frisk”, which gives the right to the police to stop anyone, but fundamentally directed against black and Latino youth, because the police “suspects“, based on racial profiling, that the person may be involved in a crime or is about to commit one; the police can stop whomever and submit them to a physical examination and questioning, suspected or not.
Also, the policy of “Secure Communities”, which targets the undocumented population. In theory such a policy is aimed at the persecution of an “undocumented” person with a criminal record, but in reality this law has been used to indiscriminately deport the righteous and ‘sinners’. Through this enforcement policy, most immigrant neighborhoods remain in constant distress.
Also, an increasing state of militarization of the police agencies is being implemented by the Department of State’s Project 1033, providing the police departments with high power military weapons, as if there was a state of readiness for a confrontation with impoverished urban youth through civil war methods. This state of militarization is also being carried out on school police forces.
The neighborhoods of the big cities in the United States are everyday scenes of police operations, similar to cities in state of war: movement of patrol cars at high speed with their sirens at the highest level of explosion, always accompanied by helicopters flying over the area of operations.
While these conditions persist, the confrontations with police forces will not cease and the list of unpunished dubious ending murders will continue to grow. It is said that every 14 hours (others say every 28) a person of color is killed under questionable conditions by law enforcement agencies. It seems that in the era of chronic crisis of capitalism, the lives of people of color are simple disposable objects.
Many intellectuals have developed the narrative that racism has ended in the U.S. by having an African American president in the White House. Nothing more false! Capitalism feeds and promotes racism; Mr. Barack Obama does not represent the poor and people of color in the United States: he is a faithful representative of the American intellectuals and a faithful servant of the imperialist bourgeoisie, and most likely after his services as president, as fair reward for a job well done, he will have a free path to be a member of the elite club of millionaires in the country. Simply put: he is the unscrupulous executor of war plans, exploitation and internal and external oppression of the Imperialist American Bourgeoisie. Barack Obama has bloodstained hands in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, as well as with the use of drones, and the murders by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are part of his record and responsibility.
We cannot forget Obama’s campaign promises for undocumented immigrants, promises that sadly ended in 3 million deportees and countless cases of family separations. We can affirm that, although it seems contradictory, racism and discrimination have increased under the leadership of the first African American president in the United States, and in no way have disappeared, as we are led to believe, just by having a black president at the White House.
As the murders of African Americans are increasing, we have witnessed the emergence of a movement known as “Black Lives Matter” (BLM), which initially was driven primarily by black women and middle class intellectuals linked to universities; a movement that is now becoming popular nationwide and has much acceptance, especially in the black middle class. According to its spokeswoman in Los Angeles, California, Melina Abdullah, the BLM movement has 28 “chapters” nationally and works at a decentralized level. As we have said, their work is mainly among middle class. To this day, we do not know the development of any work, on their part, to try to organize the poor-working class neighborhoods with the intention to incorporate the poorest sectors – which are most affected by misery, abandonment and police repression – into their movement.
BLM is presented as a proposal aimed exclusively at the black population, and therefore, in our point of view, with sectarian lines, by not taking into account other large minorities like latinos, who are victims of the same abuses; further, immigrants without legal documents are persecuted, imprisoned, deported, and their families separated. Melina Abdullah explained that despite the name BLM, its meetings are open to everyone who wishes to participate.
We at Corriente Obrera believe that for the struggle to be effective it’s necessary to create a vast coalition that brings together and fights to unify all sectors affected by police repression, a coalition that fights to integrate the poorest and forgotten, that promotes a fight street by street with the firm intention to incorporate and mobilize; only then we will open the doors to great opportunities, being inclusive and not exclusive.
We want to make special mention of the event that took place on July 7 in Dallas, Texas, in a peaceful march organized by Black Lives Matter: there was a shootout with the police guarding the march, killing 12 people, including 5 policemen. The shooter’s name was Micah Johnson, a military veteran of 25 years, heavily armed, who according to a police spokesman “wanted to kill white policemen”. After relevant research, it’s now known that Micah Johnson suffered from mental problems, abandoned by the system like most war veterans.
We would also like to make something clear regarding this type of individual actions: although we understand the state of despair and anger felt, and the great temptation to resort to individual action, we firmly believe that a real solution can be achieved only through raising mass awareness and mobilization. When we proceed with individual actions we cede the initiative to the racist, advocates and apologists of police repression, as it happened in the case of Dallas. Micah Johnson was killed using a robot that carried a bomb killing him instantly; as far as we know, this is the first time the police, in the United States, uses this kind of “weapon” which is part of the new war arsenal of the security forces, and perhaps the beginning of a near future in police tactics of repression.
To conclude, we would like to present a list of demands that we believe should be part of our objectives, program demands to fight and succeed:
- For the unity of black, latino and immigrant working class, independent of the Democratic and Republican parties.
- For a program of public works to combat unemployment among minority youth.
- For a massive housing construction program to combat extreme poverty (homelessness).
- Stop the militarization of the police.
- No to mercenary occupation of our neighborhoods.
- The police must be members of the community they serve and live in.
- The police must be supervised by a civilian committee composed of people in their patrolling neighborhood.
- For the disarming of the police.
- Stop the racist drug war.
- For the abolition of the prison industrial complex.
PS: In the last week, closing this article, three more African Americans have been killed in the Southern California area.