Ferguson

Cops and Corporate America backing off

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Just a couple of days ago, this blog site commented that we are starting to win. Now we have confirmation from today’s Wall St. Journal. A front page article in today’s paper is headlined, ”

“Police Move to Revamp Tactics

Departments Rethink Training Amid Wave of Protests and Federal Scrutiny”

They report “Police departments around the country are racing to develop new training rules on the use of force…. In many cases, departments are grappling with how to prevent encounters between police and citizens from escalating into deadly ones, especially with minorities, as was the case in two deaths that have sparked nationwide civil-rights protests. Those protests continued Thursday with demonstrators gathering and chanting for change in New York, Washington, and elsewhere.”

The article goes on to report that part of the problem, as they see it, is that police are too aggressive, that they need to be taught to deescalate things. Among other things, this means backing off from the current policy of teaching the cops not to hesitate for one second to shoot.

This makes it perfectly clear: The protests and the militancy of those protests is forcing Corporate America and their politicians and other representatives (including the cops) to back off. Even House Speaker, Republican John Boehner, is getting in on the act. “Clearly both of these [murders of Michael Brown an Eric Garner] are serious tragedies that we’ve seen in our society and I think the American people want to understand more of what the facts were. There are a lot of unanswered questions that Americans have and frankly I have.”  Even James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police felt forced to admit, “I don’t think cops are perfect by any stretch and sometimes they make mistakes.”

Still the enemy

It’s not that Pasco – defender of the racist and repressive police, or John Boehner, one of the leaders of the attacks on human rights and on working class people in general – are “changing”. It’s not that they will ever be anything but the enemies of all working class people. But these comments do show a couple of things:

  • Whatever difference may exist between the corporate-controlled liberal Democrats and the corporate-controlled conservative Republicans are minor at best. They all simply respond to our pressure out in the streets (and freeways), in the communities and the work places. That’s what counts, not electing more Democrats.
  • While still in its very earliest stages, this movement is already starting to have success. This shows what tremendous potential power we have. 

We have to keep the pressure on. Build the movement in the streets (and freeways). Sink deeper roots into the working class communities.

Investigation

There are all sorts of calls for investigations by the US Department of (in)Justice. This is the same force that has led the repression of Muslim people and has vastly increased surveillance over people in this country. They may yet bring charges against Wilson (in the Michael Brown case) and Pantaleo (in the Eric Garner case), and this is good, but they will never be on our side.

Even the United Nations is getting into the act, and this is good also. But we shouldn’t have any illusions in them. This den of thieves is simply the combined governments of all the capitalist nations of the world – the same governments that are repressing their own people as well as waging wars all around the globe.

International People’s Investigation Possible?

We would like to raise this: Is it possible to organize workers’ panels, workers’ committees, to investigate police abuse and racism in every major community in the country? These committees could hold public hearings where youth and workers and the unemployed could come and testify about their own experiences. Then, from there, would it be possible to organize an international workers’ investigation into human rights abuses in the US? This would involve organizing to bring over workers’ leaders as well as just some rank and file workers from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Australia to hear evidence and decide whether or not to convict the United States government as a human rights abuser. 

One final point: Everybody knows that the issue of police brutality, homicides and police racism does not exist in a vacuum. It is inextricably linked to the issue of mass

Nick Hanauer, self styled ".01%er"  He wrote: "And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks....  "I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.... It's not if. It's when."

Nick Hanauer, self styled “.01%er”
He wrote: “And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks….
“I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.
If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us…. It’s not if. It’s when.”

incarceration of black and Latino people. And that issue is inextricably linked to the issue of economic inequality in general. As the billionaire Nick Hanauer wrote in his famous piece The Pitchforks are Coming, “You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state.”

That is why the struggle against police brutality and racism is linked with the struggle for decent jobs and higher wages for all. And that is also why it must ultimately be linked with the struggle to bring down capitalism itself, the struggle for a democratic socialist society.

  • Build the movement in the streets and freeways and in the communities and work places. Demand the convictions of the police who killed Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford. etc.
  • For elected community patrols in every working class community to patrol the police and keep the community safe from all violence and crime – both police crime and otherwise.
  • For both local and an international people’s investigation into US human rights abuses.
  • For an end to solitary confinement and other forms of torture in US prisons and for union rights for prisoners and for the minimum wage to apply to prisoners.
  • For a $20 per hour minimum wage, a guaranteed job with union rights, socialized medical care, and free higher education for all.
  • For the movement to put up its own political candidates, completely outside of and in opposition to the Republicrat politicians and paid the same as the workers they represent.
  • For socialism; take under public ownership the commanding heights of the economy (the banks, major corporations, etc.) and democratically plan production under the direct control and management of the workers themselves.

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2 replies »

  1. The international review board with workers and leaders from other countries to investigate our human rights abuses is a great idea. It flips the paradigm of American leftists supporting other workers in other countries, which is good because this is solidarity not charity.

    As for the demands and program you lay out, I wonder if you would consider incorporating Malcom X Grassroots Movement’s demands? https://mxgm.org/national-demands-for-racial-justice/

  2. Thanks for your comment and for pointing out these demands. It shows how no one group can come up with a “complete program” on its own, nor was that our intent. The “preliminary demands” of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement are definitely right. It seems that the boycott of Black Friday has already happened to some extent and it helped build an anti-consumerism mentality, which is good, of course. We are not sure about some of the other demands. For example, there is nothing wrong with calling for divestment of Missouri bonds, but it raises a question – how about bonds in New York (Eric Garner), Cleveland (Tamir Rice), Ohio (John Crawford), etc.? And then, if churches, unions, etc. divest from these bonds, what will they invest in instead? This writer once asked somebody he knows who had successfully invested in the stock market what stocks he’d invested in. It turned out they were all either oil companies or companies in the arms industry. So socialists should support divestment campaigns where they exist (such as the BDS campaign regarding Israel), but we are not so sure about raising this demand ourselves. Militarization of the police is an important issue and we certainly should campaign to reverse it. It’s also right to link this issue with the issue of social spending, which is implied in our call for jobs, socialized medical care, etc.

    There are some other demands, though, which we question.

    On the elected community police control boards – what used to be called “community control of the police”: The issue is that “the community” will never be able to control the police, any more than it will be able to control any wing of the government. All government bureaucracies are set up to prevent this; those who run it are tied by a thousand threads to the corporate heads – the capitalist class. We think, instead, we should look to our own organizing, our own forces, to resolve issues. This includes the issue of public safety (i.e. “policing” the community). If there were a campaign for such boards, it would be supportable, but we think socialists should propose something more in the direction we have – elected community patrols. And we note that this bases itself on the traditions set by the Black Panther Party.

    We have more serious problems with the demands which base themselves on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. In the first place, expecting the US government to commit itself to a process of truth is not exactly realistic. It is better to explain that this government never has and never will tell the truth and to call for the truth to be revealed through action independent of the government, the corporate media, etc. And to call for “the US government commit to a process of Truth and Reconciliation similar to that employed in post-Apartheid Azania (South Africa)” is even more problematic. It seems to us that this process in South Africa was aimed at reconciling the new, post-apartheid regime with capitalism. We see where that has led – to neo-liberal policies and repression, such as the massacre of the striking miners in Marikana in 2012.

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