It is now even more official: It is perfectly legal to murder black people, including children, especially if it’s done by the police. That is the outcome of the grand jury decision not to charge Cleveland cop Timothy Loehman. District Attorney Timothy J. McGinty justified the decision. In other words, the DA, who is supposed to be seeking grounds to prosecute possible crimes, sided with the defense.
The cops came out because somebody had called in saying that he saw a kid posting a gun at people. The caller said he thought the gun was probably a toy. McGinty claimed the murder was justified on the grounds that Tamir was reaching into his waistband. But even if he was, the cops had no way of knowing if he was reaching to draw a gun. In fact, they didn’t even know for sure at that point that Tamir was the individual who had the gun. And even if they did know, Ohio is an “open carry” state!
“The police have such a hard job. They are in danger every time they put on their uniform,” we are told. That is why they have to make split second decisions and shoot first and ask questions later. Is that so? According to the statistics, work related police fatalities rank tenth of all occupations, at a rate of 18.1 per 100,000 police officers. This includes not only cops who are shot on the job, but those who die in traffic accidents, etc. And when you look at those shot, the numbers are even more stark. Consider the graph below. It shows the number is near an all-time low.
On the other hand, according to this article, the cops shot and killed nearly 1200 people in the US in 2015. And while all races were affected, at 6.94 per million, they shot and killed black people at double the rate they shot and killed whites.
Some have called for federal investigations into such murders. But consider the federal “Justice” Department deal with the Ferguson police. There, the Feds are recommending increased training for these racist cops. That’s all.
The “Justice” Department is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Others place their hopes in the liberal Democrats, especially Bernie Sanders. From time to time, when under pressure, Sanders has commented on the issue. In the main, he relates the issue of police murders, especially murders of black people, to the issue of low wages and unemployment. It’s undeniable that economics is related to racism, but this is not the central issue here. In effect, what Sanders is implying is that the poverty in the black community is causing higher crime rates and more violence in the black community, and this is the cause of the police murdering black people. To put it simply, Sanders is saying they are killing black people because black people are acting badly.
This shows how this most liberal of all prominent Democrats is simply part of the system.
Back in August of 2014, when nearly the entire black community of Ferguson erupted, one Ferguson resident who was a member of the United Auto Workers union reported to this writer that his local union leaders had told him “this is not our battle.” The union leadership is representing the employers on the job and the Democratic Party politically. That’s why they take this hands-off position.
Occasionally, they will speak out against police brutality and racism, as in the march led by the Longshore workers union in San Francisco last May Day. Even here, though, these same union leaders continue to support the same politicians who are covering up for the police.
So, one necessary step is to struggle to build a movement inside the unions to make them fight for their members on the job and to break from the Democrats and support independent workers’ representatives, who are opposed to the Democrats and Republicans.
Criminal (In)justice System
Occasionally, the criminal (in)justice system will make some concessions. For example, in the police murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009. In that case, because of the public outcry and because of the clear evidence due to the existence of the video, one cop (Johannes Mehserle) was prosecuted. What happened was that the judge in the case gave the jury incorrect information, leading to an extremely light sentence being given to this particular murderer. In the case of Laquan McDonald in Chicago, also with similar clear evidence, one cop might be prosecuted, but it’s certain he won’t get a sentence similar to other cold-blooded killers.
These few cases show that the court system is just as political as the rest of the government machinery; public outcry, pressure and disruption have an affect. But they also show that we can never get real justice through this system.
In the case of Noel Aguilar, the video clearly shows the cops shooting a handcuffed man lying on the ground and planting a gun on him to justify it. The media and the politicians are helping cover up such police crimes. https://youtu.be/ql9RIeYEyyw
Clearly, a wider and deeper movement is needed. Who knows how successful a serious, sustained and systematic drive to organize in the working class communities could be? This would include actually going out to the parks, the high schools, the street corners and initiating discussions on this issue and the other issues that affect working class and oppressed communities, including the economic issues. Through this, a real mass mobilization, similar to what happened in Ferguson in August of 2014 immediately after the murder of Michale Brown, might possibly be organized on a national basis. This could lead to some concrete and sustained follow-up steps, including organizing community patrols similar to what the Black Panther Party did in their heyday. It could also be a major step towards the running of workers’ political candidates who are completely independent of and opposed to the Republicrat paradigm.
That, in turn, could lead to a mass radical workers’ political party – a first step towards building a real revolutionary movement in the United States.