How many people on Wall Street have been arrested for their crimes large and small — crimes of greed and fraud that nearly bankrupted the global economy and destroyed the futures of millions of families? How many politicians have been prosecuted for taking millions of dollars from private prisons, prison guard unions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, tobacco companies, the NRA and Wall Street banks and doing their bidding for them — killing us softly? Oh, that’s right, taking millions from those folks isn’t even a crime. Democrats and Republicans do it every day. Our entire political system is financed by wealthy private interests buying politicians and making sure the rules are written in their favor. But selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged. – Michelle Alexander (Author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.)
Yet again we are driven deep sorrow, grief, and anger as more unarmed black men are murdered by police, as armed white men are arrested with non-lethal tactics.
This racial disparity in policing tactics is stunning and horrific. I am committed to Black Lives Matter and radical restructuring of our criminal justice institutions including courts, laws, and police. Michelle Alexander’s recent posting on facebook quoted above links to an article outlining the systemic barriers that force many Black persons to engage in petty criminal actions just to get by in our society. Then, police officers use deadly force to wipe out the criminal element created by our economic and social structures.
I reject the idea that killing police officers does any good. Even as an aspiring revolutionary, I can see plainly that the conflict between the old and new systems is not advanced one iota by isolated killings of police officers. Revolutionary forces in our society lack any organized and disciplined capacity to use lethal force to effectively overturn the system. Any deployment of revolutionary violence must occur in such a manner as to not simply play into the hands of the current system. The repression that has followed the multiple murders of police is falling directly on the heads of communities of Black and Brown peoples who already are the constant targets of race and class violence every day.
What we must do now is build our movements against the systemic slaughter of Black and Brown persons. We must also fight to restrain the police forces around this nation that have become havens for racist killers. Studies have shown that a large number of current police officers have ties to white supremacist organizations and movements.
There is indeed a strong class power dynamic within this unbridled police power. Not only race, but also class position determines who is most likely the target of lethal police actions. I have been harassed on the street by the police when I was much poorer than I am today and was occasionally mistaken for a homeless man due to my worn out clothing. I never felt I was in danger of being killed, but I do have some ability and experience to grasp just how terrifying it is to be poor in our capitalist society. To also be Black or Brown is to live in constant terror. An little known fact is that most police killings are of white persons, though as a percentage of the total populations, Black persons are killed by police out of all proportion.
The struggle must continue. The revolution cannot wait.