Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: Legalized Cop Violence

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“When a gang member is beaten by persons unknown in a mixed neighborhood, and the Black gangs begin terrorizing WHITES, it is called racism; a bunch of cops can ride through Black neighborhoods all day beatin’ ass, and call it law; when a bunch of Blacks beat one of these cops’ ass it’s called mob violence.”

-JOHN AFRICA (May 1967)

 

A young woman, engulfed in a diabetic coma while sitting in her car, is repeatedly shot by a corps of cops, who say they are threatened by the young woman. Tyesha Miller, of Riverside, Calif., becomes a statistic.

A young man sitting in his car in North Philly is surrounded by a phalanx of armed cops, whose guns are pointed at him from all points. He is ordered to raise his hands. When he does so, he is shot to death by one of the cops, who insists he thought he saw a gun.

The 18-year-old is unarmed. Donta Dawson becomes a statistic.

An emigrant from the West African nation of Guinea comes to America, taking an apartment in New York’s Bronx Borough. When four NYPD cops approach his door, reportedly because of a suspected rape (he was not a suspect), he is shot at 41 times.

Nineteen shots hit him. Amadou Diallo was unarmed, and will never return to West Africa.

In case after case after case, in city after city, from coast to coast, such cases arise with alarming regularity, worsened by the realization that, in most cases, cops who have committed these acts, that if committed by others would constitute high crimes, will face no serious prosecution, if any prosecution at all.

They are, the corporate media assures us, “just doing their jobs”, “under an awful lot of pressure,” or “in fear,” and therefore justified in what they do. In the language of the media-the very media that make their millions off of the punishment industry calling for the vilest sentences known to man, and turn, in the twinkling of an eye, into paragons of mercy-who lament that the “fine young men” who “served their community” are in “trouble”, or have “suffered enough.”

The suffering of the slain, because they are young, and Black, are all but forgotten in this unholy algebra that devalues Black life, while heightening the worth of the assailants because they work for the state.

The worst lie that is often trotted out when such cases occur is when politicians and media people sing the praises of such people, who are called, by virtue of their jobs, “public servants.”

Since when have servants (of any kind) acted in the vile, arrogant, monstrous manner that many of these cops do in Black, Hispanic, and poor communities?

Since when have such servants been in the position to slaughter, shoot, humiliate, and imprison the very public they are sworn to serve?

They are servants, if at all, of the political structures of which they are a part, not of the people. They are servants, if at all, of the state.

They serve the interests of capital, of the wealthy, of those who run this system from their bank vaults and corporate offices.

They do not serve the poor, the powerless, nor the uninfluential.

They never have.

They are an armed force organized to protect the interests of the established, and those who own capital. The history of labor in this country is splattered by the blood of trade unionists who were beaten, shot, and crushed to the earth for striking against the trusts, combinations, and megacorporations of capital.

Who did the beating? The shooting? The crushing?

The cops, who served the interests of a state that declared, as did the Supreme Court, that unions were “criminal conspiracies,” and that “the Constitution was … based upon the concept that the fundamental private rights of property are anterior to government and morally beyond the reach of popular majorities.”

[Citation from Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, “The New Class War: Reagan’s Attack on the Welfare State and its Consequences” (1982), citing Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States” (1965).]

Capital’s voice (the media) and their agents (the politicians) unite in a chorus of support for their legalized killers, who bomb babies with impunity (remember May 13, 1985-Philadelphia), who shoot unarmed kids in their cars, and unarmed African emigrants, whose only capital crime is being Black in modern-day America.

This legalized violence that they do daily proves that violence is not a problem to the system-when it is their’s against the people.

This awful crime must cease.

©1999 maj

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