Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: Public Servants or Paid Predators?

When are you Black folks gonna throw off the KILLERS that are JAILIN’ YOU for murder?

-John Africa, from “On the MOVE!”, Philadelphia Tribune, July 26, 1975, p.6

The Amadou Diallo trial of four white cops charged in the firestorm slaughter of the West African has ended in the predictable acquittal of his killers.

When is a killing not a killing? Apparently, this is so when the victim is someone slain by the police. When police kill, it is an accident, a “mistake,” an “oops!”

Let us examine how the police achieved this judicial sleight-of-hand. As soon as the case arose, the legal forces defending the state fled the very area that the police claim to be “serving.”

Why is it okay to enforce the law in a given neighborhood, yet automatically wrong to have citizens of that same neighborhood try to enforce (as jurors) some of that same law when it comes to these particular public “servants”? Those four cops fled the jurisdiction as quickly as possible, showing their continued, naked contempt for the people that they say they were sworn to “serve.”

Amadou Diallo was “served” by the state, and his name has now become a dark example of the paramilitarism of police power; the deadly wages of the so-called “oops factor.”

In New York City in recent months, Black and Latino men have been shot for having keys, candy bars, wallets in their hands. This deadly rain of “accidents” is an official expression of Negrophobic oppression, and it can only escalate after this unholy acquittal of the four killer cops from the Bronx.

When the case began, the police immediately opted for a bench trial, before a judge, not a jury. When an African American jurist was selected, they put in a change of venue motion that put them on the first-thing-smoking to Albany, in upstate, white-bread New York. So much for the “community” that they “serve!”

The service that the state delivers is death! What of the recent case of the Orthodox Jewish man, Gidone (né Gary) Busch, who was cornered by four cops in Boro Park, New York City? Busch, a Ba’altshuva (newly Orthodox Jew), was shot 12 times outside of his home.

Immediately, New York’s mayor, Rudolf Giuliani, and Police Commissioner Howard Safir attacked the dead youth, and painted him as a “fanatic,” whose shooting was “justified.” Key to their justification theory, was their claim that Busch “attacked” an officer with a hammer.

Eyewitnesses uniformly disputed this claim, but nonetheless three months after the August 1999 shooting, a Grand Jury exonerated all four cops, and pronounced the killing “justified.”

Welcome to the Terrordome.

The vile and violent attacks on Black and Puerto Rican life in the nation’s capital of capital cannot long be limited to their communities. Consciousness does not obey the laws of geography, and repression, like water, seeks the lowest level.

A conservative, pro-Giuliani, Orthodox Jewish community is still, essentially, a Jewish community. And the social forces that truly run New York regard them as another flavor of difference.

Busch’s life, like Diallo’s life, was expendable in the larger interests of the consolidation and projection of state police power. Both men were gentle souls, who couldn’t fathom the hatred and vehemence with which they were perceived by the police.

Both men were executed twice, once in the streets near home, and next in the court system, where their sacrifice was deemed acceptable to the larger political interests of the status quo.

According to published reports, one resident of Boro Park confided to a Black reporter, “Yesterday I believed that when the police would shoot down a Black man, they had a reason. Now I realize that the police can be animals-and they have the power to cover it up at all costs. The next time a Black man gets shot, I’m marching with you.” (Village Voice , Feb. 29, 2000, p.42.)

Let us hope that really happens, so that a vast movement can be built.

©MAJ 2000

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SPONSORED By THE MOBILIZATION TO FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL & THE INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL. CO-SPONSORS: Courage Foundation/Assange & Middle East Children’s Alliance, Arab Resource Organizing Center. HEAR Alice Walker, prize-winning novelist; Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers; Jamal Jr, Mumia’s grandson; Chris Hedges, prize-winning journalist