By JEFF MACKLER
— Jeff Mackler is the 2016 presidential candidate of Socialist Action. —
Five hundred and seventy one and counting have been killed by U.S. cops this past year, an all-time high in recent decades, according to figures posted in the U.S. edition of the British-based Guardian newspaper.* The majority murdered were Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American. One hundred thirty eight were Black. For the year 2012, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s research put the figure of Blacks murdered by cops and vigilantes at 313, averaging one every 28 hours.
These are curious facts, which need elucidation. In only a handful of these murders was a cop convicted or even charged. “Self defense” was the time-honored defense of the police. They were said to have feared for their lives when “confronted” by Black people who were almost always unarmed.
In the few instances when charges were brought against these institutionally sanctioned killers, compliant racist judges and consciously hapless prosecutors conspired to convince carefully selected juries, usually stricken of Black members, to find the killer cops innocent. This is the same scenario that is unfolding in Baltimore today, as Freddie Grey’s murderers are acquitted one by one. The unspoken conclusion in all these “legal” proceedings was that the Blacks got what they deserved.
This is the rule, not the exception, in racist America. In many respects, it is not much different than in the days when lynching Blacks was unofficially sanctioned, or in slavery times when vigilante slave catchers were legally assigned the role of cops to capture, kidnap, and return the slave master’s “property.” As in the epoch when tens of millions were sacrificed aboard the slave ships and on the slave plantations, the ruling one percent today subordinates anything human to their lust for profits. Their greed is epitomized by the school-to-privatized-for-profit, virtually slave-labor, prison-industrial complex.
Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Kajieme Powell, Michael Brown, and now Baton Rouge’s Alton Sterling and Minnesota’s Philando Castile have been added to this endless list of capitalism’s near-daily executed victims. In the old days only the eyes of the Klan killers and sometimes cheering racist crowds, amongst whom were elected police officials and politicians, witnessed the murders in mass orchestrated public lynching rallies. Today, however, the murders of Sterling and Castile have been caught on video for the world to see.
These horrors have stirred a new generation into action, marching down the streets to the applause and approval of millions. They march to mark the victims of police violence and to demand a new society. Increasing numbers—especially young people—doubt that the present capitalist minority-controlled order can ever be reformed. The previously forbidden word, socialism, is on the lips of millions.
Today, protesters march in the hundreds and thousands, at times courageously facing lines of police in battle gear. Tomorrow, as the protesters gain in experience and political clarity, they will be the critical organizers of millions in massive actions that are capable of engaging the broad working class and of closing down the nation’s factories and cities. The movement that they lead will challenge the capitalist system at its roots, and will embark on the construction of a new social order free from the inherent horrors of minority ruling-class domination.
Meanwhile, President Obama, undoubtedly aware of the revealing three-year Center for Policing Equity study of 18,000 use-of-force incidents that has just been released, was compelled to note the “racial disparities in the criminal justice system.” This think tank’s investigation found that “the use of force was disproportionately high for African-Americans,” almost quadruple the use of force against whites.
But Obama’s Warsaw speech on July 8 focused on the “vicious, calculated, despicable attack on law enforcement” in Dallas. Within minutes of the Dallas shooting murder of five Dallas cops and the wounding of seven others by a deranged Black Afghan War veteran, few were shocked at the police-fabricated story that was almost immediately broadcast across the country. We were told that this had been an orchestrated “triangulated” assassination, initiated as a revenge killing by several individuals.
Indeed, four “suspects” were almost immediately arrested, including Mark Hughes, whose brother was scheduled to speak at the mass anti-police violence march of thousands of predominately Black protesters. Hughes’ photo was broadcast front and center in newscasts worldwide.
Within days the police conspiracy lie evaporated and all suspects were released. The sole Black shooter, Micah Johnson, who tragically and mistakenly believed that racist murders in America could be avenged by killing cops, was murdered by a remote-control military-grade 500 pound guided robot that ignited a bomb that ended his life—the first robot ever deployed in the U.S. and yet another example of the ongoing militarization of U.S. police and other repressive forces.
The Socialist Action 2016 Campaign joins the protesters in the streets in demanding: Prosecute and jail killer cops! Police out of the Black community! No to racial profiling! End stop and frisk! Black lives matter!
* The Guardian based its report on partial records of U.S. police departments across the country. The vast majority don’t report figures to federal agencies.