Cops at the Capitol — Racist Mob in Our Ranks!

(The following statement is the outcome of a collective discussion among leader/activists in SEIU Drop the Cops, an international, rank-and-file group of Service Employees International Union members. Formed in the wake of the massive George Floyd uprising and the murder of Rayshard Brooks in June 2020 by racist white members of SEIU/NAGE (National Association of Government Employees), their primary demand is SEIU disaffiliation of all law enforcement “unions” in its ranks. A full list of demands is here: Socialist Action members of SEIU have played a leadership role in this united effort.)

The January 6storming of the Capitol by a right-wing/white supremacist mob at the instigation of Donald Trump shocked the world and laid bare the social and political crisis in the United States. Rather than the result, specifically, of Trump and Trumpism, the events of the 6th were decades in the making, and the latest symptom of the past 40 years of bi-partisan neo-liberal attacks on workers, the poor, oppressed, and BIPOC. 

From Reagan’s attack on the air-traffic controllers union in 1981, Clinton’s ending of “welfare as we know it,” to the Biden/police collaboration on the 1994 crime bill, and Obama’s threat to use the National Guard on a Longshore Workers strike in 2012 — workers and BIPOC have been on the defensive to protect the social, economic, and political gains won in struggle. Meanwhile, the dominant political system serving the 1% continues its incessant attacks of progress made by social movements of the past 100 or more years which won the 8-hour work day, Social Security, womens’ right to vote, a powerful union movement, the end of Jim Crow laws, access to reproductive justice, gay marriage, and more. 

The 2020 Floyd protests awakened 16-24 million anti-racist fighters who made history by demanding a new world, one re imagined by limiting to totally abolishing police, who, for 300 years, have terrorized BIPOC communities, workers, and any and all movements fighting for a world based on justice, democracy, and equality. 

It is no surprise, given their shared dominant ideology of white supremacy and other retrograde views, that police collaborated with the right-wing mob on January 6th. We find no comfort, therefore, that the entire labor leadership endorsed Joe Biden, who, in the midst of the Floyd protests and the massive economic crisis borne by workers and BIPOC, has called for $300 million for the police, with self-described “Top Cop” Kamila Harris at his side and Obama gas-lighting the movement for demanding police defunding. 

Tech barons who control modern day social media communication have deplatformed Trump and some of his acolytes, but this points up the unchecked power of a handful of billionaires whose censorship has already been leveled against left-wing critics of today’s system. It’s a slippery slope. We believe that in order to challenge right-wing attacks and white-supremacist violence, the movement must out-mobilize right-wing forces by organizing workers and the millions of anti-racist fighters from this past summer. The future of our struggle resides in our own power, not the power of the 1%. 

SEIU Drop the Cops, born out of the inspiring Floyd mobilizations, demands that SEIU’s leadership turn away from organizing the purported 15,000 police in our union’s ranks. If the murder of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta by two SEIU/NAGE members was not enough, witness the massive mobilization of armed and violent police throughout the country against the largely peaceful anti-racist protesters this past summer. Witness the police in Kenosha, WI collaborating with white supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two anti-racist protesters. Meanwhile, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry on November 7th told one of our siblings that her focus is on trying to get police to address racial injustice. “I’m not giving up on them,” she said. SEIUDtC wonders what happened to her statement this past June in which she said police in our ranks was a “which side are you on?” moment and that expelling police union from the labor movement “has to be considered.” Democratic participation among the rank and file must be central for this critical decision. 

In times of economic crisis, Democrats and Republicans alike have historically turned to austerity measures against working people to pay for trillion-dollar bail outs of the rich. And when working people fight back, police are deployed against our just strikes, like we witnessed during the 2020 SEIU/California Nurses Association strike against the Alameda Health System system for Covid-19 job safety and other demands. Police protected buses full of scabs. When our homes need to be safe havens against the pandemic, the looming eviction crisis will come at the barrel of police pistols. 

It’s clear to SEIU Drop the Cops and our like-minded siblings in the AFL-CIO that police have never been on the side of workers: every single action by organized labor since it’s inception has been opposed, often violently, by the police, who serve only to protect the private property of the rich, from the slaveocracy’s chattel, to the slumlord’s tenement. 

The police are enemies of the working class and not one more day should they remain in our ranks. We need reinvigorated unity among organized labor and oppressed groups in a politically independent mass movement to fight the rise of the white supremacy and fascism. 

No cops in our unions! 

Organize the unorganized! 

• For a mass jobs program! 

• Mass independent political action to fight white supremacy and fascism!   

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