(en)Class war and the police (FWD)

ILAN SHALIF (gshalif@netvision.net.il)
Wed, 03 Sep 1997 14:20:28 +0300

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Class war is not only in factories and other work places. Police, the front warriors of the capitalist class are more and more brutal - as class war intensify and finds it expression in divergent aspects of social life. Following is an article about aspects of class war directed against the police.

--------------------FWD message---------------------------- Subject: AUT: "Turning the Tide" editorial on police abuse Date: Tue, 02 Sep 1997 11:05:41 -0500 From: Michael Novick <mnovick@laedu.lalc.k12.ca.us> Reply-To: aut-op-sy@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU

The following is the text of an editorial on police brutality which will

appear in the up-coming issue of PART's journal "Turning the Tide," (Volume 10 #3, Fall 1997) going to the printer within the week.

I would appreciate any feedback or comments.


The horrifying police torture of Abner Louima in New York City has once again drawn media attention to the issue of police abuse, brutality, and corruption. But the media focus on the forcible sodomy of this Haitian immigrant -- by cops with a stick, apparently from a toilet plunger, which police then shoved in his mouth, breaking his teeth after they had torn his rectum, bowel, and bladder, -- to the exclusion of numerous other cases, including killings, not only in New York but around the country -- reinforces the police claim that such a horrifying incident is only an "unfortunate aberration."

Nothing could be further from the truth. Within a week of the torture of Louima by officers in New York, a white cop in a suburb of Dallas, Texas was acquitted of killing a 52-year-old mentally-ill Black man.

Police in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens shot and killed Alfieri Shinaia, 23, after he didn't raise his hands when they ordered him to, while they were serving a search warrant. Chicago police shot andkilled Andrew Durham, 21, an unarmed Black man. Baltimore police shot and killed James Quarles, 22, an unemployed Black man holding a knife on the street while onlookers pleaded with them not to shoot. An off-duty Philadelphia cop set his girlfriend on fire. And Nashville police shot and killed Leon Fisher, 23, leading to a night of rebellion inthe Black community. Not one of these incidents made the news outside of their local communities. Not one was mentioned in a single news report about the Louima torture case.

What these incidents make clear is that police abuse, brutality, and corruption are not isolated, not aberrations, but a serious, systematic,

and ongoing problem that demands immediate, concerted, and uncompromising action on a national level.

PART has been involved for many years in the struggle to hold the police accountable for crimes they commit. Our perspective is that because of the colonial nature of United States society, the police function as an occupying army in oppressed communities, and as border guards in more privileged communities. In this context, we can understand why police abuse, brutality, and corruption is a growing problem. As the political and economic elite intensify their exploitation of workers and colonized people in the global economy and within the United States itself, the need for repression, imprisonment, and even the kind of torture visited pon Abner Louima is also increasing. The struggle against police brutality must take these realities into account.

PART is proposing several points for action on a national level to deal with police abuse. We believe that this program can unite diverse forces from many different communities in the kind of concerted effort, based upon the principle of solidarity -- that an attack against one is an attack against all -- which is necessary to uproot not only police brutality but all forms of repression and colonial violence. We understand that in this regard, the only true "good" cop is one who steps forward to blow the whistle on the perpetrators of police brutality.

Otherwise, the dichotomy between good cop and bad cop is simply a matter of tactical role-playing, which the cops habitually use in order to break the resistance of people whom they are interrogating. In other words, the good cop only serves to make the bad cop seem more intimidating, and the bad cop serves to make the "good" cop seem (falsely) like a friend or confidante. This basic strategy of the carrot and the stick is followed not only by the police but by all institutions of social, economic, and political control. Thus we see the two-party system, in which the parties take turns playing good cop and bad cop to various constituencies.

No single action, demonstration, or campaign is sufficient in itself to deal with this enormous problem. This means that a multitude of actions and approaches must be supported, coordinated, and combined so that our efforts reinforce each other to accomplish our goal. We must overcome sectarianism, organizational jealousy, and localism. All our best efforts are required.

First, we must support and seek justice for the immediate victims of police abuse, brutality, and corruption. Also, we must build a community of resistance that embraces the families and friends of all such victims. Abner Louima, whose brutal torture by the New York police has brought the issue to national attention once again, deserves our loving support; and the police and political leaders responsible for his torture deserve our energetic outrage. This same love and outrage must also be made manifest in the cases of James Quarles, Alfieri Shiaina, Andrew Durham, Leon Fisher, and all of the many hundreds -- indeed thousands -- of people killed, maimed, and abused by the police every year. This requires an ongoing commitment, particularly by lawyers and other legal personnel, to challenge police abuses in the courts. It also demands community fund-raising efforts and other cultural activities, so that victims and their families will not be neglected or forgotten.

Second, we must develop a street-level capacity to monitor the police in order to prevent the daily harassment, brutality, and intimidation of the community, particularly communities of color, that make possible the more notorious killings and other atrocities. This would include such efforts as COP-Watch, which have begun in several cities, some under the auspices of Anti-Racist Action, others independent. COP-Watch projects must be set up in many more cities and in many more communities. Their efforts must be coordinated on a national level when they expose evidence of brutality or abuse. In addition, we need community education about people's rights vis-a-vis the police, so that the young people who are often the target of police hostility know their rights. Such efforts as AWARE in Orange County, which addresses police harassment and mug-shots of Asian-American youth, should be duplicated in other areas.

Third, we need to incorporate into the struggle against police abuse, brutality, and corruption people who are not often directly victimized by the police, or who may think of the police as their protectors. In other words, white people, who have in the past supported the police in the majority, must be educated and struggled with about the true nature of policing in our society. This is a fundamental aspect of breaking reactionary solidarity on the basis of whiteness, of ending an identification with and as the oppressor. We have to educate people about the relentless, systematic nature of police abuse, brutality, and corruption. PART has been contributing to this educational effort by maintaining, along with several other police- accountability activists, an e-mail list that circulates incidents of police misconduct around the country. Almost every night, drawn from local mainstream media sources, we e-mail out from 5- 15 articles about such police criminality and repressiveness around the country. A more systematic search, combined with better grass-roots monitoring and reporting, would amass such incontrovertible evidence that even those who blind themselves to police abuse would be forced to see, and to act.

One possible way to focus this awareness and action is through a political campaign for community control of the police, a demand first raised by the Black Panther Party. This demand for community control is an anti-colonial, anti- authoritarian demand. It is distinct from so-called community oriented policing, which is a strategy being implemented in cities across the country under police auspices. That strategy is, in the words of a police proponent, the domestic equivalent of psychological operations in warfare by the military -- the attempt to control the thinking of an enemy or the population. Community control of the police, on the other hand, would involve elected boards of community residents who would have the power to investigate, subpoena, and discipline or even dismiss abusive police. The campaign to create and institutionalize such community control boards would hopefully involve broader sectors of the population, as well as providing an opportunity to unite the various communities of Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and Native people who have been the principal victims of police brutality into a united front.

Finally, we must make every sincere effort to unite existing, ongoing projects and campaigns. Right now, there is a National Coalition on Police Accountability, NCOPA, which mainly incorporates groups focused on civilian review boards, as well as some law enforcement professionals, especially Black cops, who are genuinely concerned about police abuse. At the same time, there is a national effort initiated by the Center for Constitutional Rights, and incorporating many committees for justice for individual victims of police murder and brutality, which held a national conference last spring and is calling a national demonstration in September. Furthermore, the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, initiated by the Revolutionary Communist Party, but which has drawn participation from many concerned individuals and organizations, is about to hold a second national day of protest in cities across the country. The differences in political culture and ideology that have separated these efforts must be overcome. The need is too urgent to allow such differences to impede our efforts. None of the named campaigns or coalitions puts forward the anti-colonial politics that guide PART in our efforts against racism and police brutality. Nonetheless, PART has endorsed and supported all of these campaigns and coalitions. Only such a non- sectarian approach will give us a chance of success against the forces of reaction and state repression. If you have accounts of police brutality to share, or evidence of organized white supremacist involvement in law enforcement and prisons, please communicate with PART, PO Box 1055, Culver City CA 90232; tel: (310) 288-5003; e-mail, part2001@rocketmail.com.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

Be PART of the solution -- People Against Racist Terror/ PO Box 1055/Culver City CA 90232-1055/310-288-5003/ Order our journal "Turning the Tide." mnovickttt@igc.org

Free Mumia Abu Jamal! Free All POW's and Political Prisoners! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

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