Fixing Pandemic-level U.S. Racism: a Matter for Law or Re-education
(Note: Art Matters: Murals depicted below were painted on the plywood boarded up store fronts in Minneapolis following the cop murder of George Floyd.)
The U.S.A. history of policing, so-called “law enforcement,” starts with slave patrols, home-style militias dedicated to catching runaway slaves, and returning them to their “owners.” With such roots, can “law enforcement” ever be reformed?
And, now that law “enforcement” has become the war at home is reform even possible?
1033 is the name of the war-come-home in pilot cities like Minneapolis and Portland, both of which are fully occupied 24/7 by our domestic armed forces known as national guard and municipal police. It is the name ascribed to the federal program which allows municipal police forces to buy “surplus” battle-grade equipment such as tanks, half tracks, armored vehicles, and sound canons, prompting police to morph from “serve and protect” (the wealth of others) to a fully militarized force. The Pentagon has funneled more than $7.4 billion worth of military weaponry to domestic law enforcement throughout the U.S. Provide the appropriate costume, and the actor learns to swagger. So too with police.
To bring 1033 to a city near you two forces were at work in tandem. The first, the insatiable need for profits by America’s good-for-business great portfolio booster, the munitions industry; the second, by our apartheid bedfellow Israel which for the past two decades has been using its armed forces (the IDF) to inculcate our own municipal police both here at home and abroad in Israel in the refinements of “crowd” control like “accidental” shootings, kneecappings, beatings, arrests, and kidnappings, all in response to peaceful demonstrators. These methods are useful in Israel which aims to steal more and more Arab land for proliferating Zionist settler communities; and in the U.S. which needs to deter resistant protest wherever it crops up, whether in response to a knee to neck cop murder in Minneapolis (George Floyd), or a police shooting In Columbus, Ohio, which just happens to have occurred as the Chauvin guilty verdict was handed down.
I quote from an April 25 bulletin issued by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network: “Testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the depraved murder of George Floyd began on March 29. In the 19 days that followed, police in the U.S. killed at least 64 people, with Black and Latino people representing more than half.”
Moments before the verdict came in, 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. That same morning, Mario Gonzales was killed by police in Alameda, CA, and the following morning, police shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr. in the small town of Elizabeth City, N.C.
Following the murder of George Floyd, caught on camera by a courageous teenager, anti-police-terror demonstrations are occurring nationwide. “My daddy has changed the world,” proclaimed George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter. His brother, Philonise, reported receiving messages of support from well wishers throughout the world. Black Lives Matter proponents are declaring that the unwillingness of Americans to accept cop lynchings any longer is the culmination of the BLM movement. But nowhere is the press reporting that the backlash, as it is experienced in Minneapolis is terrorizing the black community as KKKers and their sympathizers move in from around the country, threatening Black-owned small businesses, and private citizens who fear for their lives.
A recent analysis by the Movement to Stop Mass Incarceration takes a hard look at The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA), calling its role an effort “to diffuse the righteous anger and rebellion against the brutality and murder by the police, and [to] protect politically the same system that the pigs protect violently.” Although it purports to bar the use of chokeholds, they have been used with impunity for the past 28 years in N.Y.C., despite there being 1,100 complaints about their use to the civilian review board, which dismissed all but ten. A chokehold was used to kill Eric Garner, but the only person arrested was Ramsey Orta who took the video of the killing.
JPA purports to bar no knock warrants, but it still permits “quick-knock” warrants. All cops have to do is knock and shout “police“ before breaking down a door. JPA purports to end cop militarization, ending the 1033 program. But the DOD has already distributed some 7.4 billons in weapons of war to 8000 police departments nationwide. And it allows armored vehicles to continue to be transferred if the Secretary of Defense “considers it necessary.” JAP purports to end qualified immunity, which makes it difficult to sue cops for violations of people’s civil rights. In the past ten years cities have paid billions to settle such lawsuits and consider it just the cost of doing business. JPA aims to increase federal supervision of municipal police to discourage racial profiling, a broadening of policies already in existence, and which can lead to “consent decrees.” Under such a decree the LAPD boasted that in 2019 it had only killed 12 people, down from 25 in 2015. But its use of batons in this same period increased by 38%, resulting in fewer murders, but increased beatings.
Had the JPA been designed to really mean business, ending the victimization of POC, its terms would have been air tight.
The big question really has to do with culture. If we recognize that culturally, racism is deeply embedded in the United States, we need to question whether the law is the appropriate modality to encounter it.
As things now stand, the question remains, how can the “law” be a little bit pregnant and still be the law?
Tonite’s headline: Police go missing as Proud Boys shut down park in Oregon for armed far-right rally
DEMAND DOJ act to hold all law enforcement accountable.
URGE Congress to implement police “reforms” to stop extra-judicial executions.
PASS the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
SIGN petition to all U.S. mayors to defund police, reallocate funds to serve communities.
DONATE to 16 Black-led organizations working to end racism and oppression.
SIGN petition addressed to john Kerry to connect militarism and the climate crisis.
PROHIBIT military ‘aid’ to Israel
CEASE Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians from E. Jerusalem.
DONATE to support The Intercept’s investigation of police crack downs on demonstrators.
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