American Police, institutional racism and black population

   

Protests erupted in more than 30 cities in America against police brutality and racism.

                                                 

 The institutional racism and police brutality is a known fact in America. What happened on May 25 in Minneapolis is not an isolated incident but part of a larger problem. The American ruling class and political establishment are not seemed interested to address this widespread problem.

George Floyd, a black man suffocated to death with a Minneapolis Police Officer’s knee to his neck on May 25th, 2020. The footage clearly shows the police lied about Floyd resisting arrest. Police aggressively arrested Floyd based on a report that someone in the area tried to use a fake $20 bill. Beyond the basic idea that murder is a horrific and unjust response to the mere accusation of a crime of poverty, Floyd’s murder is a chilling preview of the state’s response during a deepening economic crisis that has resulted in nearly 40 million people unemployed.
Floyd is captured on video repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”, which tragically recalls Eric Garner who was murdered by police in 2014. His death had sparked mass days of action during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. 
                                                   
The death of George Floyd once again opens the flood gates of anger that exist in the society against racism and police brutality. Within hours, the deep anger erupted into protest and thousands of people marched to the Third Precinct. Overwhelmingly supported and attended by the wider community, the protestors greeted by people on the streets. The protest was met with teargas, rubber bullets and flashbangs.
The use of force against peaceful protestors not only spread the protests to other cities including Washington where people organised forceful protest outside White House. Thousands of people are continuing protests in more than 30 cities across America.     
These protests are the most viable way to win #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd and bring attention to the ongoing reality of police brutality. We should expand the struggle to include broader mobilizations for coordinated mass days of action that involve youth, communities of color, and the wider working class. There is a risk that on-going protests without a sustained, coordinated structure can lose momentum. A well-organized mass movement can  begin to address the structural racism and inequality that surrounds police violence by taking up demands for social programs, public education, and permanently affordable social housing.
                                                   
The Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) response to these protests stands in stark contrast to how armed “liberate the state” protests were handled weeks before. The police allowed the armed protestors to organise the protest against lock down and for reopening of businesses.  MPD’s response raises the risk right-wing vigilantes feel emboldened to terrorise protestors.
The politicians continued failure to root out racist police and end the entrenched racial bias in law enforcement shows the urgent need for a fully independent, elected community-led investigation with full powers over the Minneapolis Police Department, including the power to subpoena, hiring, firing, and review budget priorities. These powers should be extended into a permanent democratically-elected community control board.
Police violence is part and parcel of the capitalist system, which rests on structural racism and inequality. Tax the rich to invest in green jobs, social programs, public education, and permanently affordable social housing.
                                                                 

The great civil liberty movement leader Malcolm X once famously said: “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” That is especially a case with American capitalism. American capitalism developed on the brutal repression and super exploitation of black people brought into USA as slaves. American capitalism has sweet, blood and bones of black population along with white working class people. Modern America was built on the backs of black population and genocidal killings of indigenous people.

 To win lasting change, the fight against police racism and the corporate political establishment must be expanded into a fight against the capitalist system itself. The experience of civil liberty movement led both Martin Luther King (MLK) and Malcolm X to the conclusion that fighting against racism requires fighting against capitalism.

After the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot black teenager Trayvon Martin to death in 2012, a movement under the hashtag Black Lives Matter (BLM) emerged on social media. BLM became nationally relevant, with an active on-the-ground presence after the 2014 killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner sparked huge protests and riots calling for an end to police brutality and racist policing. This movement died down in 2017.
The racist policies implemented by the Democratic Party set the stage for the tough-on-crime rhetoric that Trump relies on today to support his racist policies and shore up his conservative base. Trump and the Republicans have set a racist tone in their propaganda and by pushing mass incarceration, police brutality, and anti-immigrant racism through expanding brutal ICE raids and mass imprisoning of immigrants.
                                                    
Both parties use appeals to racism—more or less well-concealed—to play on, and play up, the racial fears of many white voters. In reality, racism doesn’t benefit white workers. The capitalists secure their huge profits by convincing the working class to fight among itself, whether through racism, sexism, or any other form of bigotry. By blaming white, black, immigrant, male, or female workers for each other’s problems, the capitalists can continue to exploit workers, drive down wages, privatise public services, and lower living standards.
The recent riots are an explosion of anger at all of the problems and violence that people of color face. The edges of this anger have been sharpened by the disproportionate impact of the recent economic and health crisis. While riots are not an effective response to oppression, Martin Luther King explained their nature well: “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity”.
   
                                                       

Black American population has a long history of struggle for their political, democratic and economic rights. They have sacrificed a lot to win their rights. The laws were made to end the discrimination and racism against black American population. But laws alone cannot end discrimination and racism embedded in state institutions and society. It needs radical changes in the structure and system. 
                                                                         Khalid Bhatti 

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