Post 9/11: Under the Gun

by Carl Dix

Revolutionary Worker #1206, July 6, 2003, posted at

It has been said, sometimes as a joke, sometimes as if it was a fact, that after 9/11 the cops were, for the first time, not all focused on Black and Latino people.

With all the airport profiling of South Asian and Arab people, with all the round-ups of Muslim immigrants, and with all the fear of foreigners and "terrorist cells" it was said that the police and conservative white people didn't have time or inclination to be so focused on the inner cities, on the Black and Latino youth.

And the first thing I just want to say is that this just isn't true ! That isn't what's happening. Because that isn't how this system works.

When the cops in New York City were declared heroes after the World Trade Center attack, people were told that it was no longer OK to talk or protest about police brutality.

And in the middle of all this targeting of immigrants and Arabs, official America reversed verdicts on the inherent injustice of racial profiling. And suddenly the cops and federal authorities were back, again, saying: "Forbidding racial profiling would put everyone in danger."

And what is actually happening at the street level, is that the cops feel they have a green light to intensify , to step up, all the brutality and harassment that they carry out in oppressed communities.

It is important, and well documented, that the so-called "heroes" of the NYPD have killed 37 people since September 11. And the overwhelming majority of those killings were, not surprisingly, Black and Latino people.

And many of you have probably heard, I assume, of the outrageous police killing of Alberta Spruil, sleeping in her Harlem apartment, and killed by the shock of a stun grenade, when the cops mistakenly raided her home. As questions were asked about this raid, it came out that it is standard operating procedure for these New York cops to use battering rams and stun grenades whenever they come to the door in our oppressed communities.

So the fact is that the police brutality and oppression of Black and Latino communities has increased after 9/11, not just in New York but around the country. The authorities were unleashed to increase harassment, to bend or ignore people's supposed civil liberties, to apply racial profiling with a vengeance, and in general to be even more aggressive in making many kinds of people feel the boot of this system on their neck.

And one thing I found myself wondering is "Why would anyone think that it would be different?" I mean, we all know the history of this place, born in slavery and genocide, a land built by war and conquest, and enforced by lynching and police bullets. And why would we think that this new post-9/11 offensive of theirs --this juggernaut of war and repression--would suddenly lead to the system easing up on Black people and Latino people?

Could we really expect that this system would suddenly act like we are all together, "all of us Americans," and would suddenly set aside all the hateful racist ways that are so central to how this country works?

That was not in the cards. And it is a self-deception, an illusion, to hope for a break.

But there is more to it than that: Because everything that has happened after 9/11 is part of a declaration by the empire that this is a new day, and a new era--a declaration that the rulers of this country are not about to accept any shit from anyone. They are saying that they are now going to rule, unchallenged and unchallengable . And given the history of this country, how could that NOT also mean a renewed suppression of Black and Latino people?

And I just want to close with a quick vision of the wild new alliances this makes possible. The world is clearly a boiling cauldron of contradictions, as our Chairman Bob Avakian has said.

People all over the world are being re-taught, yet again, through all the madness of war and superpower bullying, all the many reasons they have to hate U.S. imperialism. And here in the U.S. many people, some of them aspiring immigrant professionals full of American dreams, are suddenly finding themselves under the gun--jailed, deported, harassed, and spied on.

If we look at this situation, from the point of view of freeing ourselves and humanity, we can suddenly see we are gaining many more potential allies from all this -- all over the world and also in many different communities here in the belly of the beast. Heightened madness gives us an opening for important new alliances, and for a new and common resistance. And we need to be conscious enough and bold enough to seize this opportunity.

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