Reality Check:

Answers to Burning Questions arising in the wake of the release of the video of the murder of Laquan McDonald and the extensive cover-up that followed.

December 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The police murders, brutality and torture and the cover-ups have reached a point where the scope and scale over a long period of time shows how deeply this is entrenched in Chicago. It is raising many questions about the role and nature of the police force. Even a major article in the editorially conservative Chicago Tribune on December 4, 2015 titled "Chicago's flawed system for investigating police shootings" starts out with this: "It is a system seemingly designed to fail."

There is a lot of debate over why this is the situation and what can and should be done about it. Many different class and social forces have jumped into the fray, putting forward and fighting for a different analysis of the problem and, correspondingly, the solution. It is important to walk through some of the main ones and indicate in a beginning way why they cannot begin to address stopping police murder and terror, uproot the oppression of Black people and ultimately are dead ends which will derail things.

The fact that the crisis in Chicago around the role of the police comes after a year of resistance to police terror nationwide, at the same time as the shutdown the Fourth Precinct struggle in Minneapolis, in the wake of #RiseUpOctober in New York City to retake the momentum on stopping police terror (see "On the Significance of RiseUpOctober: Building on Strengths, Overcoming Weaknesses...And Fighting to Actually Put an End to Police Terror and White Supremacy Through Revolution"), and the national student upsurge in response to the Mizzou student protests and the football team strike—all this is ripping the social fabric in ways that could be hard to repair. (See "Chicago Goddam!")

Is It a "Chicago" Problem?

It should not need saying after the past year, but it does—it is not that police in Chicago are more brutal, more corrupt or have a more entrenched white supremacist culture than other cities big and small across the U.S. Chicago is part of the U.S.—a concentrated part of it—and while it has its own dynamics, it plays a disproportional role, too, in shaping what goes on in the country overall. Even the stonewalling of the release of the video of Laquan's murder may well have been in consideration to what was confronting the Obama administration last fall. Remember that was a time when things were getting very heavy throughout the country for the first time in decades and where it was all going was NOT a given. The basic reality is that what is happening in Chicago is a CONCENTRATION of the oppression of Black people and the struggle against it. Chicago is not an outlier or an exception, it is rather a LYNCHPIN of this system.

Take a look at cities big and small, cities with "liberal Democratic administrations," cities with overwhelmingly Black administrations, cities with majority oppressed nationality populations, cities with "enlightened reform-minded" police chiefs, cities in the north and the south—all of them have systemic police brutality and murder. Ferguson and Baltimore, Minneapolis and Madison, New York and Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Pasco, Cleveland and Atlanta... and many other cities and towns. All these cities have been rocked by protests against police murdering people in this past year because there is a nationwide epidemic of police murder and terror that is part of a genocidal program. Let's start there.

Is the Problem the "Culture" of the Police or Does Police Culture Reflect Their Role in Capitalist Society?

There has been a lot of pointing to "police culture" as being the problem and what needs to be changed. White supremacy is part of that culture, as is the blue code of silence that protects all the pigs who brutalize people. Changing that culture: working to eliminate the "unstated racial biases," more police training, more Black police—all these are put forward as part of the solution to dealing with the institutional nature of the problem.

Bob Avakian (BA), leader of the revolution, gets to the essence of why this is the "culture" of the police and why delusional notions of changing that culture are going to go nowhere. This does not mean people should put up with this at all. What it does mean you have to understand what you are really up against if you want to stop police terror. BA says in BAsics 1:24:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

In an essay written back in 1997, BA goes into this even more. This essay could easily be describing the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014. (See "Richard Pryor Routines...or Why Pigs Are Pigs")

Recently I was reading reports of police assaults on Black people and of Black people fighting against the police in Memphis and Miami. This called to mind a story I was told a while back. A rookie cop was riding in his police car with his veteran partner when a report came in that there was a Black man in the vicinity with a gun. As their car screeched around the corner, a young Black man suddenly appeared sprinting up an alley—into a dead end. "Shoot him!", the older cop screamed, "Go on, shoot him—it's free!"

"It's free!" Think about that for a second. "It's free!" In other words, here's a chance that gets a pig to sweating and salivating with anticipation—a chance to "kill a n*" with the already provided cover that a Black man—a Black man, any Black man—was reported in the area with a gun. This is an opportunity too good to pass up: "Go on, shoot him—it's free!"

Well, in this case, the rookie was not ready for that—perhaps he was one of those rare ones who joins a police force actually believing the "serve and protect" bullshit—and that particular Black man did not die that day. But one of the most telling things about this whole incident is the fallout from it: The rookie cop had to resign. If he wasn't ready and willing—if he didn't have the proper attitude to do what his veteran partner was calling for, what came naturally to the seasoned "peace officer," what any pig in his place and in a pig's right mind would do—then there was no place for him on the force. It was he, the rookie who hadn't learned, and couldn't learn it seems, what it's all about—it was he who was the outcast and felt he had to resign....

Pigs are pigs. Of course, that's an image, a symbol—in the most literal sense they are human beings, but they are human beings with a murderer's mentality, sanctioned, disciplined, unleashed by the ruling class of society to keep the oppressed in line, through terror whenever necessary and as the "bottom line," as they like to say. Terror against the oppressed is even a special reward for "carrying out the dangerous and thankless duty" of being the "thin blue line" between "civilization on the one side and anarchy and lawlessness on the other." Think about it once again: Terror against the oppressed is not just part of the job, it's also a reward. That is one of the deeper meanings of the story at the start: "Go on, shoot him—it's free!"...

Is It Possible to De-Fund the Police and Use Those Resources for the Betterment of the Black Community?

If you come to grips with why the masses of people in oppressed communities, especially Black and Latino are actually worse off than they were decades ago in terms of the level and depth of the poverty, the enforced segregation, massive incarceration of the population and what that has to do with the actual workings of the capitalist/imperialist system, then it should be clearer that funding police is not fundamentally a matter of "policy choices" any more than funding the military is for running an empire. It all has to do with what is necessary for the capitalist system to maintain power. It has to do with the very nature of this system, how white supremacy is embedded in its DNA and has been through slavery, then Jim Crow and now the New Jim Crow. If you come to grips with this then the demand to "defund the police" is really "pie in the sky" and an illusion. This system based on oppression and exploitation here and all around the world has to have the police and the military, the armed forces of the state to enforce that system and prevent any challenges to it. No one has done more work than Bob Avakian on these questions—what is the nature of the problem and why are Black people oppressed as a people within the U.S. and why the answer to this is revolution.

Are Independent or Federal Investigations the Answer or a Dead End?

Many people are calling for federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations. There are people who have been subject to police murder and terror who see that the CPD is hopelessly brutal and that there can be no impartial or fair investigations in the city. These Stolen Lives families have been retaliated against by the same police department who carried out the murder of their loved one in the first place. Many people have the illusion that the DOJ will intervene on behalf of Black and Latino people who have been subjected to police terror and especially now that there is a Black attorney general. This is not only a dead end but a deadly illusion.

(There is deep discussion of the history and dynamics of this in BA's work, such as Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy and Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, but Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon)

Here is a clue from their own mouths: Mayor Emanuel at first rejected the idea of the Department of Justice looking into the practices of the Chicago Police Department. The Chicago Tribune ran a revealing article, which argued why Emanuel should embrace a DOJ investigation: a federal DOJ investigation would help insulate the mayor from pressure for his resignation; it would provide a club to use against the police department; and it would take a very, very long time for the investigation to be completed, and in the meantime, the problems of the CPD would be "out of the city's hands." Not surprisingly, Emanuel did an about-face and, along with top Democrats like Hillary Clinton, united with a call for a DOJ investigation.

The DOJ investigation upheld and whitewashed the pig Darren Wilson's murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Even worse, the DOJ basically instructed police all over the country in HOW they can commit murder of unarmed people and get away with it, by claiming that they felt in danger for their lives. The DOJ slandered as a "false narrative" the multiple eyewitness descriptions of Mike Brown with his hands up at the time he was executed by a pig.

There are many studies of DOJ-mandated consent decrees and other forms of federal supervision over local police departments, dating back to the Clinton administration in the 1990s. The Marshall Project has done a report, "Policing the Police" (at, which examines some of the failures of these DOJ mandated changes to even take hold in police departments.

The LAPD is held up as the model of federal oversight reforms, which might surprise all the victims of LAPD brutality and murder in the last few years. The Cleveland police department also underwent a DOJ investigation and supervision, and still 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered on a playground within 2 seconds of the cops arriving at the park where he was playing. The Laquan McDonald case is being heard by a federal grand jury. Since the video is so clear, why is this still dragging on?

As far as independent investigators, Wisconsin was one of the first states to require them by law for police-involved shootings. It was revealed that these "independent" investigators have law enforcement backgrounds. Why? Because no one else knows how to conduct investigations! Both of the police murderers of Tony Robinson in Madison and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee were exonerated by "independent investigators."

Here is the reality: There is NO JUSTICE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. Ask the families of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Nicholas Heyward Jr., Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown. None have seen justice from the DOJ. Why is it you cannot name one case where the federal government has convicted a cop for killing someone? So don't deceive yourself about saviors from the Department of Justice coming to the rescue.

City Administration Mini Regime Change

There are many people who are calling for the mayor and the district attorney to resign. As with McCarthy, all these people deserve to be investigated and if involved in the cover-up, as seems to be the case, indicted and prosecuted for being part of a criminal conspiracy to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald.

The whole system is guilty as hell. As Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party put it, "When you're up against a genocide, and that IS what we're dealing with, you don't ask the people presiding over it to make some change to smooth out the rough edges of that genocide or to slow down its intensity. You act to STOP it."

A change of faces at the top and maybe some people getting a little more clout in city hall, or a few more jobs to pass on or some other tweaking around the edges of this monstrous system is not going to deal with the oppression of the masses Black people or stop police terror or stop the other major crimes of this system like the oppression of women. We don't want that and neither should you. We are about the emancipation of all humanity and as an integral part of this, ending the centuries-long nightmare of the oppression of Black people. You should want this, too. It is the only liberating way forward.

Ask yourself, why do you think the city was so afraid to release the video of Laquan's murder in the first place? It wasn't just Chicago politics. It was Ferguson and the uproar in the country over the police murder of Mike Brown, and the authorities' openly stated worry that Chicago would erupt with a fury that surpassed Ferguson and Baltimore. In Ferguson, defiant ones from rival gangs set aside their beefing with each other and stood up, together with many others from the community—and said we aren't taking this anymore. They braved tanks, National Guard, massive arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets, police dogs and more. Their standing up won support for the justness of their cause from all sections of society—artists, students, religious people—of all nationalities, people who themselves are not directly feeling the boot of the police but do not want to live in a society where this happens to people because of the color of their skin.


Anyone who is serious or is just waking up needs to know there is a revolutionary leader out of the great worldwide revolutionary struggles of the 1960s who they need to get into. Tell people to go to the website and find out more about Bob Avakian and the revolution we need. Study the strategy for making that revolution in a country like this. Get with the movement for revolution the Revolutionary Communist Party is building and Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

If people who do hate all this madness and long for something better get together and seize this opening, big advances could actually be made toward a revolution, toward a whole better way of life, where power is directed toward mobilizing masses to end oppression, to dig it up by the roots, and not to constantly reinforce it or conciliate with it.

From that perspective, we have to be in the streets like mad, raising hell and demanding justice and at the same time giving out real answers as to WHY this happens and WHAT we could do about it and HOW to do it.

From that perspective, spread, deepen, the resistance to STOP police murder and terror and be determined to not turn back until that is achieved.


Here is a very just and very reasonable demand: EVERY SINGLE PERSON involved in Laquan's murder and the cover-up should be indicted and prosecuted.

Here is a very just and very reasonable demand: EVERY SINGLE COP involved in the police murders and cover-ups of a long list of other Ronnie Johnson or Roshad McIntosh, Darius Pinex, Dakota Bright or Martice Milliner...should ALL be indicted and convicted and sent to jail. There is no statute of limitations on murder. The list is long and the crimes are many.

Here is a very just and very reasonable demand: STOP police terror.

And challenge everyone in this society: Which side are you on?




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