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Two Days, Two Deaths at the Hands of the Detroit Police



In two successive days, while the court case of Derek Chauvin, the cop murderer of George Floyd, was wrapping up, the Detroit police shot and killed two young Black men one day after another. Their names have not been released yet.

On early Monday morning, April 19, a 27-year-old was shot and killed by the police after a car chase. According to the cops, he drove up on an unrelated crime scene, fired at a police car, then sped off. He was chased through Detroit until he was cornered and shot down. His mother, broken-hearted, told media how he had been completely out of his mind with grief over the killing of a close friend the night before. The chief of police floundered to slander their victim—this was a young Black man who had somehow made it to age 27 without having an arrest record—and then claimed that it was clear that he was bent on killing a cop that night.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, as the verdict against Derek Chauvin was being read, Detroit cops killed another young man in his home. This was heart-wrenching. The young man’s mother called police seeking help for her mentally ill son, who was suicidal. According to the police, when they arrived they found he had sliced open his own abdomen and was extremely gravely injured. They said he cut the leg of one of the cops who tried to get the knife. According to the cops, his partner made a “split second decision” to “save the officer’s life.” Neighbors tell it differently, describing how cops ran out of the house, grabbed rifles from squad cars, and ran back in firing so wildly that they hit one of their own.

Neighbors talked about a clearly seriously depressed, quiet man who kept to himself and whose name they didn’t even know. “We saw him all the time sitting on the porch quietly.” One guy was very sad because he knew how bad his neighbor had been hurting, but also accepted the police story and the justification (police have refused to release body-cam video). But others did not. One woman said angrily, “It didn’t have to be handled this way. You and I are mothers, if we had dealt with it, we would have talked to him, we would have helped him. But the cops have a certain mindset. They were all over the place with their guns.” “They came in like it was a war,” another young man said. “You can’t even disagree with them or they will hit you.”

I showed the neighbors I talked to BAsics 2:16 (see below), and we talked about how things could be different and the need for a real revolution. One man took several copies of “A Declaration, A Call to Get Organized Now for a Real Revolution” to get out to friends, saying they talk about this kind of thing all the time.

Editor’s note: Tyisha Miller was a 19-year-old African-American woman shot dead by Riverside, California police in 1998. Miller had been passed out in her car, resulting from a seizure, when police claimed that she suddenly awoke and had a gun; they fired 23 times at her, hitting her at least 12 times, and murdering her. Bob Avakian addressed this:

If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people.

—Bob Avakian, BAsics 2:16



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