Revolutionary Worker #996, February 28, 1999
Amadou Diallo was murdered by the police. He was standing in his own doorway when cops fired 41 bullets into him, for no apparent reason. A generous man to all he knew, Amadou Diallo was a young man from Africa who came to the U.S. with high hopes and dreams, and left in a simple wooden box.
41 bullets for nothing...and as Carl Dix has said, 41 more reasons to make revolution. For Amadou Diallo was not the first person shot down by police in a way they wouldn't even do a dog.
Not even a month earlier, police in California fired 27 rounds at Tyisha Miller as she sat in her own car, waiting for assistance. Tyisha was a 19-year-old Black woman, still a "tomboy," according to her friends, and the "life of the party." Her cousin had called 911 when Tyisha began having medical problems, but instead of the EMT they sent the cops, who shot her dead...for nothing.
And not even a month before that, the back-shooting pigs of Chicago murdered Brennan King in the Cabrini Green housing projects. Brennan was a 21-year-old Black man, helping to raise his two younger brothers and two cousins, in addition to his own children. He was planning to go to college in a few months. Instead he was shot dead for failing to stop for police--wounded once, then shot six times in the back. Brennan had been politically active, marching for Mumia Abu-Jamal and against police brutality and fighting for jobs for the youth of the ghetto. 1,500 marched at his funeral. Now he lies in the cemetery.
What did any of them do to deserve this? Nothing. Their only "crime" was to be young and Black at a time when this system has a whole generation of Black and Latino youth in its trigger sights. Their generosity, their hopes and plans, their high spirits meant nothing to the enforcers. Instead, they were sent to an early grave, joining thousands of other people killed by American "law enforcement" in the 1990s alone.
Each of these murders has been met by resistance. Each time people have risen, sometimes in the thousands, to demand justice. This resistance is righteous and must go much higher still. Our Party is part of that resistance and stands proudly, in unity, with all who fight back.
At the same time, a lot of people wonder: how do we get rid of this epidemic of police murder? They're saying: let's not just talk about how we curb this thing, let's talk about how we END it, once and for all.
To answer that question, we have to ask another: what causes this endless chain of police murders? What has caused this problem, this problem which has been around for as long as folks can remember, but has now reached epidemic proportions?
Some say that the police are not doing their job correctly. They say that the police need better training and better supervision, or that the cops need to live in the community. Some call for community review boards that can look into complaints and hand down discipline. Others ask for special prosecutors to focus on police murder and brutality, or "federal intervention," to make the police do their job.
But are the police not "doing their job"? Or are they doing it all too well? That depends on what their job really is. Let's say you work for someone, and every day you do the same thing and you not only get paid, but you get raises and respect from your boss. And let's also say that whenever this thing you do comes to light in an embarrassing way, that over and over again your boss defends you and makes excuses for you and calls for giving you the benefit of the doubt. Then whatever it is you're doing, it's probably damn sure part of your job.
So if the cops all over the country murder people like Amadou Diallo, Tyisha Miller, and Brennan King by the hundreds and hundreds every year, then whoever gives their orders sure must think it's part of the job. In fact, on those very few occasions when the authorities hypocritically express regret for one of these murders, don't they say that these cops were "just doing their job" when an "unfortunate accident" happened? Isn't that what they want to put over with the outrageous murder of Amadou Diallo? So let's be real here: harassment, intimidation, brutality and murder-- directed against certain people in particular--IS their job.
Next question: WHY is it that the people on the receiving end of this harassment and intimidation and murder are overwhelmingly Black or Latino or immigrant? First, let's go back a step. This is a capitalist system. It runs on profit, and profit comes from exploitation. Profit means that one class of people must labor while another class of people reaps the benefit of that labor. In the U.S. today the class that owns all the means to produce wealth and that can therefore control and dispose of the labor of others, is the capitalist class. The class that owns only its personal possessions and must therefore work for others (when they can find work at all) is the proletariat. This is exploitation. This kind of setup only goes on if the exploiters can prevent those whom they exploit from rising up. The capitalists do this in many ways: by lying and misleading, by intimidation, and--as the "bottom line" of their bottom line--by force of arms.
As a major part of its version of capitalism, America has always tried to force Black people as a people into a suppressed position, first as slaves, then as sharecroppers and now--in their great majority--as proletarians. They do this in order to not only exploit, but to super-exploit, the masses of Black people, and they do this to other people of color as well. At the same time, this system has also always tried to force immigrants to slave for super-low wages. So in America you have capitalism and white supremacy, capitalism and racist discrimination and national oppression, all knit together into the very fabric of the system.
It is this system that these murdering cops are enforcing. That is their job. Yes, they "serve and protect" all right...the capitalist system. Anything else that they do--from "investigating crime" to "community relations"--is organized around their one basic job: to buttress up this system and keep the oppressed "in their place."
Chairman Avakian put it this way: "In short, the armed force of the [capitalist] state exists for the purpose of suppressing, by force of arms, the proletariat and all those who would step out of line and challenge this `great way of life' founded on robbery and murder, not only within the U.S. itself but throughout the world. And that, simply, is why pigs are pigs, and will always be pigs--until systems that need such pigs are abolished from the earth. A hard truth--but a liberating truth."
Today all this has become still more intense. The U.S. rulers face a period of great change, change which carries a threat of upheaval to their system. Even in this so-called economic "boom," most middle class people are worried about whether they will have their jobs next year. And for the proletariat--for our people--this "boom" means either low-wage jobs, the illegal economy, or scrapping for the steadily disappearing chances of education. In a situation of great change and instability, the rulers desperately worry that our people will stand up, raise their heads, resist...and find allies among others.
And so they have decided to bring the hammer down even harder on our people. They want to suppress any possible resistance coming from below. At the same time, they want to line the middle class up with for-real criminals like "Adolf" Giuliani against the innocent people that they label as criminals--the squeegee men, the folks who drink beer on the stoop or squeeze through a subway turnstyle, the youth walking with friends, or those Black folks who just happen to stand in their own doorway past midnight. They do this to isolate our people and to "stabilize" society.
So we have to understand: they have a lot at stake in this vicious program. They will not give it up at the first sign of resistance. Like the Chairman says, this is a cold truth, but a liberating one. For as vicious as they are, they are also vulnerable. There is a solution to this problem: revolution. It is the vulnerability of this system and the solution of revolution that Carl Dix, our national spokesperson, speaks to in the accompanying article, "A World of Hurt Must Be Ended Once and for All."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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