Revolutionary Worker #1008, May 30, 1999
The following statement was released by the New York Branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party:
In the pre-dawn hours of an August day two years ago something brutal and awful happened to Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. When police showed up outside a nightclub, after a fight had started, their sights locked onto Abner Louima. He was beaten, arrested, thrown into a cop car and driven to the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn. On the ride to the station the cops stopped two times to beat him. One of the cops, Justin Volpe--who mistakenly believed Louima had taken a swing at him on the street--was particularly brutal. According to Louima he said, "Stupid n****r, I am going to teach you a lesson how to respect cops." When he was finally taken into the precinct, Louima, his pants pulled down around his ankles, was taken into the restroom. There another cop held him down while Volpe raped Louima with a broken broom handle. Still handcuffed, his insides torn up, Louima was thrown into a holding cell. Louima said Volpe told him, "If I ever talk to anyone about what happened to me, he kill me and everybody in my family." But Louima, in the face of this real and murderous threat, did tell what happened.
When word hit the streets, tens of thousands of people were electric with anger--New York rocked on the precipice of rebellion. The rulers scurried to contain things. Even the infamous police-brutality mayor Giuliani acted outraged though he, and others in the power structure, tried to minimize this atrocity calling it an "aberration" by "a few bad apples." Commissions were formed, reforms were announced and cops were arrested. The authorities wanted to regain control of a situation that was getting dangerously out of their control. In the face of mass outrage the government moved to restore faith in their system. Five cops are currently on trial and two others face charges for trying to cover up this crime.
The trial has been a study in opposites. On one pole Abner Louima inspires us with his bravery, openly facing his brutalizers and telling of the crimes committed against him. On the other side the cowardly cops and their attorneys, vicious and desperate to keep from paying for their crimes. Volpe's lawyer has sunk the lowest as he has repeatedly put out the lie that Louima's injuries were not the result of police torture, but were self-inflicted! through an act of consensual sex.
The reality of what happened to Abner Louima, and what it says about the "routine" treatment of Black and other oppressed people encountering the police, cannot be so easily erased. This current trial is taking place on the heels of the recent upsurge of mass struggle over the NYPD's 41-bullet murder of Amadou Diallo. Those in power are openly worried about the specter of much more furious mass struggle--whether in response to an unjust resolution to the Louima case, or any one of a number of abuses this system serves up. This system is capable of dealing out the most terrible things, but it trembles at the prospect of the people rising up.
Everyone who recoils at the depravity and humiliation inflicted on Abner Louima, and continuing through this trial, has to ask: Why do we have to live in a world where such things happen? What happened, and what is happening, to Abner Louima is extreme, but it is an extreme expression of the basic nature of this system. This capitalist system draws life from millions of lives stifled, bled, shattered and broken by its blind drive for profit. On the "front lines" protecting the property and social relations of all this stand the police. When they commit such acts, they personify the beastly nature of the system they serve. Ending torture at the hands of the police, and countless other abuses of this system, will require a different kind of power--the power of revolution. And, we must turn every vicious attack on our people into getting ready.
There must be justice for Abner Louima. The rulers have been forced, by the actions of the people, to bring things this far; at least some (of the dozens of cops who were in the precinct that night) are facing substantial charges. And it is only the people who can insure that justice is not robbed.
The torture of Abner Louima, like the beating of Rodney King, has focused the eyes of the world on the treatment our people receive every day at the hands of the police. It is important that the world also see the people will not stand by and allow this. This situation calls for people to come out and support Abner Louima and Patrick Antoine (who police also brutalized that night), to organize in our communities and schools, and throughout society, to let it be known loud and clear that we will not settle for anything less than convicting these pigs and sending them to jail.
And, as we fight for justice for Abner Louima, we must make that fight part of preparing to get rid of this system. In response to the courage of Abner Louima, and to the cowardice and lowness of the pigs who attacked him and those who defend them, the NY Branch of the RCP shares the pledge our Party has made to the people: The RCP is prepared and determined to stand with the people in the fight against the system, to find the ways to collectively wage this fight--not to sell out or turn back, no matter what the enemy uses to come at us, whether it be bullets or bribes. We are willing and ready to take full responsibility for building the revolutionary understanding, organization, unity and fighting ability of the people, and to carry this fight all the way through.
Amadou Diallo, Tyisha Miller, Kenneth Banks, Yvette Kessler, William Whitfield and countless others have been victimized and murdered by the police SINCE THE ATTACK on Abner Louima. This is hard proof of just what the people are up against here. Left on its own the system has countless more horrors it will inflict. Only the conscious and determined resistance of the people can hope to finally end this.
|Revolutionary Communist Party,
New York Branch
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