Carl Dix on the Verdict in the Abner Louima Case

What will it take to win justice in the fight against police brutality?

Revolutionary Worker #1011, June 20, 1999

Justin Volpe and Charles Schwarz face life in prison for raping Abner Louima with a broom stick. Good! It's rare that cops ever get convicted when they brutalize or kill people, and they almost never get more than a slap on the wrist when they are convicted. These convictions only happened because Abner Louima survived their murderous attack and had the courage to speak out. AND because of the massive outpouring of resistance around this case and other cases of police brutality. Without that, these cops would never have even faced trial. This victory belongs to us, not to the justice system.

But this is only a partial victory for the people. What about the other cops who helped abuse Louima that night back in August of '97? And not just Wiese, Bruder and Bellomo who were found not guilty in this case. What about the cops who joined in beating and disrespecting Haitian people outside the Club Rendezvous, the cops who did nothing while Louima was paraded around the station house with his pants around his ankles, the cops who heard his screams or saw him lying bleeding in his cell and did nothing and the cops who helped cover up these foul deeds after the fact? The authorities routinely round up our youth indiscriminately, sweat them till they get confessions or convict them for just being in the vicinity of illegal activity. Yet when the criminals and co-conspirators are their pigs, they are given the benefit of the doubt and more.

We need to be clear about how the authorities are trying to use this verdict to draw up their wagons around the normal brutality the New York Police Department (NYPD) dishes out--beating people, killing people, and covering up for this brutality and murder--and pronounce it as acceptable professional practice. Bruder and Wiese helped to beat Louima in the car on the way to the station--they were only doing their job. Bellomo filed a false report backing up the lies Volpe and the other pigs told about why they arrested Abner Louima and what they did to him that night--he was acting in a professional manner. NY Mayor Giuliani delivered this message himself when he said after the verdict that only a very few cops committed this despicable act and when they did the police department acted swiftly and surely to deal with it.

What the NYPD actually did in the wake of the assault on Louima was to replace the head of the precinct where Abner Louima was tortured with Inspector Raymond Diaz. He had headed up the NYPD's 90th precinct. On Jan. 12, 1996, cops from this precinct shot Frankie Arzuaga from behind as he sat in the back seat of a car. On Mothers' day pigs from that precinct called his mother and asked her if she liked their "Mothers Day gift" to her! Later cops from that same precinct called her house and said the mural done for Frankie in his neighborhood didn't look like him because "it didn't have a bullet hole in his head!" Both these calls were made from right in the 90th precinct station house, and Diaz was supervising the pigs who did all this!

Giuliani and company have also said this case shows they've broken the blue wall of silence or that it was a myth to begin with. This is BS! The cops who testified against Volpe came forward days, weeks or even months after the assault on Louima. Most of them only agreed to testify to keep themselves from becoming targets of the federal prosecutors. The culture of keeping silent when fellow cops brutalize or murder someone is still alive and well in the NYPD, mostly because the authorities refuse to do anything to root it out.

We need to build off these convictions and step up the fight. Volpe and Schwarz still face sentencing, and just like it was our struggle that got them sent to jail, it's up to us to make sure they get long time. The case of the cops who murdered Amadou Diallo is coming up, and it will take massive outpourings in the street to see that justice is done in that case. There are also many other victims of police brutality and police murder. Patrick Bailey, AnÝbal Carrasquillo, Anthony Rosario to name a few. We need to fight for justice for them all.

On top of that, dealing out police brutality and murder isn't the work of a few rogue cops. It's part of the job description of cops in this country and, for the masses, it's part and parcel of life under this system. When cops beat us down and murder us, they are serving the interests of the rich capitalists who rule over us. We can't reform this brutality away. We can't rely on the politicians to do anything to stop it either.

It's gonna take mass armed revolution to get rid of this brutality, and everything else foul about this rotten set up, once and for all. A revolution that does away with the capitalists' power structure and builds a whole new society in its place. One where there's no more rich class squeezing the rest of us to get richer, where whites don't lord it over people of color, where men don't suppress women, where one nation don't run the whole damned world. It ain't time yet to launch the all-out revolutionary assault. The system ain't deep enough in trouble, and the people aren't yet ready to put it all on the line for revolutionary change. But now is the time to escalate our resistance to police brutality. By taking to the streets in huge numbers, we forced them to try some of the pigs who tortured and brutalized Abner Louima and to convict two of them. By doing the same, we forced them to indict the pigs who murdered Amadou Diallo. We need to build on all that resistance and take it to a higher level.

What's it gonna take to win justice against brutal, murdering cops? It's gonna take us waging massive resistance, us letting the authorities know that we ain't gonna sit back and let them get away with continuing to give a green light to cops who kill and brutalize. And that we ain't gonna stop because we got a taste of justice in one case either! This is the way we can put brutal murdering cops in check. And it's part of how we can get ready for revolution.

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