Thursday, July 14, 2016

Police Violence: Not About Race

"Lapel cam" video released today (at the 4 minute mark) showing Fresno police killing a white man, Dylan Noble, for no apparent reason except that he didn't immediately submit to their commands gives pause to the prevailing narrative that police shootings are about race.

So do the many, now, citizen videos that show black police officers doing the killing, as on July 6 when an off duty black New York cop killed Delrawn Samll in what police first defended as a road rage case until video showed Small was shot without provocation, and recall that half the cops indicted for the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore are black. (Gray died of a broken neck after being subjected to a treatment retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis described as "shaking the can" - he was handcuffed and shackled and taken for a wild ride in the back of a police van.)

There's racism involved in many police killings, but remember that Blacks make up a disproportionate share of the working class and poor. The fact that police have leave to commit violence and death on members of the working class has its roots in basic Capitalist, ruling class exploitation. Nothing has changed since Victorian England when a "gentleman," a man of "good family" and "good breeding," could walk into a police station and order the arrest of a member of the working class, and police were bound to comply, on the basis of nothing but the wealthy person's word.

Today's police are kept busy and are most visible as enforcers of traffic and parking regulations, but the police were created to control the working class. Some of the first police forces in the United States were "slave patrols" that went after runaway slaves, but slavery was integral to an economic system, which race was used to justify. The Civil War was fought in an attempt to preserve that economic order.

Blacks public officials, like President Obama, have come to be some of the main defenders of a Capitalist system that today results in more economic inequality and lower working class living standards than it did when Blacks were denied the vote.

The prevailing narrative about race only serves to divide and distract the working class -- its unity is what the ruling class fears more than anything. The "freedom" we enjoy in this country doesn't extend much beyond our last paycheck -- we have to assure an income or run into all kinds of problems almost immediately -- which is why discrimination in employment was the main concern of early civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, who was killed in Memphis having gone there to support a sanitation workers strike and at the time was in the process of organizing an anti poverty march on Washington.







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