Workers' Voice mailing list
January 19, 2015
RE: Martin Luther King
A series of problems has resulted in a gap of a month since the last DWV list item. We are now resuming more frequent publication.
Below is the text of the leaflet of the Seattle Communist Study Group (firstname.lastname@example.org) calling on people to take part in the MLK Day rally and march in Seattle organized by the MLK Celebration Committee.
2014 ended with the new national upsurge against racist police murders continuing. The most notorious cases touching it off were those of 18-year-old Michael Brown, cut down in a hail of 12 bullets as he -- according to 16 witnesses -- had his hands in the air surrendering to the Ferguson, MO police; Eric Garner, husband and father of six, choked to death by the NYPD for the supposed "crime" of selling some untaxed cigarettes; and 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who'd been playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. All were black.
And these cases are only the tip of an iceberg of racist police brutality and murders that continue from one generation to the next. What is more, according to FBI statistics, while violent crimes have been in _decline_ for nearly 40 years, the number of people now being shot by the police is the highest in two decades! The FBI's statistics say 461 "felony suspects" were killed by the police last year, but the real number killed was close to 1,100. And black males have a 21 times greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts.
This is the intolerable situation that has brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets during the past few months under the "black lives matter!" slogan.
African Americans are forced into unemployment, poverty and homelessness at twice the rate of whites, their wealth accumulation is one twentieth of that of whites, their life expectancy is four years less, schools are increasingly being re-segregated, they're discriminated against in the criminal "justice" system and racially profiled at every turn.
The social basis for this racism is the capitalist class. When the masses of African Americans are kept in a situation that forces them into lower-wage jobs --if they can get them -- this is a source of extra profits for the rich. And the promotion of the poison of racism against the blacks by the capitalists is a major instrument of the divide-and-rule tactics of the rich against the whole working class.
The police and legal system are the enforcers of this racist order. This translates into daily bullying on the streets -- often enforcing laws designed to harass the poor, and hatred, fear and even murder of anyone who does not bow to their authority. It also translates into prosecutors rarely bringing charges against police murderers, or only going through the motions of trying them when they do. And it translates into playing the same act before secret grand juries that they run. Ferguson prosecutor McCulloch has even admitted presenting "witnesses" who he knew were going to lie, including a notorious racist who he admits "clearly wasn't present" when officer Darren Wilson gunned down unarmed Michael Brown. The FBI was fully aware that this was going on.
But the other side of this picture is that especially with the
powerful African-American rebellions of the 1960s, black people in this
country established the great tradition of militantly standing up for
their rights which continues. Today they're also a powerful component
of the $15 NOW [for a $15/hour minimum wage] and other movements
against class exploitation, as well as being active in all other
progressive movements. This fighting history has won African Americans
respect and admiration among the other oppressed nationalities,
immigrants, and the entire working class. That is why from Ferguson to
New York City to Seattle large, large numbers of white workers and
youths plus non-African American national minorities and immigrants
have been in all the protests against the racist police outrages. This
is as it should be. Likewise, there's near universal recognition among
protesters that if black lives don't matter to the authorities, then
the lives of the working and poor people as a whole ultimately don't
matter either. And in that regard, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, of the over 5,000 deaths at the hands of the
police from 1999-2011, 3,596 were whites.
The Republican Party is known for openly appealing to racism in its calls for "law and order," etc. But the Democrats pretend to be good anti-racists ... while implementing racist policies. Thus it has often been Democratic Party politicians -- including black mayors -- who have presided over cities with police forces notorious for gunning down African Americans in a hail of many bullets and then standing around while their victim dies on the sidewalk. (And St. Louis prosecutor McCulloch also happens to be a Democrat.) Farther up the line, it was the Democratic governor of Missouri who called out the National Guard in an attempt to squash the protests in Ferguson. And at the top, while it is the armed representatives of the capitalists' state, the police, who disproportionately, repeatedly and from one generation to the next murder blacks and other oppressed national-minorities while the criminal "justice" system allows them to walk free, you had President Obama pointing his finger at "society"(!) as being the problem, and lecturing about waiting: "When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you’ve got to have vigilance, but you have to recognize that it is going to take some time and you just have to be steady..."
Under the pressure of the mass protests, Obama has also set up a fancily-named "Task Force on 21st Century Policing." It's co-chaired by Charles Ramsey, the former top cop of Washington D.C. and then Philadelphia. While in Washington, Ramsey ordered the mass arrest of hundreds of people protesting against the World Bank and IMF without ordering them to disperse or allowing them to leave a park they were trapped in. The City lost a $1 million civil liberties law-suit as a result.
Obama knows all that, of course. In fact, this supposed "defender" of civil liberties has often gone even farther than Bush and Cheney in building the American police-state, and has given himself the right to assassinate via drone missile anyone, anywhere in the world without even biased "due process." But whatever minor reforms may result from his task force, they're not going to stop racist police violence and murders because those are built into the system Obama defends.
Meanwhile, Obama follows in Bill Clinton and George Bush's footsteps
by further militarizing the police forces -- militarized police forces
like those we recently saw on the streets of Ferguson. These
militarized police forces are being built for one reason: use against
future strike movements, Occupy-type movements, rebellions touched off
by police atrocities, or any progressive movement that is getting out
of the confines dictated by the establishment.
Since the rebellions of the 1960s a minority of blacks have become
integrated into the ruling class whose interests they defend. Some own
major businesses in their own right, others sit in corporate and bank
board-rooms, and still others are part of the capitalists' political
machinery and state (former top general and Bush's first Secretary of
State Colin Powell; Bush's National Security Adviser and second
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and now Attorney General Holder
under a black president, Obama.) Serving this comfortable black
bourgeoisie and the entire blood-sucking bourgeoisie is a layer of
self-appointed or media-appointed "black community leaders" who are
shot into mass struggles in order to channel them into supporting mild
reforms and often call for voting for Democrats. But they're not going
unchallenged. Already in August protesters in Ferguson were shouting
out that Obama-Sharpton: "Didn’t do sh*t for us" and "F*ck Sharpton,"
and in October a large section of a St. Louis crowd of 3,000 turned
their backs and chanted against the leaders of the reformist NAACP.
Meanwhile, one of the popular chants of the movement in Missouri and
everywhere connects calling for killer cops to be indicted and sent to
jail with "the whole damn system is
guilty as hell!"
To their great credit, ordinary activists have kept the Black Lives Matter! movement going for many months. Now, with the realization that all mass movements have upsurges and declines, there's much discussion in Seattle and everywhere about how to build a sustainable movement against police violence. To do this, we believe, requires continuing to target the whole system and its state as the source racist police brutality, and that this is strengthened by elaborations of how the racism of the system serves the interests of the capitalists. It requires continuing and deepening the criticism of not only the open racists, but also the Democrats and their opportunist underlings. We too want reforms of the so-called criminal justice system, but history teaches that serious reforms only come as by-products of really massive struggles that are getting out of control of both parties and are headed in a revolutionary direction. However long it takes, we should set our sights on organizing nothing less than this.
Justice for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and all other victims of police brutality
Into the streets on January 19!
Seattle Communist Study Group
January 11, 2015
[Come to the demonstration and rally on] Monday, January 19, beginning at Garfield High School (23rd and E. Jefferson St, Seattle)
Rally at 10:00 a.m. Pre-march speakers at 11:00 a.m. March leaves at
12:00 noon! (Sponsored by the MLK Celebration Committee) <>
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