To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
August 9, 2016
RE: Black lives matter!
(Leaflet of the Seattle Communist Study Group, August 8, 2016)
Civilian gun violence is in a long-term decline. But the number of
killings by the police is increasing. Last year the number was around
1100, more than 3 per day. This year it is already 700, with the number
of black women already killed--e.g., Korryn Gaines in Baltimore
County--just one short of the total for *all* of last year. These are
often cowardly murders, with the victims shot in the back, or with
their hands raised, or when lying on the ground wounded. And they're
often racist murders that Native Americans and African Americans bear
the brunt of, e.g., African Americans are gunned down at 2.5 times the
rate of whites even though the cops' Black victims are *less* likely to
be armed than their white victims.
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. And African Americans are discriminated against in the criminal "justice" system and racially profiled at every turn.
The majority of the working people--no matter what their skin color--in no way benefit from this special oppression of African Americans. To the contrary, racial oppression serves to deepen the exploitation and oppression of all workers. Who it really benefits, and its source, is the capitalist ruling class. Profits are increased as a result. And they can point to the social results of the racial discrimination they practice as part of their constant propaganda-war to scapegoat African Americans, other oppressed nationalities and immigrants for the problems caused by the capitalist system.
The police are the front-line defenders and enforcers of this unjust system. And since the effects of this system are resisted by the masses everyday, the police outlook becomes fear and hatred of those whom they lord over. Hence, brutal enforcement of their imagined God-given authority, and racist, trigger-happy street murders.
The more workers of all nationalities rally against racist injustice aimed at their most oppressed sections, the stronger will be the overall class struggle. Consciously or unconsciously, this has been a major reason why so many whites and others have participated in the Black Lives Matter protests for years, or flocked to the protests demanding justice for Native American John T. Williams when he was murdered by the SPD in 2010.
Mass political activity independent of the Republicans and Democrats is what gives life to the movement against racist police brutality and murders. But being representatives of the capitalist class, both parties work to stamp out this life.
Trump and the Republicans are most straight-forward about it: police repression while they shout "law and order!" and spew racist lies against the movement aimed at isolating it. The Democrats also use repression, e.g., calling out the National Guard against Ferguson protesters in 2014, while in the many cities they rule--including with black officials--repression and police murders continue. Supporting this is that under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama the Democrats too militarized the police forces. Moreover, the Democrats also resort to racism in defending police murders: "You know how dangerous some of the communities where these police officers serve are. And you pretend as if there’s no context?" (Obama after the police murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile)
But the Democrats special service to the capitalists is their role in undermining the movement. Thus, they pretend support in order to preach "patience," i.e., wait forever. And they've worked to co-opt various Black lives matter activists into electoralism. Additionally, they've worked to organize diversions. Thus, to defend the police and the racist system they defend, they've pointed at society *in general* as the source of the problem: "If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts...None of us is entirely innocent." (Obama) And when we're talking about building the movement against *police* murders, the Democrats have opportunistically tried to divert our anger into building their movement for more gun controls on the people.
But this has not worked out that well. In face of the pro-police propaganda coming from both parties and their news media puppets, anti-racist demonstrations continued right through the party conventions. Now, with more racist police murders (e.g., Javier Garcia Gaona in Santa Maria, CA, Paul O’Neal in Chicago, Korryn Gaines near Baltimore), and with all the Baltimore cops involved in murdering Freddie Gray now freed, demonstrations have only continued.
This is the only path forward. The black masses have risen in protest along with white and other non-white workers and students. They are sick of the ongoing racism of the cops, courts and entire system. And to advance this good situation everyone has a role to play. We need to bring more people into the struggle at the workplaces, communities and schools. We need to build new organizations determined to do this, as well as build better overall organization. We need more leaflets being written which fearlessly expose the basic connection between the racism of the justice system and capitalism itself, and we need to spread leaflets like this one. By doing these kinds of things we will help sustain the movement when the present upsurge fades, and we'll be preparing conditions to give new power to the next anti-police brutality explosion.
Through repeated efforts to build up the movement standing for the rights of the most brutally oppressed today, we help build a revolutionary movement to achieve the final justice--a people's justice based on a new economic system. Black lives matter!
Seattle Communist Study Group
August 8, 2016
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Posted on August 12, 2016