Jun 29, 2020
After Chicago saw a surge in shootings as the weather warmed up, the city’s daily violence again took over the news. In response to protesters’ calls to “defund the police,” the mayor and the media all used this violence in different ways to defend the need for police.
After a three-year-old boy and a thirteen-year-old girl were among the twenty people killed over Father’s Day weekend, it was easy for reporters to find shocked residents to interview, demanding protection. And in this society, the police are the only answer we’re given to violence.
But the truth is, the police do not actually protect people in the poor neighborhoods where the violence is concentrated.
The Chicago police make an arrest in less than 40% of murder cases most years. And this number is much lower if the victim is from one of the black or Latino neighborhoods where murders are concentrated. Between the beginning of 2018 and July of 2019, the CPD made an arrest for 47% of murders when the victim was white. For Latino victims, that number was just 33%. For black victims, the CPD made an arrest in just 22% of murders! And given the CPD’s long history of forcing confessions and planting evidence, who can believe they’ve arrested the actual shooter even in these cases?
While the police don’t protect people in the poor neighborhoods from violence, they sure act quickly to protect property in the rich ones! When a few windows were smashed in the extremely rich shopping area along Michigan Avenue, the police flooded the area and blocked off the entire downtown for days. All that—even though not one person was killed in the “violence.”
One of the most common chants in the current protest movement is aimed at the police: “Who Do You Protect? Who Do You Serve?” The answer is obvious. The police protect private property and the capitalist social order, and serve the ruling class that owns the lion’s share of that property.
This same capitalist social order that produces the poverty driving the violence and murders needs brutal police to keep it in place.