The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Using Violent Crime to Excuse Racism and Police Brutality

Jul 13, 2020

Politicians, police officials and the media have been playing up recent increases in violent crimes in cities across the country. They say violent crimes are increasing because of the movement against racism and police brutality, and the changes police have had to make as a result.

For example, New York City has seen 585 shootings this year, a 53% increase compared to last year. New York’s police chief Terence Monahan claims that emboldened criminals think “that the cops can’t do anything anymore, that no one likes the police, that they can get away with things, that it’s safe to carry a gun out on the street.”

Donald Trump has jumped on the trend, buying a $250,000 ad campaign on Facebook and Twitter, saying violent crime has exploded because of the protests, blaming the Democrats for being soft on crime. He is waving the flag that there will be more to come if Biden gets elected. His press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “Law and order are the building blocks of the American Dream, but if anarchy prevails, this dream comes crumbling down.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, was a little softer in her approach in addressing the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old girl near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed by police. Bottoms said, “That’s an important movement that’s happening, but this random, wild, wild West shoot ‘em up because you can has got to stop.” Again, “because you can” implies the current movement caused a decrease in “policing” and the increase in crime.

What nonsense! Violent crime is not new. It is endemic to a society based on racism and class oppression.

The recent protests are not the cause, and more police are not the answer. Thirty years ago in New York there were 2,000 murders a year. Was it a movement against police brutality that caused the murders then?

Certain violent crimes have decreased in recent years, but there are today a host of other problems that were set in motion long before the current movement. First there was the coronavirus pandemic and people being locked down for months on end. That contributed to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Add to that decades of high unemployment (underestimated by government statistics), the destruction of the public schools, mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, and years of murders by police that have gone unpunished.

Apologists for this racist capitalist society maneuver to divide the working class and to discourage any attempt to change the system. These same people often point to “black-on-black” crime, yet never mention that white-on-white crime is more common.

The whole working class has an interest in uniting against racism and police brutality. The current protest movement could be the beginning of a fight to take down this rotten system and replace it with one that serves the majority’s needs.