Oct 13, 2014
On October 8, another young black man, Vonderrit Myers Jr., was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer, this time in St. Louis, Missouri. There was an immediate and angry response from those in his community. It was followed by other protests, including thousands coming out to protest this and other injustices on Saturday, October 11.
The young man killed was only 18, and lived only a few miles from Ferguson, where Michael Brown had lived and been killed by a police officer two months earlier.
Police were quick to claim the young man had a weapon he used to shoot at the cop – and the police produced spent shells and a gun. But if so many people didn’t believe it, it’s because the cops have regularly pulled out a weapon and planted it on their victims to justify their shootings.
But it’s not just the murder of Myers that people responded to. How many others have been murdered by cops? Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina and Eric Garner in New York are only two among those who gained attention. But an estimated 400 people are killed by police in the U.S. every year, the vast majority of whom are black men. And this doesn’t include the vigilante shootings of recent years, like George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin.
Behind the events in Missouri, as in every other state, lies not just common police tactics but the whole desperate situation created by this capitalist society.
Today, among the poorer parts of the population, there are almost no jobs. An estimated HALF of young black men are unemployed, with no hope for a job.
They are deprived of a decent education. Schools in working class areas have for decades lacked the resources of wealthier suburban schools. But in the last 20 years, schools have deteriorated even more. Some exceedingly wealthy business people have spent millions to help destroy public schools. Sometimes the motive was simply profit, but other educational choices have been based on racism.
Young black men end up in prison in far greater numbers than their share in the population. A lot of money is spent keeping them in prison, much more than was ever spent in educating them.
The future looks bleak for many young black men. It is the result of a racism so deeply pervading the entire society that it goes beyond the despicable racist behavior of some individuals, including many cops.
Protests alone will not end this racism because it is so ingrained in capitalist society. But when people don’t protest, as the last 40 years have shown, their situation gets even worse. It is proof that only a large and angry response ever backs off the police – even if their caution is temporary.
Without response, there will be more deaths, especially of young black men.