Jan 5, 2015
Just before the Christmas holiday, two New York City police officers sitting in their vehicle were shot to death by a young black man from Baltimore who fired multiple rounds directly into the car, into their heads and torsos. Mr. Brinsley, who was 28 years old, had allegedly previously shot his former girlfriend. He committed suicide immediately after the police shootings.
Apparently, in a post he made on the internet, Brinsley declared he intended his action as “revenge” for the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island. Whatever was in Brinsley’s mind, the fact is that individual terrorism has never provided a way for the oppressed to stand up to their oppressors. It has only disorganized them. And revenge solves nothing for masses of people.
But the statements made by the police and the politicians about Brinsley’s act are dripping with hypocrisy.
The fact is, Brinsley acted within the violent framework that the police and those they defend have erected. The police shoot down unarmed men for no reason other than the fact that their skin color creates suspicions in racist minds. Don’t let the police dare bemoan the fact of violence. They are the ones who use it every day.
It would have been bad enough to be confronted with all the hypocrisy that flooded out through the media. Bad enough, but that was only the beginning. The police jumped to use the assassination as a call to arms, a justification for their violence. They rushed to create a climate of intimidation, directed against anyone who would dare protest the next murder by a cop.
The head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in New York said, “There’s blood on many hands tonight - those who incited violence on the street under the guise of protests...”
What followed was a litany of praise for the police and all they do, with New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton saying, “... you put that blue uniform on and you become part of the thin blue line between us and anarchy.” The Mayor quoted scripture, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” in relationship to the police.
Peacemakers? Protectors against anarchy? Hardly. In fact, these words serve as an attempt to divide the population against itself. As old as racism itself, they solicit more fortunate workers and the middle class, predominately white and with some few means and possessions, to support the police and their brutal repression of those without. They imply that repression by the police is the only way to “hold on to yours.”
Descending into anarchy? As a matter of fact, working people are being thrown into it every day. Already we have families in the streets; tens of thousands are on their way to losing jobs and homes, in neighborhoods falling down, with electricity, gas and water cutoffs. As the gap between the super rich and everyone else widens, whole sections of the working class are being pulled down.
Less violence? There will be more violence as poverty deepens. First of all, against young black men. But there will be, and there is, violence against the population at large. What about hunger and poor health and increased infant mortality caused by unemployment and poverty? What about the rising death count among the elderly as heat is shut off and health care made unaffordable?
The obviously inflammatory statements made by the authorities might appear ridiculous, but their intent is clear. They enable the authorities to move away from the nation-wide discussion of police killing of unarmed black men by demanding unequivocal support for the police. Blame for the deaths of these two police officers is being transferred onto the recent protest movement; a movement that was questioning police authority to routinely repress a section of the population.
Today, the police are used as an occupying army against the most severely deprived sections of the population; and indiscriminately against the black population as racism rears its ugly head.
But those in control are preparing us to accept the use of police violence against anyone who rebels. That includes the unemployed, war resisters, strikers and neighborhood organizers and the retired.
Fortunately, we can forge a different path. After all, those who serve as police and in the military are from the working class and have an interest to support their communities and families. Today, they serve the wealthy and the politicians employed by them to keep a miserable “social order.” But some of them can be pulled to our side when the working class mobilizes in workplaces and communities to fight for a transfer of wealth away from the bosses and bankers who stole it and back to the population that produced it in the first place – the working class.