Mar 30, 2015
A police dashcam video came out showing police in Inkster, a Detroit suburb, beating Floyd Dent during a traffic stop. The cops claim Dent refused their orders to show his hands, but the video shows a cop walking up to Dent’s car after he opened the door, shoving a gun in Dent’s face, yanking him out of the vehicle, immediately throwing him to the ground and attempting a choke hold on him, then punching him in the head 16 times while holding him on the ground. Dent wound up with fractures to his face, bleeding in the brain, and 4 broken ribs.
The cops claim they found crack cocaine in Dent’s car and charged him with possession of crack along with resisting and obstructing police. After seeing the video, a judge dropped the resisting and obstruction charges, but let the drug possession charges stand.
Dent is a 57 year-old black worker with no previous arrests. He has worked at the nearby Ford Rouge plant for 37 years. He refused a plea bargain and is speaking out against the drug possession charge saying, “I saw them plant the drugs in my car. An innocent man does not plead guilty.” Another video has surfaced which appears to show the cops planting the drugs in Dent’s car.
The cop seen punching Dent in the video is William Melendez, a former Detroit cop with a history of similar abuses. He has been sued at least 12 times in federal court. One of those suits involved the killing of an unarmed man in Southwest Detroit as he lay on the ground following a traffic stop. Witnesses in another suit involving Melendez testified he and other cops planted guns and drugs on them, and beat and sexually assaulted them.
What happened to Dent is a microcosm of what has been happening around the country for decades, where the cops grab someone and put a felony on him. It’s part of the so-called War on Drugs. First called for by Ronald Reagan, many of the changes in the laws encouraging the campaign came under the Clinton administration.
As part of the drug war, the federal government offered grant money to local police departments. That required cops to makes arrests, often for very small time drug possession. Many cops were not so anxious to arrest people over such petty crimes, so the federal government “incentivized” them by requiring the police departments to show that they were being effective in carrying out the drug war. That meant showing increases in drug arrests. The grants were, in effect, a bounty for making more arrests.
The War on Drug grants, which continued under Bush, have only continued to increase under Obama. Vice President Joe Biden was a strong proponent of the drug war in the Senate during the Clinton administration; and Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first chief of staff, also strongly supported it.
Add to these grants laws giving the police the power to confiscate money and property of anyone on suspicion of involvement in drug-related crimes and the incentives for cops to concoct reasons for drug arrests increase even more.
It’s easy to see that a worker like Floyd Dent with no previous criminal history was targeted. Imagine how many young men, on the streets with no job and little possibility of getting one have been similarly targeted, with no ability to offer much of a legal defense. Petty drug arrests only worsen the likelihood of their finding jobs.
The War on Drugs is a weapon intended to imprison a section of the black population that was the most militant part of the working class, and still potentially is. It is only exacerbated by the fact that most cops are white, as in the case of the Inkster police department, which is 95 per cent white in a city with a population that is 73 per cent black.
So long as the cops are allowed to carry out such terror against the black population, the ruling class which employs them will be able to keep the entire working class under its thumb.