Revolution #72, December 10, 2006


Killing to Enforce Capitalism and White Supremacy


I’m thinking about the killing of Sean Bell and how it brings to mind the police murders of Amadou Diallo, Anthony Bryant, Mingo Mason, Nicholas Heyward Jr, Anthony Rosario and many more victims of the NYPD than I can list here. And of how the cops who killed them got off scot-free.

This shit isn’t unique to NY. It happens in cities all across the country. Look at Atlanta, where cops recently broke into the home of Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old grandmother, on a “no-knock” drug raid and killed her. At first the cops claimed an undercover cop had purchased drugs at her house. Then they changed to saying a confidential informant had told them he had bought drugs at her house. Now the no longer confidential informant has come forward to say the cops are lying and he had never been to the woman’s house.

Why is it that cops brutalize and even kill unarmed people again and again, year in year out?

The answer to this comes down to what the police are actually out there to do in this society. It isn’t protecting and serving the civilian population. Nor is it making sure that justice is served. It means maintaining and even enforcing the dominant economic and social relations that exist in society, including the severe inequality that these relations concentrate. It means enforcing American capitalism and its all-too-legitimate child, white supremacy.

Before the Civil War, enslaving Black people was legal and much of the country’s economy was based on slavery. In fact, the great wealth of this country that they brag about so much today couldn’t have developed the way it did without slavery. It’s clearly unjust to treat human beings as property to be worked and abused as the owners of this “property” want. But the law protected and maintained this, including mandating that if any of this human “property” escaped, law enforcement had a duty to return it to its owner. And anyone who helped slaves escape risked imprisonment, torture and execution. In states where slavery was in effect, it was enforced by both the official police forces and by unofficial forces like the patrollers or “paddy rollers” who tried to keep slaves from running away. In other words, the police and other armed forces were organized to protect the open slavery of that time.

Today in this imperialist system, people all around the world, including millions in this country, work collectively to produce tremendous wealth. Yet this wealth is taken—expropriated—by a small handful of capitalists. The political and legal institutions in this society—the state—exist to maintain this situation and these relations, and the police are a part of that state structure.

Look today at New Orleans. The government failed to evacuate people before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. And after Katrina hit, the government failed to provide either rescue or emergency supplies for people whose lives were at risk. Yet when people took the food and water they needed to survive—that is, when they violated the “laws of capitalist private property”—they were condemned as looters and thugs by the same government officials who had left them there to die.

Police in New Orleans killed people for “looting” on the direct orders of the governor. How many people did the New Orleans cops kill? We don’t know because no one bothered to count them. What has happened to those servants of this system responsible for the deaths and dislocation in New Orleans? Nothing. They were “just doing their job ” under this capitalist system.

It’s a fact that police murder and brutality falls most heavily on Black and other oppressed nationality communities. From slavery to Katrina, white supremacy has been woven deep into the economic and social fabric of this society, and it’s a crucial part of what the police are out there to maintain.

Decades ago the resistance of Black people to the oppression they faced rocked this country and electrified the whole world. People won some concessions, but things didn’t go all the way to the revolution that a lot of people hoped and fought for, and which was and is needed. Since then some of the forms of the oppression of Black people have changed. A section of Black people have gotten ahead in this society—but even these folks face racist discrimination and police brutality and even, at times, murder. And for most Black people there is either a life of low wage labor, crime, prison, or all three. The way police patrol oppressed communities, like U.S. Marines swaggering through occupied Iraq, is aimed at keeping this shit in effect and at breaking people’s spirits and keeping their heads down.

OK, so how do we stop all this? To really get rid of this kind of injustice once and for all, we need a communist revolution, one that could sweep away everything reactionary and build a completely new and different society and world in its place.

A world where a handful of capitalists no longer expropriate the wealth produced by the millions who labor around the world, where people aren’t forced to endure oppressive and degrading social relations based on their race or gender and where a handful of imperialist countries don’t enslave and run the whole damned world and wage wars to fortify that enslavement.

A world where the needs of the masses of people, not the profit motive of a handful of super rich capitalists, are what dictates what gets done.

A world where those entrusted with enforcing the laws of society would sooner risk their own lives than take the life of an innocent person.

A world where the old order is shattered and state power is on the side of the masses and used to not only suppress the former rulers and big exploiters, but to transform society in the interests of the people; where more and more of the masses are increasingly involved in the actual running of every sphere of the society; and where society is vibrant and full of wrangling and debate, where people who are not yet won to the goals of the revolution can raise their questions and express their opposition, with all this aimed at getting to the truth of things as part of moving forward to a society without classes and states.

This kind of revolution is what the world is crying out for today. It’s the only way to break the stranglehold that capitalism has on humanity and to unleash the productive capacity that can meet the needs of people all over the world. The only way to cure, prevent or treat the many diseases that needlessly kill and disable so many people around the world. The only way to put an end to the domination of and discrimination against whole nations and peoples. And the only way to stop the police murder and everyday abuse that put Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, and too many others in their graves week in and week out. Nothing short of revolution can accomplish this.

Communist revolution can only be the conscious act of the masses of people, organized and led to carry out increasingly conscious struggle to abolish and take humanity beyond capitalism and all systems of exploitation and oppression. In a country like this one, revolution can only be made when there’s a major change in the situation, one where the whole society is engulfed in crisis. Today the U.S. rulers face a difficult situation. They invaded Iraq as part of making their global position so strong no one could even think about challenging it. Yet it has brought them even more opposition. In the U.S., they’re moving to remake society in a fascist direction which is driving broad sections of the people to think very deeply about what’s going on and what needs to be done about them.

All this is creating openings to bring into being another crucial ingredient for making revolution in a country like this—the emergence of millions and millions of people who are conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it. It is urgent that those who are outraged by this police murder and the many other foul things the system brings down develop their understanding of why revolution is needed to end this shit once and for all and how revolution could be carried out when the time is ripe. That they spread this understanding to others. And that they join wherever people are fighting back to hasten forward the day when such a thing is possible. Right now, that means joining in with, supporting and helping to build the struggle for justice for Sean Bell and for all the other victims of police murder.

There is leadership for doing all this. Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has developed a vision of the kind of world we can bring into being through making this kind of revolution and how this vision could be realized. People who are concerned about the state of the country and the world need to dig into the writings and speeches of this revolutionary leader and need to get with Bob Avakian and the party he leads.

Go to the web site to check out Avakian’s work. And to check out Revolution newspaper, the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party that Avakian leads.

At the same time, we must be building massive political resistance to the ways the system is coming down on the people today. Look at the impact this police murder has had on people. Leading them to question why such foul things happen again and again, and what needs to be done to end them. And look at the way so many people have risen above the muck and mire of day to day life the system keeps us enmeshed in to raise their heads and join in the struggle for justice. This is righteous and must be built on.

Already hundreds of people have taken to the streets in outrage around Sean’s murder in the few days since his death. Calls to remain calm or to wait till all the facts come out must be rejected. Enough facts have already come out. A young man leaving his bachelor party and a few hours away from his wedding is dead. Two of his friends are recovering from gunshot wounds. All were unarmed when the cops fired 50 shots at them. And the police are now carrying out raids in Sean’s neighborhood, arresting family members and friends of the people they shot. That’s enough to conclude that a terrible crime against the people has been committed.

Mass political action that targets the killer cops and the officials who unleash these brutal, murdering cops and cover up and justify their crimes must continue.

Without this kind of resistance, the authorities will feel like they can do any damned thing to us, and we’ll suffer it in silence. We have to make clear we will fight to beat back this kind of injustice. And as we do this, we have to be wrangling with and spreading revolutionary ideas and building a movement that’s winning over millions to see that the system is worthless and revolution is what’s needed.

Carl Dix is the National Spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and can be contacted at P.O. Box 941 Knickerbocker Station, New York NY 10002-0900, (866)841-9139 x2670, e-mail:

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