Points of Orientation in the Wake of Events on December 20, 2014

December 21, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Two New York City police officers were shot and killed on Saturday, December 20.  The police have stated that they identified and chased the assailant and that the alleged assailant killed himself in the subway.  This has become a major news story and has been seized on to carry forward a major political attack on the movement to stop police murders.

In evaluating what is going on, and without commenting on the incident at hand, people need to be clear on some key underlying truths.  First, as has been brought to light through research, police and other security personnel in the U.S. kill someone nearly every day, and very many of these victims are unarmed and not even alleged to be committing a crime.  New York has an entire roster of people, mainly Black and Latino, murdered by police while unarmed—this includes Amadou Diallo, murdered as he stood in his doorway reaching for his wallet; Patrick Dorismond, who told an undercover narcotics officer to get out of his face; Anthony Baez, whose crime was that his football hit a police car; Malcolm Ferguson, slain days after participating in a protest against the exoneration of the pigs who murdered Diallo; Eleanor Bumpurs, a grandmother supposedly resisting eviction; Nicholas Heyward Jr., a 13-year-old boy playing with a toy gun; Ramarley Graham, murdered in his bathroom by a rampaging pig; Sean Bell, Akai Gurley, Eric Garner, Kimani Gray, Gidone Busch, and many many others.  In fact, you can travel to the house of Margarita Rosario in the Bronx where an entire side of her house is a mural containing the names of these stolen lives, just for New York City—including the names of her son and nephew, Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega, murdered by NYPD officers as they lay face down.

This speaks to the reality of the racist and murderous brutality of the police and the whole apparatus of repression of this system, which is widespread, continual, and systematic, and which is not simply a particular feature of the NYPD but is characteristic of police and the "injustice system" in the country as a whole, in the service of a brutally oppressive system, a system which has white supremacy built into its very foundation and structure.

Second, at long last, after yet two more unarmed Black men were murdered by police and their killers were not even indicted, a powerful movement for justice has arisen.  When this movement did not “peter out,” to paraphrase NYPD chief Bratton, governments all over the country took measures to suppress this.  In New York, these measures included lawsuits from Mayor de Blasio demanding the ability to sweep up, detain and arrest demonstrators en masse without warning; hysterical “trials by media” of someone accused of throwing a garbage can during a protest and others attempting to defend a protester against attack and arrest, right down to “Wanted” front-page pictures in tabloids of the people alleged to have defended a protester and urgings to the readers to turn them in; and more and more arrests of demonstrators; etc.  (It should also be noted that for all the talk of a new, more “permissive” NYPD, hundreds were nevertheless arrested for exercising their rights in the early days of the protests.)

Third, this event also happens against the backdrop of intense antagonism among different sections of the ruling class and government apparatus, especially between the police themselves and sections of the bourgeoisie supporting a continued “free hand” for the pigs, and the camp of de Blasio, which has made a show of (supposedly) discontinuing some elements of the former repressive package while maintaining and intensifying others.  Even these essentially cosmetic changes have been too much for some in the ruling class.   These conflicts have also featured incidents to which there seems very likely to be more than meets the eye, and the utilization of leaks to the media to discredit and/or effectively convict people who have gotten in the way of powerful forces. 

In this atmosphere, given the NYPD’s proven record of lying (there are currently scandals in New York of cops framing scores and perhaps hundreds of innocent people), frame-ups (the notorious case of the Central Park 5), and setups (the police whistleblower Frank Serpico in the 1970s nearly lost his life to his “brother police”), nobody should believe any story that comes from the NYPD nor take at face value anything out of the mouth of anyone connected to the police department.

Now this incident is being used to distort the character of this protest movement and to nip it in the bud.  Let us return to the facts: the police kill hundreds of people a year, and are rarely if ever even threatened with being brought to trial.  Let us dig into a deeper fact: these murders grow out of a system of white supremacy which has been bred into the bone and psyche of this rotten society since Day One and which, while it has morphed into different forms over the centuries to meet the changing needs and circumstances of those who have ruled America, has never been eradicated.  Today the police departments have in large part replaced the patrollers of slavery days and the lynch mobs of Jim Crow—but the function is the same. 

Given all that, the protests that have been going on, and the new protests that are being planned, should not and must not cease and must indeed deepen and grow even more broad, diverse and determined.  People must not allow themselves to be thrown on the defensive.  Further: the serious repressive moves by the de Blasio/Bratton administration must be strongly opposed, and the attempts now by de Blasio to turn everyone in New York into a snitch should absolutely NOT be tolerated.

Finally, without in any way commenting on this incident, let the following be noted: We are building a movement for revolution—a revolution which, in order to have a real possibility of winning, would need to involve millions of people who have become convinced of the need for this revolution and who, with the emergence of a deep-going revolutionary crisis in society, would be determined to fight to carry out such a revolutionary struggle and fight to win.  All of the work we are doing is aimed at contributing to the development of such a revolutionary movement, guided by this strategic understanding, orientation and approach.  If people want to learn more about our strategy for revolution—as well as why we think such a revolution is urgently needed by the masses of humanity, and why and how it is possible—they should further check out this website revcom.us. 



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