28 August 2023

Mississippi Atrocity Only Tip of the Iceberg

Open All Police Archives!

A Proposal to Rebuild the Movement

For the longstanding "crime" in racist capitalist America of a black man getting too close to a white woman, six Mississippi cops, self-labelled the "Goon Squad," inflicted on two black men hours of perverse racist sexual assault and torture reminiscent of the KKK lynch mob "tarring and feathering" that terrorized black communities in the South a century ago. In an attempt to cover for their grotesque crimes, these cops did what cops normally do: they planted drugs on their victims. Earlier this month, in what seems like an anomaly to most, the six white cops pled guilty to assaulting Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker.

Make no mistake, it's not a matter of a few bad apples, rogue racist cops or isolated instances confined to the "red states" of the South. The entire capitalist state is the goon squad for the racist capitalist rulers and commits crimes like this on a regular basis. Recall that it was five black cops that tortured and murdered Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Two weeks ago, cops of various backgrounds were busted in Antioch and Pittsburg, California, for hunting down and siccing dogs on black people and others for "fun." The same Fulton County Jail in Georgia where Trump's mugshot was taken is notorious for the many gruesome deaths of mainly black prisoners. These and countless other examples show that what was exposed in Mississippi is only the tip of the iceberg: Enough! The true crimes of the capitalist state must be exposed to all!

Everyone can see that the struggle against police brutality is at a standstill. Three years ago, there was an enormous swell of anger, with millions protesting against racist cop killings. Yet today, there is no real fightback. So, what happened? The BLM movement was organized on the basis of a slogan that was an empty sentiment that could be endorsed by anyone with absolutely no consequences. Everybody could say Black Lives Matter, keep calm and carry on. From Bezos to Biden to U.S. banks, all fly the BLM banner while they continue to exploit black people, the working class and the oppressed here and across the world. For decades, every movement against innumerable police atrocities has fallen flat on its face—they have all pushed schemes to put more black faces in city office or in control of the police, working for the same capitalist government that enforces racial segregation and repression. Their strategy is based on building coalitions with progressive politicians who lie to your face while stabbing you in the back.

What's necessary is a fight that will unite the broadest possible forces to advance the struggle to defend black people against police terror now and expose the fakers whose empty talk keeps the movement down. To start, our proposal is to rebuild the movement around the demands to: Open all police archives! The top hundred most heinous cases of cop brutality in every city must be open to public scrutiny!

Black people and workers have the right to know what is in the police archives—it is an elementary act of self-defense to make public the dirty deeds of the police! These are demands that anyone who wants to fight against racist police terror can support. Raise motions, take them to your unions, your community organizations, your political organizations and your political officials who claim to represent you. We need to mobilize to bring pressure down on all the liberal and progressive politicians who claim to stand for workers and for black rights. Let's put them on the spot—either you support this demand in defense of black people or you support the right of the police to repress people in secret.

Many activists point out that BLM sold black people to the Democrats and in response pose that what's necessary to revitalize the movement is a more militant demand like "abolish the police." OK, it is true that to achieve black equality, the capitalist state needs to be abolished. But how are you going to get there? There needs to be a bridge that gets us from the current state of things to "abolishing the police." You can't mobilize people on a demand that seems impossible to achieve. Opening the police archives is doable and, in fact, can be done by any politician in office that is really on the side of black people.

As the struggle advances, it will be ever clearer that the first step to "abolish the police" and to liberate black people is to break the alliance between black radicals and liberals. The road forward is not with progressive Democrats like Sanders, the Green Party or left-talking black politicians who have the same liberal strategy but from outside the Democratic Party. The fights for black liberation and for workers emancipation are completely intertwined and can only move forward together in opposition to their common enemy and all dead-end alliances with them.

We propose to create a united front based on the demand to open all police archives! To work with us and organize this, contact the SL/U.S. branch nearest you (see directory).

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(reprinted from Open All Police Archives!, Statements of the Spartacist League/U.S. 28 August 2023)