I am not a Republican (if I were, these days that would make me a supporter and/or enabler of white supremacy and the ideology of fascism).
I am also not a Democrat (a party that now mimics Republicans because it seems the only thing that matters is winning those Trump supporters in the next election).
That conservative trajectory led President Biden to chanting during his State of the Union address, that in the context of the reality of racist police murder, conjured images of lynchings and cross burnings to me – and I’m sure I’m not alone among many Black people paying attention. The chant was in opposition to the very moderate demand of taking some funds from the police. “Fund the police, Fund them, Fund them” he exclaimed as if he was preaching the gospel. And, it looked in fact like he was preaching to the choir since he got a standing ovation in the House chambers.
Biden is not worried about Black voters. He thinks we as Black people have no choice. During the last election he said if we didn’t vote for him we weren’t Black. He joins Joe Rogan in thinking he knows what it is to be Black.
His version of being Black is like being Eric Adams, the right-wing mayor from New York City who uses his African American ethnicity and willingness to push racist policing policies as a means to further his political career. Mayor Adams is now reviving the plainclothes crime units that were responsible for 31% of fatal police shootings in 2018, despite being only 6% of the police force in the city, according to a study by the Intercept.
Many will remember that in 1999 an unarmed 23-year-old Guinean immigrant and student named Amadou Diallo was also shot by four plainclothes NYC cops and killed, simply for reaching for an identification card.
Then there is Vice President Kamala Harris, another person of African ethnicity preferred by Biden, and one of the people to stand up immediately in that standing ovation for the “fund them” chant. Vice President Harris, before becoming vice president, was the top cop in California as the Attorney General — who would not allow a reform to go through that would have forced prosecutors to finally prosecute killer cops.
According to the prestigious international scientific journal, the Lancet, in a study examining fatal police violence by race and state in the U.S. from 1980–2019, the unwillingness to consistently prosecute criminal murder by police is what maintains this systemic nightmare: “Accountability and transparency in policing are lacking, as evidenced by ongoing problems with under-reporting. Police officers who kill civilians are rarely charged with a crime; Mapping Police Violence reports that in 2017, of 1,147 deaths, officers were charged with a crime in 13 cases, or 1% of the time. Police violence and racism in policing in the USA are not new or unexplained problems; they are the current manifestations of a system that was built to uphold racial hierarchy for most of the USA’s history.” [my emphasis -JP]
On the other hand, the type of Black people Biden doesn’t like would be Assata Shakur, former Black Panther who was exiled to Cuba due to a racist frameup by police. In fact, Biden’s administration has a bounty on her life. Or George Jackson, a Black Panther and political prisoner who was assassinated by prison cops in 1971. And Claudia Jones, a Black communist born in 1915 and deported from the U.S. as an adult due to her powerful activism and, like Fred Hampton, skills at uniting our class and advocating solidarity with the most oppressed.
Claudia Jones and Fred Hampton especially understood that real solidarity with the oppressed is only possible when our working class has a scientific understanding of how this capitalist society works. In considering the entities of capitalism, for example, the military and police – what are their functions in keeping capitalism alive. For those answers they also studied another revolutionary – Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, a revolution that allowed, for the first time, working people – our class – to take control over the factories, land and machinery to utilize them for their benefit. And, it’s a good thing because it was the only country capable of stopping Nazi Germany during World War II because of its because of its non-privatized and centralized method of production and its anti-fascist ideology.
But before the 1917 Bolshevik revolution could happen, it would take the working people, agricultural workers and unemployed, to understand who were their friends and allies and who were their enemies. Lenin understood that the legislators, military and police were in place to protect the capitalist system of exploitation by any means and at all costs, especially including the taking of life, whether by the denial of basic social services or through a bullet. This is why the police keep us in fear and target the most exploited as the system pushes us further into poverty.
That right arm of capitalism – the police who protect the haves from the have nots – will never be negotiated or voted away as long as capitalism exists, unless the ruling class is forced to disband them by a mightier force than their cops and military.
We have the potential to become that force by understanding our power and ability to make their system come to a halt. There are many more of us than there are of them. And, it’s only our labor that is fundamental to the creation of their wealth – we just need unity and solidarity.
We also need to understand that our Black, Brown and Indigenous communities must have the right to banish these cops from our neighborhoods and the right to the resources to train and develop our own community entities of safety and protection. We must do more than defund – WE MUST DISARM AND DISBAND the police.
If not, we will be sentenced to hearing the endless nonsense from President Biden and others as solutions, which actually encourage more police terror and murder – so more Amadou Diallo tragedies will occur. By the way, Diallo’s killers, the four cops, remain free and after the incident were even offered their jobs back.
And, on March 2, the day after President Joe Biden delivered that State of the Union speech, Thomas Siderio, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by Philadelphia police.
Don’t give Biden and the enablers of genocide a pass – let’s build a militant movement with a clear understanding of what’s needed and the dedication to building real working-class solidarity, with our friends and allies – not our enemies.
John Parker, of the Socialist Unity Party, is on the ballot as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from California in the June primary of Election 2022. He is part of the Left Unity Slate of the Peace and Freedom Party and has been endorsed by the Green Party.
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