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The Internationalist
  Summer 2015

It Will Take Workers Revolution To End It

Killer Cops, White Supremacists:
Racist Terror Stalks Black America

St. Louis County Police confront demonstrators in Ferguson, Misssouri over killing of Michael Brown, 13 August 2014. Killer cop Darren Wilson walked. There is no justice for black people in racist, capitalist America.
(Photo: Whitney Curtis for The New York Times)

For Labor / Black / Immigrant Mobilization Against Police Killings!

After months of rampaging killer cops came the June 17 Charleston, South Carolina massacre – nine black church-goers in a Bible study class at the iconic Emanuel AME Church murdered by a white supremacist.1 In the following week, six churches with black congregations have burned. This, too, is hardly new. Between 1995 and 1999, a government task force opened investigations into 827 church burnings and bombings. Then they stopped counting…

The summer of 2014 exploded in massive outrage against the racist murder of black men by the police. First, Eric Garner, choked to death by a swarm of cops in Staten Island, New York in July. Millions saw the assault on a bystander’s cellphone video. Then, three weeks later, Michael Brown, shot down by a killer cop in Ferguson, Missouri, his body left in the street for hours as grisly warning by the lily-white police to the mainly black residents of the St. Louis suburb. But the population refused to be intimidated and instead rose up. Even when an army of cops from throughout the region was brought in, along with armored cars and heavy weaponry, and then the state police followed by the National Guard, angry demonstrators refused to leave. This chilled America’s capitalist rulers to the bone: they had been preparing for years to impose martial law in case of urban unrest, but when they brought out all their hardware, it didn’t work.”2

In late autumn it happened again, this time nationwide. When word came on November 24 that a grand jury had let off Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop who murdered Michael Brown, thousands flooded into the streets. Ferguson was aflame, I-44 shut down in St. Louis, I-580 in Oakland. The next night, tens of thousands, coast-to-coast, blocked highways, tunnels, city centers. Ten days later when the Eric Garner grand jury verdict came down, again with no indictment, there was a repeat. Vast numbers marched in angry defiance of a system where police kill unarmed African Americans with utter abandon and total impunity. By December 13 there were 30,000 in the streets of Washington, D.C. and 50,000 in New York. While many chanted “No justice, no peace,” when the Internationalist Group and CUNY Internationalist Clubs in NYC chanted “Only revolution can bring justice,” it was widely taken up.”3

Night after night the mass protests continued in NYC, with die-ins at Grand Central Station, clashes with cops on the Brooklyn Bridge. The names of Akai Gurley in Brooklyn and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland were added to the list of victims of racist police murder. Protests became mainstream as Congressional staffers chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” outside the U.S. Capitol. New York City Council members chanted Eric Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe. And then suddenly it all stopped. Two NYPD officers were shot by an enraged man, driven beyond reason by the orgy of killing by cops, who decided to take a couple with him and then committed suicide. It was certainly convenient for the ruling class, as was the fact that the two dead cops were not white but Latino and Chinese. When New York City mayor Bill de Blasio demanded that the “anti-police” demos stop, many liberal protest organizers complied.

On December 23, a couple thousand people (including the Internationalists) defied the NYC mayor and marched against police murder. Demonstrators still chanted “NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” But the huge crowds were gone. The protests had been brought up short, face to face with the capitalist state. “Moderate” demo organizers who were only protesting racist police, denounced “violence” and stood down or tried to block more militant protests. Meanwhile, the cops were chomping at the bit, going into open rebellion against liberal Democrat de Blasio and itching to carry out mass arrests of hundreds and thousands of demonstrators as they did under Republicans Bloomberg and Giuliani. The naked assertion of police power independent of civilian control was an ominous threat to the democratic rights of everyone.

As 2014 drew to a close, according to the most detailed account based on publicly published sources, a total of 1,100 people had been killed by the police in the United States.”4 The actual numbers may be much higher, and there are no official figures since the government relies on very partial voluntary reporting by police departments. But the stark reality is that at least three individuals a day had their lives terminated by the forces of “law and order.” The last to die that year was Kevin Davis, a 44-year-old black worker who lived on the outskirts of Decatur, Georgia. Davis had called the police after being stabbed with a knife by an assailant who fled. When the police arrived, first they shot Davis’ dog and then him. When he was taken to the hospital, police refused to let his family have contact with him until he “expired” two days later (Alternet, 27 January).

Now we are half-way through 2015, and as of this writing (June 26) at least 549 people have been killed by cops, almost exactly the same rate as last year. Another, more elaborate, database of police killings, “The Counted,” has now been set by the U.S. edition of the British newspaper The Guardian, which includes information on race and ethnicity, gender, age, whether the victim was armed or unarmed, and other details. This tells us that 29% of those killed by police as of June 1 were black, although African Americans are only 13% of the U.S. population; that one-third of the black victims were unarmed, and two-thirds of unarmed people killed by police were members of minorities; that the average age of a person killed by police was 37, that 27% had mental health issues and 95% were men. One-third of the women were killed by police in their own home, as was Tanisha Anderson, killed by Cleveland cops only days before they shot Tamir Rice.

So despite the mass protests and pious talk of police “accountability,” nothing has changed. Whether it is unarmed black men murdered by police, like Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, or the nine church-goers shot by a white-supremacist vigilante at a Bible-study session in Charleston last week, it is clear that murderous white racism is endemic in the United States. Soon another particularly egregious case will grab the headlines, and again there will be angry mass protests. Will they peter out or come to an abrupt end as they did last year with nothing to show for it? At most there may be a few cosmetic, symbolic changes like removing the Confederate battle flag, the banner of the Ku Klux Klan terrorists, that flies at state capitols and is part of state flags. But the racist killing will go on and on … unless we put a stop to it. But how?

Tens of thousands of young people, black, white, Latino and others, and many older people as well, participated in the mass mobilizations last summer and fall. Over and over they chanted “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” – slogans that reflect a sense of anguish and impotence. Many were radicalized by the experience, as they could see that Obama’s America is anything but “post-racial,” and the pretense of democracy is a cruel hoax. For that experience of activism not to turn into an exercise in frustration, like the endless antiwar marches that occur every time U.S. imperialism invades another country, it’s vital to draw the lessons of those protests – what they showed about the potential for struggle, but also what they did not, and could not, accomplish, and why not. It requires an understanding of the system of official and semi-official racist violence and murder that has characterized American capitalism ever since it solidified on the bedrock of slavery, and continues today.

It’s All About the State

Every time there is an upsurge of popular unrest, the question of the state is posed point-blank. In 2011, leaders of Occupy Wall Street argued that beat cops were part of the “99%.” Substituting income statistics for class analysis, they blinded demonstrators to the fact that the police are the armed fist of capital. They kept insisting on this (and tried to stop the Internationalists from chanting “We are all Sean Bell, NYPD go to hell”) even as cops were arresting hundreds on the Brooklyn Bridge. The populist Occupy “movement” disappeared after a few short months, partly due to coordinated national repression orchestrated from Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, but more fundamentally because protesters did not come to an understanding of the class nature of the capitalist state, and the fact that it cannot be reformed. Similarly with the abrupt collapse of the mass protests against police murder last December.

Leftists chant “indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail” misleading protesters into thinking this is possible, although all of U.S. history shows the contrary. In the exceedingly rare case where a cop does time, it will be a slap on the wrist. And when they add “the whole damn system is guilty as hell” they don’t say what that system is. Yet for there to be a real struggle against the systematic racist police murder it is crucial to understand that this is rooted in racist American capitalism. Chants like “we want freedom, freedom – these racist cops, we don’t need ’em, need ’em” suggest that there could be non-racist cops, when the reality is that it is not just a matter of individual attitudes: all police are part of a machine of racist repression. The rhyming reformism serves to mask the stark reality – as revolutionaries from Marx and Engels to Lenin and Trotsky have stressed – that the state enforces the rule of the economically dominant class.

“Who do you protect, who do you serve?” scream demonstration leaders as cops beat protesters bloody. For would-be socialists to pose this as a question to the cops, even rhetorically, buys into the lie (emblazoned on LAPD patrol cars) that police supposedly protect and serve “the people.” The task of revolutionary Marxists is to tell the truth to the masses, that the police defend the interests of capital. The capitalist-imperialist rulers of the United States enforce their world domination with bloody butchery just as they do inside the U.S. A black U.S. president, Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat, kills Muslims and U.S. citizens with his drones with as little regard for the lives of the oppressed as his Republican predecessor George W. Bush. And their killer cops will keep on killing until their bloody rule is overthrown.

Most of the mobilizations against police murder have been led by liberals, black and white, and reformists – that is, leftists who may call themselves socialist and even communist, but whose actual program is only to reform (and thus ultimately uphold) capitalism. While revolutionaries support genuine reforms (from the minimum wage to the right to same-sex marriage), the idea that state repression can be reformed away is characteristic of reformists. One of the problems liberals and reformists face in turning the often massive protests into an ongoing “movement” like the civil rights movement they seek to emulate is the absence of any even remotely credible reform demands. Over the last several decades any number of supposed reforms have been tried and all have failed to even put a dent in the rampant racist police terror.

Demilitarize the police? Akai Gurley, Tanish Anderson, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and most of those murdered by police have been killed by one or two cops on regular patrol.

Disarm the police? Impossible in racist capitalist America, but beyond that, Eric Garner and 20 years earlier Anthony Baez were killed by a cop’s bare hands.

Dashboard cameras on police cars? When Walter Scott was pulled over in North Charleston on April 4 for a supposed broken taillight, the dashcam showed no such thing – but it didn’t stop him from getting shot in the back and killed by the racist cop.

Body cameras on police officers? This is the latest fad. It didn’t stop the shooting of Eric Harris in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 2, which was recorded by a bodycam, including the remark by the 73-year-old “reserve” cop that he thought he was firing a Taser.

A new police chief? Under Republican plutocrat Bloomberg New York had Ray Kelly, under liberal Democrat de Blasio it has Bill Bratton, but the killing doesn’t stop. And now the liberal Democratic City Council has voted to hire 1,300 more cops than under Bloomberg/Kelly. 

A black police chief? A black mayor? Philadelphia has both, and its “stop and frisk” numbers rival New York’s.

More black police? In the case of Baltimore, on top of a black mayor and police chief, almost half the cops are black, but both black and white officers were guilty of Freddie Gray’s murder.

New police policies? “Stop and frisk” is now officially “reformed,” so now it’s back to “broken windows” – harassing black and Latino youth for minor “quality of life” infractions.

Residency requirements? Instead of holing up in white suburbs like Walnut Creek, California or New York’s Rockland County, police will just congregate in cop enclaves like Howard Beach or Eltingville on Staten Island’s South Shore.  

Community policing? So instead of patrolling poor black and Latino areas in convoys, like Israeli occupation forces in the Palestinian West Bank, they will increase the number of cops in permanent outposts while assigning a few community relations officers to coordinate with church leaders … and the SWAT teams are held in reserve.

Civilian review boards? NYC, Philly and Baltimore all have them, and they’re not only utterly worthless in controlling police violence, they actually serve to legitimize it.

A recent article reviewing the experience of civilian review boards noted that this demand going back to the 1950s and ’60s was “sold by liberal reformers as a sort of societal ‘safety valve’ to prevent civil unrest” (Charles Davis, “America’s historic struggle to control its police,” Salon, 25 February). While right-wingers slammed such toothless boards as a communist plot to undermine America, in Philadelphia, which had a review board, then abolished it in 1969, the “police advisory board” was brought back in 1994 as a way to save the city millions of dollars by preventing complaints from going to court. In New York City, where use of the chokehold has supposedly been banned since 1993, the civilian board received over 1,000 complaints of its use from 2009 to 2013 (New York Times, 22 July 2014). Only nine cases were raised with the NYPD brass and in only one case was there any action (loss of vacation days).

The Justice League NYC, a project of The Gathering for Justice, Inc., one of the foundation-funded “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that quickly became involved in the protests over police killings, put forward a list of demands including calls for the city and state of New York to “draft legislation to clarify the rules of engagement” and to “create a comprehensive NYPD training program”—as if more training or clearer rules would have prevented the use of the deadly chokehold on Eric Garner which was already against NYPD regulations. As for its call on U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and the Obama administration to “expedite the federal investigation into the death of Eric Garner,” Holder’s “investigation” of Ferguson exonerated the cop who killed Michael Brown!

Militarization of the Police

Washington Post reporter Radley Balko in his book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (Public Affairs, 2014), devotes 300 pages to chronicling the use of heavily armed SWAT teams bursting into homes, killing anything that moves: pets, young children and older women (like Alberta Spruill in Harlem, who was screaming “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe””5). But after all that, he comes up with a tiny list of “reforms” that either aren’t going to happen (ending the drug war, “changing police culture” or instituting civilian review boards with subpoena power and the authority to impose discipline) or are completely empty (more “transparency”). Balko, who is no “bleeding heart” liberal but a right-wing libertarian, complains:

“Police today are armed, dressed, trained and conditioned like soldiers. They’re given greater protections from civil and criminal liability than normal citizens. They are permitted to violently break into homes, often at night…
“This isn’t to say we’re in a police state…. [But] at the individual level, a police officer’s power and authority over the people he interacts with day to day is near complete.”

He ends with a lament that the supplying of military-grade armament to local police has become so pervasive that military contractors have shifted their resources to focus on this market.

As Rise of the Warrior Cop makes clear, the militarization of the police is not something new but a long-term process. It goes back to the late 1960s as impoverished blacks in the northern cities, having gained nothing from the civil rights movement, rebelled against rampant police brutality. After the “riots” were put down by the National Guard and military, local police began stocking up with heavy weaponry. The first paramilitary police SWAT squad was formed by Los Angeles police chief Darryl Gates and first used against the L.A. Black Panther Party office in December 1969. Because the Panthers, led by Geronimo ji-Jaga (Pratt), were well armed and trained, they were able to stand off the cop assault for hours. (Geronimo was later imprisoned on frame-up charges for 27 years before his conviction was finally vacated.”6

At the same time, Richard Nixon launched the “war on drugs,” which from the outset was a war on the black and Latino population. This war escalated in the 1980s under Republican Ronald Reagan and continued under Democrat Bill Clinton. Following the September 2001 attacks on the NYC World Trade Center and Pentagon, the militarization of local police again escalated, this time under the guise of a “war against terror,” facilitated by the USA PATRIOT Act and other laws backed by both capitalist parties. There was also a deeper economic reason for the increasing militarization of the police: under the impact of “free-market” economic policies, the middle class was being hollowed out, with a sharply increased number of poor workers (including many immigrants without rights) and a tiny, obscenely wealthy capitalist elite. As U.S. society began to look more like Latin America, so did the police apparatus.

This development burst into public consciousness in August 2014 as the media showed hundreds of black residents of Ferguson, Missouri facing down an army of police in full body armor and military fatigues, with high-power rifles and machine guns mounted atop Bearcat armored vehicles. The sight of the same equipment deployed in the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan being used against domestic demonstrators protesting against a police killing shocked many. The politicians, however, were shocked by the fact that the protesters didn’t back down. Since then there have been calls to end the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security programs of supplying military hardware to local police forces. After some initial hand-wringing, in May President Obama issued an order supposedly conditioning (but not banning) the transfer of armored trucks, drones and other aircraft. But just about every police force in the country already has a bulging arsenal of heavy weaponry.

Militarized police in the U.S. are not going away, protests or not, any more than the National Security Agency and other spy shops are curtailing their across-the board-surveillance after the Edward Snowden revelations. The capitalist rulers need them, to use against “the enemy,” including the general population of the United States.

“Community Control of the Police” – A Dangerous Illusion

Over the years, various reformists and black radicals have called for “community control of the police.” In 1970, the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, by then heavily influenced by the reformist Communist Party, put forward an amendment to the city charter calling to give “control of the police to community elected neighborhood councils so that those whom the police serve will be able to set police policy and standards of conduct.” Today demands for community control of the police are raised by the Black Agenda Report and various pseudo-socialists including the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP)”7 and Socialist Alternative (SAlt)”8, both based in Seattle. This utopian reformist call only fosters illusions in the nature of the capitalist state. The ruling class will never permit the exploited and oppressed to have any control over the forces of repression, whose job is to enforce the exploitation and oppression of poor and working people.

In the case of SAlt, which pretends that cops are “workers in uniform,” its city council member Kshama Sawant praised the process of hiring a new police chief last year, saying it was “positive … that a woman will be at the head of what has been and still is a male-dominated bastion.” She hailed the new chief’s “openness” and “commitment to build a relationship with the community,” and said the new top cop’s call for “a tiered approach for policing protests,” in which riot cops will only be brought in “if they are absolutely necessary,” and bike police will be used first against “unauthorized protests,” was a “welcome change.””9 So this “socialist” supports using riot cops against demonstrators! As for the rest, in Portland, OR bike cops in their bumble-bee uniforms have brutally attacked protesters, and in South Africa, where cops shot down 37 striking mine workers at Marikana in August 2012, the head of the national police is a woman.

All these schemes fly in the face of, and in fact directly contradict, the fundamental Marxist understanding of the state. As Friedrich Engels spelled out in his book The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State (1885), and V.I. Lenin elaborated in his 1917 pamphlet The State and Revolution, the state is a public power consisting of “special bodies of armed men,” namely the military and police, along with their material adjuncts such as courts and prisons, which serves as a “means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class.” “The state,” wrote Engels, “is an organization for the protection of the possessing class against the non-possessing class,” and that is true in “the highest form of the state, the democratic republic” just as much as in a monarchy, at the lowest levels as much as at the highest.

As Karl Marx wrote at the time of the 1871 Paris Commune, under capitalist rule the state cannot serve the interests of the exploited and oppressed, no matter who is in the government or how much pressure is put on it, and the task is not “to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it.” Under the Commune, the police were subject to the control of, and was recallable by, the working people – but that was after an uprising that suppressed the former army and police, i.e., destroyed the former state machinery. The idea that the capitalists and their politicians, while still the ruling class, would tolerate control of the police by those it is intended to repress is a total illusion. And those who think that the election of sheriffs makes any difference in their repressive role need only look at the racist sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been elected again and again.

The entire legal system is based on the recognition that the police are the first line of defense of capital. As shown by the refusal of a grand jury to indict the cops who killed Eric Garner, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, the process is rigged to ensure impunity for the police. In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Post reporter Balko points out that, “Under the qualified immunity from civil lawsuits currently afforded to police under federal law, a police officer can’t be sued for mere negligence – or even for gross negligence that results in a fatality.” But he admits that of his paltry list of reforms, modifying this immunity is the “least likely to be adopted.” This is not some peculiar American or modern invention. Engels in The Origins of the Family notes about even the earliest appearance of the state: “Representatives of a power which estranges them from society, they have to be given prestige by means of special decrees, which invest them with a peculiar sanctity and inviolability.”

No amount of protest will convince the ruling class to muzzle their uniformed guard dogs, whom it requires to keep the poor and working people down. What’s needed is militant class struggle on a revolutionary program. The Internationalist Group has called for an end to all drug laws. We call for labor/black/immigrant mobilization against police terror. We have acted to carry this out, with the unprecedented port shutdown to “Stop Police Terror” by Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Oakland this past May Day, and the “Labor Against Police Murder” contingent the same day, organized by Class Struggle Workers – Portland. Bringing to bear workers’ power to stop the wheels of commerce could stay the rulers’ hand for a time. At the height of struggle one can also mobilize to get the police and military occupation forces out, as the IG called for in Ferguson last August and again in Baltimore this spring.”10 But such actions can only have a temporary effect.

Ultimately, there is no solution to racist police brutality under capitalist rule: it is inherent in the system. Racist vigilantes, from George Zimmerman to Dylann Roof, act as auxiliaries. Whether in the form of slave catchers, KKK nightriders and racist sheriffs under Jim Crow, or mass incarceration combined with paramilitary police forces today, supplemented by massacres, American capitalism has always devised a way to keep its black, Latino and now increasingly immigrant wage slaves in thrall. The killer cops aren’t running amok, in contradiction to their assigned task, they’re doing their job to enforce racist “law and order” which is essential to American capitalism and has been ever since African slaves were brought here in chains. The fact that year after year, from one end of the country to the other, virtually no police are indicted – much less convicted – for killing over 1,000 civilians a year is no accident.

As we wrote in The Internationalist No. 1 (January-February 1997):

“Trigger-happy cops with Glocks pop anyone they consider ‘suspects’ or ‘perps,’ not to mention bystanders, subway riders, drivers who are parking, drivers who are stopped at stop lights, passengers in cars, pedestrians on the street, patrons in restaurants, young men playing football, young men outside bars, young men inside bars – particularly if the victims are black, Hispanic or Asian – as well as roaming around housing projects in off-duty vigilante squads, and not infrequently bumping off their own wives and girlfriends. They think they can get away with murder, and history – recent and past – shows they are right. Why? Because they are the enforcers of the monopoly of violence in the hands of the capitalist state, the apparatus set up to guarantee the profits and the rule of the bourgeoisie….
“To get rid of racist cop terror, you have to sweep away the system that spawns it. That system is capitalism, and what’s needed is a socialist revolution to make the working class and its allies the rulers of society.”

While various pseudo-socialists are always seeking to build a new “movement,” adapting their politics to whatever is the flavor of the day, such amorphous “coalitions” always end up reducing their program to the lowest common denominator. This may at times bring many people into the street, but it cannot point the way forward to actually win. The struggle for socialist revolution requires a leadership, a multi-racial workers party with a clear revolutionary program, a party that champions the cause of all the oppressed and can overcome the rulers’ attempts to set one ethnic group against another, employed workers against the unemployed, etc. In short, we need, as we wrote in 1997, to “forge a revolutionary leadership, with a core of cadres tested in the class struggle, like the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky which led the October 1917 Russian Revolution. ■

Police Bonapartism

When two New York City cops were shot last December, hundreds of police went to the hospital where they turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio and NYPD chief Bratton when they arrived. They did it again at the dead cops’ funerals. Patrick Lynch, the frothing fascistic head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), accused the mayor of having “blood on the hands.” Cops were furious at the mayor’s remark during the protests over the Eric Garner grand jury verdict that “so many families in this city” worry whether their children are safe from the police, and that he taught his son Dante to be very careful, avoid sudden movements and not to reach for his cellphone when encountering cops. In other words, for black youth, the police are a dangerous enemy. In reality, the police have had it in for de Blasio since he ran for mayor opposing the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policies targeting blacks and Latinos.

On December 20, at the same time as he was accusing the mayor of being responsible for the killing of the two police officers, PBA chief Lynch issued a memo ordering that, “Starting IMMEDIATELY - At least two units are to respond to Every call, no matter … what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be.” Lynch added: “IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary…. The mayors [sic] hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

This not only amounted to a declaration of police war on black people in particular, it was literally a call to mutiny against the chain of command and ultimately civilian authority over the police. This could have put Lynch behind bars except that the mayor, under siege from his own cops, is too weak to do that (and needs the police to maintain capitalist “law and order” in the center of international finance capital). It was no idle threat: NYPD officers in fact stopped writing tickets for several weeks until Lynch called it off in mid-January. This recalls the 1992 police riot against Mayor David Dinkins over talk of a civilian review board. Ten thousand armed off-duty cops responding to a call by the PBA swarmed City Hall, jumping barricades, kicking and shoving journalists and screaming racist epithets at Dinkins, NYC’s first (and so far only) black mayor. De Blasio must remember that incident well, having served in Dinkins’ administration.

Such a display of unbridled police power is an example of what Marxists call “bonapartism,” that is, the displacement of civilian or parliamentary control with raw military/police domination.”11 Ominous as the PBA mutiny was, however, the main danger of bonapartist police-state measures comes from the state itself, whatever the current government. This was obvious under Bloomberg, whose police arrested over 1,800 protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention and over 2,600 protesters at Occupy Wall Street events. Yet in a court hearing on a suit on behalf of the 700 OWS marchers arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011, the de Blasio administration insisted that it had the right to make mass arrests without giving fair warning (“De Blasio Fights for the Right to Mass Arrest Peaceful Protesters,” Gothamist, 18 December 2014).

As for the Obama administration, its Department of Homeland Security ordered the nationwide police attack on Occupy camps; its Central Intelligence Agency kills hundreds with drone strikes personally approved by the president; its National Security Agency carried out the wholesale spying on all Internet and cellphone communications; and its Pentagon supplies the military hardware used against protesters from Ferguson to New York and Oakland. Whether under Republican Bush or Democrat Obama, federal, state and local governments are increasingly resorting to police-state measures to ensure the rule of the capitalist ruling class. ■

  1. 1."See Charleston Massacre and Cop Terror: It’s Racist American Capitalism,” The Internationalist No. 40, Summer 2015.
  2. 2."See Mobilize Across U.S. Against Racist Police Terror in Missouri,” The Internationalist No. 38, October-November 2014.
  3. 3.See “From Ferguson to New York: All Out Against Police Terror!Revolution No. 11, December 2014.
  4. 4. See http://www.killedbypolice.net/kbp2014.html.
  5. 5. See Alberta Spruill: Victim of NYPD Killer Elite,” The Internationalist No. 16, May-June 2003.
  6. 6. See “Geronimo Is Out! Now Free Mumia!The Internationalist supplement, June 1997; and “Honor the Memory of Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt),” The Internationalist No. 33 , Summer 2011.
  7. 7.For community control over the police!Freedom Socialist, June-July 2015.
  8. 8. “Socialist Alternative calls for community control over public safety and for community policing to be overseen by local committees of democratically elected representatives from the trade unions and community organizations,” Socialist Alternative , November 2014
  9. 9. From Kshama Sawant’s official city council member page.
  10. 10. See “Defend Black Baltimore – Cops and Troops Out!The Internationalist No. 39, April-May 2015.
  11. 11. Basing himself on the example of Louis Napoléon-Bonaparte, who seized power in France in 1852 and proclaimed himself emperor, Karl Marx used the term bonapartism to signify the sidelining of bourgeois-democratic governing norms by the military/police apparatus. See the Internationalist Group Class Readings, Marxism vs. Bonapartism.