Hammer, Sickle and Four logo
The Internationalist
  September 2020

Mobilize Workers Action Against Racist State Terror!

Los Angeles: Outrage Against
Murder of Dijon Kizzee

Only Revolution Can Bring Justice!

Dijon KizzeeDijon Kizzee

LOS ANGELES – On August 31, 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee was gunned down in a hail of bullets to the back after being stopped by sheriff’s deputies in Westmont, for supposedly riding his bike in an “illegal manner.” The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department claims they opened fire when they spotted a gun drop to the ground with a bundle of clothing Kizzee had been carrying. Their “case” amounts to an assertion that if a black man had a gun – even if he no longer has it – that justifies summary execution.

But eyewitnesses report that there was no gun at all. “‘He never had the gun. He had no gun. They said they heard a gun fall. What fell was his cellphone,’ said Deja Roquemore, who witnessed the shooting,” reported KABC Eyewitness News (1 September). Planting a weapon on a victim would be nothing new in the history of the racist capitalist state, particularly in L.A. It is doubly unsurprising when it involves the LASD, which brutally lords it over the oppressed black and Latino population of those parts of South Los Angeles outside the jurisdiction of the equally brutal Los Angeles Police Department. In the 1990s, the CRASH anti-gang unit of LAPD’s Ramparts Division became notorious for unprovoked beatings, shootings, extortion and planting false evidence, while the elite SIS (Special Investigation Section) acted as a virtual “death squad.”

The day before the murder of Dijon Kizzee, a whistleblower’s testimony surfaced, shedding more light on a murderous gang within the LASD’s Compton station called the “Executioners,” which recruits members based on their “success” in committing racist murders in the streets (Spectrum News, 30 August). In this report, the June 18 murder of 18-year-old security guard Andres Guardado was identified as having been committed by “prospects” of this sheriff’s gang who were “chasing ink” (that is, seeking to get their Nazi-inspired deputies gang membership tattoo). Guardado was down on his knees with his back to the sheriff’s deputies when they shot him five times in the back in broad daylight.

Some have illusions that the announced federal inquiry will clean up the Compton sheriff’s station and make its officers “accountable.” Yet under the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, federal investigations were launched into the police departments in Baltimore, Chicago, Ferguson, Missouri, and other cities, but the murderous racist actions of cops across the country didn’t change one bit. And remember that under the infamous COINTELPRO program the feds declared war on the Black Panther Party, murdering at least 38 Panthers, among countless others.

Louisville, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Syracuse, L.A.: the racist police murder machine doesn’t stop. This summer, millions of people took to the streets in Los Angeles and across the U.S. to protest racist police brutality. Yet as of September 4, U.S. police have killed 1,471 civilians this year, 619 of them since George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop on May 25. In those three months, LASD deputies shot and killed Robert Avitia, Robert Colvin, Jarrid Hurst, Michael Thomas, Andres Guardado, Terron Jammal Boone and now Dijon Kizzee (listed by attorney John Raphling on Facebook).

The police continue their endless racist killing spree year after year with near-total impunity. They think they can get away with murder, and they do. Police, sheriff deputies, prison guards and security guards, courts and jails are key parts of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state to “serve and protect” the ruling class and enforce its laws against the mass of workers and oppressed. Racist terror has been part and parcel of this task ever since American capitalism was formed on the basis of genocide against the Native American population and chattel slavery of black Africans. That heritage continues today in the form of the racist death penalty, mass incarceration and cop terror in the streets.

The Police Can’t Be Reformed – Black Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!

Internationalist Group and Transport Workers Against Racist Police Terror march in September 5 protest in South L.A. against cop murder of Dijon Kizzee.  (Internationalist photo)

The black ghettos and Latino barrios of Los Angeles facing brutal racist terror by the police and sheriff paramilitary forces can become a powder keg of explosive righteous rebellion, as they have in the past (Watts, 1965; Rodney King, 1992). But what was the response of the ruling class? It brought in the National Guard and federal troops to suppress those rebellions. The bourgeoisie will stop at nothing to defend the forces whose job is to guard the profits they squeeze out of poor and working people. To have a positive outcome, the pent-up anger and mass outrage must lead in the direction of socialist revolution. That requires mobilizing the power of the multiracial working class on a class-struggle program, starting NOW.

The Internationalist Group calls for labor/black/Latino/immigrant mobilization against police terror. On May Day 2015, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 in the Bay Area shut down the Port of Oakland and led a march of thousands to City Hall demanding “Stop Police Terror.” Local 10 also stopped work to protest the police murder of Oscar Grant in 2010 and the slap-on-the-wrist verdict for the killer cop. And this past June 19 (Juneteenth), the ILWU shut down all West Coast ports, from San Diego to Canada and Alaska, denouncing police brutality and systemic racism. The ILWU can play a key role in L.A. today – the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach is only a few miles from where Dijon Kizzee was murdered.

Yet many liberals and pretend-socialists seek instead to divert struggles against cop terror into the dead end of trying to reform the unreformable police. They promote the dangerous illusion that somehow the enforcers of capitalist “law and order” can be made “accountable” to the “will of the people.” This summer, that was reflected in calls to “defund” and even “abolish” the police under capitalism. Recently in L.A. this has been seen in calls for “community control” of the police/sheriff’s department. The Coalition for Community Control Over the Police calls for “Local city and county governments should amend their respective charters to grant external civilian oversight bodies to make disciplinary, budgetary, hiring and firing decisions.”

Hasn’t happened, won’t happen, even though calls for “community control of the police” have been bandied about by liberals and leftists since the 1960s. Above all, the idea that the ruling class – the capitalists and their politicians – would let those whom the police are intended to repress control the repressors shows a fundamental (and in the case of would-be socialists, willful) misconception of the nature of the capitalist state. As Friedrich Engels explained in 1885, the state consists of special bodies of armed men, prisons, courts and other coercive institutions to defend the ruling class. And as Lenin elaborated in The State and Revolution (1917), “A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power. But how can it be otherwise?”

How about electing sheriffs? This happens all across the U.S. Anyone who thinks that makes any difference can just look at the racist sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona, who was elected again and again. Or look at Cowitz County, Washington, where the elected sheriff sent scores of deputies in riot gear and an armored car with a gun turret against ILWU members and supporters blocking a train during the 2011 struggle against the scab EGT terminal (see “Showdown on West Coast Docks: The Battle of Longview,” The Internationalist supplement, January 2012). Or look at Los Angeles County, where Sheriff Alex Villanueva (elected in 2018) simply refused to appear before the toothless Civilian Oversight Commission this May.

So how about black police chiefs, or women police chiefs? In Minneapolis, a black police chief was in charge when George Floyd was killed. He followed a Native American woman chief, who was in charge when Jamar Clark was killed. As we wrote in an article about the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) city council member Kshama Sawant in Seattle, who voted for black woman police chief Carmen Best:

“Since ghettos and barrios across the country erupted against racist police terror in the 1960s, the ruling class has allowed some black faces in high places, insultingly hoping this could piece off the black population that continues to face cop terror. This racist repression goes on today, regardless of whether the person heading up the institution enforcing it is black, a woman, or both. Just look at Baltimore, where there was a black woman mayor and black police chief, and almost half the cops on the force were black, when the police murder of Freddie Gray shook the city and the country.”
–“SAlt’s Sawant Backs Seattle’s Top Cop,” The Internationalist No. 53, September-October 2018

Chief Best had to resign in August after the explosion of protests against the racist repression by her cops. Yet SAlt has the gall to call for community control of the police, to claim that cops are workers rather than hired guns of the bourgeoisie, and to defend the presence of cop “unions” in the labor movement, so long as they pretend to be anti-racist – which the cops naturally refuse.

Another group active in protests is the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), which also calls for community control of the police. The PSL gives this a more leftist veneer, writing in an article titled “How will the police be abolished? A Marxist perspective” (Liberation, 11 July) that the police are one of the core institutions of the capitalist state, that can’t be reformed and “must be abolished by means of a revolution.” Right. But then these pseudo-Marxists turn around and say, “We support the demand of oppressed peoples for community control” because it represents a “progressive yearning,” even though “every scheme to put the police under ‘civilian’ or community control … has never been even partially won and implemented in the United States.”

So rather than saying forthrightly that calls for “community control of the police” are a liberal diversion, the PSL embraces the demand because it’s popular, while adding that, by the way, it’s not real. The PSL article also has a lengthy justification for its longstanding call to “Jail Killer Cops.” We have explained that, while these racist murderers surely belong behind bars, for leftists to promote the illusion that the state will jail and convict its innumerable killer cops expresses confidence in the capitalist courts. How bourgeois rulers can coopt this demand, attempting to defuse protests and direct them into pressuring the state, was shown when the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis quickly ordered the arrest of the cop who killed George Floyd, and the Minnesota attorney general then ordered him tried for homicide. We say there is no justice in the capitalist courts.

Meanwhile, with its Mao-Stalinist style “mass line,” the PSL calls demonstrations (as in Philadelphia on June 6) to “defund the police.” This is tailing after and promoting the masses’ illusions, which bind them to the capitalist politicians and parties. Nowhere in the PSL article is the Democratic Party even mentioned, although “progressive” Democrats and their hangers-on, such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) – which has long called for community control of the police – have been working overtime to divert the protests into safe electoral channels. In contrast, the IG said straight-out that calls to defund/disarm/abolish the police are “Opportunist Word Games to Justify Tailing Democrats” (“‘Abolish the Police’ Under Capitalism?The Internationalist, July 2020). Real Marxists tell the truth to the masses.

The Democrats are all over these protests. When in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake professional basketball teams in the NBA playoffs refused to take the court in protest and threatened to boycott the rest of the season, Barack Obama personally called LeBron James and other influential players to convince them to return to the courts. While Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters made her celebrity appearance at a protest following the murder of Dijon Kizzee, the Democrats are, literally, “the bosses of the racist killer cops” in L.A. and nearly every major U.S. city. Now “two of the most blatantly pro-cop politicians on the national stage, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, are the Democratic ‘law-and-order’ duo vying for the White House” (“Cops, Feds and Fascists Unleash Racist Terror in Kenosha, WI,” The Internationalist,28 August).

We in the Internationalist Group call to break with Democrats, Republicans and all capitalist parties and politicians Amid the orgy of racist police murder, as pandemic capitalism has thrown masses of poor, black, Latino and immigrant families into total financial ruin and a tidal wave of evictions looms, many can see that capitalism is killing us. The fight must be to raise the consciousness of the working class to the need to mobilize its power in defense of all of the oppressed: for labor/black/Latino/immigrant mobilization against racist attacks, deportations and evictions; to occupy unoccupied hotels, luxury apartments and second homes of the rich to house the homeless and those in dangerously crowded housing; to fight against the denial of pandemic support for undocumented immigrants, and for full citizenship rights for all!

In the recent protests against the murder of Dijon Kizzee we have raised the calls “For Black Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!” and “Workers Revolution Will Avenge Dijon Kizzee and A.J. Weber” (18-year-old A.J. Weber was murdered by sheriff’s deputies just two blocks from where Dijon Kizzee was killed). While many leftists are getting ready to vote for Biden/Harris while holding their noses, we insist that the struggle requires the leadership of a multiracial workers party fighting for a transitional program leading to socialist revolution. In short, we need to forge a proletarian vanguard, 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 that smashed the capitalist state. ■