The IWP proudly attended this Monday’s labor rally in support of the Chicago Teachers’ Union. However, we were – how do we put this? – not at all surprised and quite disgusted at the fondness CTU President Karen Lewis displayed for the head honcho of the Chicago Police Union President, Mike Shields. In fact, she was downright chummy with him, high-fiving the man who routinely defends all kinds of police brutality of working class citizens of Chicago. President Lewis even gave FOP Boss Shields a great big hug in front of the 18,000 assembled representatives of Chicago’s working class!
We’ve stated before that we do not trust the pro-capitalist, pro-Democratic party trade union leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union to effectively lead the union in a strike against their own best friends. And now we can add to our distrust the obvious fact that Karen Lewis can’t tell the difference between a friend of her own union and a mortal enemy!
Here we have seen that, on the very eve of what should be a major class battle between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Democratic Party leaders of Chicago – a battle on behalf of the rights of children of every member of the working class who lives in Chicago to a top-quality, free, public school education – not only does the “General” leading the working class into this battle not know the difference between her own forces and those of the enemy class – she actually embraces the leader of the very shock troops that the enemy intends to use to smash the picket lines of her own union soldiers!
By so fulsomely embracing the leader of the Chicago Police Union, Karen Lewis – has effectively attempted to spread the deadly lie that the Chicago Police can be counted on to defend the rights of the members of the Chicago Teachers Union to go on strike and to defend their picket lines. By doing this, Karen Lewis shows that she is not the side of the workers, but on the side of the capitalist class, and in the final analysis can be expected to bow down to the dictates of that ruling class and its bought-and-paid-for Democratic politicians and judges who will do everything in their power to smash the Chicago Teachers Union if they go out on strike. And on top of that, by expressing her confidence in the leadership of the racist Chicago Police Department to defend the rights of workers, Karen Lewis is leading her union’s membership into a deadly trap – because the Chicago Police are not friends of the working class, but constitute a “special body of armed men and women” who are dedicated to the defense of capitalist private property, and who take orders from the capitalist class – and no one else!
Karen Lewis has already betrayed her union by embracing a man who leads an organization that is responsible for the daily brutalization of black, Hispanic and all other workers and youth all over the city. The Fraternal Order of Police has defended every single instance of police torture and every single police shooting of suspects, “armed” and unarmed. Their members are going out daily and beating, humiliating and imprisoning people of color all over the city. They routinely shoot to death suspects and then plant guns on them to cover up their crimes. They have been recently charged with the widespread use of stun guns to torture unarmed suspects – the overwhelming majority of whom “happen to be black”. They defend racist Chicago Police Department in all cases except when it comes to their pay and benefits. The Fraternal Order of Police are no more a “workers union” because they pretend to be one than Hitler’s “National Socialists” were Marxists because they lied to the workers by including the word “Socialists” in their party’s name!
Every schoolchild who has read even just a few lines of the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels knows that the police are not the friends of the working class. Every worker in the world who has ever walked a picket line knows this! On a picket line, you will see the class line clearly delineated: on the one side are the workers and their unions and the socialists who defend the unions; on the other side are the capitalist class, their lying news media, politicians, their courts and their SPECIAL BODIES OF ARMED MEN AND WOMEN who will enforce the laws of the capitalist system – by any means necessary! These special bodies of armed men and women can be expected to ALWAYS attack the workers and ALWAYS defend the capitalist system and its status quo, not because they are necessarily all depraved individuals, but because that is the role of the police in a capitalist society.
It is true that in the past 30 years, with a relative absence of class struggle in the United States – thanks in very large part to the sellout pro-capitalist trade and labor union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO – the class lines have been blurred to such a degree that it is quite astounding to anyone familiar with the normal order of things. It has been so long since the class line was clearly drawn in this country that people on both sides of the class divide are confused as to what the calss line is, where it is, and what their relationship to it is. Workers who have never in their lives been beaten down by the cops on a picket line labor under the delusion that the cops are their friends. likewise, there are some cops who have never had to attack a picket line, and so they are deluded into believing that they are part of the workers movement. believe us, as soon as some serious class struggle takes place in this country, both groups will have their delusions cruelly destroyed in front of their very eyes. The so-called “decent” cops are going to have to choose between obeying orders and obeying their conscience. The “decent” ones will have to quit the police force or will quickly find themselves kicked ass-backwards off the force for refusing to “do their job”.
No US trade union leader of the 1930s would be so foolish as to expect the police to defend union picket lines. The history of the Chicago Police – like every other big city police department in the capitalist world – is replete with instances of savage brutality against workers organizations. The world-renowned Haymarket battle took place the day after the Chicago Police gunned down a number of workers picketing the McCormick Harvester plant in the city. During the “Haymarket” battle, the police opened fire on the peaceably assembled workers and shot a dozen to death and wounded an unknown number of others, and in the next days and weeks attacked and destroyed the headquarters of every single trade union and pro-worker socialist and anarchist organization in Chicago and beat and arrested workers leaders on the flimsiest charges imaginable. They howled for the blood or the workers leaders to be shed in retaliation for the killing of a handful of cops by a dynamite bomb that was hurled by an unknown assailant at the Haymarket, until they got their demands and 4 innocent men were murdered by the State of Illinois to assuage their blood-lust.
The Chicago Police were once also infamous for the shooting down of unarmed men women and children during the Little Steel strike in 1937. They opened fire on unarmed strikers who were fighting to unionize the Republic Steel plant on the south side. Today’s labor sellouts don’t even bother to commemorate these police murders of unionists in Chicago – they are too busy making friends with them and trying to erase the memory of these notorious examples of the “impartiality” of the police from the memories of the working class!
It would make us look foolish to stand here and remind the black and Hispanic workers of Chicago about the brutality of these “friends of labor” in blue! Cook County Jail is full of the victims of police frame-ups and police brutality. That a so-called “labor leader” would dare to stand in a public square and declare the Chicago Police to be her friends gives a perfect example of why the union membership is on the decline even here in this proud union town of Chicago. With workers “leaders” like this, who needs enemies? Need we remind you of the involvement of the Chicago Police in the murder of Fred Hampton?
Must we go over again with Ms. Lewis the history of the Chicago Police Riot in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention, during which hundreds of protestors and news media representatives were brutally beaten by Mayor Daley’s racist cops?
Should we remind her that a popular T-shirt worn by Chicago Police officers during the Democratic Party National Convention in 1996 read: “We kicked your dad’s ass in 1968: wait ’til you see what we’ll do to you”. The guy who printed them here in Chicago reportedly sold hundreds of them to Chicago cops – and Democratic Party politicians.
Shall we go into the story of the Chicago Police Department’s torture of African-American men into “confessing” to crimes they never committed? Shall we describe how Jon Burge, a Chicago Police Commander, created a team of torturers who used electric shocks and suffocation techniques to extract false confessions?
Or that dozens of men were framed in that way and sent to prison for years, even decades, even to Death Row?
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has shown everyone with eyes to see – her true colors by embracing the leader of the Fraternal Order of Police and by portraying the Chicago Police as “friends of labor”. You don’t tell a lie this big by accident. “By her friends shall ye know her”!