Thoughts on Ferguson, MO and the Murder of Michael Brown by the Police State
[As we publish this tonight (14 August 2014) we learn that the rebellion of the citizens of Ferguson, MO is continuing amid police assaults against the right of the citizens there to assemble and address their just grievances against the government. Tear gas has been deployed against the workers and many people have been reported injured and arrested. – IWPCHI]
Why do we call for workers revolution? Why should we not just settle for reforms of this decaying, murderous capitalist system?
Another day, another US citizen gunned down by those trigger-happy thugs – the police – allegedly hired by the citizens “to protect and serve” the citizenry. This time it is young Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri; a town whose racist history was nicely outlined for us yesterday by the New York Times. In an editorial entitled “The Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests” the Times delivers the following indictment of the degree of racism that still exists here in the “post-racial” U.S. Presided over the the nation’s first black President:
“It doesn’t take a federal investigation to understand the history of racial segregation, economic inequality and overbearing law enforcement that produced so much of the tension now evident on the streets. St. Louis has long been one of the nation’s most segregated metropolitan areas […]. Until the late 1940s, blacks weren’t allowed to live in most suburban St. Louis County towns, kept out by restrictive covenants that the Supreme Court prohibited in 1948. As whites began to flee the city for the county in the 1950s and ’60s, they used exclusionary zoning tactics — including large, single-family lot requirements that prohibited apartment buildings — to prevent blacks from moving in. Within the city, poverty and unrest grew […] By the 1970s, many blacks started leaving the City of St. Louis as well […] attracted to older, inner-ring suburbs like Ferguson […] because they were built before restrictive zoning tactics and, therefore, allowed apartments […] As black families moved into Ferguson, the whites fled. In 1980, the town was 85 percent white and 14 percent black; by 2010, it was 29 percent white and 69 percent black. But blacks did not gain political power as their numbers grew. The mayor and the police chief are white, as are five of the six City Council members. The school board consists of six white members and one Hispanic […] The disparity is most evident in the Ferguson Police Department, of which only three of 53 officers are black. The largely white force stops black residents far out of proportion to their population […] [b]lacks account for 86 percent of the traffic stops in the city, and 93 percent of the arrests after those stops. Similar problems exist around St. Louis County, where earlier this year the state chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging widespread racial profiling by police departments.”
[Source: New York Times, Editorial Board, “Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests”, 13 August 2014]
Such is the state of affairs throughout the United States, from New Jersey to California: black and Hispanic workers in the “post-racial” era supposedly ushered in by the election of Democrat Barack Obama continue to suffer brutality and murder at the hands of the police forces of the US.
Michael Brown was shot down by the cops, as have been so many other black and Hispanic youth, while he was unarmed and – according to witnesses – had his hands in the air in a gesture of surrender. It availed him nothing – he was shot down like a dog by a rabid member of the United States’ burgeoning paramilitary police state, which has increasingly taken the attitude that the citizens exist to serve the police, and not the other way around. In response, the citizens of Ferguson organized a protest and demonstrated their long-pent-up frustration with their continued abuse at the hands of the Ferguson police department. That some in the crowd saw an opportunity to loot and acquire a few valuables does not impugn the motives of the vast majority of the peaceably assembled and angry citizens one iota. All in all, the degree of looting and destruction was quite minor compared to what might have been expected given the enormity of the crime committed by an “officer of the law”. Yet the reaction by the Ferguson cops and the slander heaped upon the righteously protesting majority of the citizens of Ferguson by the capitalist news media attempts to make it appear as though Mike Brown and his fellow citizens are all criminals out to create “chaos”, which can only be averted by the forces of law and order, i.e. the same racist police department whose gunman murdered Brown in cold blood!
This shameless slandering of the citizens of Ferguson and their murdered brother is to be expected of those disgusting “knights of the pen” – the hired propagandists of the capitalist press who never tire of licking the soles of the feet of their capitalist masters. But surely we could expect much better from the first black President of the United States! So what did that paragon of the “lesser evil” Democratic Party have to say about this latest wanton murder of a fellow U.S. citizen of color?
The President of the United States was on vacation in the capitalist class’ summer playground on Martha’s Vineyard – an idyllic former whaling community on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. He somehow found time to break away from a round of partying with his filthy rich Hollywood friends and billionaire political donors on the island to issue the following official statement:
“The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 12, 2014
Statement by the President on the Passing of Michael Brown
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.”
[Source: whitehouse.gov, “Statement by the President on the Passing of Michael Brown, 12 August 2014]
So, according to the alleged top representative of the black working class of the United States, the first black President in U.S. history, Michael Brown wasn’t murdered by a racist cop; he has merely “passed” into the great beyond, by some undetermined means! It’s as if he died of natural causes! How far removed from the reality of the day-to-day lives of African-Americans is this tinhorn alleged representative of his fellow black citizens, the paragon of that phony “party of the working class”, the Democratic Party!
But should we be at all surprised at Barack Obama’s indifference to the murder of Michael Brown? After all, he has recently approved of the conduct of the insane Zionist leaders of israel and their wanton slaughtering of civilian men women and children in Gaza , witnessed and condemned by the entire civilized world! And this is, after all, the same Democratic Party commander-in-chief who has requested and obtained from his own Justice Department a legal opinion that declares that it is eminently legal and in conformance with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights that the President of the United States has the “right” to order the assassination of a U.S. citizen for his spoken and written declarations of support for and friendship with a group labeled as “terrorist” by the United States Government! Why should we be surprised that such a man as Barack Obama would denigrate the outright murder of a U.S. citizen by a police officer as the mere “passing” into the next world of the victim of that police murder? A man who thinks nothing of approving the slaughter of hundreds of women and children by a nation he considers to be led by his personal friends and who routinely authorizes the murder of suspected terrorists – and who brags about it! – and who is principally responsible for the continued torture of 149 people at the US torture center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and who has ordered his “Justice Department” to imprison heroic citizen-whistleblowers who have courageously exposed massive domestic and international spy operations targeting law-abiding citizens of the entire planet can not be expected to possess the capacity to characterize the murder of Michael Brown as anything other than the mere “passing” of Mike Brown into the Great Beyond.
The pro-capitalist bourgeois press has characterized the minor looting in Ferguson as “chaos” that must be vigorously opposed by the very same racist forces of “law and order’ that committed the murder in the first place. We see it as an eminently justified expression of the boundless outrage felt by the citizens of Ferguson at the murder by “their own” police department of a law abiding citizen – and perhaps, hopefully, as the beginning of a civil war of the long abused and downtrodden victims of the United States capitalist class against their intolerable oppression at the hands of the “lawful authorities”!
And by the way: what “right” does the Ferguson, MO police department – or ANY police department in the United States! – have to deny the citizens their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble in the center of their – not the police department’s – town at any time or at any place of the citizens’ choosing?
To the police of Ferguson, and to the members of the US Police State across the nation: ever hear of the Bill of Rights? It’s a fascinating document that you are all allegedly sworn to uphold – not that your oaths are worth a damn, since you are so used to lying in court immediately after swearing to tell the truth “so help me God”. Still, you should read the Bill of Rights some time – you’ll undoubtedly find it to be shocking. Example:
Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Clue: since Congress can make no law abridging a US citizen’s right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, that means that YOU the police can’t pretend that you are “defending the Constitutional rights of citizens” by REFUSING to allow the citizenry the free exercise of their right to assemble whenever and where ever they choose to assemble to protest!
The fact is that the US capitalist class has no use for the millions of poor workers who struggle to survive in America’s hellhole poverty-stricken communities. The capitalists see no reason to spend money feeding, clothing and sheltering what they consider to be a surplus population of workers who the capitalists have no intention of ever hiring in order to squeeze profits from their labor-power. And so, if the poor workers and unemployed will not either join the military and assist the US capitalist class in stealing the raw materials of and murdering the many enemies of the US capitalist class all over the planet for sole purpose of the enrichment of the US capitalist class, or if these excess human beings will not consent to be beaten into submission by the police forces of the nation and submit to being forced to live poverty-stricken, attenuated lives, then the US capitalist class has a “final solution” for them: life in prison or death in the streets at the hands of the racist cops! THIS IS THE FUTURE FOR BLACK, HISPANIC AND POOR WHITE WORKERS IN THE 21ST CENTURY CAPITALIST WORLD!
We say: FUCK THAT! We seek to organize the multi-racial US working class into a revolutionary army to sweep away the US capitalist class and their racist, oppressive, murderous capitalist system once and for all – and to replace it with a civilized, egalitarian socialist workers government, which will guarantee food, clothing, shelter, a first-class education and comprehensive cradle-to-grave health care for everyone! The greed-based system of capitalism, which annually steals trillions of dollars of wealth created by the labor of the working class and places it in the bank accounts of a few hundred billionaires and multi-millionaires has got to go! And their racist cops, courts and heartless, bought-and-paid-for politicians must be swept into the dustbin of history as well! Only then can the Michael Browns of the nation be safe from random murder by the police! Only then can we look forward to a post-racial future of full equality for all working class people: men, women, black, white, immigrant and citizen!
We need to organize revolutionary socialist political parties to achieve this goal. Workers must organize themselves in self defense against the murderous US police state and fight not for the empty and temporary reforms being begged for by the likes of Democrat Al Sharpton and the sellouts of all the other black members of the racist, pro-capitalist Democratic Party, from Barack Obama on down – all of whom can be counted upon to defend the racist US police state and the the racist, exploitative capitalist system!
We stand in defense of the black working class of Ferguson, Missouri! Workers of Ferguson, Missouri, Unite! Workers of the World, Unite! For a workers socialist revolution in the United States of America and throughout the capitalist world!
Independent Workers Party of Chicago