In response to the murder of Daunte Wright by police in a Minneapolis suburb, the Democrats came through as always with a sedative of promises to reform the state and make it less violent towards people of color. Al Sharpton gave a eulogy saying that Wright’s death is going to “change the laws of the land.” He mentioned the ongoing fight to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as federal law. This bill is meant to restrict racial profiling and remove some of the current barriers to prosecuting killer cops. We can certainly hope that such legislation will reduce the current near-immunity that police enjoy even after murdering unarmed people. But will it end police terror against people of color?
Sharpton said: “It’s time to bring a new day where we don’t have to videotape when we see a badge, but where we know that they’re there to serve and protect, not treat us like we’ve been convicted.” Serve and protect whom? The Democrats want us to believe that the police are supposed to protect the people, when they have always been there to protect the property of the rich and oppress the poor. The Democrats want us to believe that racist policing is just a prejudice that needs to be wiped out of the minds of some bad police officers. The problem, as Sharpton put it, “is not us talking to our youth, the problem is you talking to your bad cops.” Perhaps police just need to be better trained? “Trained people don’t confuse guns from tasers,” Sharpton continued. “Trained people don’t shoot men like Philando with a child in the back seat. Trained people don’t put knees on people’s necks for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.” Unfortunately, those are exactly the things trained police officers do. Police have been trained to terrorize working people and poor people since the days of slavery.
Restricting the police so that they cannot murder with impunity is very important, and hopefully this legislation passes. But as long as poverty exists, police will exist to keep the poor under control. As long as so many Black people in America are kept in poverty, the police will be a racist institution. The problem is not their bad training or the lack of progressive legislation. The problem is the capitalist system.