In the last weeks, two murderers were freed and the go-ahead was given to cops across the U.S. to continue to carry out their murderous activity. For some the belief in the fairness of this system was shattered. First came the acquittal of Darren Wilson, the cop who gunned down Michael Brown in Ferguson. Then came the acquittal of Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who suffocated Eric Garner, using an illegal chokehold, in New York City.
The complicity of those who maintain the order of this society, from the prosecutors and politicians to the police, has been revealed. Their secret courts, known as grand juries, have been exposed as an official system to cover-up and acquit known murderers. The corporate media has tried to distract people from the realities of the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old Black youth who did not bow down to the authority of a white cop. Instead of being portrayed as the victim of a racist police murder, he was painted as a thief and a threat – responsible for his own death. And Brown’s stepfather is under investigation for his angry outburst following the announcement of the grand jury verdict. The mask of justice was slipping off.
With the acquittal of Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who killed Eric Garner, the mask of justice was removed. This wasn’t the orchestrated twisting of facts that we saw in Mike Brown’s case – challenging the statements of eyewitnesses and taking Wilson’s pathetic whining as fact. The video of the murder of Eric Garner and his pleas, that he could not breathe as he was being suffocated by the cops, was plain for all to hear and see. And yet, the grand jury declared Pantaleo to be an innocent man.
Even for some reporters this was too much. They couldn’t hide their own disbelief, and wondered out loud how the murder of a man accused of selling cigarettes was not a criminal act. For many, who understand the nature of this system of capitalism, and the racism that lies at its core, this comes as no surprise. But this open and blatant disregard for human life was more than many expected. The millions who did not take to the streets contained their righteous anger. But hoping that officials will promise to conduct investigations and provide cops with cameras will not change a thing. It will not stop the racism and the violence of this system.
Some people refused to be quiet and took to the streets across the country – in the hundreds and sometimes in the thousands. They were right to be angry. Out of frustration, some windows were broken, stores looted and some set on fire. The collateral damage is unfortunate. But a broken window is property damage – murder is the taking of human life. They cannot be compared.
The attention now focused on the brutality of the cops may slow the cops temporarily. And if it does – that is a good thing. But we know that police violence will not stop. The system they are serving and protecting cannot allow this. This system values profits, not human life. This system imprisons millions in a life of poverty. It locks millions away in its prisons. A generation of young people is being denied a future because their labor is not needed to produce profits for the one percent – the same one percent that is in the process of destroying life on the planet.
What more proof do we need that a fundamental change is necessary? The question we face now is what to do. We cannot hope for things to get better without actively forcing a change. These demonstrations are a start. It is good that some people have shown a readiness to act. But we need to broaden our forces.
How? By going into our workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and churches, to share information and fliers with others, wear armbands to show how we feel for all to see, and organize discussions and actions.
We need to mobilize all of our power. Workers do all the work to make the society run and produce all the goods and provide all the services. If we can make it run we also have the power to make the system come to a halt. Then it isn’t just a question of demonstrating from the outside. It would mean organizing and mobilizing to stop the monster system from the inside. And we also have the power to put a much better society in its place.