Ever since racist Minneapolis cops murdered George Floyd, protests have erupted in thousands of cities and towns across the country and around the world. The outrage that has poured into the streets every single day has become aimed at more than just the racism and brutality of individual cops. Some people are beginning to question the entire system that created and maintains the racism of this society.
In response to relentless protests, governors, mayors, and more have frantically tried to channel people’s anger out of the streets by making new gestures against racism and new promises of police reform. From NASCAR to the NFL, suddenly racism is being condemned. Several cities voted to ban some violent police practices. In the South, as racist statues are being torn down, some politicians are claiming their support after the fact. Mayors and governors have begun to make promises to reduce funding to police departments. The Minneapolis City Council voted to replace the police department with a new institution. And several Democratic Senators kneeled for eight minutes, posing as if they supported the protests.
For decades, politicians have dragged their heels and offered all sorts of excuses for why even small reforms like these were impossible. But with hundreds of thousands of people in the streets, suddenly many things have become possible.
The politicians haven’t changed. The police haven’t changed. And the system they both protect hasn’t changed one bit. Amid recent protests, we’ve still seen police murder Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo, California as he kneeled with his hands up and was shot five times. And we’ve seen Atlanta police murder Rayshard Brooks, shooting him in the back as he ran away. And the police continue to brutalize countless others.
Let’s not kid ourselves about the role of the police in this society. No amount of small funding cuts or rebranding will change the role of the police as the front lines of violence to defend this system.
What’s changed is that hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated their refusal to accept the racism of this society any longer. Those who run this society are starting to get worried about the anger and determination that is inspiring people all over this country. This is what the politicians are afraid of. This is what they are trying to stop. They are hoping we will accept these minor changes and that we’ll start to get tired, stop protesting and go back to normal.
But along with the racism of this society, this pandemic has shown us that we can’t go back to normal. Millions have lost their jobs. Over 115,000 people have lost their lives. Tens of thousands of families have lost their small businesses forever. This pandemic has given us a clear look at the future that this system holds up, and it is a total nightmare.
What hasn’t changed is that politicians believe they can win people over by handing out these crumbs of reform. They think we can be distracted and redirect all of our efforts into electing Joe Biden and the Democrats in November.
But we’ve been here before. We remember Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and too many others who were killed by cops during the Obama administration, with Biden as vice president. It doesn’t matter whether the Democrats or Republicans occupy the White House. It doesn’t matter who is promising police reforms. Both parties, just like the police, serve to protect and maintain this violent system.
We can’t once again settle for their empty promises and leave our future in the hands of those who defend this system. This can be a start of a movement to get rid of this racist system once and for all.