Police Shootings And the Law: Why the Police Keep Getting Away with Murder And What Should We Do About It?
We are taught in school and later in life through the media to think of social institutions and practices as being unbiased, pure and absolute, which a civilized society must try to pursue and achieve. Institutions such as the police, the military, the “intelligence community”, “criminal justice system”, the legislating bodies that make laws and the courts, which interpret them, and others, are all presented to students and to the general public, as unbiased, fact based and above the classes and class struggle, almost as if they’re divine and beyond questioning. So called “journalists”, too, whose very job depends on what and how they report – or rather not report – the news, as judged by the corporations that pay their salaries, come on the air and pretend to be reporting the news, as if they’re unbiased, as if they’re not a product of the society and social mindset that put them up on the screen, in the first place.
This isn’t rocket science or Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity; although, it’s helpful to remember that not just time and space, but everything is relative, and that includes laws: how they’re written, how they’re enforced and the way they’re interpreted and even reported to the public. There is nothing strange or mysterious about any of this; it’s how class rule is imposed and maintained.
So, when a policeman shoots an unarmed teenager (Michael Brown), multiple times, including at his face and head and even after a brief pause, after already having shot him many times, which shows that he knew what he was doing and was not acting out of fear and was not under any threat, reporters ask “legal experts”, who are themselves cops, whether the killer broke any law or not and whether the cold-blood execution followed the department guidelines and training or not, to which they answer “yes”, that “the law as written does allow an officer who feels his life may be in danger to shoot a suspect multiple times, including to his head” (an actual statement by an “expert”, who was interviewed on CNN). What matters obviously is not what the law says, but who’s doing the interpreting, and more importantly who wrote the law and for what purpose. They purposely wrote it broadly to protect the police, not the public. I’m reminded of Stalin’s comment that what matters isn’t who’s voting, but who’s doing the counting of the votes. At the end of the day, what matters is who has the state power with all the big guns and the law on his side.
The legislating bodies and the executive and judicial branches, first and foremost, have the job of protecting the corporate class and its interests, which requires the suppression of the working poor and prevention of their empowerment and uprising, in order to ensure the continuation of their wealth and power. Laws are not and cannot be written to protect everyone, equally. They’re written, interpreted and enforced to protect the class in power, which is the class of wealthy and their mercenaries and gangster cops. They aren’t and never were for the protection of the population in general.
if you think the ruling oligarchy protects and defends its murderous cops from justice and lets them kill with impunity, you should see how it protects its mercenary soldiers overseas, even when they massacre defenseless people, including women and children. In fact, the US military, which plays the same role against other oppressed peoples as the police here against the Americans, never allows its soldiers to be tried, for any crime, in countries they invade or occupy. The parallel between jackboot thugs killing brown women and children overseas for corporations with killer cops who shoot and kill unarmed blacks in our cities is uncanny and unmistakable. After all, it’s the same imperialist state serving the corporate bosses, here or abroad.
Bottom line is: laws which they keep hiding behind to justify their killing of our black youth, aren’t ours, any more than their wars that kill hundreds of thousands of poor brown people are ours. These laws were written by and for the wealthy rulers and their corporations and are only good for them, just as their wars are good for no one but them.
Lest my words are misunderstood, I’m not saying there should be no laws or enforcement of the laws. What I’m saying is: we need to understand for whom and for what purpose those laws, which they use to acquit killer cops are, just as we need to understand for whom and for what their wars are. We do need laws, but not theirs, not those laws whose purpose is to protect the repressive and oppressive rule of the corporations over the poor and the minorities. What we need is laws that protect us against them, not the other way around. The laws we need would take the chains off our necks and put them around theirs, instead.
But, to write and, more importantly, enforce such laws that protect the people rather than the police, we must first kick all corporate legislators and representatives, who pretend to be on our side, out of office. I don’t mean vote them out; I mean literally kick them out as it happens in a revolution, and put in our own leaders, who rise through struggle for social justice, like Dr. King and Malcolm X, not those who are bought and sold by corporate money like cattle, on open market, who serve their corporate bosses when they get into office. But, to get there, we must first go through their armed forces, who line up in front of us, on the streets, to stop us, with heavy war gear and weapons drawn, because power is never given up willingly and is always taken.
It is at times of such uprisings, as occurred in Ferguson, that we see the true nature of the class rule, which reveals itself and educates the public and raises their political understanding, much more than a piece like this ever could. It is therefore vital to not be silenced and not be deceived by treasonous “black leaders” and preachers who are brought to the microphone to ask for “calm” and to tell us to go home, just as their high positions are cynically used to convince us that there is no more racism in this country. We need to not fall for ploys that call for “a day of silence” designed to stop the momentum of the protests and continue business as usual. No more business as usual! The killing of innocent people by cops must stop now and the only way it will stop is by a mass movement like that in the 1960’s.