Police Brutality, The State and The Media: A Class Analysis
What should be clear by now, even to those who haven’t been paying much attention, is that a war is being waged against people of color by the police throughout the US. And, I don’t mean by some police or just the ones who are racists or psychopaths. I mean the police as a national and nationwide institution, as a part and organ of the state. Saying that not all police officers are racist psychopaths who kill innocent people is like saying not all soldiers who go to fight an unjust war for the ruling class shoot at the enemy; some work on the logistics, on getting the weapons ready, on transportation or communication or on paperwork or on preparing the food, and so on; so they’re not responsible for what the military does to innocent defenseless people who are sacrificed for geopolitical or economic gains for the empire.
The fact is: the entire police in the US, as part of one coherent and unified paramilitary organization in the service of the wealthy is waging an undeclared war on the people of color in the US. Understanding this is crucial for understanding any possible solution or, for that matter, for finding a way to fight back.
We must also understand the function of the state as a whole and with all its organs and functions, from the president’s office and Congress to the courts, down to city officials and the police, which is the first line of defense for the ruling class. They all work in a cohesive and coordinated way, as constituent parts or components of one system. They all have a job or function and serve the ruling 1%.
After the latest cold blooded murders of Blacks in the hands of the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killing of 5 police officers by an Army veteran, seemingly in retaliation, during a protest against police brutality in Dallas, Texas, President Obama said in his remarks in Warsaw, Poland, which he was visiting, what he was supposed to say as an agent and representative of the 1%. He said he had ordered the Justice Department to “support the police and the city of Dallas as they deal with this tragedy”. He said of the families of the killed officers that “the American people are grieving with them and that we stand with them”. Confirming his plans to meet the families of the killed officers, he added: “I’ll have the opportunity to convey our condolences and show our solidarity when I visit Dallas in a few days”, adding that “I firmly believe that America is not as divided as some have suggested. Americans of all races and all backgrounds are rightly outraged by the inexcusable attacks on police, whether it’s in Dallas or anyplace else.” So, his issue, or rather that of the class he represents, is “attacks on police”, not those by police on members of Black and Hispanic minorities that continue to take their lives several a week, every week.
This is also the same president, who at the height of police killing African American men, on a daily basis, last year, signed the “Blue Alert Act” to “protect police officers” because it’s the militarized and heavily armed police with military training who need protection against Black men, not Blacks and Hispanics who are getting murdered by an out of control police throughout the country.
Another part of this expansive and well organized (they’re strong because they’re organized and act in an organized and unison manner) is the propaganda wing of the corporate rule, the media. Since the incident in Dallas, MSNBC and other cable TV networks have continued a fierce pro-“law enforcement” propaganda campaign, nonstop, talking about police “bravery” and “sacrifices” and how “they put their lives on the line everyday to protect and serve us”. They try to demonize the protesters and suggest that support for protests is tantamount to support for violence against the police, who according to MSNBC and others are the victims, rather than the villains. MSNBC interviewed the mother and sister of one of the killed officers, extensively, discussing at length, what he liked to do, what he was like, how he was helpful to his sister and family, etc. They also had the mother of a protester, an African American, describing how the police came to their help and protected them during the Dallas protest. When interviewing a Black Lives Matter activist, they implied that “the rhetoric” of the movement (the “rhetoric” of “stop killing us”?!) incites violence against the police like the one in Dallas, thus trying to discredit the movement and its demands for change. MSNBC also had Rev. Al Sharpton, who was inaugurated as Obama’s official cheerleader when he was elected president, defend the president’s one-sided remarks, reminding the Black community, which he pretends to speak for, that as president, Obama has to strike a balance between “the two sides”, similar, I guess, to how he strikes a balance between “the two sides”, by giving unlimited military and economic aid and political and diplomatic support to Israel and, on the other hand, to show balance, he “criticizes” Israel’s land seizures and settlement building as “unproductive”! Those words of “criticism” supposedly balances out his actual, military and economic, support for the ongoing genocide, just as his words of sympathy for those unjustly killed by police should balance out all the support, money and weapons the police get to use against people.
That’s also how MSNBC tries to show its “journalistic” even-handedness(!). They show “concern” about black men being murdered on the streets on a daily basis and spending days talking about the sacrifices, bravery and heroics of murderous police. They try to humanize a paramilitary force which has long been stripped of any trace of humanity through military training and have more in common with robots now being employed to blow up hard to subdue suspects than any human being. There are also some subtler ways in which rightwing networks like MSNBC try to manipulate minds, such as when they repeat words of the police as fact and try to give the impression of them being professionals who follow the rule of law and “investigate” their officers, while they portray protesters as “lawless thugs” who want to incite violence. They also use family members of the victims of police brutality to ask protesters for “calm” and “peace”. Using Black sell-outs like Al Obama-is-Messiah Sharpton to calm anger among the victims is also an often used technique.
All mainstream and corporate media help and support the ruling class of 1% and their mercenary murderous police. But, if you must watch cable “news” channels, go with Fox News, which, at least, doesn’t pretend to be on the side of working people or the oppressed minorities. You’ll be less likely to be brainwashed. MSNBC, and Democrats in general, are the more effective defenders and protectors of large capital, imperialism and its wars and the super wealthy white supremacist ruling class. Someone like Rachel Maddow or Chris Hays or Lawrence O’Donnell do better and more effective service to the rule of capital and their wars and racist police than do less sophisticated and less informed reporters on Fox News.
I’m often attacked as being “extreme”, when I call the police killings as war waged by the ruling class and that this war will not be stopped by the state which it started in the first place and that it will have to be stopped by an organized and militant nationwide movement, but anyone who says that all we need is some better training of the police or some “reform of the criminal justice system”, as Hillary Clinton says or more “inclusive” policies that will help the middle class and not just the 1%, as Bernie Sanders claims, they’re lying and want the continuation of the status quo. The system is not reformable. It must be uprooted and buried under 10 feet of concrete. Like it or not that’s the truth.