Tag Archive: Michael Brown

Learning from Ferguson: A World Without Police

love4policeFrom Counterpunch – by Peter Gelderloos

In two previous essay, I discussed the role of the Left in protecting the police through cautious reformism, and the effectiveness of a pacified, falsified—in a word disarmed—history of the Civil Rights movement to prevent us from learning from previous struggles and achieving a meaningful change in society.

The police are a racist, authoritarian institution that exists to protect the powerful in an unequal system. Past and present efforts to reform them have demonstrated that reformism can’t solve the problem, though it does serve to squander popular protests and advance the careers of professional activists. Faced with this situation, in which Left and Right unwittingly collude to prolong the problem, the extralegal path of rioting, seizing space, and fighting back against the police makes perfect sense. In fact, this phenomenon, denounced as “violence” by the media, the police, and many activists in unison, was not only the most significant feature of the Ferguson rebellion and the solidarity protests organized in hundreds of other cities, it was also the vital element that made everything else possible, that distinguished the killing of Michael Brown from a hundred other police murders. What’s more, self-defense against state violence (whether excercized by police or by tolerated paramilitaries like the Klan) is not an exceptional occurrence in a long historical perspective, but a tried and true form of resistance, and one of the only that has brought results, in the Civil Rights movement and earlier.

What remains is to speak about possibilities that are radically external to the self-regulating cycle of tragedy and reform. What remains is to speak loudly and clearly about a world without police.

We don’t want better police. We don’t want to fix the police. On the contrary, we understand that the police work quite well; they simply do not work for us and they never have. We want to get rid of the police entirely, and we want to live in a world where police are not necessary.

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Police Violence Is Not A Problem Because Of Its Invisibility

pigparade

Officers wearing riot gear walk through a park in downtown St. Louis on Sunday.

From Ben Brucato

For months, in response to the killing of Michael Brown, Ferguson and Saint Louis have been sites of ongoing rebellion, with frequent actions of solidarity throughout the United States. Last week, after a grand jury declined to indict Michael Brown’s murderer, Officer Darren Wilson, protests erupted across the country.

In response, today US President Obama proposed a national program to outfit 50,000 police officers with body-worn cameras. Many, including Michael Brown’s family, advocate in favor of wearable cameras for police. Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange.org wrote today that, “If what happened between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson had been captured on video, we would not be here today—and Michael Brown might be alive.” This advocacy is predicated on the idea that police violence is a problem because it remains hidden.

For most of a century, police studies have operated under the idea that policing’s most crucial function—the use of force in the production of social order—is something that occurs outside of the public view. In their influential book, Above The Law, Jerome Skolnick and James Fyfe explained this hidden quality of policing has historically been a defining one, but that it was changed with the video recorded beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers.

Policing’s new visibility, as John B. Thompson calls it, is a consequence of surveillance that is rapidly approaching ubiquity. An institution once defined by operating outside of public view is now on exhibition as a result of cameras. Not only are private and government security cameras capturing many spaces—public and private alike—on video, but dash-mounted cameras in police cruisers and weapon-mounted cameras have produced a kind of self-surveillance (in addition to their primary intended functions of gathering evidence to criminally implicate civilians). On-officer wearable cameras, first developed by Taser, were developed from earlier stun-gun cameras (which, captured the moments before Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. was shot and killed by police in White Plains, NY).

If we believe police violence is a problem as a result of it being hidden from public view, we should expect to see a crisis in the police institution over the past two decades since the beating of Rodney King. As Skolnick and Fyfe wrote, “in the absence of videotapes or other objective recording of gratuitous violence, brutality rarely causes public controversy and is extremely difficult to prove.” But as I wrote last week, police violence appears to be on the rise in the presence of this new visibility. As much as we might hope for a simple, technological fix to the problem of police violence, more cameras are not the answer. (more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For November/December 2014 Is Now Available

birthdaycupHello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for November. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2)  Please help raise funds for our comrade Andy’s legal fund. On August 23rd Andy was arrested while attending a demonstration in solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson, MO following the murder of Michael Brown. While walking on the sidewalk during the protest, he was tackled to the ground and kicked by multiple officers, arrested, and non-consensually brought to the hospital for injuries that the police had inflicted. Because the police took away the bandages he had been given in the ER, he had to take care of his injuries on his own, while in jail. He has since been slapped with a large emergency room bill. He was held for around 28 hours with little food or water, and was subject to intimidation and threats of multiple felony charges and federal involvement. Instances like this are not unusual.  In fact, these circumstances – violent arrests, legal threats, withholding medical treatment and intimidation – are common in suppression of dissent against police brutality. Andy now faces six misdemeanor charges, for which the DA’s office has already demanded at least $1,500 in damage.

3) Political Prisoner Tom Manning is scheduled to see the US Parole Board in November. In a recent letter he asks that people write letters supporting his release on parole. He writes “so if folks can just write their own letters expressing each ones ideas rather than all of them sounding like they read a form letter – so that they put their own voice down on paper.”

Please write a letter to support Tom! (more…)

Help Andy Raise Legal Funds!

andyFrom You Caring

Andy is a queer-identified 20 year old West Philly resident, environmental activist, and volunteer at LAVA community center.

On August 23rd Andy was arrested while attending a demonstration in solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson, MO following the murder of Michael Brown. While walking on the sidewalk during the protest, he was tackled to the ground and kicked by multiple officers, arrested, and non-consensually brought to the hospital for injuries that the police had inflicted. Because the police took away the bandages he had been given in the ER, he had to take care of his injuries on his own, while in jail. He has since been slapped with a large emergency room bill. He was held for around 28 hours with little food or water, and was subject to intimidation and threats of multiple felony charges and federal involvement. Instances like this are not unusual.  In fact, these circumstances – violent arrests, legal threats, withholding medical treatment and intimidation – are common in suppression of dissent against police brutality.

Andy now faces six misdemeanor charges, for which the DA’s office has already demanded at least $1,500 in damage.

In addition, the publication of Andy’s legal name and residence by local media outed him as transgender to the community, violating his privacy and potentially putting his safety at risk.

We have been making every effort to fundraise for Andy and have already raised some money.  However, we still have a large amount left to raise.  Please help us out to whatever extent you are able!  If you would prefer to mail a check, please contact us for a mailing address.  Thank you!

– See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-andy-raise-legal-funds-/253232#sthash.3TNYiNeA.dpuf