Tag Archive: oscar grant

Riots work: Wolf Blitzer and the Washington Post completely missed the real lesson from Baltimore

Wolf Blitzer

The police—not to mention capitalism—have done far more to damage Baltimore than any riot could

From Salon/ By

When Oscar Grant was shot by transit cop Johannes Mehserle in Oakland in the early hours of January 1, 2009, a week passed with no institutional response, while videos of Grant’s murder spread on YouTube like a prairie fire. Then people rebelled, rioted, and took over the streets of Oakland twice—on January 7 and January 14—and just like that, and with the threat of another rebellion hanging heavily in the air, the mayor and the governor leaned on the Alameda County district attorney to bring charges.

When Mike Brown was gunned down by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, the community exploded in massive and sustained resistance on the streets. Aside from galvanizing public opinion and sparking a national movement against white supremacist policing, this street insurgency first forced the replacement of Ferguson PD by the St. Louis County Sheriff, and later bythe  state Highway Patrol, as well as prompting both a federal investigation and a grand jury considering—but ultimately rejecting—Wilson’s indictment for murder.

And when Freddie Gray died on April 19, 2015, after a week in a coma provoked by Baltimore City Police, we all know what happened next: in a wave of resistance rivaling Ferguson in the national attention it garnered, Black youth across Baltimore responded as directly as possible to those terrorizing their communities, in some cases chasing the “forces of order” out with bricks. After nearly a week of resistance—including the occupation of Baltimore by heavily-armed National Guard—Maryland state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby stepped into the fray, announcing charges against six officers and admitting that her hand had been forced by the streets: “To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’”

(more…)

The Nature of Police, the Role of the Left

by PETER GELDERLOOS

A young black person was killed, many people brave enough to take to the streets in the aftermath were injured and arrested, and the only real consequences the police will face will be changes designed to increase their efficiency at spinning the news or handling the crowds, the next time they kill someone. Because amidst all the inane controversies, that is one fact that no one can dispute: the police will kill again, and again, and again. A disproportionate number of their targets will be young people of color and transgender people, but they have also killed older people, like John T. Williams, Bernard Monroe, and John Adams, and white people too. The Right has seized on a couple cases of white youth being killed by cops, like Dillon Taylor or Joseph Jennings, throwing questions of proportion out the window in a crass attempt to claim the police are not racist.

Essentially, the point being made by right-wing pundits is that the cops are killing everybody, so it’s not a problem. The fact that they can make this argument and still retain credibility with a large sector of the population shows how normalized the role of the police is in our society. The true meaning of the evidence used manipulatively by the Right is that the police are a danger to anyone not wearing a business suit.

In a serious debate, however, it would be hard to deny that the police are a racist institution par excellence. They kill young black, latino, and Native people at a disproportionately higher rate than white youth, and the institution itself descended from the patrols created to capture fugitive slaves in the South and police urban immigrants in the North, as masterfully documented in Kristian Williams‘ landmark book, Our Enemies in Blue. What’s more, the criminal justice system that the police play an integral role in, both feeding and defending the prison-industrial complex, grew directly out of the 13th Amendment’s approval of slavery in the case of imprisonment, illuminating the path by which the United States’ advancing economy could leave plantation slavery behind, first with the pairing of sharecropping and chain gangs, and more recently with the pairing of a precarious labor market on the outside and booming prison industries on the inside. (more…)