by Paul Jay, Resistance is growing, but it’s not enough
Police violence against people of color, that is illegal violence usually without consequence to the perpetrators, is not merely the product of too many law enforcement officers with racist attitudes.
Their name says it all. Police are enforcing laws, including with deadly force, to make people obey legislation that at its heart protects people that own property. The more you own, the more you are served and protected.
Of course we all want to live in a safer city and police play a significant role in that, but to address this violence we must recognize the underlying causes of street crime: unemployment, low wages, poverty, and completely irrational drug laws.
Unemployment is not a natural phenomenon that ebbs and flows; it’s a product of a system that requires a big pool of available cheap labor to keep wages low. A myriad of legislation ensures that unions are weak and wages stay depressed. It’s not a product of a free labor market, but what amounts to a regulated one.
When police use violence they do so as agents of a legal system (courts and prisons), that must keep a lid on people who fight back against desperate conditions. Whether they fight back blindly and often self-destructively, or more consciously and politically, the elites have passed laws that keep people in their place.
Of course the place for those in the elites, that is the top 20%, is to own 85% of America’s wealth. On a global scale, the top 1% of the population owns 50% of the world’s wealth. In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
Laws are designed to makes sure this inequality takes place, and make sure it stays this way. The police enforce these laws.
It’s crucial to the elites that police feel free to use violence without much reservation. They don’t want them second-guessing themselves. That’s why a whole set of laws have been enacted that make it almost impossible to indict or convict a cop of using too much force.
If you’ve been watching The Real News, you’ve seen all of this reported on in many of our stories.
So how come mainstream television never connects these dots when reporting on Ferguson or police violence in other cities? If it needs to be said, the 1% owns the mass media and there’s nothing like self-interest to make us see the world as one wants to see it – or to not see it at all.
It takes a Katrina or a militant mass protest for corporate media to acknowledge race in America – even though racism is inseparable from the issue of poverty and policing.
This society dehumanizes those it exploits. Racism is the ultimate dehumanizing of those who are super exploited. It justifies poverty level wages, mass unemployment and mass incarceration. It divides people of color from all those suffering desperate conditions.
Many TRNN guests have said the solution is not a retreat into ethnic identity, but a united front of all working, unemployed and enlightened people. Across the country, people are organizing and resisting. They are mobilizing in the streets and with an independent electoral strategy.
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