The Socialist Workers Party stands with workers and young people here protesting the police killing of Keith Scott. I and my running mate Alyson Kennedy, and SWP members all across the country, have joined in demonstrations — from Ferguson, Missouri; to Council, Idaho; to Staten Island, New York; to Baton Rouge, Louisiana; to Minneapolis — with the growing number of people of all races and nationalities who say, “Enough!” to cop killings.
These actions against police brutality — aimed at the working class and disproportionately at workers who are Black — are having an impact. While they are episodic, not yet part of an organized national movement, they build on the historic transformation won by the powerful working-class movement led by African-Americans that smashed Jim Crow segregation in the 1950s and ’60s.
This is seen in how swiftly the rulers had to move to bring down the Confederate battle flag, the hated symbol of Jim Crow, across the South last year. It is felt in the growing refusal to accept police killings and other abuses of the capitalist state and in the changing consciousness and confidence of millions of workers that my supporters and I find when we knock on doors across the country.
This is the reason the capitalist rulers have taken some steps to rein in their cops. For instance, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, charges were filed just days after Officer Betty Jo Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher.
Spurred by protests in 2014 against police killings, the Washington Post began recording people shot dead by police in 2015. By the end of the year the total was 991, 26 percent of them African-Americans — double the proportion of the population that is Black.
Some said this shows the rise of police killings. But in fact police brutality and racist violence have fallen dramatically from the days of Jim Crow — in the North as well as the South.
What is new is the broad public attention cop attacks get, the bravery and willingness of thousands to capture the shootings on video and the widespread outrage over the killings. Millions are discussing why these assaults take place, the character of the social system from which they arise and what can be done to end them once and for all.
Police serve and protect the wealthy rulers, not only defending their property, but carrying out their divide-and-conquer methods to maintain state power. Police violence against workers is baked in the cake of capitalism and can’t be reformed away.
As a result of the mighty battles that overthrew Jim Crow, there is more unity and solidarity between Black and Caucasian workers today than ever before. And we’re in a stronger position as it becomes clearer there is no answer under the political rule of the bosses and bankers to the deepening crisis of their capitalist system and the misery, brutality and wars it foists on the back of our class.
We have to organize in our millions to fight back, through which we will become politically capable of organizing to take political power ourselves.
This course requires leadership. Join the Socialist Workers Party!
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