Socialist Workers Party statement

Cops and their violence are an essential part of capitalist rule

June 22, 2020

Alyson Kennedy, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president, issued the following statement June 9. Malcolm Jarrett is the party’s candidate for vice president.

The explosion of demonstrations against the Minneapolis cop killing of George Floyd that have swept the country — from big cities to small rural towns — and spread around the world give a picture of what working people in action are capable of. They’ve had a broad social impact and paved the way for even more effective actions against cop brutality and racist violence wherever they occur. And they’ve inspired workers everywhere looking to stand up to the bosses’ assaults on our jobs, wages and working conditions we confront today.

The breadth of the outpouring shows the long-term effects wrought by the Black-led proletarian movement in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s that tore down Jim Crow segregation. It transformed the attitudes and conduct of millions of working people, opening the door to unity in action by workers who are Caucasian and who are Black.

They show that those middle-class radicals who insist racism is gaining ground among workers today are dead wrong. There is more interest in acting together against racist violence and discrimination than ever before. And they confirm that in the big class battles to come, workers who are Black will play a central role.

The protests today send a warning to cops that hundreds of thousands will fight and can prevent cops from killing with impunity. And, when they are organized to be large, powerful and disciplined, they can attract and involve millions.

But calls by the liberals, Democrats and Republicans for “reforming” the cops mask the true character of the capitalist “justice” system. More body cams, restrictions on the use of chokeholds and more civilian police review boards will not stop cops from inflicting lethal violence on working people.

As Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes said in a book that is very useful today — Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power — “The historical record gives ample evidence that even the most ‘democratic’ bourgeois state is at bottom a massive and all-pervasive apparatus of violence, dedicated to preserving capitalist rule.”

Growing calls to “defund,” “restructure” or “disband” police departments and set up something “new” will do nothing to alter which class the cops serve, nor the violence they mete out.

“These institutions of class rule, of bourgeois ‘law and order,’ do brutally serve and protect the property, profits, and assumed prerogatives of the U.S. capitalist class,” Barnes said, “from the streets, factories, fields, mines, border crossings, and prisons across the United States, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and beyond.”

Among those joining today’s protests — and those inspired by them — there is widespread interest in the SWP’s call to action to meet the bosses’ attacks on our wages, jobs and working conditions. Fight for a federally funded public works program to create millions of jobs at union-scale wages to build the hospitals, homes and schools we need. For workers to organize in their millions to rebuild our unions and fight to wrest ever more control over production from the bosses. To build our own political party, a labor party, to fight for workers and farmers to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers and run society ourselves. This is the road to end cop violence and capitalist exploitation once and for all.

This is a perspective worth fighting for! Join today’s protests! Join the SWP campaign to deepen this discussion on the road forward.