A working-class road to end cop brutality

February 20, 2023

The following statement was released Feb. 6 by Lisa Potash, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia in 2022.

Working people across the country were outraged when they saw the video of cops in Memphis savagely stun with Tasers, punch, kick and beat with a baton Tyre Nichols Jan. 7, bragging to each other about it. He died three days later from injuries they inflicted.

This is a class question. The cops — and the entire criminal “justice” system — cannot be reformed or reorganized to serve our interests. They are an essential part of the capitalist rulers’ private property system of exploitation. Their spying, brutality, “plea bargain” system and their prisons are crucial to try and prevent working people from fighting to overturn the oppression we face.

They pay special attention to workers who are Black, who have shown — as in the mass proletarian movement that overthrew Jim Crow segregation — their capacity to fight and to lead broad social struggles. The goal of the propertied rulers is to intimidate, divide and weaken the working class as a whole.

Workers need to break from the parties of the capitalist rulers, the Democrats and Republicans and others, and build our own political party, a labor party based on our unions. We need to chart a course to take political power into our own hands, to uproot the private property system and rebuild society to serve the interests of workers, farmers and all those who have suffered oppression at the hands of the capitalist exploiters.

When Cuban workers and farmers overthrew the U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in 1959, they didn’t “reform” his police. They replaced them with proven revolutionary combatants dedicated to extending the hand of solidarity to toilers worldwide. This was only possible because our class had conquered state power.

As the charges against the cops who beat Nichols to death move to trial, working people need to pay careful attention. We must fight to assure that no blows are dealt to constitutional protections that we have fought for over decades — including the right to an impartial jury, to due process of law, against double jeopardy, to have to be proven guilty beyond doubt and more. Protecting these freedoms is central to the class struggle today.