On March 12, police killed Decynthia Clements, 34, after an hour-long standoff with Elgin, IL police on Interstate 90. Those protesting her death said police had no reason to kill Clements, who weighed only 90 pounds and was allegedly armed only with a knife. On March 18, Sacramento, CA, police killed Stephon Clark, 22, in the backyard of his home. Police said they thought he had a gun. He had a cell phone. Both victims were Black. As we go to print, people in both communities are in the streets, expressing their outrage and demanding justice.
According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, 1,147 people were killed by police in the United States in 2017. Most killings began with police responding to suspected non-violent offenses or cases where no crime was reported. Eighty-nine people were killed after police stopped them for a traffic violation. People of color are disproportionately affected by police violence; Blacks, for example, were 25% of those killed by police in 2017, though they are only 13% of the population. Forty-eight percent of the people killed by police last year were white. The U.S. population is 63% white.
In 2014, the Tampa Bay Times asked all of the nearly 400 police agencies in Florida for reports any time an officer shot someone between 2009 and 2014. The Times reported that Florida police shot at least 827 people, 434 of them fatally, during the six-year period.
Those shot included:
A 2-year-old boy in his mother’s car at a Wendy’s
A 17-year-old boy with Down syndrome who took his mom’s minivan for a low-speed joyride
A 60-year-old man fetching cigarettes from a car in his driveway
An autistic 18-year-old who threw four lava rocks at an officer
A man shoplifting a can of Bud Light from a gas station
Not all of these people died from their wounds.
Whether they have controlled slaves, broken strikes, or contained the poor, the police have always been an instrument of the powerful few against the workers under capitalism. But today, police violence seems to be getting worse, and it appears no one is safe. This is because technology is eliminating our jobs permanently. This has created a section of us who have no stake in a society run by and for billionaires. We are a threat to their rule and they are creating a police state to contain us.
A new society is emerging out of our ongoing struggles to defend ourselves. It will either be a society that serves the corporations, protects their billions and keeps the people in poverty under a violent police state, or it will be a society where the abundance high technology is producing belongs to the people and there will be no need to police anyone. Which way it goes is up to us.