George Floyd’s death at the hands of police is yet another in a long series of extrajudicial killings of black people by American law enforcement. Predictably, the justified outrage of the black community is being painted by reactionary media and government voices as some kind of overreaction, while 1960s language about “outside agitators” is spreading throughout the national media. Bill Barr took to the airwaves to claim that the Trump Justice Department has an interest in disciplining racist police departments, as though policing in this country can be divorced from its birth as slave patrols, and from its long history as the enforcement arm of capital and white supremacy.
Coming on the heels of heavily armed white people showing up at state capitals to demand that low-wage workers be forced back to work during a global pandemic without incident, the double standard of American policing is laid bare. If you’re white you can strap on a rocket launcher or assault rifle and make implicit threats against state government over public health regulations, but if you’re black and protest the latest in a long line of racist state murders, you’re met with police in riot gear, armed with rubber bullets, pepper spray, and teargas — even if you’re a sitting congressperson. There is even talk of deploying the American military to suppress our own citizenry in response to this latest round of protests.
The uprising that started in Minneapolis last week has inspired massive protests across the country and around the world. These demonstrations, as well as the appalling violence committed by police at them, show that the problem of police violence waged against black and brown people is pervasive in American society. Haymarket martyr Albert Parsons observed almost a century and a half ago that “this capitalistic system that we have today would not exist twenty four hours if it were not held together by the bayonets and the clubs of the militia and police,” and so it remains.
Police violence upholds capitalism, as well as the systemic racism on which American class society rests. It is the state’s most brutal and reliable weapon in upholding class society, and now that the ferocity with which it is dispensed is being exposed, it can be proclaimed, unequivocally, that the police are the enemies of freedom for the oppressed, exploited, and marginalized. It is right and just to rebel against this system and these atrocities. Our collective liberation and the task of building socialism require us to take the boot of state repression off the necks of all oppressed people. There is no room to waver on this question – we know which side we’re on.
Looking at the broader context, it has become clear that attempts at police reform and accountability have failed to seriously address the problem of racist police violence writ large. Indeed, the San Francisco Police Department has implemented just fifteen percent of the prescribed reforms following a 2016 U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the department following multiple police murders and a shameful racism scandal. It is time for socialists to take up efforts to defund, disarm, and abolish police, consistent with DSA’s commitment to abolition decided at the 2017 convention as well as the statement recently put out by the NPC regarding the murder of George Floyd.
We have endorsed a student-led protest this Wednesday at 4pm at Mission High School. We encourage all members who are able to attend. Please remember to maintain a safe distance from others, wear a mask, and take all measures possible to ensure the safety of yourself and others. Additionally, the DSA SF Justice committee has put out a call to oppose Mayor London Breed’s upcoming appointments to the police commission. Please sign our petition and sign up to call in during public comment Monday morning at 9:45 to speak out against these appointments. And finally, the Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee has a local bail fund – please contribute if you’re able.
We will stand up and demand justice for George Floyd and all victims of police murder, in San Francisco and across the country. Without justice, there will be no peace.
DSA SF Steering Committee