Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cops killing black males is almost a national pastime in the US

L Bates R Harris
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Ask many Americans their opinion about the state of the nation and no small number will tell you that they don’t listen to the news, they don’t vote and the country is going to the dogs.  It is a huge country, a continent really so there are varying attitudes in different regions and between rural communities and urban centers. But there is a significant mood of pessimism in the country I would say and part of that is the helplessness people feel-----that nothing can be done about it.

It’s certainly the case when it comes to the established avenues like voting at election time.  Millions upon millions of Americans have no political voice.  We have two options when it comes to voting, the candidates of the 1% and the other candidates of the 1%.  Given that, legislation that is debated and acted on, has no real input from the millions of workers that are the majority in this country.  It is this dictatorship of capital and its representatives that is at the root of the madness that we experience on a daily basis here. 

The masses don’t read or watch the news because it is depressing they say, and they’re right. It is depressing because it is the expression of a bankrupt economic system and the social relations that accompany it.

We had yet another killing of a man by a cop last week, a black victim and white killer. Other aspects of this and what is not alluded to directly, is that the killer was fairly successful capitalist, a Southern bourgeois and the victim was from the working class.

The killer is Robert Bates, the 73-year old owner of an insurance company. The victim was Eric Harris.  This bourgeois likes to play cop in his spare time.  Like a lot of wealthy people he gets to do this as a “reserve deputy” because he donates a lot of money and handy things like stun guns, pistols and vehicles to the local police force.

The bourgeois didn’t mean to shoot Harris.  Harris was being apprehended by a team of cops that included the 73 year old Bates.  Harris was “resisting” according to the police and Bates meant to hit him with the stun gun, no doubt one of his contributions to the police arsenal, but pulled out his pistol instead.  The shot was fatal. “I shot him. I’m sorry.”, Bates yelled, and before Harris died he screams, “Oh my God, he shot me.”.

The chatter continued as the Wall Street Journal reports:  “Another deputy then replies: ‘You f— ran. Shut the f— up.’” After Mr. Harris says he is losing his breath, a deputy replies “F— your breath.”

This is the land of the free; if you have money that is. If you don’t have money, you can’t get adequate food, medical care or see a dentist or get appropriate shelter excepting a freeway underpass, and as a poor person with black skin, getting shot by cops is almost a national pastime.  Having nothing but utter contempt for a human life is a luxury that "freedom" gives us.

Bates’ lawyer John Wood, says that his client feels “…..very badly for the incident”, adding that “The evidence that this was a mistake is overwhelming….”

Bates could get four years in prison for killing Harris if the second degree manslaughter charge holds up.  But keep in mind this is Oklahoma and Bates has money, and money lets you get away with murder.  Bates also has connections in the politics of Oklahoma we can be sure about that.  The Tulsa Country Sherriff, Stanley Glanz, is a good friend of Bates, they “fish together” Glanz tells the media holding up a picture of big fish they caught.  “Is it wrong to have a friend?”, he adds.  His “friend” simply committed “an error”.

Ok, let’s say in the strict interpretation of the law, Bates did not commit murder, it was an accident and it wasn’t premeditated.  But the whole set up wasn’t a mistake. Bates, whose parasitic existence as the owner of an insurance company allowed him to play cop in his spare time and have the right to carry a dangerous weapon and the right to kill. He paid for this privilege with money he ripped off from the public in his capacity as an insurance company owner.

The conditions that led to Harris’ death were not accidental; they were consciously thought out and encouraged. “We do not believe it is reasonable—or responsible—for [the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office] to accept gifts from a wealthy citizen who wants to be ‘pay to play’ cop,” Harris’ family announced to the media.  Any sensible human being would agree with this but we are not governed by sensible human beings.

So Harris’s death was not an accident, it was the result of a conscious deliberate sequence of events. To be honest, I don’t give a f*#@k about Bates and his apology or the Sheriff and the nasty thug who’s response to a dying man gasping for breath was “F— your breath.”  

I want to touch on a couple of other points about this.  Their media will stress that this was yet another “white man” killing a “black man”.  Yes it was. But it was more than that.  It is an assault by the armed wing of the state against workers and the poor. It is without doubt that this assault is most heavily waged on the black population including the mass incarceration of people of color. Overwhelmingly, the ruling class in this country has a white face, they are also men and they are determined to maintain their privileged position and the system that they govern.  Racism toward African Americans and others as well as sexism, is a vital tool in them maintaining power. All the statistics we see that favor white over black that have taken generations to put in place are in order to hold on to the loyalty of white workers but this has become harder and harder to do.

They want to ensure that the main issue here a a white vs black  because talking about class weakens the hold they have on the white workers as part of their racial family. It creates a dynamic where white workers are to see ourselves aligned with all whites and blacks with all blacks, the class question be damned. I found my discharge from the hospital I was born in more than half a century ago and it had as my race, “English”.  I became “white” when I came to the US.

There is no working class in this country we are taught.  But are we to believe a working class black guy, say a bus driver from LA, would have been allowed to drive for miles down the freeway with his buddy followed by cops after being suspected of viciously murdering two rich white folks as OJ Simpson was?  Of course not, that car would have been riddled with bullets before it got on the entrance ramp.  This doesn’t mean wealthy blacks can’t be victims of racism. We see a similar approach when the media describes events abroad. I saw a heading in the paper the other day about a rally in Venezuela. The heading read, “Anti-American” rally in Venezuela. No it wasn’t!  It was an anti-American imperialism rally. But it’s important for the white racist ruling class in this country to include all Americans in their economic battle for global supremacy, one nation under God has class content. It is not simply a religious edict.

By making the issue one of some sort of innate hatred by all whites toward all blacks, should the collective anger at these horrific assaults on their communities and individuals by the white power structure get out of control many white workers will feel threatened, will know that they too are white and they will be blamed for this as well and are much more accessible as recipients of this unorganized anger than the rich and the ruling class. I was talking to a guy this morning, a decent individual and we were saying if we hit a child driving through the somewhat impoverished black community next to where we live, getting out to help could cost us our lives, one can’t help thinking about it.  The 1% ensures that in the rare cases where this happens, the media floods the airwaves with it with the intention of strengthening the socially imposed “racial” divide between us all, creating fear and isolation between us. 

For European American workers like myself, the road to security and a future free of violence and despair is to reject the white skinned ruling class’ divide and rule propaganda that social crisis has its origin in hatred (what really amounts to competition) between different races, nationalities or people of different skin color as opposed to a class conflict between different economic interests based on our roles in the production of human needs.  We must openly and vociferously separate ourselves from them and unite with their victims. Just because someone looks like you doesn’t mean they’re your friends---we all know that really.  It is a class war we have to win not a “race” war.

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