Thursday, June 18, 2020

Police Work For The Ruling Elite - PERIOD!

WSWS |  It is now just over three weeks since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd set off mass protests throughout the United States and around the world. The political representatives of the ruling class have responded with, on the one hand, brute force and threats of military repression, and, on the other hand, pledges of “reform” and “accountability.”

Yesterday, Trump signed an executive order that would embed more social workers and mental health professionals with the police, create a national database to track officers fired or convicted for using excessive force, and ban chokeholds, with the exception, as the president explained, of “when an officer’s life is at risk.”

Trump announced his executive order in an address before police officers filled with calls for “law and order” and denunciations of protesters. Trump’s caveat on chokeholds leaves the window wide open for the continued use of the deadly practice, since police officers routinely claim that they fear for their lives when they grievously wound or kill someone.

The Democrats have offered up their own slate of cosmetic changes largely mirroring Trump’s, including banning chokeholds and creating a national database of abusive officers, while also explicitly rejecting the demand, popular among protestors, to “defund” the police. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, has called for $300 million in additional federal funding to shore up police departments across the country, while Senator Bernie Sanders has said that cops need to be paid higher salaries.

Such measures will amount to less than nothing. They might as well propose to change the color of police uniforms. Inevitably, “reforms” from these representatives of the ruling class will end up strengthening the police as an oppressive apparatus of the state.

The promise of police reform has repeatedly been offered up by the ruling class as a supposed solution to excessive violence. In the aftermath of the urban rebellions of the 1960s, the Democrats claimed that more black police officers on the beat, more black police chiefs overseeing forces and more black mayors would solve the problem.

Half a century later, African Americans account for more than 13 percent of police officers, an overrepresentation compared to the population as a whole. Black police chiefs head departments across the country, and cities large and small have elected black mayors. In the last decade, the introduction of police vehicle dash cams and body cameras has been offered up as yet another panacea.

And yet the killing and abuse continue, and indeed have escalated.

What is absent from all of the media commentary on police violence, let alone the statements from bourgeois politicians, is any examination of what the police are and their relationship to capitalist society.


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