On the killing of two NYPD police officers

“Blue Lives Matter” was the caption displayed in large letters on MSNBC, yesterday, when discussing the assassination of two NYPD cops by a Black man, the day before. CNN and all the rest of Empire’s networks have been holding a vigil ever since those killings. They have interviewed just about every member of those officers’ families, as well as their friends, colleagues, relatives and current and former police commanders, commanding officers and police “unions”. They have read letters written by their children, saying goodbye to the killed officers. They have shown their spouses crying. They have displayed the vigil by the police, standing in military formation, saluting their fallen comrades, as if an enemy combatant in Afghanistan has killed two of the occupying army, which we, as Americans, are obliged to mourn and feel angry at the enemy who dared to kill two of our own “brave men”. To humanize an otherwise inhuman police force whose main job is the repression of the occupied poor, who beat and kill unarmed and innocent members of the working class, every single day, with total impunity, which at times seems to even surpass the impunity of US occupying armies overseas, the media of the occupiers and corporate thieves have been showing, nonstop, the supporters of the police mourning and lighting candles and saying how good and brave those cops were. The commentaries and the message they convey are unmistakable: blame the protesters who are demanding change and justice for victims of the racist police.

The networks and the politicians they interview have been referring to the killed officers as “brave men who put their lives on the front lines everyday, to protect and serve their community”. This is what the media that’s owned, controlled and in the service of the 1%, want people to believe: that the police are there to “protect and serve the people”, not protect the class of the super wealthy from the wrath of the oppressed, beating and brutalizing and killing them, everyday, on the streets, to keep them in line and in leashes, out of fear that they may rise up and demand justice.

Compare the incredible display of sympathy by the corporate media for those two cops with their treatment of innocent young Black men who are regularly killed by the police. Not only do they not show any such sympathy for them, they actually try to dehumanize them, by digging up and mentioning past “troubles with the law”, putting THEM on trial, instead of the viscous and racist police who killed them. Where was their reading of letters of the children of Eric Garner? Where was their interviews of his widowed wife and his aunt and friends and relatives and neighbors and people who do similar work to his, etc, as they did with the children and relatives and friends and colleagues of the dead cops?

These shameless double standards and hypocrisy are not accidental. What the Empire’s media and politicians are trying to do is to use the killings as an opportunity to push back against the protests and their legitimate demands for change that are taking place nationally. The goal is to blame, discredit and put in the defensive the protests for heightening “tensions”. They view this incident as an opportunity to gain the upper hand in the minds of the people, to increase the support for the cops, which is understandably at record low, to justify their brutality and to end the anti-police protests.

–Sako Sefiani, “On the Killing of Two NYPD Police Officers

How Liberalism Infects Movement Building

It never fails. Every time there is critical resistance, an uprising and continued unrest people get dragged back to compliance (with permits) under the rhetoric of being peaceful or nonviolent. The movement gets dragged out of the street to sit attentively at the feet of the oppressors with speakers that tell us change will come if we are calm (and peaceful). […]

Rhetoric about resistance and direct action becomes meaningless, lost in the symbolism of marching for civic change. Movement managers try to make the movement mainstream-popular, inviting celebrities and business leaders to come forward, while at the same time pushing out radical elements that released pressure valves to begin with. If not directly, through terrible tactical choices that alienate people (like working with the police who are critically engaged in counter insurgency and developing profiles on agitators to undermine the movement).

Never mind, that working with the city and police legitimizes those avenues, while making it easier for the police to knowingly divide and attack groups that take nonpermitted action or respond to their conditions without the permission of the state. Is this what solidarity looks like?

Instead of hearing about what groups are doing to sustain themselves during these uprisings, we hear more and more about demands. Police reforms that usually come with dangerous baggage, more technology and funding for the police. But the movement is so pressured by popular media and civic leaders to clarify its goals, policy change becomes a priority before much needed discussions can happen. Before policy change can be challenged not as a goal, but maybe a tactic to gain concessions in a larger fight to abolish the infrastructure that makes racial oppression profitable.

But once the movement is focused on policy change, containment is practically complete. And the agitators who were able to explore what it means to act autonomously for liberation, who were harassed and attacked by the police, are cast aside as unreasonable. Ungovernable.

Unity becomes language to gather behind and solidarity is reserved for those who will declare their nonviolence or tolerance for police collaboration. Never mind that nonviolence never actually was not violent- it just tolerates violence in the hopes of receiving change. It accepts violence as a means of determining justice- because if someone is constantly violated don’t they deserve to be saved?

The cops are killing people, but pacifism will kill the movement every time. We say “first do no harm” but liberalism does harm to the movement every time. People pull permits in the name of pacifism, but invite the police. How does this make sense?

What is liberalism? There are many ways people might define or apply it. But for now i’ll start with, peace for the sake of appearing peaceful regardless of whether the conditions are peaceful or not. Appealing to and supporting state violence (the government) to restore “peace” whether the conditions are peaceful or not. Working with the enemy to minimize the affects of oppression, while never supporting those looking to prevent or abolish it.

Redirecting the outrage and energy of people away from their own communities and into organizations that work with and support the state (and it’s violence). Taking real anger and pain, and neutralizing it so that it does not actually threaten the economic and social conditions that produced it. Believing that the state is the only way we will be free. Controlling how other actors behave so that the state will make you free. And finally, using peace as a reason to dismiss and silence people seeking critical movement building dialogue to prevent the co-optation of the movement. Demanding peace without first acknowledging the conflict is dismissive and heartbreaking. Same with ‪#‎notallcops‬ rhetoric.

The popular media finds it much easier to latch onto movement building for reform because the hierarchical political structure wants people to resign power over to representatives and allow those representatives to determine clear goals. And just like that the movement becomes less about supporting black solidarity and more about appealing to the dominant white (and liberal) gaze for approval.

But what if the goals aren’t clear? What if supporting black rage and insurrection means that all of it will have to fall? Especially the privileges and comforts gained by whites and non-black POC under the capitalist system built on genocide and slavery. The economy of wagery and servitude that makes (black) people poor and deprives them of resources. The system of governance and gender violence that pits (black) community against each other based on sexuality, gender and patriarchy power. The lack of empowerment and shared decision making. The lack of access to resources for those who are disabled by society. The political system itself, who carries on war after war here and abroad without the consent of the governed. The way problems are handled, policed and result in mass imprisonment and violence for poor, brown and black communities of color.

It’s not simple. But to build this movement we cannot oversimplify it. We cannot ignore that non-black and white people benefit from seeing this movement silenced or neutralized. And we can’t pretend that it doesn’t make whites uncomfortable to think about a black revolution. This might be a large reason why people in the movement fall back on learned liberalism. Because people, particularly people of color, have been taught that to assimilate in Amerikan culture means to behave, which has become synonymous with being “reasonable” or deferring to white models of power. But this is not reasonable, co-optation will fail and the conditions will fall.

how many have to be killed - protest sign

Source: nowaronthepoor (Tumblr)