March 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Rodney James Hess
Toni Jo Collins
Chad Robertson (AP photo)
Two days before this, on March 14, six precious lives were stolen by police violence. One of them was a 16-year-old pregnant Latina, Elena Mondragon. She was just a passenger in an allegedly stolen car near Cal State University, Hayward, California.
Five days before that, a 35-year-old white sister, Toni Jo Collins, was shot down in Galveston, Texas, by an off-duty cop. TV news immediately said she was armed with a gun, but two eyewitnesses said she had a pink-and-white BB gun.
And five days before that, a 70-year-old Latino man, Alejandro Valencia Mendez, was gunned down in midday at a busy corner in downtown Los Angeles, with news reports saying he was “wielding a pipe.” Multiple police on the scene responded to this (if this report was even true) by gunning him down rather than restraining him in some other way.
And there’s Chad Robertson, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man who was 75-100 feet from the Amtrak pig who shot Robertson in the back as he ran for his life. The Chicago Tribune wrote that he “had been in Chicago for only about a half-hour Feb. 8 while on a stopover at Union Station waiting on a bus to Minneapolis.”
What about Francisco Serna whose 73-year-old body was riddled with five police bullets in Bakersfield, California, in December 2016 while in a neighbor’s driveway when the cops supposedly mistook the crucifix he had on him for a gun?!
Police terror is continuing and now threatens to escalate and intensify under the Trump/Pence fascist regime. Official government statistics are spotty and hard to find or verify, as there are no strict rules for accurate record-keeping of police crimes. These stories are more often buried on social media and dug up by journalists and academics, certainly not a lot from police body cams. Some websites like Killed by Police, Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence, the Washington Post, and The Counted, linked to the British news outlet the Guardian, have lists of incidents, with the latter three websites only beginning to do so in 2015, yet two of these (The Counted and Mapping Police Violence) have stopped as of January 2017.
Though there are discrepancies in the numbers, there is still a pattern of the ongoing epidemic of police terror, especially in the inner cities. In 2015, the Washington Post reported 991 murders by cops, Fatal Encounter detailed a list of 1,520, and two of the other websites listed 1,210 based on local news reports they cited. So far in 2017, the Washington Post counts 237 (as of March 19), Killed by Police lists 280 (as of March 24), and Fatal Encounter lists 389 (as of March 20). It’s likely these numbers tend to be low as reports come in, get tallied, and verified. In 2017, unlike the past two years, we are not hearing much of these hundreds of cases nor seeing videos on CNN/national news, but more learning of them as passing references on the local news, if that.
At least one source cited above reported that in 2016, Black males age 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police, and five times more likely than white men of the same age to be murdered by police; also that unarmed Black people were five times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white people. That is, almost 40 percent of unarmed people killed by police were Black, even as they are 13 percent of the U.S. population. And the data show no correlation between crime rate and police violence.
Yet according to comments by Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the problem is NOT the epidemic of police violence, but the exposures of and resistance to that violence: “Somehow, someway, we’ve undermined respect for police and made—often times—their job more difficult,’’ and “I do think it’s a real problem when we have Black Lives Matter making statements that are really radical, that are absolutely false.” And the White House website now bellows that the “Trump administration will be a law and order administration.... The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
“Law and order” and the myth of the “anti-police atmosphere” and “job made more difficult” are all code words aimed especially against Black and Brown people, and others in the inner cities. Trump’s and Sessions’ comments are threats to remove even minimal restraints off the cops. These threats are also aimed at resistance such as the many righteous protests in recent years against police terror—from Ferguson over the murder of Michael Brown, to Baltimore over the murder of Freddie Gray, to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Rise Up October in 2015.
We need to draw a lesson from the defiant rebels of Ferguson and Baltimore, to step out and unite with people from all walks of life in defiance and rebellion against genocidal police terror, and also against all the crimes of this system as part of the overall resistance to the fascist direction of the whole society. The crucial scientific analysis and urgent challenge is laid out in the new orientation from the RCP on this website. Lives of people worldwide are really in the balance—every minute of every day—calling to us to act in the name of ALL humanity.