John Parker: Police Means of Repressing Real Democracy in America
TEHRAN (FNA)- John Parker, political activist, says the US ruling system uses police to maintain the hold of the industrial and financial monopolies on the society.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Parker shed light on the under-reported US police’s brutality against people of color, and said, “The ruling class cannot afford any criticism of the police. Any recognition of racist police murder fuels the building of a movement amongst working and poor people here, as the protests against the killings of Black people did and continue to do in the US, it challenges the ruling class, or the oligarch’s hold on society by threatening the institution of policing in the US.”
John Parker is a lifelong human rights and ant-war activist based in Los Angeles, California. He is the West Coast coordinator of the International Action Center. John Parker was the Workers World Party presidential candidate in 2004. He also ran for the US Senate from California in 2016.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: A recent study shows US police killing of Black people is under-reported by more than half. Why do you think this is the case?
A: The police are indeed afraid to reveal the true numbers and probably do not know what those numbers are because, as the current study shows like many others have in the past, the law enforcement institutions do not allow for the accurate reporting for political reasons. After all, the police function as a military arm of the US government, especially in Black and Brown communities. They are real job in this imperialist country, like the job of the politicians and government institutions here, is to protect the interests of the industrial and financial monopolies that actually run the US, using their capital to determine the laws, select winning politicians to represent their interests, and either directly or indirectly use the police and military for repression to maintain their hold and prevent any real democracy in the US.
The ruling class cannot afford any criticism of the police. Any recognition of racist police murder fuels the building of a movement amongst working and poor people here, as the protests against the killings of Black people did and continue to do in the US, it challenges the ruling class, or the oligarch’s hold on society by threatening the institution of policing in the US.
Q: The report indicates police are more likely to shoot Black civilians than White civilians, even when the victim is unarmed. What does it tell us about the US police in terms of race and ethnicity?
A: It is important to understand that the institution of policing in the US has its origins in the catching of slaves or former slaves. It was established to maintain the murder, rape and forced unpaid labor of Black peoples. And, like today, that was also to ensure the political structure and protect the “property” of the richest in society. When slavery was ended their work expanded and became more integrated with state institutions to more effectively keep down the labor movement and the demand for unions and any other protests or movements of the people fighting for social and economic justice.
However, the racist nature of their repression remained and, while also including other non-white peoples and immigrants in their brutality to suppress social movements, their greatest repression targeted and continues today to target Black people. This is why the reports state that Black people are over 3 times more likely to be killed by police while being 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed when killed by police than white people.
This report by the University of Washington that was published in the Lancet corroborates the earlier studies published in the Guardian and Washington Post on the under counting of police killings by government sources. Another report, Mapping Police Violence, reported that in 1,147 deaths, only 13 officers were charged with a crime.
The Lancet report states, “Police forces should exist to enforce laws that protect public safety, but throughout the USA’s history, police have been used to enforce racist and exploitative social orders that endanger the safety of the most marginalized groups in society.”
Q: What do we learn about the American society in which police violence and racism in policing are undeniable facts?
A: Those who control the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government already know the true nature of this racist and repressive society and the institutions that maintain that reality.
One indication of that is the fact that this report is not reporting anything new. The problem of racist policing and murder has been identified for decades but the situation has gotten even worse. Even recent reform efforts to cut down fatal police violence, like banning chokeholds, mandating body cameras, training in de-escalation, diversifying police forces, and civilian police review and advisory boards have all failed. We know these efforts have failed because fatal police violence has remained the same or increased since 1990. And we know these efforts failed because they were not meant to succeed.
The New York Times spoke to Roger Mitchell Jr., a former chief medical examiner of Washington, DC, and an expert on investigating deaths in custody, about this latest study. He said that long ago he proposed that death certificates should include a checkbox indicating whether a death occurred in custody, including arrest-related deaths as well as those in jails and prisons. Easy enough, but this is still yet to be implemented. And, back in 2014 federal legislation was passed mandating law enforcement agencies to report deaths in custody. However, no public data on this has been produced.
So, we see that this lack of data is intentional and that the only way to cure police murder and racism is to abolish the police and replace them with organizations for public safety that are made up of communities independent of current police and corporate influence – one that represents and reflects the real needs of the communities of the US, especially the Black and Brown communities most targeted by police.