Once again, an African American man, Rayshard Brooks, was gunned down in Atlanta by deadly fire, shot in the back at point-blank range while fleeing arrest by white officers. And once again, a daughter’s cry for her father will forever go unanswered while the deeply racist system of American policing reveals itself for all the world to see.
In a certain sense, it doesn’t matter that it occurred in Atlanta. It could have been Minneapolis, or Louisville, or Cleveland, or Staten Island, or Glen County, Georgia. And it didn’t matter that an uprising of unprecedented breadth and scope had swept much of the world for the past weeks—blackness in America is criminalized, and cops have license to kill.
It’s abundantly clear that wherever you go in America, black, brown, and Asian lives in the eyes of racist police forces and their backers don’t matter. It’s not just a few bad apples: the whole goddamn barrel is rotten. And it’s more than the police: it’s the courts, the prosecutors, the laws and the people who wrote them. It’s the whole ruling-class establishment underlying our so-called justice system.
It’s for this reason that protests have flowed across cities and states large and small for weeks now, demanding community control, defunding, dismantling, and demilitarization of police and the abolishment of prisons. It’s an unending stream—African American, Latino, Asian, Native American, and white—a veritable river of humanity that will gather, swell, and flood the gates until justice is done.
Justice itself is being redefined and with it the very nature of the system of organized violence that is the 21st-century American state and capitalist economy. Mass movements are insisting that the notion of policing itself, prisons, and vengeful punishment all be imagined anew, torn down and freshly rebuilt.
The American public is being dared to embrace a new version of itself, this time free of racism, sexism, homophobic bigotry, and economic exploitation. A new body politic is being erected on America’s streets and workplaces—not only are people demonstrating in the public square, but workers at the point of production are beginning to strike.
Yes, it’s coming. And inevitably, that body of working-class America will soon stand up, and stand tall.
It won’t be easy. It’s going to take marches, strikes, occupations, boycotts, and yes voting to make it happen. The issues are what matter. And here new proposals to increase police funding by Republicans and Democrats alike must be completely rejected.
Elections are key. So are the new forms of people’s power being debated and proposed in the uprising. Mass movements and revolutions are issues of who possesses state and governmental power.
Our people are declaring loud and clear: we will wait no more, our dying days are done.