From owner-labor-l@YORKU.CA Sat Jun 3 12:30:12 2006
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2006 12:20:44 EDT
Sender: Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Roland Sheppard <Rolandgarret@AOL.COM>
Subject: [LABOR-L] FYI: Washington PostArticle: North Carolina Should Pay for 1898 Race Riot

The Historic Role of Police Brutality in the Black Community and African American Oppression

By Roland Sheppard, [3 June 2006]

February is Black History month. An important part the history is the destruction of Reconstruction, which lasted for a decade after the Civil War, and the establishment of Jim Crow in the South and racial segregation in the North. (Reconstruction officially ended with the “Compromise of 1876.”)

Reconstruction was lead by the Radical Republicans who had a majority of Congress. They were advocates and fighters for racial equality. Their position was that the former slaves (freedmen), who were homeless, landless, and not educated, had to be rewarded for their loyalty to the union and needed to be made whole in order to have equality. The Radical Republicans tried to enforce the Confiscation Act of July 1862. This act included giving land to the former slaves (”40 acres and a mule”). They also set up the Freedmen's Bureau, designed to provide education, health, and welfare for Black people in the transition from slavery to freedom.

President Johnson, who came into office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, defended the former Southern Slavocracy and violated the law of the land as passed (over Johnson's veto) by the Radical Republicans in Congress. Johnson's argument was that Congress was illegal, for it did not include the former Confederate states, who committed treason by forming the Confederacy.

In response to Johnson's refusal to enforce “the law of the land,” the Radical Republicans tried unsuccessfully to impeach him. (They lost by one vote. If Johnson had been impeached, Benjamin Wade, who was an advocate for “40 acres and a mule”, Black and women's suffrage, and radical Reconstruction, would have become President.) President Johnson ended the Freedmen's Bureau and opposed all actions to give freed male slaves the right to vote. He refused to enforce the law when former slaves were prevented from exercising their rights by force and violence by the Southern police forces and/or the Ku Klux Klan, which was formed in 1865. He also supported the Black Codes passed by several Southern states.

These codes said that unemployed Blacks were vagrants, who could be arrested and hired out to the highest bidder and forced to work for that person for a prescribed time. Employers were also given the right to physically punish these workers. These codes also made it illegal for Blacks to bear arms.

It was Police and Ku Klux Klan illegal force and violence (Terrorism), along with the Democratic Party and non-radical Republicans restoring the rights to property of the former slave owners, that laid the basis for the overthrow of Black Reconstruction after the Civil War and the institutionalization of legal segregation (Jim Crow). Blacks were/are indiscriminately lynched/framed up to enforce this segregation.

The Major Historical Role of the Police

From that time to the present, the Black community has been a virtual police state. Police violence has been and is a necessary institution of the ruling class of the United States to enforce the ongoing resegregation/gentrification of society and to intimidate the Black minority and other oppressed and exploited minorities in this country from revolting against the racists polices of the government. 

Massacres, tortures, and assassinations of Blacks have continued unabated. These acts of terrorism have been carried throughout this nation by the police, the government (under the rule of the Democratic and Republican Parties), the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces, the ‘76 Association, ect.. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s effectively eliminated Jim Crow. Today, it does not legally exist, but we are witnessing the drive of the ruling rich to make defacto Jim Crow the rule of the land. (In fact, the public schools in this country are more serrated today than they were in the 1960s.1) 

As the rulers class and their Black and white politicians are leading a war on those in poverty, they are turning prisons and the welfare system (workfare) into institutions of forced labor (defacto slavery). At the same time they are systematically destroying affirmative action and reinstitutionalizing unequal opportunity for the Black masses. Police violence is as necessary to this process of resubjugation of the Black Community as it was for the destruction of Reconstruction.

Malcolm X explained that police brutality also induces periodic “police riots” in order to further intimidate the Black Community. Outspoken critics of Police Brutality are very often victims of the police and police violence.  This violence goes hand and hand with the increase in “hate crimes” across the land.

Mumia Abu-Jamal and Kevin Cooper are a prime example of the “legal lynching” by the police forces of this country.  Police violence and “hate crimes” and “hanging nooses”in the southeast sewage plant, are part of the overall attack upon the gains made by the civil rights movement. (Mumia has been on death row and in jail for almost two decades. He was/is an outspoken critic of the police and was framed for the murder of a policeman. To add insult to injury, while Mumia sits in jail, the confessed killer of the policeman, is free to roam the streets!)

In order to stop this process of “de facto resegregation” and police violence, it is necessary to stop support to both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, the party of the Confederacy that overthrew Reconstruction through force and violence, and their control of the racist Federal. State, and City governments. And to once again return to the effective mass action strategy of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s in opposition to the government. Historically, mass actions, like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, etc., are the only activities that have proven to be effective.