Power Over The Police

| Strategize!

Above photo: Protesters in Orlando, Florida, on June 6, 2020. Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images.

State violence has no opposition party.

Communities that want to dismantle police departments will need the power to do that work themselves.

The clashes between police and protesters in response to the recent police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and others throughout the country expose the violence inherent to the U.S. system of policing. Social media has been inundated with hundreds of videos chronicling police aggression and brutality. Cities nationwide, particularly in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., have faced unprecedented militarization of their streets. Police have wielded weapons typically used only by special forces in overseas military campaigns, even going as far as to use a Lakota helicopter with Red Cross markings in a show of force against protesters (in violation of the Geneva Convention).

A number of attempts to give political expression to the energy in the streets have emerged in recent days. Some have emphasized the symbolic. Not a month after proposing a budget to increase the local police budget by some $45 million, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned artists to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the streets near the White House where clashes between protesters and armed state security still continue, prompting immediate and sharp rebuke from Black Lives Matter DC. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden cobbled together legislation calling for reforms that include creating a national database of civilian complaints against police and banning chokeholds and no-knock raids—a tepid defense of the status quo wrapped in kente cloth.

Others have emphasized surgical reforms. Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait” lists eight potential reforms to laws and rules regulating police conduct. These run the gamut from banning specific uses of force (including chokeholds and strangleholds) to “requiring warning before shooting.”

But more radical proposals are also circulating, particularly on social media. Many now demand that we defund police departments. This is a particularly pressing project in Los Angeles, where the LAPD leviathan consumes some 53 percent of the city’s discretionary funds. The activists of the People’s Budget, a coalition convened by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, have responded by advocating a budget with a completely revamped schedule of spending priorities that would shrink the LAPD budget to a paltry 5.7 percent of unrestricted revenues.

Another radical call is under consideration: abolishing the police. Police and prison abolitionists imagine a different way of responding to harm and maintaining entirely, including a direct answer to #8Can’tWait in #8ToAbolition. In their vision of the world, police and prisons are active impediments to justice and safety. #8Can’tWait focuses on regulating police activity—for instance, one provision requires fellow officers to intervene if they believe an officer is using excessive force, in order to puncture the blue wall of silence that shields violent officers from accountability. #8toAbolition takes a wider view, including investing in care (like food banks and child care) and housing, taking aim at the social insecurity that abolitionists take to be the fundamental sources of social harm.

Fulfilling the demands of either of these campaigns would surely improve our political situation to some degree. But there is another approach to consider—one not yet a prominent part of the national conversation—that was built into the Movement for Black Lives policy platform. It has the support of the Twin City Coalition for Justice for Jamar, a coalition of Minneapolis activists formed in the 2015 uprising after the police murdered Jamar Clark. It has been explained at length and in detail by co-authors M Adams, a Black, queer, and gender-nonconforming community organizer and movement scientist based in Madison, Wisconsin, and Max Rameau, a Haitian-born Pan-African theorist, campaign strategist, organizer, and author. I believe Adams and Rameau are right, and that the most promising path forward—on the way to a fuller reorganization of society around human needs instead of profit and domination—is community control over the police.

The U.S. system of policing evolved to maintain exploitative economic systems and maintain oppressive social hierarchies. In the South, the organizational predecessor to modern police departments were the slave patrols; the private property of interest were the enslaved Africans themselves, and slave patrols hunted fugitives and used campaigns of terror to deter fleeing and other forms of resistance. In the North, the primary spurs for police department development were union busting and strike breaking. The end of the nineteenth century saw an incredible amount of labor militancy: in the period from 1880 to 1900, New York City alone had over 5,000 strikes and Chicago almost 2,000. Police departments were tasked with surveillance of immigrants and newly freed Black Americans, and businessmen were given keys to special alarm boxes that would alert the police at the first sight of visible worker unrest. In both the South and North, the purpose of the police department was fundamentally the same: to secure, within the settled frontier, the social order on which elites’ profit-making activities and social prestige depended.

Today, the colonial system that subsequently militarized the police and set incarceration running at warp speed is maintained by a dizzying array of wildly perverse incentives, meticulously mapped by co-authors Chris Surprenant and Jason Brennan in Injustice for All. Policing and incarceration are big business, shaped by the direct influence and lobbying activity of corporations and investment groups for which there is not even the pretense of public accountability. This business is aided and abetted by the formal political system: police militarization and mass incarceration policies are managed across red, blue, and purple states by actors from both parties at all levels of government. State violence has no opposition party. 

Thus, communities will have to dismantle the prison-industrial complex themselves—brick by brick. The financial and political relationships that sustain it are much larger than police departments themselves, much less their budgets. To make headway, we have to pick our spots, and insert community power in between police departments and the wider, tangled mess that fuels their operation.

Defunding police, by itself, will make the problem smaller. This is, in a sense, progress. But it leaves the basic political structure intact: it does not necessarily change how police evaluate themselves, which means that they will continue to target the people that their human or algorithmic supervisors identify as fair game. It will not change the revenue structure of the cities that fund themselves with fines and forfeiture; police will still get directives from on high to engage in piracy, incentivizing interactions that prove tragic for the plundered.

The core problem with policing and incarceration is the same problem that plagues our whole political system: elite capture. The laws, the regulations, the bailouts, and the wonks who write and evaluate all of the above are all powerfully influenced—if not functionally controlled—by elite political and corporate interests. We cannot put our faith in elected representatives and merely vote our way out of this problem: elections are more dominated by dollars than ever, and grassroots energy around political figures is increasingly shaped by identity politics, which faces its own elite capture problem.

Instead, we need to give power back to the people—directly. Under one specific proposal, offered by the Washington, D.C.–area group Pan-African Community Action (of which I’m a member), communities would be divided into districts, each of which would be empowered to self-determine how to maintain public order. Each district would hold a plebiscite to decide what to do with its current police department, immediately giving the community the direct voting power to abolish, restructure, downsize, or otherwise reconstruct their departments.

Whichever police departments survive the vote would be directly controlled—not overseen, not solicited for advice, not merely “participating” in decision-making—by a pair of civilian control boards. To prevent the corporate capture of elections through lobbying and advertising that plagues the rest of our political system, these boards would be staffed by sortition (random selection of the population, in the way juries are composed) rather than elections. The random selection severs the links between police departments and the wider web of prosecutor, corporate, state, and federal incentives that now govern their behavior.

The boards would have direct control over hiring and firing, the prerogative to set and enforce community priorities and objectives for harm response, and to set relationships with other communities (for example, merging departments with a neighboring district). They would rotate membership, with community tenure lasting anywhere from three months to a year, depending on the complexity of the issues at a given point in time. A variety of methods could help ensure that members have the time and energy to devote to their tasks, including provision of child care, paid leave (or direct compensation, for the retired and unemployed), weekend scheduling (as Ireland’s recent Citizens Assembly used), and other forms of support to the citizens acting as officials of the community.

In the best case, community control over police would come packaged with a broader commitment to sortition, in which case the budget the civilian board managed would be the outcome of a similar process arranging the local budget as a whole. Even in a less than ideal scenario, community control over police would be a marked improvement over the current system. It would be within the boards’ power to run the operation at any scale below the upper bound of their budget allocation. An abolitionist civilian board could, then, effectively nullify even a pro-police militarization budget from an ideologically opposed city council.

Under the current system, police interact with Black people as if they are helpless subjects. They know, for a fact, that the current power structure allows them to beat, torture, and imprison them with little oversight and accountability. Under community control of the police, community police interacting with Black residents would be interacting with their bosses.

All of the other demands under discussion—from Campaign Zero’s eight regulations on police conduct, to defunding the police, to partial or full abolition of police departments—are achievable from this starting point. Community control over the police is compatible with each of seasoned abolitionist activist Mariame Kaba’s seven guidelines for proposals to support on the way to abolishing the police. But the control part is key, which is what separates this proposal from the “community policing” Kaba rightly criticizes. “Community policing” is essentially a public relations campaign that aims to put a friendly face on state control of violent force in Black and brown neighborhoods. It is state-run and state-directed, and controlled by the push and pull of the same elite forces that plunder the rest of our economy and social lives. Community control over police—putting the public in charge—is as far from this as possible. A community in control of how order is maintained does not have to grin and bear the decisions of its police. It has the power to hire officers, fire them, fund department initiatives, or abolish policing altogether. This would not require another dollar to go toward police funding.

Moreover, community control over police is the best position from which to reach these other laudable goals. Instead of asking the elite funders of the police to give them less funding this fiscal year—a process reversible during next year’s budget negotiations, when attention will likely have diminished—we should demand to be the funders of the police, to permanently and directly determine which dollars go where. Instead of asking those who set police departments’ rules of engagement and goals to make them in a more community-minded fashion, we should demand to be the agenda setters.

From the bedrock of community control, further goals to defund, abolish, or differently regulate police are no longer requests made to the state, which is full of actors whose incentives are irretrievably aligned with maintaining the general features of the current system. If and where we want to abolish the police, we can use community control over hiring and firing to simply fire departments out of existence. If we seek to defund police (in the sense of redirecting resources to other aspects of community life), we can use community oversight over personnel, priorities, and budgets to shrink departments to the precise size and shape that we want.

The essence of this demand could be materialized in different ways; the rationale of the core demand for community control does not stand or fall with the particular details of any one model. But providing specifics helps keep the conversation rooted in material reality and constructive proposals about what we want the world to look like. This is in keeping with the maturation of a movement from pure opposition to injustice—allowing the current power structure to decide what our rage should mean, institutionally speaking—to the advancement of justice.

Undoubtedly, this proposal would incur many practical challenges. It would likely work out unevenly in different districts. It would mean a direct and immediate increase in power for predominantly Black communities, and where abolitionist ideology wins out, communities can vote to take steps to abolish or restructure their police departments without the intervention of lobbyists and careerists. But conservative and/or majority-white policing districts may well vote to retain police departments above the protestations of their Black or POC neighbors. Moreover, within a district, people will disagree bitterly about the priorities that govern how harm is prevented and responded to, whether the community has a police department or not.

Across districts that retain police, we can also expect deep differences. Communities will need to negotiate terms between them—processes we can expect to be fraught and conflict-ridden. Likely, state law will need to adapt to regulate inter-community relationships and resolve inter-community questions of jurisdiction and harm response.

No proposed reform, or proffered institution, could possibly avoid the problems that stem from differences in political opinion—particularly those that stem from differences in education and socialization—and only a deeply authoritarian political project would even try. But could two different, democratically organized communities possibly have a less bridgeable political divide than the one that currently separates the interests of incarcerated, harassed, and brutalized people from the interests of elites who profit financially or politically from their incarceration, harassment, and brutalization?

While we cannot prevent the existence or political salience of ideological differences, we can change the balance of power between competing political views. The ruling elite is not some bastion of progressivism standing between us and the naked bigotry of the unwashed masses. In fact, complex codes of etiquette that pretend otherwise and sanitize oppression are part and parcel of the history of racial domination (and other forms of oppression), in this country and many others. Under the current setup, the tiny minority of decision makers that vote in GEO Group board meetings and backdoor political party gatherings have their bigotry magnified and are functionally unchecked by the vast majority of people, who have no choice but to put up with the structural outcome of elite racial animus, apathy, pure opportunism, or combinations thereof.

Under the Adams-Rameau proposal, the overt white supremacists and misogynists within the ruling elite are diminished to exactly as much influence as the rest of us have: one person, one ballot. We should greatly prefer our chances of successfully confronting harmful ideology through intra- and intercommunity dialogues to confronting the same bigotry in corporations like CoreCivic and Raytheon or the “public” judicial institutions that force toddlers to mount their own legal defense in deportation hearings.

Nevertheless, the observation that communities will differ in what they choose to do about policing helps explain why the strategic stance of community control over police flows out of a philosophical commitment to abolitionism rather than in opposition to it. Many organizers have done more than imagine alternatives to police and prisons; they have begun building their culturalcommunal, and structural foundations. As scholar and veteran abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore points out, our relationship to policing is inseparable from the “entirety of human-environmental relations”: it concerns our most basic relationships to the value of life and the structures we build in response. The task of abolition, then, is much broader than the restructuring or elimination of any one institution. Though police departments and prisons often house the most violent and spectacular abusers and abuses, other social institutions have also colluded in the broader project of punitive social control and surveillance, particularly of working-class Black people, most notably our schools and welfare programs.

Thus, the cultural work of abolition is absolutely indispensable. Without political education, intracommunal struggle, and a deep reckoning with our fundamental social and political values, we cannot possibly prevent control over police from converting us into agents of our own destruction. For years, practitioners of transformative and restorative justice have modeled the work that communities will need to engage in to counter prevailing cultures of disposability, trans-antagonism, patriarchy, and violence. It is no surprise, then, that feminist, queer- and trans-centered, and/or working-class organizations like Critical Resistance and INCITE have been at the forefront of this work. Without it, we would not be in a position to advance the demand for community control, a demand that owes its plausibility to the historically unprecedented mobilization of mass opposition to anti-Black racism and police brutality that the work of abolitionists and Black Lives Matter helped create.

We should be encouraged by the results from Ireland’s own experiment with sortition and direct democracy: its Citizens’ Assembly brought 100 randomly selected members of society to discuss and decide weighty social matters. The results included a string of progressive victories on some of the most politically contentious issues of the day, including on marriage equality, abortion, and climate change.

The problem with policing is power, not prejudice. All of the possibilities for real, lasting, and meaningful change are downstream of community power. Until we demand and organize for power itself—rather than pleading for those who have it to take the actions we’d like—we will never get it. And until we get it, we will always be at the mercy of those who have it. They have shown us over the decades whose side they are on: the side of profit, racial hierarchy, and colonial domination and control. It’s time we chose ours.

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University, where he focuses on social/political philosophy and ethics. He is also a member of Pan-African Community Action and an organizer of the Undercommons.

  • Richard

    Enough with the riots and police, all the media is doing is stirring the pot and making people more angry and aggressive than ever. I am sure there are plenty of stories out there that need to be told besides the same old story every day. How many of our rights did they take away this week? How many new bills & laws were passed that our rulers were kind enough to bestow upon us that will cost us even more money and strangle what hope we have left? By the way, whatever happened to “investigative reporting”? Did it go extinct or was it just to much trouble?

  • Richard Allen

    Community control over police is really the only way to achieve public control over police behaviour, though it takes working out. One size does not fit all, and so it is with all aspects of society. Nobody can defend the government of the United States by saying that it is truly representative of the people. Too much money and corruption in US politics makes it impossible.
    It surprises me that demonstrations do not address the heart of the issue by demanding a Constitutional Convention to restructure and reform the entire country. It was done before when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation.
    The nation should be divided into relatively autonomous ‘satrapies’. The nation is too diverse to be ruled by a man sitting in his palace surrounded by barriers and troops/police.
    Fair, equitable representation by a Westminster model would make voting sensible, and there must be powerful representation of races and the Satrapies within the system. Money and selfish lobby interests need to be taken from politics.
    Any attempt to put band-aids on the present 18th century system will not prevent its further decline and greater resort to militarism to defend its irrevelantcy.

  • Nylene13

    Divide up the Country seems like an idea worth considering to me.

    Give California and Oregon and Washington State to the Eco-Socialists.
    Give the East Coast and DC to the Republicans.

    I think Black Americans should have their own state-not that they should HAVE to live there. Probably a southern state like Alabama.

    Give New Mexico and Texas back to the Mexicans.

    Give Hawaii back to the Hawaiians.

    The Original idea of the “United States” was that they would be small separate countries, with their own major laws.

    Now everything is just controlled by the Feds.

  • Stephen Morrell

    Community ‘control’ of the cops is a naive and pernicious nostrum that’s heinously dangerous. First, consider the simple calculus of power: if a cop is hauled up before one of these civilian ‘control boards’, who’s going to enforce its discipline? Another cop. Yet anyone who knows anything knows how the cops would ‘comply’ with that; especially if the control board showed even the slightest sympathy for blacks, let alone has a black membership, chosen by lot or not. Heaven knows how long a black member of such a committee who’s not also a cop poodle would last before being framed up or ‘accidentally’ murdered.

    The cop ‘brotherhood’ is a bond of criminality of mutual blackmail, bolstered by masonic and white supremacist ‘oath taking’, etc, whose strength has easily outlasted and out-maneuvered even the mildest citizen ‘control’ efforts.

    Another delusion being pushed by those advocating community ‘control’ of the cops is that the cops are somehow ‘neutral’. Clearly they’re not. They’ve proven time and again, from the beginning of their existence as slave patrols and strikebreakers, that they’re nothing but professional armed thugs hired to protect private property and its owners, the ruling capitalist class. They’re an integral part of the capitalist state’s repressive core.

    Worse, community ‘control’ of cops amounts to the cops’ victims being complicit in their oppression. When bad laws exist, as in prohibitions on victimless ‘crimes’ like drugs, prostitution or gambling, and all the other ridiculous and petty revenue-raising laws, such committees of ‘control’ will oversee and ultimately alibi those laws as well. Only liberals, social democrats and other naive fools could believe otherwise.

    Worse again, community ‘control’ of cops provides a veneer of ‘legitimacy’, especially now when they most desperately need it! Just as their true essence is being exposed to all and sundry, and despite the author outlining some of their horrendous origins, history and behaviours, he still advocates cop ‘community control’ — ie, comes to the cops’ rescue!

    The notion of ‘community control’ of cops also perpetuates the deadly illusion that the racist cops somehow can be ‘reformed’. The cops can never be reformed because they’re there to keep the ‘order’ of the rulers, most frequently by breaking strikes and protests. And here’s a dirty little truth that no-one wants to acknowledge: the cop violence being widely witnessed on the streets has been happening routinely on picket lines since forever, but these are ‘unwitnessed’. The cops will remain strikebreakers, scabherders and the modernised slave patrol that feeds the maw of the prison-industrial complex with blacks, the poor and capitalism’s other ‘expendables’, ‘community control’ or not. The notion of community control committees somehow standing between the cops and the prison industrial complex is laughably ludicrous.

    ‘Defunding’ the cops is also a silly notion. Like community ‘control’, it also assumes the current economic and political arrangements to apply, and that the latter can accommodate the dissolution of the cops. Whatever ‘replaces’ the cops after their ‘defunding’ will still be cops however, perhaps with another name, perhaps re-labelled as ‘peace officers'(!), perhaps with a different organisational structure. In short, the form of the cops might change but their essence will remain. They’ll still be the force that defends the tiny minority of rulers, their property and privileges, especially against any demands by obstreperous workers or the poor. Who else is going to look after the bourgeoisie’s property, ‘rights’ and privileges?

    During uprisings like now, when their potential for further development is palpable, the aim must be to defend them by disarming and driving cops off the streets with mass mobilisations of organised workers and the oppressed. Part of the ‘protest infrastructure’ must evolve from protest marshals to disciplined, integrated and armed workers and neighbourhood militias under the control of workers and neighbourhood councils/communes. These militias must provide permanent, ongoing protection of demonstrations, strikes, occupations and of black and working class neighbourhoods from the marauding thugs in blue and their supporters. Despite its own issues and drawbacks, the Austrian Schutzbund of 1918-1934 is a good example of a workers militia that was able to protect the working class and poor for years.

    If the current protests continue and grow, the need for such militias will only increase, and their appearance will only be a matter of time. Under such circumstances, those demanding ‘community control’ of cops will be swept aside, as the cop rescuers they are. And it’s a sure bet the local worthies and the cops themselves will all be screaming at the top of their lungs for community ‘control’ of cops as they’re being driven off the streets by a well-organised local militia. With the appearance of the latter also appears the first seeds of the new state to replace the deadly machine of capitalist rule oppressing the vast majority. From a revolutionary perspective, rather than one of ‘reforming’ a decrepit and dangerous status quo, that can only be a good thing.

    Down with the narcotic pablum of community ‘control’ of the cops!

  • kevinzeese

    Community Control of the Police and the Defund the Police efforts are both transitional steps toward a complete remaking of community safety that does not rely on police. Both proposals seek to change the power dynamic between police and people — with power growing among the people and decreasing by police.

    From your comments it is evident you do not understand the demand of Community Control of the Police. People advocating for it understand that the police cannot be trusted. That is why they seek to change the power relationship. One aspect of Community Control gives the community the power to investigate and remove abusive police. They also would have the power to impanel a grand jury to investigate criminal violations and allow them to present the communities investigation of police who committed crimes.

    The civilian militia model is one that people are discussing as an alternative to police but there are many others. Police will not be defunded or abolished overnight. It is going to be a process — a struggle with police unions and politicians who take their money and have built their careers on being allied with the police. But, it is a struggle we must engage.

  • Richard Allen

    Exactly! Certainly not an easy thing to accomplish, but the alternative is to allow the nation to continue to become more reactionary, for disturbances to accelerate, and for a general breakdown of society. That would result in fighting and bloodshed particulary on cities. The constituted government would have to fight and exert force on many to control them. Dividing the country would not mandate anyone to live where they do not wish to live. Nobody would be displaced, but regional authority would replace the rule of the present federal system.

  • Jon

    You are on the right track, but hell no to this :”Give the East Coast and DC to the Republicans.” I live in Maine! Re: Hawai’i, again, right track, but see “Liberate Hawai’i!” Sovereignty yes, evictions of long time Hawai’i residents, no.

  • Nylene13

    Where would you have the Republicans go?

    Depends on the long time residents. There are plenty of non -Hawaiians who live in Hawaii-and do not like the Hawaiian people or support Hawaiian culture.

  • Stephen Morrell

    Of course the cops can be trusted — to behave in the ways they always have. It needs to be understood and recognised that the cops are an armed force with a thoroughly unaccountable, bonapartist ‘culture’ of impunity that simply cannot be ‘curbed’ by community ‘control’. In fact, the cops who are essential to the state are given all manner of extra-legal leeways by the rulers precisely to protect the rulers and their property and to never protect the community at large at the expense of the rulers. Are there any examples of the cops ever being brought under community ‘control’ where the community has really benefited at the expense of the bourgeoisie?

    It should also be noted that the bourgeoisie is never entirely satisfied with its ‘official’ organs of repression. The rulers frequently resort to their retinue of private armies, security forces and fascist bands held in reserve to come their aid when called upon. Will community ‘control’ of the cops result in the cops defending striking workers picket lines battling against capitalist scabherding by such private forces? Hardly. That’s never happened and it never will, and until the ruling class is overthrown, this situation will never change. Moreover, the community ‘controllers’ would split along class lines over such an issue.

    Advocating community ‘control’ of the cops, especially now, simply serves to derail the emerging and growing power of the current protest movement. Each new instance of cop outrage, brutality and murder is being met by more mass upheaval. Yet community ‘control’ of the cops is and will be used increasingly by the rulers to derail such upheavals, to serve as the exact opposite of ‘protecting the upheaval from the ruling class’.

    And to advocate some shadowy unaccountable star chamber ‘Grand Jury’ as part of this is simply madness. Chelsea Manning was quite right to never have anything to do with them, showing that she at least has no such touching faith in these nefarious organs of the bourgeois state.

    If community ‘control’ of the cops is ‘transitional’, to what exactly is it ‘transitioning’? The whole direction and purpose of community ‘control’ of cops is toward re-establishing the authority of cops on a different basis, on a more ‘legitimate’ basis. Again, in the present context, the ‘transition’ can only be toward derailing a mass movement against the cops. The cops, rightly, have never been more widely reviled than now. Why else all this effort to ‘rehabilitate’ them?

    But let’s put the most charitable, ‘left’ spin on the supposedly ‘transitional’ nature of the community ‘control’ of the cops. Let’s try and find its equivalent in, for instance, Trotsky’s Transitional Program (which should be compulsory reading in these times). Nope, nothing there, but here’s what is there:

    “In connection with every strike and street demonstration, it is imperative to propagate the necessity of creating workers’ groups for self-defense. It is necessary to write this slogan into the program of the revolutionary wing of the trade unions. It is imperative wherever possible, beginning with the youth groups, to organize groups for self-defense, to drill and acquaint them with the use of arms.

    “A new upsurge of the mass movement should serve not only to increase the number of these units but also to unite them according to neighborhoods, cities, regions. It is necessary to give organized expression to the valid hatred of the workers toward scabs and bands of gangsters and fascists. It is necessary to advance the slogan of a workers’ militia as the one serious guarantee for the inviolability of workers’ organizations, meetings and press.”

    Here’s the question posed point blank: How should the Seattle Capitol Hill Commune defend itself? Should it allow the cops to re-enter the area under the aegis of community ‘control’? Or should it build organs independent of the bourgeois state to defend itself? Why would anyone in their right mind in the Capitol Hill commune choose the former, based on completely unfounded pie-in-the-sky promises?

    But from where does the supposed ‘power’ for community ‘control’ of the cops actually stem? How has the power relationship between the population, the cops and the state changed fundamentally that now facilitates such ‘control’ over the cops? Real power resides in the streets and workplaces, and what’s needed right now is a significant injection of organised workers into the demonstrations. But so far, in the ebb and flow of the protests this power hasn’t yet manifested as an organised expression of leaders supported by thousands and more who can stand up to the rulers with force, as in: if you don’t do ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’, then we will order the masses you can see are under our command to do ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’. ‘A’, ‘b’, and ‘c’ includes shutting down production and distribution.

    But if and when such power does manifest, when a better world is beckoning, why on earth should those holding it then stop to surrender everything to a bunch of randomly chosen community ‘worthies’ to then reproduce all the ‘same old crap’ with community ‘control’ of the cops? Because community control by the cops definitely will then be restored without a whimper, either piecemeal or more likely and suddenly with the help of the national guard, private security thugs and fascists.