September 19: A Nationwide Day Of Protest

| Resist!

And dialogue on community control of police.

Community control puts us on the path to both defunding and abolishing the police – so why are many  Black Lives Matter chapters withholding support?

The Black masses want justice, security and democracy (also known as “self-determination”) to be part of the equation.”

Despite the unprecedented wave of “Justice for George Floyd” protests that put more than 20 million people in the streets in every region of the nation in June, and the appearance of “Black Lives Matter” murals on the streets of Washington DC, New York City, Seattle, Oakland, Tulsa and other cities, police killings of Blacks have continued their grisly pace. Citing the subsequent murders of Trayford Pellerin in Lafayette, Louisiana, Miguel Vega in Chicago, Dijon Kizzee in Los Angeles, “the recent evidence of the murder of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester police and the continued denial of Justice for Breonna Taylor” in Louisville, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression is calling for a “national day of protests” on Saturday, September 19.

“Like the pandemic, these police shootings are raging unchecked,” said Alliance executive director Frank Chapman. “The powers that be, those in and out of the Trump Administration have no intention of conceding to the just demands of the people…. The only decisive action taken has been against peaceful protestors.”

“These police shootings are raging unchecked.”

Congress and the White House have offered nothing “except a uniform chorus condemning violence in the abstract instead of the racist violence being mercilessly imposed on Black people on a daily basis,” said Chapman, in a prepared statement. He denounced “Trump’s refusal to condemn racist vigilante violence while he eagerly exploits every opportunity to deploy DHS, U.S. Marshalls and federal troops against peaceful protestors. This is not only a disturbing indicator of how far down the road he has gone toward squashing with violence and terror the people’s right to protest, it is also a testament to his willingness to be a demagogue crying for law and order to win the election or undermine it.”

The people must keep up the pressure on September 19th, with the following demands:

* We demand that the cops who shot or murdered Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, Jacob Blake, Miguel Vega, and Trayford Pellerin be immediately arrested, charged and convicted.

* We demand the immediate withdrawal of federal agents and National Guard troops sent to our cities to brutalize protestors and terrorize our communities.

* We demand real police accountability through all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Councils (CPAC) establishing community control of the police, shifting police funding to essential public services like education, housing, and healthcare and regulating police to address the real demands for safety of the people.

“Keep up the pressure.”

The Alliance was first formed in the 1973 and was resurrected last year at a 1,000-strong national conference in Chicago, where grassroots organizations from more than 20 cities pledged to redouble their efforts to win community control of police. Among them was the Twin Cities Justice for Jamar Clark Coalition from Minneapolis-St. Paul, where a cop crushed the life out of George Floyd. Frank Chapman spoke  to the Twin Cities coalition at the height of the protests, in June:

“You gotta give people definite, clearly defined objectives in terms of what are they fighting for. So when we demand community control of police, we are demanding…defund and demilitarize, as well…. We will control what the police do in our community; we will decide who polices our communities and how our communities are policed. That means we can also have a decisive voice in what the budget is.”

Chicago’s movement for community control of the cops is by far the most advanced in the nation, with at least 19 of 50 city council members pledged to pass CPAC, the Chicago Police Accountability Council with powers  to appoint the police superintendent, create the department’s rules and regulations, appoint members of the police board that hear disciplinary case, and approve or reject contracts with police unions.

According to the pending Chicago legislation, the cops will be subordinate to community members elected to four-year terms, who must have at least two years of experience in “civil rights, activist and organizing groups” that protect the rights of people who have faced police brutality. Community members will also be eligible to be elected to the council if they have worked to protect “minorities, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslim communities, people with mental illness and people who are homeless.” However, people that have been employed in or have family members in law enforcement, worked in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and/or have any connections with an entity of city government would not be eligible to run for a seat on CPAC – which would pay the same salary as Chicago aldermen.

When we demand community control of police, we are demanding…defund and demilitarize, as well.”

The keynote speaker at last year’s re-founding of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression was Angela Davis, whose writings on abolition of prisons and police have inspired many Black Lives Matter activists. Professor Davis wholeheartedly supports community control of the police. Yet most of Black Lives Matter’s 14 U.S. chapters have failed to embrace community control, instead calling for “defunding” and “abolition” of the ccps.

Frank Chapman stresses that CPAC provides communities with the power to achieve all of their goals, including abolishing police as we have known them. As he explained to Black Agenda Report, this summer:

“All of the reforms being called for, including abolishing and defunding the police – reforms that directly affect the current existence of the police as outside occupiers of our communities — are embedded in CPAC,” said Chapman. “CPAC is the way to ensuring these demands are met. CPAC puts the power of reform in the hands of communities through directly elected representatives. That’s community control. With community control, we decide the if, when, and how of policing – up to and including abolition. With community control, we can defund, demilitarize, and regulate the police out of existence. Communities can reimagine a world without police – but not without the power to do so themselves.”

Chapman is careful not to exacerbate any tensions between Black Lives Matter activists and proponents of community control of police, and his National Alliance is rigorously non-sectarian. It is our job at BAR, as activist journalists and political analysts, to point out the pitfalls of demands like “abolition” and “defunding” of the police, that do not directly empower the people. As I wrote in BAR on June 18:

“If anything has been learned from the past half century of Black reliance on Democratic Party politicians, it is that no lasting victories can be achieved without the transfer of control of public resources directly to the people. That was the meaning of “All Power to the People” when the phrase was coined, and must remain the goal of the movement, today.”

Local city councils are liable to agree to all kinds of things under the immediate pressure of massed, angry protesters and burning buildings, as we witnessed with the Minneapolis city council’s no longer operative vow to get rid of its police force. The difference between reformist demands and revolutionary (or “transformative”) demands, is that revolutionary/transformative demands diminish the power of the oppressor and his machinery of rule, while increasing the power of the people in concrete ways. No amount of promises or “woke”-sounding rhetoric from city councils that have always empowered the police to kill Black people at will, can satisfy the need for people’s power over the police.

“No lasting victories can be achieved without the transfer of control of public resources directly to the people.”

The police earn their salaries by killing Black and brown people and terrorizing our neighborhoods, whether the cops are fully-funded, or not. “Defunding” does not change the nature of policing, much less “abolish” it. Community control puts us on the path to both goals, if the people will it.

As I wrote back in June, the principled demand for community control should be expanded:

“Indeed, communities should control, not just the police, but much of the rest of their neighborhoods’ vital services and resources. The right to self-determination is not confined to the criminal justice system. Therefore, community control of police advocates would be in principled agreement with the Los Angeles Movement 4 Black Lives position : “The most impacted in our communities need to control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, and police department.”

In Chicago, the teachers union supports both community control of the police and community control of the schools. With community control as our demand, we win allies among those who also seek transformative change.

Black and brown people want power to improve their lives and throw off oppression – not gestures from the rulers, but permanent, institutional power. Our people also want — and have a right to — security in their homes and communities. But, for half a century Black Americans have been criminalized as a people by the Mass Black Incarceration Regime, starved of jobs, robbed of wealth and drowned in criminal-minded cultural products. Many of our people see the narcotics trade as the only accessible economy. Crime is an acute problem in Black America, a scourge created and nurtured by the same oppressors that inflict the punishments for those ensnared in their demonic trap.

Open-ended calls to “defund” and “abolish” the police often do not play well with the Black masses, who want justice, security and democracy (also known as “self-determination”) to be part of the equation. Community control of the police – or fully-resourced community self-policing, if that is what the people choose – can provide Black and brown communities with the power, rights and resources to rebuild the social structures that have been deliberately ravaged by the rulers. And it has already proven to play well in Chicago, the second largest concentration of Black people in the nation.

September 19 should be, not only a national day of protest, but the start of a dialogue among activists as to why so many Black Lives Matter chapters have withheld support from community control of the police, a demand that, in Frank Chapman’s words, “embodies” both “defunding” and “abolition” – a principled position that their best known living Icon, Angela Davis, enthusiastically supports.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

  • Stephen Morrell

    It is indeed splendid that BLM chapters can’t muster support for community ‘control’ of the cops. Most people on the ground, and blacks everywhere, know this notion is a dangerously lethal and suicidal reformist delusion. It legitimises the cops by giving community ‘worthies’ (and we all know who these will end up being) a say in how they should go about oppressing blacks, the poor, and obstreperous workers who might be striking for their livelihoods (or their very lives in these COVID-19 times).

    The cops will still perform their fundamental role of protecting the institution of private property and the profit flows of the capitalist class, and no amount of community ‘control’ can ever change that. Such a demand shows such a blissful ignorance of this basic fact of class society, of the role of the bourgeois state. Cops will still use vicious violence on demonstrators who quite rightly might try to burn down a pigsty when yet another innocent is gunned down by a trigger-happy, roided-up psychopath with a badge. And the cops will still use ‘acceptable’ violence against pickets of striking workers who may well be conducting industrial action against the business of one of the very ‘worthies’ appointed to ‘controlling’ the cops.

    What a nerve and a scam it is to claim that community ‘control’ of the cops is a step toward their ‘defunding’ and ‘abolition’, the ’embodiment’ of both(!). Angela Davis ought to be ashamed of herself. Her imprimatur doesn’t make this delusion right, and in fact should set off alarm bells amongst black militants. Malcolm X would have had such a field day with all this Uncle Tommery.

  • Edward Winslow

    Wow! This tepid argument from Glen Ford is surprising and disappointing. As for Angela Davis, she is among the sixties radicals that in their dotage have drifted rightward and were swallowed by the Democratic Party.

  • ANTONIO

    BLACK COMMUNITY = CONTROL OF THE POLICE
    YEAR 2030- All working people control all the institutions of this country

    This is the first step, and we must be clear where we are going It;s not just about black people, the police and racism. Its about a system that affects everybody, and which must the overthrown

  • ANTONIO

    I knew sister Angela. IN MY DOTAGE? IN MY DOTAGE? REALLY You creep. Not only do I reject the Dem party by I live in a modest house at $800 a month, and continue to be active, strengthening the left wing of democratic socialism AOC etc). N MY DOTAGE!! Fooey

  • RFinNH

    ^^^Sartori^^^

    Capitalism kills environment and society unless capital amount is based upon earth and people-

  • Bill Rood

    Heaven forbid we should trust the residents of a community to choose a council that will hold local police accountable for their behavior and make sure those police are protecting the lives (and property accumulated over decades of hard work) of the residents of that community rather than corporate owners, who control the more dispersed city council and mayor.

    Much better to abolish the police altogether and allow a mob to burn down a “pigsty” owned by some local resident who will lose everything he’s worked to accumulate for a lifetime. Then, when the result becomes intolerable, we can create a state-wide or, better yet, federal, no let’s make it global, police force with local powers. Then we will be truly safe from the stupidity and utter corruption of the minorities who are residents of the community in question.

    Of course, that globalist agenda is precisely who the BLM leadership is funded by and works for. That’s why they tried so hard to embarrass Bernie Sanders in 2016, who actually had been arrested protesting for civil rights back in the sixties, rather than Hillary, who had supported her husband’s crime bill and referred to black gangs as “superpredators” who must be brought “to heel” like dogs.

    Yeah, I see where you’re comin’ from. Makes sense.

  • Bill Rood

    Yes, “everybody.”

  • Stephen Morrell

    The word ‘pigsty’ I used referred to the police precinct/station, not some innocent person’s home or a local business that’s randomly attacked. The cops used to be called pigs, but it seems this word isn’t used so much anymore to refer to the professional armed thugs of the bourgeoisie. I should have been clearer.

    However, at no point does the article mention actual defence of protests, protestors and black and poor neighbourhoods from the cops, national guard and their fascist auxiliary. Let alone organising sorely needed disciplined armed defence guards, to effectively oppose the cops and also prevent random acts of violence and destruction. The Black Panthers exercised some community ‘control’ of the cops with the threat of force, and that is the only currency that cops understand.

    Sorry, but ‘oversight’ committees that whitewash and rubber-stamp post facto the violence of the hooligans in blue when its too late are no answer at all. Moreover, such community committees are subject to class forces and necessarily will split along class lines when, for example, the cops are attacking striking workers and scab-herding in the service of capitalist ‘order’. In the end, despite their Bonapartist proclivities, the cops are still subject to the ruling class.

    The ‘abolition’ of the cops in the abstract is also a meaningless demand and can only occur in practice when the cops are actually driven off the streets by disciplined and armed defence militias in the heat of struggle, which then would lay a proper basis for the notion of community ‘control’ of…forces of a new, emerging order. Until that happens, the cops will remain to protect the capitalist rulers and enforce their same old order of perpetual racism and poverty.

    With the right leadership, which the reformists from the Black Agenda Report definitely aren’t, such militias can form the embryo of Red Guards and the core of a future revolutionary workers state that finally does away with capitalism and their guard dogs in blue. This is how revolutionaries would see this situation, and as much as some from Black Agenda Report like to call themselves ‘revolutionary’, the notion of community ‘control’ of the cops shows them to be nothing of the sort. Imagine if abolitionists had called for community ‘control’ of the slave patrols. Inconceivable, but that’s the level of abject reformism this demand reflects.

    Finally, of course BLM has many nefarious backers, corporate and otherwise, and its leadership is already compromised and co-opted with its own classless politics against whom the rulers use all means to neuter, from gold (for the leadership) to lead (for their followers). But to assume that BLM is without internal contradictions and conflicting tendencies is naive. That some of their chapters reject the notion (or nostrum) of community ‘control’ of the cops doesn’t simply reflect corporate corruption and ‘control’, as you assert. Many also have a healthy impulse based on lived experience of never trusting the cops or any organisation that purports to ‘control’ them or hold them ‘accountable’.

    Otherwise, you’d better write off any future protests organised by BLM against the cops as the actions of agent provocateurs — just as the ruling class would like to have many believe.

  • cechas vodobenikov

    shocking ignorance—BLM protests are secret campaigns to elect trump—now 45% of blacks approve of trump…this plywood heaven created by these fatuous children has reduced coma joe’s lead of 10 points to a 2% lead for trump….there is no class consciousness in USA