The United States Erupts For Justice

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Above: Demonstrators march across the Brooklyn Bridge during a protest against a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner. A Staten Island grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/John Minchillo).

A festering, ignored problem of nationwide police abuse has turned into an emergency of injustice

“Justice For All Is Imperative”

I’M MINDING MY BUSINESS, OFFICER, I’M MINDING MY BUSINESS. PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. I TOLD YOU THE LAST TIME, PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. PLEASE PLEASE, DON’T TOUCH ME. DO NOT TOUCH ME. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T BREATHE.

Across the United States people took to the streets in response to the Staten Island grand jury decision in the Eric Garner killing. The second grand jury to refuse to indict a police officer who killed an unarmed African American, along with the killing of 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, has led to protests throughout the United States. These protests have been building for many years as the killing of African Americans and abusive relations between police and citizens has become all too common.

Watching the corporate mass media tonight often seemed like watching Global Revolution Live. Live video from multiple sites in New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Cleveland, Chicago . . . of people shutting down roadways, bridges, tunnels, subways and demonstrating their opposition to police abuse and demands for change. Under hashtags #EnoughIsEnough, #ThisStopsToday and #BlackLivesMatter expressed the desire for transformative, systemic change in the behavior of US police, the relationship between police and people and an end to racist, militarized policing. 

It is good to see the mass media finally reporting on the deeply rooted problem of abusive policing but the explosion seen today has been building for years and has been inadequately reported in the media. As with so many problems in the United States that should be seen as crisis situations they go under-reported and ignored by government. The dysfunction of government and the conspiracy of silence by the corporate media will lead to continuous explosions on a multiple issues.

Every city seems to have suffered at the hands of brutal policing practices. Police forces have grown too large, become too militarized and accustomed to not being held accountable for abusive police practices. The unproven “broken window” policing policy — where minor infractions are treated as crimes worthy of punishment — has resulted in police arresting people for silly crimes like riding bicycles on a sidewalk or singing in a subway (which is not even a crime in New York) and has led to killings of people for walking in the road, selling individual cigarettes or a child playing with a fake gun. 

Now this festering, ignored problem has turned into an emergency of injustice. The people demand justice. Can the government respond? Will it respond? There are solutions to the problems — stop sharing military equipment with police, de-militarize police across the country, require reporting of stops including documenting the race of the person stopped and the reason for the stop, give communities control over the police by allowing the community to fire police offers that have shown racism and abuse of citizens. These are just some of the steps that need to be taken to correct the relationship between police and community.

But, these cases of police abuse are not only an indictment of current police practices and systemic problems in US policing, they are also unveiling serious problems in the ethics of prosecutors and serious problems in the courts. Can the prosecutors and judicial system hold police accountable? How can an obviously biased prosecutor like Robert P. McCulloch of St. Louis County be removed from a case when he refuses to recuse himself? As predicted the prosecutors in St. Louis served as defense lawyers for Officer Darren Wilson rather than as prosecutors seeking justice for Michael Brown’s killing. The courts play a role in this corruption of the system as well. Where is the chief judge in St. Louis County, why hasn’t she taken the obviously necessary step of appointing a special prosecutor and convening a new grand jury? There are serious problems including police, prosecutors and judges that need emergency attention if we are to ensure justice for people in the United States.

Below are tweets showing some of the protests around the country. It is impossible to describe the breadth of the protests, the anger of the people and the power shown by people across the country as they demand justice for their communities. People should not lose faith in their ability to demand justice. Stay in the streets until the government responds. Enough is enough.

 

                   

— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) December 5, 2014