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End Police Terror!

by Fight Back! Editors |
April 2, 2000
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In February of 1999, four New York City cops murdered an innocent, unarmed man, named Amadou Diallo. The cops shot him with 41 bullets in the entryway of his Bronx apartment building. One year later a jury in upstate New York acquitted those same cops of his murder.

Five days after that acquittal, New York City cops murdered an unarmed African American man named Malcolm Ferguson. He had been arrested just three days before at a demonstration against the verdict in the murder of Diallo.

About two weeks later Patrick Dorismond was walking down a street in New York City. A man approached him and asked if had any marijuana for sale. "Get out of my face," Dorismond told the man. Dorismond did not know the man who kept demanding drugs was an undercover cop. A second policeman jumped out and shot Patrick Dorismond in the head. It was cold-blooded murder.

These are just a few recent examples of police terror from one U.S. city. There are countless other examples in big cities and small towns all over the country. Looking at what is happening in just these cases makes the size and nature of the problem very clear.

The murderers of Amadou Diallo were acquitted. This is not much of a surprise. Just as the move of the Rodney King trial to Simi Valley guaranteed an acquittal for the LA police who beat him, moving this trial to Albany guaranteed the murderous NYC cops would be found not guilty.

The prosecution never really wanted those cops convicted. The prosecution never questioned what is clearly a 'shoot first ask questions later' way of operating. The truth is that the courts have no interest in convicting police for brutality. The cops, courts and government serve the rich and powerful who rule this country. They rely in part on thugs in blue to maintain the system we live under.

The assumption in all these cases is that anyone walking down the street who is judged guilty by the police is guilty. The media never calls what the police do execution without a trial, but that is exactly what it is. The court's verdicts, like that in the Diallo case, give the police this power - the power to be judge, jury, and executioner every time they fail to convict for police brutality.

It is no accident that all these men murdered by the police are Black. We live under a system of white supremacist capitalism that has always made a practice of oppressing nations inside, and outside it's borders. The United States is a like a big prison, holding down entire peoples. In African American, Chicano, Latino, Native, Asian and Pacific Islander communities, the police are an occupying army whose job it is to maintain the status quo. They do this by criminalizing, scapegoating and brutalizing people of color.

While we can't expect justice from the cops or the courts, we can't accept the injustice either. In the short term we need to strengthen the powerful movement against police terror. We can not buy into the media lies about "good" and "bad" victims of police brutality. We need to back practical measures that will rein in the cops.

Over the long run we need to break the power of the rich class that runs this country, and the police who do its bidding. There is no reason to accept things as they are. We can do better than this.