“I can’t breathe” 6 years later — and the fight against police violence rages on

Lynching never actually went away. The powers that be have enshrined it into state power.

Just in the last four months, George Floyd, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade were executed by cops — their only “crime” being that they were Black in the U.S. in 2020. Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe,” as three Minneapolis cops barbarically held him down — the deadly knee on his neck came from Derek Chauvin, a white cop. Bystanders were prevented from intervening by a fourth cop and, instead, were powerless witnesses to Floyd’s last breaths.

Taylor, an Emergency Medical Technician, was killed in a botched search warrant raid. Black women die at the hands of police and are sexually harassed and assaulted in devastating numbers by cops. Trans and queer people of color such as Tony McDade are also common targets.

It’s been six years since Eric Garner said ”I can’t breathe” and it’s clear that none of the cops then or now believed they would be held accountable.

Cops protect private property and serve the wealthy
The police have always been in the service of capitalism and white supremacy, since their origins in Southern slave patrols. Ever since then, the corrosive power of white supremacy has been used to delude working-class whites into thinking their interests lie with wealthy whites instead of their own class brothers and sisters of color. Some people of color erroneously misplace their allegiances with the oppressors. The cop keeping bystanders away during Floyd’s murder is an Asian American, and there have been other cops of color connected to killings of Black people across the country.

No amount of “sensitivity” training or bodycam tech will change the racist DNA underpinning the police. Getting rid of a few bad apples will do nothing because the entire damn root system of the orchard is rotten. There will be no end to police violence until we get rid of capitalism. But the fight starts in the here and now.

We don’t even have to look to police murders for examples of the cops’ blatant protection of the bigoted status quo. Look at how social distancing is being enforced all across the country. Working-class Black communities are being brutalized by cops for not wearing masks, while whites in wealthier areas are being handed masks by them. With the devaluing of Black lives and the super-exploitation of Black labor, it’s no surprise that African Americans are among the hardest hit by many health problems, including COVID-19. Immigrants, Latinx, and Indigenous peoples are right alongside them.

Unite for real police accountability
The four cops involved in Floyd’s killing have been fired, but they and all cops who have senselessly killed people must be prosecuted and convicted. We demand financial restitution for all families reeling from police murders. Grassroots organizing in New York City is gaining traction in the fight for police accountability through an Elected Civilian Review Board, and other cities should take up that fight. Take from the bloated police budget and invest in areas that will actually protect and serve the people — education, housing, healthcare, and public jobs programs. Capitalism and the police go hand in hand and we can only fight for real accountability through multi-racial working-class solidarity.

Statement issued by the joint National Comrades of Color Caucus
of Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party
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National FSP: FspUS@socialism.com • 206-985-4621 • socialism.com
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