Once again the cops have killed an unarmed, innocent young Black man, this time in a hail of 50 bullets. The death of Sean Bell the morning of November 25, along with the critical wounding of his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, was not just “unacceptable” and “excessive,” as Mayor Bloomberg put it – it was murder.
This murder cries out for justice and a mass struggle against cop brutality. But the same old plans for police reform being pushed are frauds. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who in the past has led mass protest marches against police killings, is sticking to a moderate role, asking that the city show “moral outrage” and that cops be “held as accountable as anyone else.” Sure. He stood silently with Bloomberg at a press conference two days after the shootings, providing protective cover while the billionaire mayor appealed for calm.
The truth is that neither an independent prosecutor, a new police commissioner nor a federal investigation will bring justice. Racist police brutality is built into the capitalist system, to maintain its regime of oppression, exploitation and imperialism. What’s more, because the police serve the system, the government will never deal out real punishment to its own cops.
While police terror against the working class, people of color above all, can be fought now, it will exist as long as the capitalist system lives. We in the League for the Revolutionary Party believe that a fighting working-class movement – in which Black and Latino workers and youth will inevitably take the lead – is the way forward to end police terror and racism once and for all.
To maximize our forces, we must take the fight against police terror into the working class’s most powerful organizations, the unions. Union leaders have barely lifted a finger to mobilize the ranks of workers in the struggle against police brutality. In Local 100, Toussaint has said that he supports the fight against police brutality in Sean Bell’s case, but this amounts to empty words. He may make a statement, or bring a few paid union staffers to a protest. But he will never try to mobilize the thousands of us in local 100 who are outraged by the racist murder of Sean Bell.
Worse, during the contact campaign, Toussaint constantly stood alongside Patrick Lynch, the president of the PBA, the cops’ so-called “union.” Lynch said: “Mayor Bloomberg’s pronouncement that excessive force was used is premature and not based on a full and proper investigation of the facts. Only the detectives and police officer who fired their weapons can explain the circumstances under which they took action.”
Cops aren’t workers, and the PBA isn’t a union. The PBA defends racist thugs who are used by capitalism to attack and intimidate workers and people of color whenever we try to stand up for ourselves. We should demand that Toussaint condemn his buddy Pat Lynch, and that the PBA be thrown out of the NYC Central Labor Council.