Bad apples and a rotten orchard

June 16, 2015

THE BLACK Lives Matters movement has shown amazing resilience in the face of state-sponsored repression and police terrorism. The charges against police officers in Chicago; Charleston, South Carolina; Baltimore and other cities are proof that what we do on the ground--blowing out our vocals chords with chanting, battling tear gas, writing, organizing, meeting--matters.

While the killers of Ramarley Graham, Alan Blueford, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and hundreds of other victims of police terrorism walk free or in some cases still collect paychecks, a look back at these phases of the movement bring to mind a few things.

Many of the calls that have rightly come from these struggles have focused on firing Officer fill-in-the-blank from duty (Ferguson), using the legal system to indict and convict (Baltimore), or petitioning the federal government to intervene. These calls, while valid, offer an individual up as a sacrificial lamb to quell the crowds. They provide a release valve on class anger built up over decades of police torture and murder of Black people.

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Individual resignations, firings, indictments and convictions, and the creation of civilian review boards are victories. That point can't be understated, and it must be celebrated at every step of the way.

What Sanford, Florida; Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore; Chicago; New York City and elsewhere have taught local police forces is that whenever their racist acts are caught on camera, the repercussions are not predictable, nor are they always peaceful. Given the track record of the federal government's coordination of the crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement, I'm wondering if there is a new shift on the part of the state to "urge" local officers involved in these crimes to resign quickly so as to not let "another Ferguson or Baltimore" happen.

The latest act of police violence caught on film in McKinney, Texas, showed a vicious racist thug brandishing his weapon at teenagers, barking commands and physically assaulting 15-year-old Dajerria Becton. However, the speed with which Eric Casebolt resigned shows the power that the Black Lives Matter movement has had, but also perhaps a new strategy by the state--have an officer resign quickly to prevent a mass movement from forming. Casebolt's departure will not prevent another murder, but it also doesn't address the systemic nature in which Eric Casebolts and Darren Willsons exist in the first place.

Regardless of which side of the two-party system the representatives are from--from the first Black president down to local city councils and wards--neither side has an answer to putting an end to the racist hunting of Black youths in America. With a presidential election coming in 2016 and neither party having any interest in stopping police terrorism, it's up to us to prevent the Black Lives Matter movement from being satisfied with individual officer resignations and the removal of the obviously "bad apples" from the bunch.

The orchard itself is rotten.
Shane Johnson, Columbia, Missouri

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