By Luis Meiners
On Monday, the police murdered George Floyd. On Tuesday and again on Wednesday, thousands took to the streets of Minneapolis and many other cities to express their rage. They were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. The four officers present during Floyd´s murder were fired, but no criminal charges have been made against them.
With a police officer kneeling on his neck, George Floyd repeatedly said he couldn´t breathe. Videos clearly show the police brutality and disregard for human life. But it is much more than that. The words “I can´t breathe” recall the murder of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, on 2014. These words are not the only thing they had in common. Both deaths, as thousands more, are the product of the deeply embedded racism and brutality of the police. And underlying this is the structure of capitalist inequality and power. The structural racism of the capitalist state and its police forces is responsible for George Floyd´s death.
Rage in Minneapolis
For two consecutive days thousands protested in Minneapolis. They marched towards the 3rd police precinct, which was cordoned by the police. They were met with harsh repression. The protests escalated through Wednesday night as the police violently cracked down on it. More protesters also gathered outside the house of the officer that chocked Floyd to death, Derek Chauvin. In other cities around the country actions of solidarity have taken place or are being organized. One of the most significant ones happened in Los Angeles where Black Lives Matter called for a demonstration that blockaded a downtown freeway.
The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, said the cop who killed Floyd should be charged, but has also called for the National Guard to come in to control protesters. The repressive response of the state comes in stark contrast with the attitude of the police towards white right-wing protesters that over the past weeks have paraded heavily armed in front of state legislatures. Media coverage has also made a point of criminalizing protesters and focusing on the damaged buildings.
Police brutality and systemic racism
Police violence is not the result of the “misconduct” of individuals, or of individual excess in the use of force. Quite the opposite, the violent actions carried out by individual officers are the result of the entire logic of the institution. These individuals should, of course, be held responsible, but so must the institution that breeds them.
The police are trained to be brutal and for class and racial profiling. These are not isolated incidents. More the 1000 people a year are killed by police forces in the United States. In 2019 there were 1099 police killings. This systematic violence is covered by systematic impunity. In 99% of the cases the police officers who committed these murders were not charged with a crime. That is why officers such as Dereck Chauvin, whose record shows has been involved in deaths, shooting and has been the subject to ten civilian complaints, was also awarded a medal for valor in 2008. This impunity guarantees the perpetuation of brutality.
This structural violence is also linked with systemic racism. African Americans and Latinx are specifically targeted through racial profiling. They are also more likely to be the victims of police violence and police killings. According to the data registered by mappingpoliceviolence.org, black people are three times por likely to be killed by the police that white people. Black people make up 24% of those killed by the police in 2019, despite representing only 13% of the total population. Policies like “stop and frisk” in New York, and now the enforcement of social distancing in public places, are specially targeted towards black and brown communities. According to the NYPD´s own data, 81% of the social distance enforcement summons were issued to blacks and latinxs. Of the 40 people arrested 35 were black.
As has been once again exposed by the pandemic, poverty, low wages, lack of access to healthcare, high risk jobs, are also part of the systemic racism of US capitalism. And as African American communities are hard hit by poverty and disease, they are also hard hit by state repression, the police, and the criminal justice system. One out of four black men between the ages of 20 to 29 is either imprisoned, probation or parole.
Justice for George Floyd
The four officers which hold direct responsibility for Floyd´s murder, as proven by the video footage from several cameras, should be indicted and convicted. The institution that produces these murderers should not be left in impunity. To have justice for Floyd, and for all the African Americans murdered and harassed, we must dismantle the racist police.
This institution exists to protect the interests of capital and enforce
the inequalities capitalism produces. The struggle for justice and against
police brutality is part of the struggle against the racist capitalist system.
In this perspective, we stand in solidarity with the protesters in Minneapolis
and their demand for justice.
 Source of data in the paragraph: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/