The police are not the problem, rather they are the symptom of the problem which is gross inequality. As in the movement toward equality that continued from the end of the Civil War (1865) to the end of the Civil Rights Movement (1965), it is Black Americans and the issues facing them that are in the forefront of the current struggle.
The police are but the lightning rod deflecting attention away from the huge, accelerating concentration of wealth at the very top of the food chain. The housing crisis, the student debt crisis and other manufactured schemes, which greatly enriched the financial sector, were engineered by the financial sector, yet no one has been convicted of anything. Yes, fines have been levied, but they are paid by the shareholders, not the managers who did the damage. And these are civil penalties, not criminal convictions that merit jail time.
But back to the police. Yes, unwarranted police shootings must stop. But that’ll only happen when officers who violate the law can expect to be punished. But what is the law? As in any set of regulations, there is what is written and there is what is understood. Some policemen operate in the Twilight Zone of what is written and what (wink-wink) is understood. They will not stop doing so until they fear being punished. And they will not fear being punished until they are punished. Vague promises of “sensitivity training,” will not cut it. Convictions will.
A parallel can be made to the ending of the War in Viet Nam. In the early 1970s, when American soldiers began to be convicted of war crimes, support for the Viet Nam War quickly evaporated. Likewise, when errant police officers are regularly punished, the entire police / citizen dynamic will be altered. The tension between the Black community and whites of moderate means (the main source of the nation’s police forces) will lessen. Each side will look away from the symptom (police / Black community tension) toward the real problem, severe, intensifying inequality. Unless and until that happens, we will continue heading for another Great Depression. Note how college students and recent grads (the Occupy Wall Street people) are in the forefront of the current movement.
Recall the surreal pictures on the evening news around Thanksgiving time. Scenes of happy shoppers interspersed with vociferous demonstrations against the police, scenes of families enjoying bounteous turkey dinners interspersed with angry crowds in Ferguson, Missouri.
As for the president, he is forever promising that the Justice department is actively looking into whether or not to bring charges against Officer Wilson and the local criminal justice system. Meanwhile, we’ve yet to hear the result of the years long Justice department investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin. The administration will only act when they feel certain that they have the vast bulk of public opinion behind them. This is what happened in the ‘60s, when civil rights legislation was passed under President Johnson. This is what happened in the ‘30s, when social welfare legislation was passed under Roosevelt to end the Great Depression. (A Black president acts no differently than a white one.)
Meanwhile, the nation drifts in a sea of discord and fear, for our “leaders” are nowhere to be seen outside of their carpeted offices mouthing flowery platitudes. We, the people, must sort this out, hopefully, with a minimum of disruption and discord. . . ( Written on the eve of the release of the findings in the grand jury investigation into the death of the chokehold killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island by Arthur Lewin www.AfricaUnlimited.com )