In response to the persistent problem of state-sponsored violence against working class Black communities and the futility of police reforms, the contemporary calls for community control over police (CCOP) have garnered significant attention and support in Black communities. Consequently, the growing grassroots support for the concept of Black communities controlling their own security and safety has come under fire by a number of individuals and organizations advocating for the defunding and abolishing of police.
PACA believes in the positive role of good faith argument in movement-building, and we write this article to participate in this process. Moreover, criticisms of CCOP have highlighted potential dangers in our approach at this crucial political moment.
Why community control over police (CCOP)?
We can’t trust elites’ promises to abolish or defund police: policing and incarceration are big business and managed by Democrats and Republicans. State violence has no opposition party. We have to focus on getting the power to make these decisions ourselves.
I’m an abolitionist. Should I support CCOP?
Yes! CCOP is the best position from which to achieve abolition. Each policing district would hold a vote to decide what to do with its current police department, immediately giving the community the direct voting power to abolish, restructure, downsize, or otherwise reconstruct their departments.
State Violence Has No Opposition Party.
Communities that want to dismantle police departments will need the power to do that work themselves.
The clashes between police and protesters in response to the recent police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and others throughout the country expose the violence inherent to the U.S. system of policing. Social media has been inundated with hundreds of videos chronicling police aggression and brutality. Cities nationwide, particularly in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., have faced unprecedented militarization of their streets. Police have wielded weapons typically used only by special forces in overseas military campaigns, even going as far as to use a Lakota helicopter with Red Cross markings in a show of force against protesters (in violation of the Geneva Convention).
A number of attempts to give political expression to the energy in the streets have emerged in recent days. Some have emphasized the symbolic. Not a month after proposing a budget to increase the local police budget by some $45 million, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned artists to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the streets near the White House where clashes between protesters and armed state security still continue, prompting immediate and sharp rebuke from Black Lives Matter DC. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden cobbled together legislation calling for reforms that include creating a national database of civilian complaints against police and banning chokeholds and no-knock raids—a tepid defense of the status quo wrapped in kente cloth.
A Critical Analysis of the Demand to
Defund the Police
By Max Rameau and Netfa Freeman
DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION HERE
Pan-African Community Action
The intensity and span of the mass rebellion that has gripped the U.S. and expanded internationally since the recent spate of state sponsored murder of Black people has shaken global white supremacists, capitalist, patriarchy to its knees. The people have tasted a real sense of their own power and as a result some very unexpected developments have emerged and the opportunity for real social transformation and the shifting of power into the hands of working class Black people, particularly women and LGBTQ folks, is as strong as it has been since prior to the military defeat of the Black Panther Party.
Among the unexpected developments is the rapid emergence of movement demands, particularly one getting much traction, to “defund the police,” which is covered by the mainstream media and even being acknowledged by some lawmakers in a few jurisdictions. To be clear, this is a momentous development for the movement not only because of the speed with which the demand is being delivered, but because of the radical nature of the demand, particularly in comparison with the demands leveled during the 2014 round of urban rebellion, which were essentially a demand to allow police to monitor the public at all times (body worn cameras) and a demand to repeat a slogan.
by Max Rameau
Pan-African Community Action (PACAPower.org)
Fear of the global COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic is compelling local, state and even the US government itself to do what protests, law suits, policy position papers and appeals to human decency could not: treating people as if they were valued members of the human family.
The rulers are concerned about the class war becoming sharper in the current crisis and they are preparing to send in the military and police to quell dissent.
“The pre-existing crisis of legitimacy for the rulers is compounded by the government’s inept response to the pandemic.”
News stories about the National Guard assisting with the coronavirus have overshadowed stories about US military plans to join police in stopping expected “civil disturbances.” But eyewitness accounts of trains transporting armored vehicles and other equipment into their communities prompted posts to social media about the threat of martial law.
The Department of Defense responded with a media defensive to dismiss the concerns as conspiracy theories, sticking to the strict definition of martial law. They assure that the duties of the reserve National Guard personnel are only for things like disinfecting public spaces, delivering food to homes, and erecting provisional medical facilities. Semantic games and a neglect to connect the dots are meant to assuage public concerns.
Trump wants to “surge” against urban Black and brown Americans in the same way that the US surged against Iraq and Afghanistan.
“No matter how many cases of murderous police brutality there are, each is treated like an isolated incident.”
If withholding US military aid from a neo-Nazi friendly government in Ukraine is unacceptable, then it is only logical that a fascist police surge on Black and Brown communities in the US is acceptable.
Until the threat of war between the US and Iran stole what had been central in media attention, the power elite worked to keep the public fixated on the antics of a useless partisan impeachment. All the while career politicians in the Democratic Party have been betraying their constituents with their typical and deafening silence about a police crackdown by the Trump administration that Donald Trump himself dubbed “The Surge.”
Concerns about Trump’s overt racism by Democratic Party leadership and the media are fake. He first announced his plan for a nationwide crackdown on “violent crime” and for a more militarized police on October 28, 2019 in his remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago. The only news stories corporate media thought worthy of reporting then were about Trump slinging insults at Chicago and its former superintendent of police, Eddie Johnson. And whatever stories there have been since seem to leave out “The Surge" entirely.
“The Democratic Party has been betraying their constituents with their silence about a police crackdown.”
By Max Rameau
Pan-African Community Action
While it might be fair to say that the police enjoy support among the majority of the white population, the police enjoy no such support among the majority of Black people, who endure more frequent and harsher interactions with cops than whites.
To be sure, white support for the police decreases proportionately with income. That is to say, poorer whites tend to support the police less because the police interact with them differently than with their wealthier white counterparts. By the same token, support for the police among Blacks tends to increase proportionately with increases in income, wealth and other privileges. Overall and within each economic strata, however, white support for police is higher than Black support.