Let us turn grief and anger into action and change

 
BY:John Bachtell| August 15, 2014
Let us turn grief and anger into action and change

The following statement was released by John Bachtell, chair of the Communist Party USA in the wake of the police shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Michael Brown and the subsequent police attacks on peaceful protesters and journalists.

The grief and heartbreak of Michael Brown’s parents and Ferguson’s largely African American community is unimaginable. We share that sorrow and grief.

We also join the universal demands to prosecute the officer who committed this horrendous killing.

Our nation should be deeply disturbed by this murder. Michael Brown’s story and those of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Stephon Watts, John Crawford, Ezell Ford and countless other young African Americans murdered by racist police officers is all too familiar.

We should also be outraged and alarmed by the presence in Ferguson of police laden with weapons suited for a war zone confronting its citizens and denying the right to protest. It is a scene reminiscent of the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan or Iraq.

This is a moment for deep national reflection. It strikes at basic issues of humanity, equality and democracy. The cause of Michael’s death is not hard to see. It is the fruit of institutionalized racism and hate within the police department. Ferguson is 67 percent African American, yet only 3 of 50 officers are black.

In Ferguson and communities across the country, policing is routinely based on racial profiling and “stop and frisk” policies targeting young African American and Latino men.

Instead of guaranteeing public safety, police departments are occupying powers. Communities of color are dehumanized; residents are constantly under suspicion and viewed as animals. Police officers imbued with racism and hate, armed with guns and impunity to commit crimes against citizens makes for a deadly mix.

It is in the vital interests of all communities – black, brown and white – to have police departments that are not above the law, that serve and protect all residents, including African American, Latino and other people of color – not just white and wealthy residents.

The investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and FBI into Michael’s killing makes it possible to bring the light of day to Ferguson’s police department and attain justice.

But we must go much further and take steps to actually change police practice. It’s time to bring police departments under the authority of the communities they serve.

It’s time to establish civilian police accountability councils with public authority to investigate, subpoena and charge officers engaged in crimes and corruption.

It’s time to fully integrate police departments at every level, end the practices of racial profiling and stop and frisk, policies that emanated from the failed “war on drugs” and which have resulted in mass incarceration of mainly African American and Latino youth.

It’s time to repeal the section of the National Defense Authorization Act which arms local police departments with military style weapons, armored vehicles, helicopters and combat assault rifles.

Let us turn our grief into action. Let us honor the life of Michael Brown by changing that which led to his tragic death.

Photo: Names of known victims of police torture conducted by Chicago Police Department and Commander Jon Burge stretch the length of the many-feet- long banner at a rally against police crimes in Chicago, Aug. 28, 2013. There are still countless others unknown. (John Bachtell/PW)

 

Author

    John Bachtell is national chair of the Communist Party USA. Previously he was Illinois organizer for the party, and is active in labor, peace and justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio and currently lives in Chicago with his family.

     

     

     

Comments (14)

Michael Madron | August 28, 2014 at 7:46 PM

I agree with Mr. Bachtell’s assertion that the NDAA is hugely problematic–in fact, I believe, at this point, it is the most significant issue to come to the fore from this incident.

I will take a contrarian point of view on the issue of Mr. Brown’s death: until the facts are in, it is too soon to make the case for damning the officer. In fact, I find it odd that no one has pointed out that the unspoken premise is that the officer acted as he did because he is a white officer. There seems to be racist attitudes on both sides of the issue. But until the facts are in, rushing to a judgement that an injustice was committed seems a bit manipulative, and smacks of propaganda by the Left.

I am the first person to say that social justice issues are real, and require action to change–that’s a large part of why many of us join the CPUSA. But this incident has the potential to scapegoat a man, namely the officer, in the name of social change. This seems disingenuous to me–let’s be smarter than the rest of the sheep being manipulated by the mass media. Let’s find out if an injustice really did occur, lest we commit one ourselves by judging a man before due process has occurred. Let’s not find ourselves on the wrong side of the issue.

The most alarming image, to me, is the militarization issue. Without trying to sound too conspiratorial, the conditions for a fascist state seem to be forming. This is the issue CPUSA should fight against. I urge Mr. Bachtell to continue speaking out on this subject, and elevate it in our future conversations.

Respectfully,

Michael Madron

Casey Summers | August 25, 2014 at 10:45 PM

So you supercede the law and appoint yourself judge and jury. How about prosecute if there is evidence to support it otherwise not. Just because someone CLAIMS this is a racist incident doesn’t make it true. YOU are the racist if you determine that ANY TIME a white person kills a black it is racism and could not possibly be justified EVER. TOO BAD OJ Simpson’s victims weren’t able to defend themselves – you people are encouraging feelings of “victimization” where none exist. SHAME ON YOU.

Gregory McLaughlin | August 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Well written article. African American males has been the target of this type of racism as long as I remember. Anytime we try to bring this to the attention to general public at large, we’re told we are pulling the “race card”. Until this HUMAN RIGHTS issue is address, this type of abuse will continue. We need to stop listening to our so called “black leaders” who only are concered with their image, and photo opportunities. We want respect as MEN. Until then, there will be more unrest, like ferguson all over the country. There’s an old saying ” we are sick and tired of being sick and tired”. America’s racist institution must be brought down.

Cain Toomey | August 25, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Can we please get the tag corrected? Its Ferguson, not Ferbuson.

@Jareth: It is not organized religion that is to blame (and for the record, suggesting getting rid of it is only going to hurt any anti-racist cause in the States). In reality, the only way we can end racism is through a concerted effort of education, especially in the youngest. From the earliest age possible, we must press into childrens minds the ideas of equality and tolerance.

But that is not all…holding police accountable for their crimes (against all, not just against blacks) and ceasing this tendency of simply shoving things under the rug, must end. We will never be able to completely stamp out racism, even in law enforcement, but we can do everything in our power to insure that those who do commit crimes based on racism cannot be under any illusion they’ll get off scot free.

Of course, so long as the economics of the nation are as they are, it will be harder to fight it, as some of it is very much tied to the idea of blacks being ‘lazy good for nothin’s’.

Jareth Copus | August 19, 2014 at 12:27 PM

In no way do i think it is right that african americans are treated differently but i feel like by drawing attention and screaming out the fact that it still exists hasnt done much over the past 40 years. To truly get past racism what can we do? what other factors are playing in to the prolonging of racial inequality? will it ever stop? My personal belief is that there are many things that must be addressed to help: to truly end all racial inequality we must be rid of organized religion due to the fact that it polarizes all those who enter into it, divides us into racial sects, causes war over beliefs and the list goes on. But the main point I am trying to get across is that it simply further divides an already divided world. Next we must stop trying to make everyone equal yet not treat everyone as equals, the more we call attention to our race the more it divides us. Case in point only making a fuss about when a young black male is gunned down by police and if it were to happen to a white, asian, indian, native american or any other racial group it wouldnt draw nearly as much media attention. Its time to stop making excuses for people and time to let people rid themselves of title such as: black, white, asian etc. and we all need to be humans, comrades and fight for the equality of us all not just of a particular race. Down with labels down with the opiate of the masses and up with the human race. I dont claim to be a writter and i simply type my feeling, i apologize for grammar and spelling errors if there are any, no need to attack simple things like those just tell me how you feel and we can discuss them as equals. Thank You

Dave Mann | August 18, 2014 at 9:23 PM

Well stated !!!!

And don’t FALL FOR the “Gun control” based on PHONY SHOOTING EVENTS (Rick Nagan)

| August 18, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Never. Go fuck yourselves…

Rene Lobachevsky | August 16, 2014 at 7:56 PM

The NDAA is a despicable violation of the bill of rights and an unacceptable step towards the formation of a militarized police state. As Americans we cannot allow this

Gavin | August 16, 2014 at 10:49 AM

We will see in the trial that will ensue whether it is clear that the officer actually murdered that 17 year old or if the shooting resulted from the officer being attacked after he approached the youth as a suspect in a local robbery. Surveillance camera pictures show that the 17 year old had just robbed a convenience store of some cigars and assaulted the clerk who confronted him. The pictures also show that the kid was over 6’0 tall and over 200 lbs. Those facts in themselves don’t mean that the kid/young adult should have been shot, but they show he had a criminal mindset in stealing and assaulting the cashier, and was of a physical stature that could do some damage to someone when confronted. This was not a child by any means. Maybe you should hold back from judging someone as a guilty until the trail takes place and all the facts are heard. Then you could decide whether you think the trial was fair and if the right verdict had been arrived at. The standard of guilt in a trial is “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” But long before a trial, your party has already decided the officer is guilty of murder, based on race factors and an eye witness account of his friend. What was the character of his friend- was he the type who would be an accomplice to robbing cigars from a convenience store and assaulting a cashier? Just because the officer is white and the 17 year old was black and only 3 officers in the Ferguson police department doesn’t automatically mean that the officer “murdered” him upon confronting him about the reported robbery.

Gavin | August 16, 2014 at 10:35 AM

We will see in the trial that will ensue whether it is clear that the officer actually murdered that 17 year old or if the shooting resulted from the officer being attacked after he approached the youth as a suspect in a local robbery. Surveillance camera pictures show that the 17 year old had just robbed a convenience store of some cigars and assaulted the clerk who confronted him. The pictures also show that the kid was over 6’0 tall and over 200 lbs. Those facts in themselves don’t mean that the kid/young adult should have been shot, but they show he had a criminal mindset in stealing and assaulting the cashier, and was of a physical stature that could do some damage to someone when confronted. This was not a child by any means. Maybe you should hold back from judging someone as a guilty until the trail takes place and all the facts are heard. Then you could decide whether you think the trial was fair and if the right verdict had been arrived at. The standard of guilt in a trial is “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” But long before a trial, your party has already decided the officer is guilty of murder, based on race factors and an eye witness account of his friend. What was the character of his friend- was he the type who would be an accomplice to robbing cigars from a convenience store and assaulting a cashier? Just because the officer is white and the 17 year old was black and only 3 officers in the Ferguson police department doesn’t automatically mean that the officer “murdered” him upon confronting him about the reported robbery.

G | August 16, 2014 at 10:35 AM

We will see in the trial that will ensue whether it is clear that the officer actually murdered that 17 year old or if the shooting resulted from the officer being attacked after he approached the youth as a suspect in a local robbery. Surveillance camera pictures show that the 17 year old had just robbed a convenience store of some cigars and assaulted the clerk who confronted him. The pictures also show that the kid was over 6’0 tall and over 200 lbs. Those facts in themselves don’t mean that the kid/young adult should have been shot, but they show he had a criminal mindset in stealing and assaulting the cashier, and was of a physical stature that could do some damage to someone when confronted. This was not a child by any means. Maybe you should hold back from judging someone as a guilty until the trail takes place and all the facts are heard. Then you could decide whether you think the trial was fair and if the right verdict had been arrived at. The standard of guilt in a trial is “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” But long before a trial, your party has already decided the officer is guilty of murder, based on race factors and an eye witness account of his friend. What was the character of his friend- was he the type who would be an accomplice to robbing cigars from a convenience store and assaulting a cashier? Just because the officer is white and the 17 year old was black and only 3 officers in the Ferguson police department doesn’t automatically mean that the officer “murdered” him upon confronting him about the reported robbery.

G | August 16, 2014 at 10:32 AM

We will see in the trial that will ensue whether it is clear that the officer actually murdered that 17 year old or if the shooting resulted from the officer being attacked after he approached the youth as a suspect in a local robbery. Surveillance camera pictures show that the 17 year old had just robbed a convenience store of some cigars and assaulted the clerk who confronted him. The pictures also show that the kid was over 6’0 tall and over 200 lbs. Those facts in themselves don’t mean that the kid/young adult should have been shot, but they show he had a criminal mindset in stealing and assaulting the cashier, and was of a physical stature that could do some damage to someone when confronted. This was not a child by any means. Maybe you should hold back from judging someone as a guilty until the trail takes place and all the facts are heard. Then you could decide whether you think the trial was fair and if the right verdict had been arrived at. The standard of guilt in a trial is “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” But long before a trial, your party has already decided the officer is guilty of murder, based on race factors and an eye witness account of his friend. What was the character of his friend- was he the type who would be an accomplice to robbing cigars from a convenience store and assaulting a cashier? Just because the officer is white and the 17 year old was black and only 3 officers in the Ferguson police department doesn’t automatically mean that the officer “murdered” him upon confronting him about the reported robbery.

Ron Goldberg | August 16, 2014 at 4:02 AM

All of this oppression reminds me of the Soviet Union. Oh wait we’re supposed to support that. Hm, seems a little hypocritical but alright.

Josip Andrić. | August 15, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Poštovani drugovi komunisti SAD. Svaka policija je odraz klase na političkoj vlasti. Umjesto sigurnosti svih građana njezini diskretni zadaci su provedba interesa vladajuće elite. Neamerički građani znaju da su građani SAD i politička elita dvije različite stvari. Politička elita na vlasti SAD u svijetu čini značajne nepravde prema građanima. U slučaju zabrinutosti za samu sebe to će činiti i građanima Amerike. Za to je važna mobilizacija naroda SAD na obuzdavanju javne vlasti otuđene od interesa javnosti.

Leave a Comment

Related Articles

For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

Join Now

We are a political party of the working class, for the working class, with no corporate sponsors or billionaire backers. Join the generations of workers whose generosity and solidarity sustains the fight for justice.

Donate Now

CPUSA Mailbag

If you have any questions related to CPUSA, you can ask our experts
  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
  • AThanks for a great question, Conlan.  CPUSA stands for peace and international solidarity, and has a long history of involvement...
Read More
Ask a question
See all Answer