Workers Vanguard No. 896

3 August 2007


Brooklyn: NYPD Targets Black, Latino Youth

Drop the Charges!

For Labor Protest Against Racist Cop Terror!

(Young Spartacus pages)

In decrepit and segregated public schools around the country, increased “security” has meant an increase in racist cop harassment, making students feel more like prisoners than ever, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has documented in a series of recent articles. In order to even get into school, students wait in line for hours to pass through metal detectors and are subjected to body searches, the confiscation of their personal property, taunts and manhandling. Police patrol the halls, threatening and intimidating students. A six-year-old black child was dragged out of her Florida elementary school in handcuffs for throwing a tantrum. Inside or outside of school, black and Latino youth are the targets of constant cop harassment, cast as criminals by the racist American ruling class.

After the arrest in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn of black and Latino high school students who were traveling together to a friend’s wake, the students, their teachers and members of a local community center organized the Student Coalition Against Racial Profiling (S.C.A.R.P.). At a July 9 rally organized by S.C.A.R.P. and at the subsequent court hearings, the New York Spartacus Youth Club expressed solidarity with the students, who are currently awaiting trial, and argued against illusions in black Democratic Party politicians like Charles Barron and in the reformability of the cops. We reprint below the New York SYC’s leaflet in defense of the Bushwick youth, as reissued on July 9.

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On May 21, thirty-two black and Latino high school students were arrested on their way to the wake for their friend, Donnell McFarland. The students wore T-shirts in memory of McFarland and were walking to the subway when they were surrounded by police, who had been following them in unmarked cars. The cops, with their guns drawn, shoved the youth up against a fence, searched and handcuffed them. They were detained, some for 36 hours, and many were denied food and water. Unable to attend the wake, the youth had a moment of silence for their friend in prison. The cops have grotesquely justified the arrest by claiming that the memorial T-shirts—which they confiscated as evidence—were “gang colors.” The students face charges of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. The Spartacus Youth Club demands: Defend the Bushwick youth! Drop the charges!

In Bushwick, students and teachers have organized protests and publicized their accounts, which have resonated with working people, blacks and Latinos who face similar repression every day. What happened in Bushwick is just one example of the racist hell that is capitalist America, from the gunning down of Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day, to the racist atrocity where blacks and poor people were left to die in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In New York City, the arrest of the Bushwick high school students has been followed by a wave of racist attacks by the NYPD, including the arrest of 208 people at the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the arrest and beating of well-known black civil rights lawyer Michael Warren and his wife for protesting a cop attack on a black youth in Prospect Heights.

The racist American ruling class, represented by both Democrats and Republicans, has intensified its class war against workers, blacks, immigrants and Latinos, slashing jobs and education and criminalizing an entire generation, offering them no future except to rot in jail or serve as cannon fodder in imperialist wars. To eliminate police brutality it is necessary to do away with this whole system of racist American capitalism, which is driven by the need for maximum profits at the expense of working people and the poor. Students wanting to protest racist cop terror must look to the social power of the multiracial working class, a power which comes from its ability to shut down production and stop the flow of profit. A taste of this power was seen when the heavily black and minority Transport Workers Union Local 100 in New York City went on strike for three days in 2005, crippling the finance capital of the world.

To combat rampant racist reaction, such as the recent Supreme Court decision throwing out two school desegregation plans, the power of the working class must be brought to bear against all manifestations of racial oppression, from the fight against racist cop terror in the ghettos and barrios to the struggle to free death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who the capitalist rulers want to execute for his fight for black freedom and all the oppressed. But a key obstacle to mobilizing the power of labor is the pro-capitalist trade-union bureaucracy that politically ties workers to their class enemy through support to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is a party of the capitalist ruling class and, because it postures as a friend of the working class and the oppressed, it is the preferred party to administer attacks on social services and wage imperialist war. It was Democrat Eliot Spitzer who as state attorney general enforced slave-labor Taylor Law reprisals against the transit workers before, during and after the strike in an attempt to break their union.

It is a dead end to look to Democratic Party politicians, such as City Councilman Charles Barron, whose job is to help divert outrage with this system into empty demands to “reform the police” and reliance on the Democratic Party as a lesser evil to the justly despised Republican administration in the White House. The “100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care” are cops who are attempting to clean up the image of NYPD thugs in blue. But it makes little difference if cops are black, white, live in your neighborhood or have attended “sensitivity training.” The cops are part of the capitalist state, along with the courts, the prisons and the military, and operate as the armed enforcers for the rule of racist American capitalism. The black, white and Latino cops who shot Sean Bell and his companions are all hired guns for the filthy rich capitalists on Wall Street.

Black oppression, deriving from the legacy of chattel slavery, is a cornerstone of American capitalism. The black population is an oppressed race-color caste, overwhelmingly concentrated at the bottom of this society. However, black workers are a key component of the multiracial working class. As Marxists, we base ourselves on a class-struggle fight against the racial oppression that imprisons the majority of black people in the ghettos. We fight to link the struggle of the masses for decent jobs, education, health care and housing as well as an end to rampant cop terror to the eradication of its real source—the capitalist system. We fight for the program of revolutionary integrationism, understanding that it will take a socialist revolution to achieve full equality for blacks. There will not be a revolution in the United States unless the working class as a whole takes up the struggle for black freedom, which is inseparable from the struggle to emancipate all the exploited and oppressed.

The bloody American ruling class, enemy of working people and the oppressed worldwide, pushes all forms of backwardness, from racist, anti-immigrant chauvinism to the oppression of women and anti-gay bigotry, in order to divide the working class and prevent militant, integrated class struggle. The 1917 Russian Revolution proved that the capitalist system can be smashed and that the working class can take state power. To do this requires a revolutionary multiracial workers party that acts as a tribune of the people, combatting all manifestations of oppression. The SYC, youth auxiliary of the Marxist Spartacist League, fights to win young people to this struggle. We call on all opponents of racist cop terror to come out and stand in solidarity with the Bushwick youth. Be there at the court hearings: Brooklyn Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn Street, July 10, 11 and 12, 9:30 a.m.!