The Myth Of The Cops As Our Brothers In The Struggle 1
We at Furbirdsqueerly welcome back one of our all time favorite writers, artists, essayist tell it like it is and how it should be, the challenging and informative punkpink. Pink has long fought against capitalism, and the dirty handed deeds of the rich, the powerful and the those who lead us astray and destroy our home the earth. punkpink gets very angry when the words the cops are brothers in the struggle are heard and doesn’t care who knows it or what they think. Pink considers such people who think this way to be an enemy of the people too.
This piece was first published in December 2011. We are republishing today in response to the some who think that the runaway cop is one of us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Myth of The Cops as Our Brothers in the Struggle
Let’s start with this video, Film The Police–by B. Dolan Feat. Toki Wrtight, Jasiri X, Buddy Peace and Sage Francis.
….see notes for lyrics.
One never forgets the crack of the cops club on the side of ones head. One never forgets cops on horses stampeding into a sit in crowd swinging clubs. I never will and it was at that moment sitting in at Whitehall Induction Center, around 1968 that I fully realized that cops were my enemy. The YIPPEES used to say, “A Yippie is a hippie who has been hit once to many times over the head by a cop.” I really don’t understand how anyone in this day and age, who is participating in the Occupy movement could still consider cops to be our brothers in the fight. But they do. Just a few weeks ago at a demo here in Hartford the subject turned to the cops as our brothers, the cops as members of the 99%, the cops with us in our fight. Now this was coming out of the mouth of a person wearing the uniform of revolt. I was taken aback and asked the man, “How can you even say that when cops have the track record of doing what they do? “Well,” he said, “we can educated them and then they will come over to our side.” How does one answer a misinformed young person as that? Perhaps this guy is a Newby in the fight, or has never had a run in with a cop club or is under the influence of political rhetoric of some branches of Socialism I really don’t know. Educate them sticks out in my mind as if we have 100 years to form a battle. Let’s start with one great battle of my life time when I was young and in my prime.
“Brothers” in Action Grant Park 1968 Chicago. Gestapo tactics on the streets.
The police riot in Grant Park was an angry police rebellion that took them on an unlawful, wild, club-swinging rampage against dozens of reporters and photographers, along with thousands of young and fiercely dedicated protesters against the war in Vietnam. This was during the Democratic convention. All petitions for a peaceful protest and orderly demonstrations were denied.
Claude Lewis Remembers
“I’m a news reporter,” I said. He raised his club and brought it down fiercely upon my head. In an instant, my white shirt turned crimson and I felt the warm flow of blood on my face and body. Everyone fled the house, hurrying along the edge of the park.
One officer kept me in his sight. He grabbed my credentials from the cord around my neck and beat me to the ground. He snatched my notebook, now wet with blood, and tossed it into the street and shouted us away.
I was unable to move. Fortunately, a few of my colleagues dragged me out of the park and drove me to a hospital where I spent three days in recovery.”…..Claude Lewis (1)
I remember back in my hometown the type of man who joined the police force was usually the bully in school when we were growing up. One even became the chief of police. Last I heard he was still pushing people around until he himself got pushed out of the force and went to jail.
There is only one place to put your faith and that is in the power of the people. The people are our brothers and sisters in the struggle and as the above poster says Power To The People Then and Now.
You know I have got to admit it. I not only don’t like the police I’m scared of them. Nice and peaceful one minute and the next all hell may break loose. My past experience with the police has not been very good and I am a white queer. I have to say just stop and think for one minute what my views on the brotherhood with police would be if I were a person of color, a sissy boy, a butch girl, a sex worker, a transgendered women or man, a homeless person, or someone just standing on the street corner in the ghetto. These folks have run ins with the cops all the time. Folks who it seems the cops just love to pick a fight with and then beat them down. Now you all know as well as I do that brothers don’t do that to brothers.
Let’s ask Abner Louima, or the family of Oscar Grant. I am sure that we all could add names to the list, names of folks who have been terrorized by the cops. Let’s ask every black man and woman who see daily the cops an invading army in the neighborhood and the work that they do against the people. Ask these folks first before anyone claims that the cops are our brothers and can be educated. We know they can not. We know we will not as again and we can not say it enough Cops are not our brothers.
Oscar Grant, one of the many young black men killed by racist cops.
So how we gonna educate them? I would think the cops rather enjoy being paid for protecting the rich, for making sure the capitalist system is still a go each morning, to protect the property of the wealthy and to beat back anyone who tries to pull the plug on this system. The cops true job is to use all the force that is given to them to stop anyone who is a threat or who challenges this system. Watching videos of cops beating, stomping and kicking black men tells me that they rather enjoy what they do. Educate them, they will educate you with a broom handle up your ass or a bullet to the head. As long as that money comes in and you know it always will, as long as they are well fed, as long as they have the backing of this racist system they will stick to the system like shit on a shoe. If they refuse one by one they will be dismissed and turned out from duty. The police are just lackeys for the twin parties of evil.
Let’s do a little remembering. It’s good to remember the past so we can learn from it. Just a few remembrances but powerful enough that they should convince cop lovers in the movement to go home and search their souls.
The home of MOVE and 16 others burned to the ground. 1985
On May 13, 1985, a Philadelphia Police Department helicopter dropped a bomb onto a row home at 6221 Osage Avenue, the headquarters of the group MOVE. Eleven people lost their lives, five of them children, and inexplicably, despite heavy fire department presence, 61 houses on the block burned to the ground.
Tell me again that story about cops being our brothers.
Fred Hampton murdered while sleeping. 12/4/1969
“Tell me what a police state looks like. This is what a police state looks like!”
All dressed up, club in hand looking for a brother’s head to bash in.
“We’re rallying here just a few miles from where the corporate robber barons have settled down to divide up the planet, that group of bankers, financiers and political leaders who have wreaked havoc upon our world,” Officers fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke at the protesters, set off a flash-bang grenade and fired rubber bullets. We were barely even protesting,” said T.J. Amick, 22, of Pittsburgh. “Then all of a sudden, they come up and tell us we’re gathered illegally and start using force, start banging their shields, start telling us we’re going to be arrested and tear gassed. … We haven’t broken any laws.” (2 )
At this G-20 summit Sept. 2009 it was the first time that a sound cannon or LRAD was used on protesters in the U.S.
The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) is a distance hailing device and non-lethal crowd control weapon developed by LRAD Corporation to send messages, warnings, and harmful, pain inducing tones over longer distances than normal loudspeakers.
WTO Seattle 1999
If there was anything that was needed to convince anyone on the left about where we and where the cops stood it had to be the WTO protests in Seattle Washington. I heard one fool arguing the other day saying, “Well when people get out of hand and don’t do what the cops tell them to do them they can expect to get just what they get.” To bad but that is the way it is. You have to obey the cops and not do anything to upset them.” Sometimes I would love to kick a bullshitter like that right upside the head, FOOL What the fuck is the matter with you?” But then again I shake my head and say what can one expect from someone on the democrat left. Still beholden to Mr. Big Boy and still wishing to do his bidding through the ballot box. But we always go back to Martin Niemoller’s famous poem, that began “First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Socialist.”
WTO Seattle 1999 is where is most disturbing picture is from. Beyond scary, beyond what the job of the police should be and way beyond what americka is supposed to be.
The Seattle City Council who conducted an investigation on the police riots had this to say:
“The level of panic among police is evident from radio communication and from their inflated crowd estimates, which exceed the numbers shown on news videotapes. ARC investigators found the rumors of “Molotov cocktails” and sale of flammables from a supermarket had no basis in fact. But, rumors were important in contributing to the police sense of being besieged and in considerable danger.”
What I have learned so far is that the cops are just a part of the fist that the capitalist class used along with the military, the courts and prisons to keep us all down and under their thumb. Calling on the police to stop what they are doing and join us even after they have nearly beaten our brothers and sisters to death is not only misguided but shameful and reckless. Brutal attack dogs they are, and as a young person from the Spartacus Youth Club said, “Cops are not workers, They are strike breakers, kill black people and beat, pepper spray and haul protesters off to jail.” They shot Oscar Grant down in cold blood. Cops are not potential allies they are our enemy.” (3 ) It is foolish to hold on to the illusion that cops are our brothers in this struggle when they are bound to enforce the laws of the Capitalist Class, and the democratic and republican parties. They are the thugs, the black shirt gespato, the folks that we must warn you about again and again. Let’s learn our lesson this time.
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, ON YOU! UC Davis Cops spray Occupy Protesters in the face with Pepper Spray.
Lt. John Pike sprayed from close range about a dozen seated protesters with pepper spray.
The police are not your friends. They do not want to be and will continue not to be so long as they are police. Whether they support Occupy Wall St. in their minds matters little.
And for any folks who are so blind to think that the police are our friends our working class brothers and sisters get ready for this.
The Pentagon Offers Free Military Hardware to Every Police Department in the U.S. by Robert Johnson who begins his article this way:
“The U.S. military has some of the most advanced killing equipment in the world that allows it to invade almost wherever it likes at will.
We produce so much military equipment that inventories of military robots, M-16 assault rifles, helicopters, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers eventually start to pile up and it turns out a lot of these weapons are going straight to American police forces to be used against US citizens.
This upswing coincides with an increasingly military-like style of law enforcement most recently seen in the Occupy Wall Street crackdowns.
You know this old punkpink has a few solutions but if I expressed the solutions 99% of my readers would run for the hills and the famous knock, knock on the door would happen. Everyone then would say, I wonder whatever happened to that old Furbirdsqueerly?
Lyrics from Film The Police:
Intro (Sage Francis):
Right about now, the SFR court is in full effect!
Judge Sage presiding in the case of the People vs. The Police Department.
Prosecuting attorneys are: Toki Wright, Jasiri X and B motherfuckin’ Dolan.
Order! Order! Order! B. Dolan, take the motherfuckin’ stand.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
(Dolan: You goddamn right.)
Then why don’t you tell everyone what the fuck they have the right to do?
Verse 1 (B. Dolan):
Film the Police. Run a tape for the underclass!
Get the face, name and number on the badge.
They flash, we flash back when they act disorderly.
React accordingly and capture all that we see…
Nightstick, Zip-ties, and Tasers.
Think they’re licensed for type vicious behavior.
Make a tight fist with a video trained toward the Pigs,
Like this. They trip & you make ‘em famous.
Explain to a Judge the bounds you oversteppin’.
2011 time to the change our method.
We aim lenses at the State’s weapon,
‘Til they remember whose goddamn streets they’re protecting.
They’d rather see me in a cell
Than me and my cell with a different story to tell.
Camcorder by the dash. Next time you get stopped,
Reach for the celly if you wanna shoot a cop.
On a public sidewalk, you can tape what you see,
Or film from your window with a view of the street!
Neighborhood Crime Watch, we police the Police.
They can’t arrest the whole community.
Because the streets clock. These cops occupying blocks,
Harassing the homeless with batons, pulling glocks.
They stop lawful protests and let off shots…
Abuse prostitutes and misuse power they got.
In memory of the victims who are never forgot,
We’ve gotta’ exercise our right to shed light in the dark.
There is an army on the march that doesn’t want you to watch.
You’ve got a weapon in your pocket whether you know it or not.
We, the people, are the only real media we got.
Let’s protect one another from the fucking goon squad.
Fascism’s coming to the U.S.A.
Eyo, Sage, I got something to say!
Verse 2 (Toki Wright):
Film the police! It’s time to make it our priority.
You see these fools are in abuse of their authority.
Crack a fist or you crack a whip.
But that ain’t power you coward, you beat a man with two shackled wrists.
So put their names up on a list next to an asterisk.
Next time you see ‘em blast a clip, then you flash a flick.
Attach a video and pic to your master list.
Be on the news at 6. YouTube views legit.
The cops watch us, so we gotta have the Cop Watchers.
Been in fear of law so long, so now it’s not awkward.
But what is law when it’s wrong. When you slam us on the floor.
Naw, this ain’t World Wrestling Entertainment Raw.
This is Edutainment, y’all. Got a call from B. Dolan.
You try to squabble with Johnny Law and get your meat swollen.
Why you think Bobby and Huey P. were heat holding?
You better load the footage up and get to key stroking.
And while you at it, send one off to the administration,
It’s indicating, all the physical intimidation.
It’s been too long they said to “bear with us.”
That’s when I run up on your caravan and rip off all your D.A.R.E. stickers.
This here is near Hitler’s; weirder than some mere tickets…
You feel privileged ’til your wife get her brassiere lifted.
You disappear quick as Hoffa if you piss a copper,
Off ya’ til you get a Channel 7 News helicopter.
Violence hides in a code of silence, tyrants hide in an alliance,
Quiet or be left somewhere, or get swept inside it.
It’s Goliath vs. a bigger giant.
Got us pulling over so far we ran a curb and hit a hydrant.
It’s systematic how the system has its symptoms,
Of the democratic law that’s been flawed since the pilgrims landed.
So now tell me what you wanna do? Next time you see the boys in blue,
You cock your camera back and point and shoot.
Verse 3 (Jasiri X):
Film the police! I got the Cannon 7D.
Highest definition for when they try to arrest and lynch ‘em,
Then lie and protest the whippin’, not serve and protect the victims.
Their murders, threats and hitmen…observe ‘em and let the witness be
The iphone. Never let bygones be bygones.
Get your flip cam before they get in the whip and ride on.
It’s vital ’cause our survival could depend on a video going viral,
With more viewers than American Idol.
Instead of having to bury a child who…
The cops shot ’cause they thought they carried a rifle.
Then the same cops will go to court and swear on a bible,
And smile to show the teeth that they’re preparing to lie through.
Whether Crips or Piru ,Vice Lords or Gangsta Disciples,
Make sure your camera lens gets an eyeful.
And they liable to try and confiscate it.
Better hold on to that shit like you’re constipated.
‘Cause they’ll pretend them injuries are not related,
Like, “When we arrived we saw him dive head first off the pavement.”
So keep the mini cam stashed in the dash of your mini van.
They’ll crash and smash on any man.
Pull out your Blackberry ’cause cops will take a shot at your black berry,
‘Til we see another black buried.
Don’t act scary, ’cause they’ll empty the gat on ya’,
Stand over your body just to sprinkle the crack on ya’.
Police attacking ya’. Don’t want to see they reflections like Dracula.
But camera’s capture ya’.
Too busy using your flashlight to batter us,
To notice John Singleton was my passenger.
So point, click and shoot they asses,
It’s the only way to get the real truth to the masses.
Jasiri X, I’m making movies like Spike Lee.
I won’t be a law and order special victim like Ice T.
(1) The Whole World Was Watching. Claude Lewis Remembers the 1968 Police Riot in Chicago.
(2 ) Huff Post World, G-20 Protesters Ordered to Stop March By Pittsburgh Police.
(3 ) Speech from a member of the Spartacus Youth Club at Occupy Oakland. Workers Vanguard, November 11, 2011
In memory Fred Hampton
Fred Hampton— Assassinated Dec.4, 1969
Every December 4th we remember Fred Hampton. For many of us this assassination in the early morning hours, as he lay in his bed with his pregnant wife, changed our politics forever. We had to face the fact that our government had plotted to secretly kill a powerful political leader. If him, how about the others?
Most of the facts have come out over the years. It was part of an FBI program, under President Nixon, to prevent the emergence of what J. Edgar Hoover called “A black Messiah.” There were many raids and arrests and shootings that same week across the country, and the Black Panther Party was in effect decimated.
It turned out the head of security for the Illinois Black Panther Party was an FBI informant. The policeman who led the raid worked for the CIA. F.B.I. Documents showed the program to eliminate black leadership. The government paid $1.8 million dollars in the civil suit.
Why did they target Fred? Because he was so powerful. This brilliant young man had started a free breakfast for children program and was opening a free health clinic. He made alliances with the city’s biggest street gangs, black, latino and white, creating the first “Rainbow Coalition. He wa followed by much of the activist Left. He won a debate with the Smothers Brothers, showing he was open to any good new ideas. I was ten years older than him, but he had my deepest respect.
The cops have never been our friends.
Marxist theory situates the development of the modern state as part of the rise of capitalism, in which the police are one component of the bourgeoisie’s repressive apparatus for subjugating the working class.
“Order derived through submission and maintained by terror is not much of a safe guaranty; yet that is the only “order” that governments have ever maintained. True social harmony grows naturally out of solidarity of interests. In a society where those who always work never have anything, while those who never work enjoy everything, solidarity of interests is non-existent; hence social harmony is but a myth…. Thus the entire arsenal of governments – laws, police, soldiers, the courts, legislatures, prisons – is strenuously engaged in “harmonizing” the most antagonistic elements in society.”…. Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was a frequent target of the police. More times than not when the cops heard that Goldman was coming to town, the lecture hall was shut down,she was prohibited to attend any meetings, or they would arrest her and send her packing out-of-town.
“Most of you left Russia, where you had a Czar who acted in as brutal a way as any man on
earth. Here in America we have capitalistic czars … We have Gould and Astor and Sage
and Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. … You built the palaces and others are living in them. The
politicians are misleading you… We are told God will feed the starving, but that is humbug
in the nineteenth century.”
“I will speak, they can arrest me if they please, but they cannot shut my mouth.”
Emma Goldman – 1893.
Goldman spoke in Union Square in 1893 where she told the thousands gathered:
Police entrapment of homosexual men and harassment of gay bars were widespread; during the 1950s, cities such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., police arrested 100 men a month on misdemeanor charges relating to homosexuality. This harassment was not just limited to the 1950s. This harassment continued throughout the following decades and continues today. One of my very close friends was arrested for a “lingering stare at an undercover cop who was beating his meat in a highway rest stop. This was in 2001. Here in Hartford men were arrested for cruising along the river banks back in the early 1990s.
One case that swelled the ranks of the early homosexual movement before the battle at Stonewall Inn was the case of Dale Jennings.
In the spring of 1952 Dale Jennings was arrested for allegedly soliciting a police officer in a toilet in Westlake Park, now known as MacArthur Park The trial that took place drew national attention to the Mattachine Society and membership increased drastically due to the decision of the Mattachine Society to help contest the charges brought against Jennings. Jennings called fellow Mattachine founder Harry Hay, and they enlisted the help of attorney George Sibley, a member of the Citizens’ Council to Outlaw Entrapment. Jennings was one of the first homosexual men to contest charges such as this one. Most homosexuals at the time pled guilty so as not to be publicly scrutinized. His decision to fight back was a pivotal point in the movement. The organization raised funds and promoted Jennings’ case nationally. The trial began June 23, 1952 and lasted ten days. Jennings confessed to being a homosexual but denied any wrongdoing. While there were different accounts of what exactly occurred that day, by the end of the trial the jury voted 11–1 for acquittal on the basis of police intimidation, harassment, and entrapment of homosexuals, and the case was dismissed. While only Dale Jennings and the police officer know the exact details of that day in the park, the trial brought a lot of attention to the Mattachine Society, increasing awareness of the gay Rights Movement as a whole as well as increasing the organization’s membership.
An excellent article on the Mattachine Society and the trial of Dale Jennings is 1952: Mattachine Battles Police Harassment, Leslie Feinberg, Lavender & Red part 43 found HERE.
Many people caught up in anti-gay police entrapment activity will do anything to avoid publicity and put the case behind them, so this kind of activity usually has little risk for the police officer who, as McCumons alleges in this case, falsifies a factual report to support an arrest in a situation where the arrested person has not actually violated the law. McCumons v. Marougi. Gay Entrapment Someone Fights Back!
Perhaps we can learn something here from our sisters and brothers who fought back. Below are a few facts from an article in Wikipedia titled, List of pre Stonewall LGBT actions in the US. I have chosen ones that tickle my fancy.
May 1956 in LA LGBT people clashed with police at Cooper’s Donuts, a hang-out for drag queens and street hustlers who were frequently harassed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Police arrested three people, including John Rechy, but other patrons began pelting the police with donuts and coffee cups. The LAPD called for back-up and arrested a number of rioters. Rechy and the other two original detainees were able to escape.
August 1966 Gay and transgender customers rioted at Compton’s in response to continued police harassment. The restaurant and the surrounding neighborhood sustained heavy damage. The following night demonstrators threw up another picket line, which quickly descended into new violence and damage to the restaurant.
March 1968 Two drag queens known as “The Princess” and “The Duchess” held a St. Patrick’s Day party at Griffith Park, a popular cruising spot and a frequent target of police activity. More than 200 gay men socialized through the day.
PRESS RELEASE****** I WAS JUST INFORMED THAT THE WEST HARTFORD UNDERCOVER POLICE ARE CRUISING ELIZABETH PARK TRYING TO ENTRAP MEN.******