By Justine S., Red Phoenix correspondent, Minnesota.
Minneapolis has just agreed to a settlement with its Department of Human Rights to “eliminate” racist practices in the police force. This agreement goes further than the now-dead HF 1078 by targeting various common racist practices, such as Stop-and-Frisk, Use of Force, Lack of Accountability, and Training to Respond with Excessive Force. Additionally, as Star Tribune claims, the city “cannot walk away from this legally binding agreement.” On the surface, this seems like a great improvement to the police department of Minnesota.
A cursory glance at the evidence, however, shows that this agreement is a weak attempt to placate Black and working class residents. This “agreement,” which will be enforced by an “independent reviewer,” has no real mechanism to ensure that its measures are enforced. This means there is no democratic system of review. There is no civilian council in this agreement. Additionally, as in previous attempts to reduce racist discrimination (for example in the public school systems, or previous police reforms), the City Council might wait a few years for the attention brought by the George Floyd murder to pass. After those years it could quietly reinstate racist policies measures, or else find new ways the police force might enforce racist and working class repression. This agreement does not mitigate the power of police unions, nor does it replace the police force with members of the community. “Retraining” (which, again, has no civilian oversight) will not change the deep seated practices of the department without core changes, namely, bringing in an entirely new force under conditions where racist economic, political, and pedagogical practices are rooted out of American society. Currently the lack of processes for civilian accountability leaves just as much opportunity for abuse.
This new bill is an attempt to preserve the police department, both by retaining its previous members, and by maintaining policing as an organ of the state to deal with labor. Additionally, these independent committees only have the appearance of commitment, but without any actual public accountability. Body cams have proven to be an ineffective measure; and the banning specifically of chokeholds indicates that other types of violence can reasonably be argued to be “non-violent.” This masquerades as a concession to the proletariat, and tries to appear to conform to new demands for lack of discrimination. In short it preserves a powerful institution of the state.
Moreover, this reform will not change the fundamental purpose of the police, which is to enforce the laws of capitalists. In the U.S. in particular, the police serve a double function of protecting the interests of capitalists directly, as well as oppressing Black people and people of color. It perpetuates the racial domination which divides the working class from solidarity and joint resistance.
Despite this shameful effort by the city of Minneapolis, there are still ongoing efforts to put Community Control of the Police solidly and firmly on the ballot. Though we are not electoralists, as Marxist-Leninists it is our duty to engage in preserving the few bourgeois rights we do have, and fighting for their further implementation and expansion while providing a Marxist analysis.
Below are events and groups currently fighting for Community Control in Minnesota:
April 23, 2023, 10 AM–4 PM, in front of the Wedge Coop, 2105 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis: The Anti-War Committee MN and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar are running a petition (signable by any registered voter in MN) to the State of Minnesota to create a Civilian Police Accountability Commission.
Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar
Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro
Blue LIES Matter
Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence
Justice for Marcus Golden
Native Lives Matter
AFSCME Local 3800
AFSCME Local 2822
Minnesota Workers United
MN Immigrants Rights Action Committee
Student Movement Activists of South High
Twin Cities Omega Zuluz
UMN Students for a Democratic Society
Women Against Military Madness
Categories: Police Brutality, U.S. News