Incarceration Nation

Why the Police Reform Bill is Doomed to Fail

By Comrade Pitt

“The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling class.” —V.I. Lenin

This quote by Vladimir Lenin essentially sums up what this essay is about however I’ll explain further as to why the recently enacted police reform bill by congress is doomed to fail. We all witnessed George Floyd choked to death and Breonna Taylor was shot eight times as she slept while police raided her home unannounced and without knocking. On this police reform bill choke holds and no knock warrants have been banned but this bill fails to acknowledge or address the systemic racism which exists and is deeply entrenched in police departments across the country. This bill will most likely prevent a few unnecessary deaths but its overall purpose will more likely than not prove inauspicious.

Subsequent to the murder of Mike Brown, calls for police reforms echoed around the country and the reaction was to implement and mandate body cameras on police in most states. However that response failed to prevent further unjustifiable murders of Black men and women, in many cases, including the murder of George Floyd. Cameras played a role in capturing it, yet did not deter former officer Derek Chauvin from killing George Floyd. In fact, at one point he even looked directly at the camera unfazed.

Another example is from the 2019 killing of Elijah McClain, a unarmed young Black man who was murdered by Colorado police using the same chokehold tactic as was used on Eric Garner. His last words were “I can’t breathe!” Sentiments we’ve heard far too often. This murder was captured on police body cameras yet nothing ever came from it. In fact, this case went under the radar and only resurfaced after the death of George Floyd.

In essence, every police reform that has been instituted has fallen flat on its face and this new police reform bill will also face the same outcome. To understand the reason why you cannot reform the police system and receive the intended results it’s important to take a look at the history of police structure and how it emerged.

Following real, even rumored slave revolts or slave runaways, the institution of slave patrol emerged. In response armed white militia men were hired by slave owners to take shifts riding around between plantations breaking up slave gatherings, apprehending slave runaways, protecting white lives and property.

This system of policing gradually evolved into an actual professional job and “public safety” was no longer in the hands of amateur night watchmen or plantation overseer. It had been transferred to a full-time professional body built on the core ideology and foundation of white supremacy. After slavery was abolished, during the Post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras this very system was employed to deter and terrorize Afrikan Amerikans from participation in public life—especially voting. Those who attempted to vote were subject to public lynching which would send a message to other Blacks. The “white League brotherhood,” “KKK” and “The Pale Face” paramilitary organizations also assisted this newly formed police system in the reign of terror. In fact, most of them were also employed as police officers. In response, in 1870 congress enacted the “Enforcement Act” which established de facto quasi-penalties for voter suppression by anyone including police who attempted to keep people from registering to vote based on race, but this reform failed to produce the intended result. To this very day voter suppression remains a major issue in many states.

It has been sickening watching how some Black prominent politicians are under some illusion that this newly enacted police reform bill will change how police police Black men and women. Just as the 1870 Congress “Enforcement Act” bill failed, and every one after that, this too is bound to fail. This is pure political theatre and empty moralization by playing games with the same system that is and has been hell bent by the ruling class to terrorize and murder Blacks. I have heard far too often that the “System is broken.” This is a poor and lame response to a problem larger than the system being broken when the system actually works like a well-oiled machine as it was intended to.

Contrary to the optics and narrative, the core issue here is of white police unjustifiably killing unarmed Black men and women. Though in some cases the killings have been undoubtably race motivated, we have to take into account that overall Black police officers compose a small percentage of police officers nationwide, which increases the likelihood of white police interacting with Black communities. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, it’s important to not get caught up in race and see this issue as solely white police killing unarmed Blacks because, make no mistake, Black police officers also brutalize and murder other unarmed Black civilians just as viciously as any white cop. The issue isn’t a “few bad apples” or “training.” They don’t need to be “trained” not to kill unarmed white civilians at the same rate as they kill unarmed Blacks. The issue here is the system and until we all wake up and recognize that capitalist-imperialism is at the root of all our problems, we will continue to suffer tragic losses and be manipulated by political opportunists with empty chicanery rhetoric and enactment of useless bills which will not end the reign of white supremacy but merely perpetuate it.

In the 1960s urban uprisings in Los Angeles, Oakland, Watts, Benton Harbor, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, Ferguson, MO, Baltimore, MD., Minneapolis, MN, etc., people have protested. Uprisings seem to have occured simultaneously and more often. In the wake of many of these unprecedented revolts and protests came obvious political awakening and organizing that has genuinely threatened the system and calls to defund, even dismantle, the police continue to echo. They have intensified the pressure on the need for social change and social justice. However we cannot afford to be complacent and be appeased by mere reforms only to end up protesting and outraged at yet more killings of unarmed Black men and women weeks or months later.

Imagine if police policed white communities with the same violence and militarized approach as they do Black communities, or if they murdered unarmed whites at the same rate as they do Blacks. Reforms would’ve been the last thing on the minds of white Amerikans, revolution would’ve occurred long ago. The bottom line is that the solution to this issue is to dismantle and abolish the entire Police System. No amount of reforms, defunding or training is enough to change it. This is a rotten system built on the foundation of white supremacy ideology and sheer hate. There is no reforming it. Attempts to do so are synonymous with attempting to cure cancer with Tylenol. Abolition is the sole logical solution and policing needs to be re-imagined but this also implies getting rid of capitalism/imperialism and paving the way to socialism and eventual transition to communism. Until then it’s merely a matter of time before we’re right back in the streets chanting “Hands up, Don’t shoot,” “I can’t breathe” or “no justice, no…” You know the rest by now.

Write to Comrade Pitt, New Afrikan Black Panther party

United Panther Movement Minister of education:

Peter Kamau Mukuria 1197165

Red Onion State Prison

PO Box 1900

Pound, VA 24279