BROOKLYN, NY, August 25 — “Racist cops you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” rang out as demonstrators chanted throughout the summer in front of the 67th police precinct.
New York City’s cops, courts and media hoped to cover up the racist murder of Shantel Davis, a 23-year-old unarmed black woman who, on June 14, black NYPD Detective Phillip Atkins falsely accused of having a criminal record. For months protestors have fought back, forcing New York’s rulers to respond.
Shantel’s family and supporters, including many organized by PLP, have defied the cops, marching in the streets to that precinct without a permit, a change from earlier legal sidewalk marches.
The committee has also sent a solidarity statement to Anaheim, Ca., anti-police brutality demonstrators and collected hundreds of online and paper signatures demanding that Brooklyn DA (District Attorney) Charles Hynes indict Atkins.
Days after the more militant march and a growing petition drive, Hynes offered to meet with Shantel’s family. Before that there was no indication of a criminal investigation. The bosses figured they’d gotten away with another racist murder. But the actions of Shantel’s family, PLP and other supporters forced Hynes to act, however limited.
The Two-Faced D.A.
At the meeting Hynes privately promised he would investigate Atkins for possible criminal charges. Publicly he promised nothing. Hynes even demanded that supporters refrain from public protests while he met privately with the family, citing blatant police lies that we were going to storm his office and sit in.
Some supporters on the street, including a PL’er and a family member, wanted to stick to the support committee’s decision to protest. But others, some family members in the meeting and mainly the ISO (International Socialist Organization), wanted to obey the DA instead. The supporters did not protest. At a discussion days later we in PLP argued it was a mistake not to protest.
Hynes works with the cops on a daily basis. As the DA, he unjustly jails masses of mainly black, Latino and immigrant youth, largely for non-violent drug offenses. But the courts, cops and capitalists need these legal lynchings to help the bosses create fear and hopelessness.
Hynes letting Atkins walk shows other cops that racist police terror is still acceptable under capitalist law. Workers deserve a communist system — without unemployment, wage slavery and racism — that educates healthy young people to work productively for our class needs.
PLP Grows in Class Struggle
PLP unites the working class to fight back against racist double unemployment rates for black and Latino workers and youth, constant police harassment, oil wars for profit, cuts to education and health funding and racist anti-immigrant laws.
These fights enable PLP to grow and to learn how to lead a communist, worker-run society. But the DA only wants Shantel’s family and supporters to give up and go away. Not protesting signaled to Hynes that it won’t take much to make that happen. After discussion, the committee decided to continue forward with a more militant approach.
At the final August march, despite smaller numbers, we again demonstrated in the street at the 67th precinct. When a police Lieutenant, flanked by two cops, ordered us to get back behind the barricades and to turn off our bullhorn, no one obeyed. Noticing our determination, the cops backed off.
But no U.S. mayor, DA or police commissioner has ever locked up a cop for murder, even with determined protests, like the 2000 rebellion in Flatbush, Brooklyn, against the police murder of Patrick Dorismond (see box, page 5).
To truly win justice for Shantel Davis and all the other victims of capitalism, workers must build a movement not only to rebel against racism but also to destroy its source, capitalism, with communist revolution.
At the last August rally, Shantel’s uncle blasted the police for protecting drug pushing, dirty cops like Detective Atkins and for wounding nine bystanders days before while shooting an armed gunman in Manhattan. But he also insisted there are good cops like those in Shantel’s family.
One PLP member, originally from South Asia and recently returned from Haiti, spoke about how racist cops attack workers worldwide. She said the police, a tool of the state, are used to serve the bosses. All cops are enemies of workers. The real problem is capitalism. She called on workers to fight directly for communist revolution and join PLP.
PL’ers are continuing to work with the family to force the DA to indict Atkins. But we know workers can’t rely on the bosses’ courts for justice.
The growth of a fighting PLP is the only way to guarantee that the bosses won’t get away with racist police murder. No matter how long it takes, PLP will eventually lead the working class to smash the bosses’ cops and courts and establish a communist society worthy of Shantel Davis and every worker struck down by capitalism worldwide.