Police Violence and Liberal Politicians Spending

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2117 ... June 9, 2020

Police Violence and Liberal Politicians’ Spending

Sonali Kolhatkar

Not since the mass protests that originated in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 when a white police officer killed a black man named Michael Brown, has the United States witnessed the current magnitude of the movement against police brutality. The brutal videotaped killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, has pushed Americans to the limit of what they will tolerate from police. Huge multiracial protests have broken out in hundreds of cities demanding an end to racist policing. While many of the problems can be laid at the feet of President Donald Trump, whose administration obliterated the modest Obama-era police reforms and who has delighted in openly encouraging police to be violent, the current status quo of accepting and encouraging racist and murderous policing has been a largely bipartisan project at the federal, state, and local level.

Protests against police brutality have a long history that predates the rallying cry of "Black Lives Matter" becoming a household phrase. Well before Trump was on the... national scene, Democrats and Republican leaders have had many years to right the wrongs that black activists and community leaders were decrying. After Rodney King’s 1991 brutal beating was caught on tape in Los Angeles and the acquittal of his abusers sparked a historic and violent uprising, there were years of reforms aimed at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that resulted in only the mildest changes. The liberal city, dominated by Democrats, continues to have the largest number of police killings nationwide and to date, the city’s first black female district attorney, Jackie Lacey, has refused to prosecute a single officer during her tenure.

When Eric Garner was choked to death in 2014 by police in Staten Island, New York City, his horrific killing, captured on video, and his last words, "I can’t breathe," sparked mass protests and deep discourse about reforming police protocols. But just as in Los Angeles, the core demand that activists have been making at least since the police murder of Amadou Diallo in 1999 -- that those who violate rights should be held legally accountable -- has gone unmet. Daniel Pantaleo, the New York Police Department (NYPD) officer who put Garner in a chokehold, remained on the force for five years and was ultimately fired but never charged. Like the LAPD, the NYPD has enjoyed the protection of a largely liberal and Democratic political landscape.

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