LANGLEY PARK, MD, September 24 — “Fight Back!” chanted PLPers at a rally against police brutality today. Over 150 people gathered here, led by CASA de Maryland (an immigrant workers’ rights group) and supported by the People’s Coalition for Police Accountability. Protesters spoke out against the police murder of Manuel Jesus de Espina, the lynching of Ronnie White by prison guards (officially a homicide according to the coroner’s report), and the SWAT attack on the mayor of Berwyn Heights. Dorothy Elliott reminded protestors of the long struggle for justice, which she has been seeking for the murder of her son by police in the 1990s.
PLP members brought a message of militancy and revolution to this gathering, distributing over 40 CHALLENGES to fellow protestors. Many in the crowd appreciated the more militant spirit. A Guatemalan man eagerly took DESAFIO and said, “we need a society where everyone is equal — these police will continue the brutality until we have a new system.” He liked PLP’s international organizing and outlook, and planned to show the paper to his friends and family. A worker from El Salvador was visibly angry, declaring “the police are without shame; they come in the community and want our help, then they turn around and kill our friend. On top of that, when we stay on the corner looking to work, they kick us off the corner with threat of arrest, when I am only just trying to feed my family.”
With the exception of the poignant personal stories and the revolutionary line of the PLP, this event was only a symbolic rally that had the effect of quelling any sense of fight-back. It is almost as if the organizers were saying: “Come out, light a candle, think about the victims, then go home and continue your lives as wage slaves and you will be lucky if you are not targeted by the police.” Many workers were optimistic that the rally might lead to justice. But we need to build a fighting spirit of anti-racist militancy in the spirit of John Brown and Harriet Tubman and swell the ranks of the PLP to advance this struggle beyond symbolism.
The reality of the situation is that under capitalism, police protect the bosses and their property and use racist terror against workers. The long history of police brutality will not be ended by rallies alone. At a time when the bosses’ financial meltdown will lead to more oppression of workers, the bosses will need to control fight-back with brutality and intimidation. Only the development of a mass militant anti-racist movement, ultimately leading to a revolution against capitalism, can stem the tide of police brutality.