On December 20, 2014, the sick, corrupted system that passes for justice in this country claimed two more lives. This time it was NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu who were shot in the head by a disturbed young man while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The killer allegedly had made posts on social media referencing Eric Garner and Mike Brown.
This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.
These two officers are both victims of the same institutional racism that ended the life of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and so many before them (and since).
This is a system that creates people so depraved that they attempt to justify almost anything.
People like Darren Wilson who, by his own words, feels no remorse for shooting down an unarmed 18 year old in the street. When pressed, he can’t think of thing he would do differently even retrospect. Yet many, many people can come up with a litany of things that could have been done differently.
It creates people who can race up a sidewalk in a car and within 2 seconds scream at and fatally shoot an innocent, no doubt, terrified 12 year old. A child that was just moments before simply sitting on the swings at a playground.
Yes, it also creates a disturbed young man that decides to shoot down two police officers sitting in a patrol car in Brooklyn. Ours is a system that refuses to provide care for people who have mental illness unless it can make obscene profits from their care. It causes people to be born, grow up and live in abject poverty with no real hope for improvement. Perhaps most viciously, it tells them that they are failures, even though the system is stacked completely against them.
This perverse and evil system actively works to keep people divided along arbitrary lines in order to perpetuate itself and maintain control for those few that dominate the many. It is necessary for the fundamental working of this system that the people remain divided and fighting over the minimal resources the system allots to them. Note I say the minimal resources the system makes available to them, not the resources available. This system is dispassionate and unaware, it devours everything it contacts, be it people, the environment, anything. Like a cancer or a virus, it just does what it does. But unlike the cancer or virus, this system is not a natural part of the ecology, it is a man made construct designed for a purpose: to provide nearly limitless power and enrichment to those few ruthless enough to take profit and power from the misery it creates.
Atrocities such as the above are not just a byproduct of this system, they are a vital component of it. Its very existence is dependent on fostering the idea among the people that in order for one to win, another must lose, that some are inherently better than others. The system doesn’t really care if you are Black, Brown, Gay, Straight, Transgender, or anything else about you. It only cares that it can profit from you, and that you think these things matter and stay divided. To the system you are just a commodity to be consumed.
Because this system is a man-made construct, it requires human tools to actively promote the hatred and divisiveness it needs to function. It creates individuals so intent on maintaining their own position and power that they abandon their humanity. At low levels, it creates tools like Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (Note 1), Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the NYPD (Note 2), or the prosecutor in St. Louis who admits to presenting what he knew to be false testimony to the grand jury there.
Currently, these tools are trying to frame people protesting and calling for justice as terrorists. But they, and other representatives of the system, are the ones causing terror. They proclaim loudly things like they are a war-time police department. They tirelessly work day in and day out to create an environment of fear and mistrust, and that is what is putting good officers in danger. They train their officers to fear and despise the people, instill a culture of ‘us against them’ every single day.
The approval ratings for congress have hovered around 10% for years, indicating that 85-90% of the people know the government doesn’t represent them. How does the system prevent this huge majority of the people from demanding real change? It carefully controls who we can elect. It does this by controlling the ideas we hear through control of the mass media. It perpetuates the myth that it is “those other’s” that are the cause of our trouble, be it immigrants, Blacks, etc. In short, it keeps us divided by attempting to keep us from seeing us as one people.
If the system sees groups begin to challenge these notions, it brutally represses them through its police powers. Time and again, we have seen this – during the labor movement early in the last century, the civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s, and most recently in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The system is Capitalism. By definition Capitalism is: an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets and wage labor. I emphasize the capital accumulation for a reason. In our system, capital equals power and capital (power) has been accumulating more and more rapidly to a smaller and smaller percentage of people. This is a central characteristic of the system. For example. while the number of media outlets have expanded greatly, the ownership of them has concentrated in a very small number of people (power to control exposure to ideas). Studies show that the will and desire of the people have no discernible effect on policies and laws passed, that the desires of large corporate entities (the beneficiaries of capital accumulation) are what dictate the policies and passage of laws. Most people know this by observation.
What enough of us haven’t connected yet is that it is the very system of capitalism that is driving these outcomes. Enough of us do not recognize this because we have been taught to equate capitalism with freedom, democracy, etc. But, if we look critically we can see that this is not the case. In fact, we see that capitalism is rapidly destroying both freedom and democracy. Even such a simple freedom of a child being able to sit on a swing, or having access to water in Detroit.
The young people in Ferguson and all over the country have it right when the say “the whole damn system is guilty as hell.” Until and unless enough of us realize it, we will be stuck with the inhumane mess that this depraved system creates.
Note 1: Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, who flippantly justifies the killing of a 12 year old child playing in the park. Actually telling the public that every one of the officers on his force would do the same thing.
Note 2: Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the NYPD has spent the last weeks spewing insane rhetoric about a war-time police department. Attacking the Mayor and anyone else that might make the (all too mild) suggestion that things could be done differently. The President of an organization that had some of it’s members wearing t-shirts mocking the very real grief, outrage, and fear, of a large part of the community (“I CAN BREATHE”).