Michael Cavlan has the expressed permission of the X Vandals to use this song and video clip Plan B in his article titled Police Brutality And City Hall.
Please note that it was written on Friday March 6th, 2015 but due to technical copyright issues was not published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet until Saturday March 14th, two days after two police officers were shot in Ferguson, Missouri.
On November 25th, 2014 Jeffrey Patrick Rice of St Paul, Minnesota plowed his car into a protest against police killings in Minneapolis. After knocking over a group of protesters and trapping a 16 year old girl under his car, he sped away, putting others at risk. The Minneapolis police talked to him after the incident and let him go without even a ticket. Their initial report called Mr Rice the “victim” and the young girl that had been trapped under his car and others injured by him as “others.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune initially reported the police version of Mr Rice being the “victim” who was “fleeing the mob.” They also interviewed the mother of Mr Rice. They initially did not interview the parents of the young 16 year old trapped under the car of Mr Jeffrey Rice.
On February 13th the Star Tribune reporter Paul Walsh reported that the Hennepin County Prosecuting Attorney is refusing to charge Mr Rice with any crime. The article further claims that Minneapolis Police are asking the City to charge Mr Rice. This is the same Minneapolis Police that called him the victim in their initial report. That has had a long and ugly reputation of racism and brutality. It also seems to lay hope that the local officials of Minneapolis who have done nothing but cover up and protect the thumper cops running rampant in Minneapolis will do anything about this. Or indeed the current “legal” system in place will protect us from individuals like Jeffrey Patrick Rice.
I suppose we should next see an article extolling the cheap sale of a bridge in Brooklyn or the existence of sparkly ponies for us all.
Instead all of this shows us an deeper and darker reality for the people of Minneapolis and elsewhere concerned about the issue of police accountability.
Quite frankly, we are completely on our own. The current members of the City Council, including Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau, the judicial system itself and the vast majority of journalists are not our friends and will not protect us. This is a chilling reality but it also has it’s own benefits. It shows us with stark clarity that which some of us activists have already known for a very very long time. That the current system, elected representatives, judicial system, police and media are no longer in anyway credible. That none of them can be considered legitimate.
Which means that whenever any of these individuals call for some type of symbolic action that they can immediately be discounted as what we have seen for decades. Nothing but meaningless window-dressing meant to keep us quiet.
However this also leads to a number of even more chilling conclusion. That we can no longer trust the authorities to protect us or for the system to prosecute those who attack us, even with video evidence.
First it sends a message to others like Jeffrey Patrick Rice that they can indeed harm us and the authorities will not intervene. To use the legal term, it sets up a precedent. This lead immediately to the next conclusion. That it is up to us to protect ourselves. However there can be another even more ominous reality to be considered.
If indeed it is true, that the legal system and judicial system are no longer legitimate forms of justice in the eyes of many, that there are people who will step in and exact justice by other means. Since the system has failed us and justice is indeed central to the ideals of humanity. That the ideals of Liberty and Justice for all, as extolled by revolutionaries like Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine is of course the author of the book, The Rights Of Man and one of the leading proponents of the American Revolution. Thomas Paine and other early American revolutionaries realized that the British controlled colonies of the Americas were not a source of freedom and liberty. They did not recognize the British system of taxation or the system here as legitimate. As an aside, Thomas Paine was considered to be a significant inspiration for the ideals of Wolfe Tone, considered the father of Irish Republicanism. Central to the ideology of Irish Republican thinking is the illegitimacy of the British state in Ireland and all the institutions that keep it in place. While it is true that the original American revolutionaries were in fact themselves denying liberty and freedom to many people, namely Africans brought here as slaves, women, Native Americans and poor indentured slaves from Europe, the ideals behind them, Liberty, freedom and the illigitimacy of the current system remains relevant and central.
This is the dilemma that those of us who have been fighting police brutality and accountability find ourselves today. All the current institutions, elected representatives, the “legal” system including courts, lawyers, judges; the media all are now seen as being opposed to true justice and equality in Minnesota and the United States today.
This reality has always created the political vacuum into which individuals and groups can and will decide to act outside of the current system. Those who work to keep the system appearing ‘legitimate” and intact will use all the forces and powers available to them. We sen this in the late 60’s and early 70’s with the rise and organization of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which was born in Oakland in direct response to police brutality and the system which allowed it.
However to those who have arrived at the point of understanding that the system itself and those who cheerlead for it are themselves illegitimate, they have become irrelevant. They are in fact viewed as working, collaborating with the enemies of justice and equality in America.
This is in fact a very dark and scary place that we who are struggling for justice and equality have entered into in the United States. We have not asked for it and in fact many of us have struggles, some for decades through the system to enact justice. The very fact that police brutality and even murder has increased, not decreased have shown us the failure of the system itself to enact a truly equal justice system here.
History has taught us that groups like the Black Panthers were infiltrated by the state, precisely because they were a threat to them. Some are co-opted, bought out however then many of their leaders, like Fred Hampton in Chicago were themselves summarily executed by the police, on behalf of the system. Then we seen the importation of crack cocaine and heroin, mainly into poor black neighborhoods in the United States. Initiated by groups like the Central Intelligence Agency. All of this was documented in the 80’s by one of the last true journalists in the United States, Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News.
From this the next generation of fighters for equality should take note of this and learn from these experiences. Do not accept the words or actions of those who try and legitimize a system that has proven to be corrupt beyond redemption. Ensure that any leaders who have even the appearance of being co-opted, selling out or working with the enemy, in other words collaborating are replaced immediately and kept clear of any critical intelligence or information.
And remember, to quote from that tired out cliche of a movie made by and for the enemy- Rambo- “They drew first blood.”
Michael Cavlan has been an activist on the issue of police brutality and accountability in Minnesota for over 15 years. He was raised in a poor Catholic housing project in northern Ireland during the “Troubles” as the conflict there has been called. He has been an activist since attending a Civil Rights demonstration for Catholics in northern Ireland in 1969 at the age of ten years old and remains a life long Irish Republican.