Poor 'kept in place' by government, capitalism
letter to the editor, Gary Sudborough
Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times by the New York City police for pulling a wallet out of his pocket. Abner Louima was brutalized with a broomstick and suffered permanent injury due to this same police department. In Los Angeles there is the ever-expanding Rampart scandal, where police planted drugs and guns on people to incriminate them and even shot a handcuffed person in the head causing paralysis, and then helped send him to prison as a criminal. A few years ago in Philadelphia, there was a similar police scandal.
The U.S. media treat these incidents as aberrations with no real systemic cause, and even liberals and leftists maintain that all that is needed is civilian oversight. I disagree with both these viewpoints.
The police in the U.S. serve the same purpose domestically as the military and the CIA does in foreign countries — to keep poor people in their proper place. For example, the CIA overthrew a government in Gautemala on behalf of the United Fruit Company and a government in Iran on behalf of American oil companies, eliminating governments that were responsive to the needs of the poor.
Public safety is a concern of the police departments, but it is only a secondary function. The primary function of the police is to repress dissent, strikes, demonstrations and any organized threat to the existing property relationships in society. In other words, it is to protect capitalism.
At times the National Guard can serve this same function. On April 20, 1914, the Colorado National Guard opened fire with machine guns on a tent colony of striking miners, killing men, women and children in what became known as the Ludlow Massacre.
Corporate crime in terms of pollution, unsafe working condition, unsafe products and wars to protect their interests costs the country far more in lives and property loss than all the crime committed by poor people. Yet, how many corporate executives does one find in prison?
If anyone doubts my analysis, just read “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. The documentation is very extensive.
April 17, 2000
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, May 2, 2000