Bottom Line: Fire Some Cops
A U.S. Justice Department report shows Philadelphia police are five times as trigger happy as cops in New York City. The report contains 49 findings and 91 recommendations on better training and community relations, but Linn Washington Jr., a professor of journalism at Temple University, isn’t impressed. Over the past 25 years, the city’s police department has been the subject of “two dozen reports, federal consent decrees and executive orders,” said Washington. “The issue is not the ideas, the issue is implementation and enforcement. The bottom line is, you have to make police accountable. The police who engage in misconduct need to be fired.” But, that seldom happens in Philadelphia.
The Limits of Criminal Justice Reform
Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka held a third public hearing on his proposal to create a Civilian Complaint Review Board with subpoena powers. Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, which would be empowered to appoint one member to the board, has no illusions that the board will compel cops to respect Black people’s rights. “We fight for reforms in the hope that these reforms will ameliorate the suffering of the people,” said Hamm. “But, we also fight for reforms because we believe that people have to go through the reform process to deepen their understanding of the need for more fundamental, structural social change.”
Black Martyrs, Old and New
Cinque S. Djahspora, a 20 year-old online MIT student shot in the back by a policeman last November, is among the many victims of racist violence who will be honored on April 4, in Jackson, Tennessee. The town is near the site of Fort Pillow where, on April 12, 1864, hundreds of Black soldiers and civilians were massacred by Confederates under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who went on to become the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. “What we want folks to understand is that the killing of one person, based on his membership in a group, is genocide,” said Dr. Randy Short, one of the organizers of Black Martyrs’ Day, in Jackson.
“Black Lives Matter” Resonates in Johannesburg
South African labor and social activists marched on the American embassy in Johannesburg in solidarity with the U.S.-based Black Lives Matter mobilization. United Front organizer John Manana said South African Blacks are all too familiar with police brutality. “Our protesters everywhere in South Africa continue to suffer the same way from the capitalist regime.” Police killed 34 striking miners at Marikana in the summer of 2012, accelerating a split between leftists and the ruling African National Congress regime.