Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Orleans Police Killings, the courts and capitalism

By Monica Moorehead
Published Dec 15, 2010 9:47 PM

The New Orleans Police Department is known for carrying out heinous acts of racist brutality, especially within the African-American and other oppressed communities. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which all too painfully exposed broken levees in the predominantly Black Ninth Ward, many police shootings of unarmed Black residents took place as people were desperately trying to escape and survive flooded New Orleans.

An untold number of these residents lost their lives during these senseless shootings. Few police and few of the armed white vigilantes who shot and killed these residents are likely to ever be brought to justice for these crimes against humanity.

Given this history, it was somewhat unusual that some of these NOPD killings came to light — four years after they took place. One was the case of Henry Glover, a 31-year-old Black man who was shot in the back on Sept. 2, 2005, by police officer David Warren. The officer claimed that Glover had a weapon when he shot him. Henry was barely alive when his brother, King, flagged down a Black motorist, William Tanner, in an attempt to get Henry to a hospital.

They asked the police to help them. The cops handcuffed and then beat King Glover and Tanner. Meanwhile, Henry Glover bled to death in the back seat of Tanner’s car. Once Glover died, one of the cops burned his body and the car beyond recognition. In early 2009, the Nation magazine broke the story of the charred body and the car being found. This discovery helped to lead to federal indictments against five NOPD officers on various charges.

On Dec. 9 a New Orleans jury found Warren guilty of violating Glover’s civil rights along with manslaughter. Two other officers were found guilty of burning Tanner’s car and attempted cover-up of the killing. Two other officers were completely acquitted. While some may feel that some justice was served in this case, Henry Glover’s aunt, Rebecca Glover, stated that the officers should have been convicted for the murder of her nephew. Warren will most certainly serve less time in prison for the manslaughter conviction.

The case of Henry Glover brings to mind the cases of the fatal police shootings of other unarmed Black men like Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo and many others. In these cases and countless more, none of the killer cops were charged with murder, much less convicted of murder. Some of these police would not have been put on trial even for manslaughter if there weren’t some level of mass organizing from the oppressed communities and their political allies.

Under capitalism, the police are a repressive force not subject to the same laws that oppress the workers and the oppressed. Cops can get away with murder because they are protected by the same laws that protect the private property and profits of the bosses and bankers. The only way to get rid of police brutality is to get rid of the entire capitalist system, root and branch. That will take a socialist revolution.
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