FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On Organizing Against Police Violence

by AJAMU NANGWAYA

“Organization is the weapon of the oppressed.”

– Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael)

Racialized working-class communities and individuals and Indigenous peoples in North America know the daily reality of police violence and containment. We do not need the intervention of civil liberties organizations, critical criminology courses or the exposure of police violence at a G20 Summit to become conscious of the fact that when the police serve and protect, we are not included within that protective cloak.

Based on our experience of colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalist exploitation, we are quite aware of the fact that the police serve and protect the interest of socially dominant groups. We have the scars, memories of loved ones and comrades maimed or killed or the presence of the police in our communities as an occupation army as objective and wise teachers of the true role of the police in an oppressive society.

The killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, after a trial in Florida, inspired outrage and mobilization among Afrikan people and others of good conscience across North America.

On July 27, 2013, a Toronto cop killed 17-year-old Sammy Yatim in a case that reeks of unwarranted and excessive use of force against this racialized and mentally distress child. The killing was caught on tape and widely circulated in the media. This killing has mobilized many of Toronto’s youth and others in the street and on blogs, Facebook pages and walls and twitter.

However, mobilizing around each case of police violence and sitting down when the issue in no longer showing up in our Facebook news feed and in the mass media will not tackle this oppressive behaviour. We need to organize on a 24/7 basis against police violence. It can only be done through organizations and the accompanying programmes and projects that check the action of these agents of violence.

The following actions are offered as a path to organizing the community against police violence and they ought to be executed as part of an integrated and comprehensive approach:

1. Form local community-controlled organizations that organize, educate and mobilize against police violence. In the past, we have neglected to organize local communities and equip them with the knowledge, skills, attitude and material resources to tackle police violence.

2. Develop “Know Your Rights” educational programmes so that the members of the community are aware of the full range of their rights and the information that they can legally withhold from the police. Often-times members of our communities consent to the search of their person and possession as well as give the police personal information out of ignorance of the dictates of the law.

3. Organize Copwatch programmes that visually record the interaction of the police with members of the community. The Black Panther Party was the originator of the practice of observing and recording the action of the police. We should acquire the audio-visual resources to document acts of police violence. The negative reaction of many cops on being filmed interacting with the public is an indication that they might have something to conceal from us.

4. Create smart phone applications that record acts of police violence. The New York Civil Liberties Union has created a “stop and frisk” phone application that films police action, alerts users to the location of an incident of police violence and generates a survey to document the details of the contact with the police.

5. Organize a creative and sustained public education campaign. There has been a decline in Canadians’ confidence in the police. Police accountability organizers should use this development to educate the people about the structural nature of police violence. The police are the guardians of the systems of privilege and social domination and we need to make this reality a self-evident truth in the consciousness of the people.

6. Develop a roster of human rights and criminal defense lawyers. The names and contact information of these lawyers would be widely circulated on wallet-sized cards with “Know Your Rights” information. These lawyers would serve as first responders when one is detained or arrested by the cops. The Law Union of Ontario could be a source for the recruitment of lawyers to defend people against police violence. You would search for progressive lawyers in your community, if there is not an association of social justice-oriented lawyers.

7. Sue the police in small claims court. We would educate and support people who are victimized by police violence to seek financial compensation in small claims courts for certain types of violation of their rights.

8. Use human rights tribunals to make police violence financially costly. Some complainants have used human rights tribunal to win financial awards or settlements from city governments and/or cops. The wide-scale and successful use of the tribunal might force the city to reign in the violent behaviour of the police.

9. Link our work against police violence to the mass incarceration of indigenous and racialized people. The class, gender and racial implications of the prison industrial complex must be exposed, challenged and eliminated.

We need to join or create organizations and build a mass movement to fight police violence and the prison industrial complex.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an organizer with the Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity and the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator, organizer and writers. He is an organizer with the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail