“(F)or the 1st time in a number of years we have become a “wartime” police department. We will act accordingly” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, head Pat Lynch said” – , in response to two officers [Officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32] being gunned down by Ismaaiyl Brinsley after driving directly from Baltimore after killing his girlfriend in cold blood. It is not a “wartime” police department with 179 reported fatalities when on duty officers kill, but it’s “wartime” police department unfortunately when a disturbed man does an individualistic act of assassination. This act of desperation, supposedly motivated by anger at the current state of affairs intertwined with an obviously sick mental state, Ismaaiyl Brinsley unfortunately brought a “Haymarket” hurdle into the moment in NYC. This “Haymarket moment” [like the Haymarket massacre] is faced with the difficulty of an individual act of violence being injected into a quickly moving movement in a city faced with severe police brutality.
This act, if anything, presents the disparity of the situation, as well as the narratives. We speak of James Holmes as a sick man for killing 12 and injuring 70 with what almost appears to be “a random act of violence” in an Aurora theatre, yet see the terms of the situation of Ismaaiyl Brinsley assassinating NYPD officers being drawn out as an act of war. This double standard should not go unnoticed, as it is shedding light on the how bad the situation will continue to get with the current state of affairs. This is not to sympathize with an individual act of killing, but understanding the motivation and why it is politically difficult for pushing larger change. Ismaaiyl did not kill these officers solely because he may or may not have had a serious mental illness, but the illness already is the society he was introduced in as a black man. The unfortunate reality in this country, is that the police do not recognize the day to day humiliation they have put people through, en mass, resulting with many who have a serious ax to grind with them. The fact that the police remain to be surprised by this, as well as a challenge to their monopoly on violence, only shows to the depth of the serious dehumanization of the communities they occupy. However, unfortunately, this violence on an individual level was able to push forward one individuals actions to represent a multi-tendency movement. In the past, when violence was much more prevalent amongst the population, assassination as a tactic presented problems politically with pushing the movement forward. Leon Trotsky in 1911 said famously in the context of anarchist and socialist groups were advocating “propaganda of the deed” with assassinations, he argued:
“[I]ndividual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission.”
Trotsky’s point is not to be missed, especially with the context and identity Trotsky had throughout the Russian Revolution. Trotsky was not measured to be a pacifist. He saw legitimacy in variations of tactics and methods to be used against a police force, a regime, and reactionary vigilantes using the 1905 revolution not only as a battering ram against workers rights, but as well a resurgence of pogroms that affected the Jewish populations of Russia that were heavily becoming proletarianized. Trotsky, a son of Jewish peasants, knew very well of the various Jewish self-defense leagues that pulled themselves together to fight against reactionary groups such as Cossacks, Czarist provocateurs, and the heavily anti-Semitic psuedo-fascists, the Black Hundreds, whom instigated pogroms throughout towns. These self-defense leagues were to be defended because these militias were formed directly from the oppressed populace, working class and peasant Jews in Russia.
This brings to light the unfortunate truth Kwame Ture [aka Stokely Carmichael] was trying to draw with Allen Ginsberg’s harping on about non-violence, non-violent tactics, and aspects of “culture”. This is not to draw a direct comparison with the Jewish Self Defense Unites in Russia with the Black Panthers in the manner of their oppression, but mostly with how each group has dealt with the question “on violence”.Carmichael in a conference in July 1967 in London drew out the main issue on to why white violence and the police continued to murder black men, and the natural response of any form of resistance against these acts. This is, although within the context of self-defense, and self-preservation, it shows the complicated logic that accompanies the mentality of being under police occupation as well as wanting to get the point across to an enemy that lacks any empathy. Carmichael shooting back against a crowd denouncing violent tactics [in the sense of mass, coordinated, and collective violence rather than individualistic conspiracies]:
“The reason it is [racist killings] going to be stopped, it is because when a white man comes with a gun, he is going to know the same thing can happen to him, that he is going to do to the black man. He can die like everyone else. This is the only way we can stop it.” –
This assassination already has a deep effect on what is going to happen in NYC’s communities. Surveillance, infiltration, and repression have been the norm for years with the NYPD. This time around though the NYPD are making it clear that they want to wage war not only against those challenging their methods, but at institutions they feel they can bend back to their will. The staunch conservatism of the NYPD has been well known for quite some time. The incidents of Giuliani rallying the NYPD against former “progressive” (in serious quotes) mayor Dinkins on the doorstop of city hall. This time around however, we have a movement, and not just a troubled mayor. DeBlasio, having his own police force turning their backs on him both when he visited the slain officers [http://bit.ly/1HhR8bH] as well as during the funeral service for officer Ramos. This presentation of the blatant disregard to the legitimacy of the mayor, and ultimately the manager of one of the many apparatus running out of the state, shows a bleak picture of a future for New York. This photo, presenting the raw morals of our nation of laws, presents an indignant militia for hire by the state of New York that has quite thin skin. These brown shirts in blue present one of the pettiest forms of protest while DeBlasio (and the rest of the nation) tells the Black Lives Matter movement to veer away from protests, and ultimately to refrain from demanding liberation. This split in the state will only grow, accentuate, and disenfranchise state managers compared to the literal army the NYPD poses to the general public. This army, of 33,000 strong, has equipment, war machines, and spy technology provided directly from the Pentagon. Informants have been present throughout NYC since the establishment of the police in the 19th century.
The NYPD will not continue tolerating this current movement as is, and will use any excuse as we see to pin violence done to them upon the resistance against them. The United States has not seen widespread resistance throughout it’s oppressed populations since the early 70’s. This sleeping giant will trip, fall, and get back up again throughout the course of these political events. However, as this continues, the oppression the NYPD continue to dish out to black and brown communities will unfortunately continue as essentially an occupying army. As Bloomberg stated, after financing the NYPD’s enormous expansion and essentially telling a reporter to fuckoff, that his own personal army of “the NYPD has lots of capabilities that you don’t know about and you won’t know about.”[http://bit.ly/1nZ47oq] This being said, this movement, moving forward is going to have many trials and tribulations, with organic leadership having to tighten, centralize, and organize much more strictly. These moments of tension, where the police are able to use literal war-machines at their disposal, we must look towards future solidarity and lessons learned moving towards collective action that pushes consciousness forward.