Section 4: Update on the board and LASPD struggles
Section 1: Anatomy of the Breakthrough • Section 2: The Strategy Center's Role
Section 3: The Elected Officials' Role • Section 4: Board, LASPD Struggles Continue
Section 5: What This Taught a Veteran Organizer
At the last LAUSD board meeting on Tuesday August 4, the counter-movement counter-organized in the most predictable but also substantial form. As Channing Martinez reported,
"A group of teachers, administrators, and students from Building Blue Bridges, at Crenshaw and Dorsey High Schools, the last high concentration Black high schools, spoke against the cuts in the LASPD budget. BBB is a police initiated program, in the long tradition of Police Athletic Leagues, ("PAL") to portray the police as part of the counseling and even therapeutic services of the school. More than 20 people spoke for an hour and half saying that the cuts in the LASPD budget would require cuts in their program. They argued that Building Blue Bridges takes students on field trips, assemblies, and seminars with police officers. 'We do not believe that most police are brutal or racist and in fact, if you just give them a chance to get to know the students better these problems can be solved.'A group of organized Latinos were very critical of Black Lives Matter by name. They argued that LAUSD used Black Lives Matter protests and the death of George Floyd to carry out policies that were very harmful to Latinos. They told stories about gang violence (both Black and Latinx) and argued that the School Police protect them and make them feel safe. My conclusion is clear. Just as we predicted "the other side" is mobilizing.
This is all the more reason that our movement has to organize for every board meeting, bring more speakers, rebut hostile speakers, and constantly try to win and shape the terms of the debate. There are some who think we can just come to each board meeting and ask for another motion to further cut the police. Yes, that should be part of the plan. But the board is not going to take another vote to make further cuts for many more months or even until next year's budget vote. It is the fine-grained day by day organizing and active participation in each LAUSD board meeting that can create the conditions for the next major offensive on our part and the next opportunity for another round of cuts. And yes, to create the framework for when the next visible instance of police abuse generates the next mass upsurge that can help us win greater cuts.
The police around the country are organizing a white and right backlash
The United States has more than 850,000 paid and armed police who, through police unions, police political associations and police contributions to and threats against elected officials are a political army to fight for police political power. Police and their many allies will use every incident of Black self-defense or aggressive and pre-emptive self-defense, or Black people attacking each other, or Black people violating the system's laws most of which were passed to arrest Black folks in the first place to prove to an audience that already hates Black people that the Defund the Police movement is a threat to their psychological, cultural, and physical safety.
In New York City, Black people are 24% of the population but 50% of the arrests—another mathematical proof of genocide—even after stop and frisk has allegedly been overturned. And yet, the New York Post recently showed a picture of two unarmed Black people "putting a policeman in a chokehold" with the headline, "So you want to defund the police?" Now in fact the officer was not injured and in many instances he would have murdered the Black people not just arrested them. But the point is the system is on the ideological counter-attack. So yes, again, we have to expand agit-props, political education and the war of ideas as another front to build up our forces and to combat any loss of momentum from our victory.
Trump is taking out ads attacking the Democrats and the “defund the police" movement
Trump's ads, in the tradition of Leni Riefenstahl, show demonstrators, many white, throwing objects through windows in protest against U.S. racist practices. The voice over says, "This is what happens when you defund the police." The ads offer visual incitement to Trump’s base to support his "if you loot we will shoot" movement.
The Democratic Party wants to divert the Defund the Police Movement to a moderate and ineffective appeal for "racial justice" that it hopes can turn out the Black vote without turning off the white vote.
The Democratic Party wants to divert the Defund the Police Movement to a moderate and ineffective appeal for "racial justice" that it hopes can turn out the Black vote without turning off the white vote. The just-concluded Democratic Convention spoke about "inclusion" of Black people into the party, inclusion of Black women into the party, ending "private prisons" when it is the public prisons that are the main danger, and "criminal justice reform" that cannot threaten the police or prison guards because no one even knows what it means. Meanwhile Joe Biden has rejected any efforts to defund the police. He does defend "peaceful protest" but will not defend the righteous militancy of a life and death movement with anything like the vehemence with which Trump is denouncing us. How does our movement keep winning the battle of ideas in a society that is a racist police state? How do we push the Democrats to go beyond cooptation of Black Lives Matter?
The core of our problem is that the police state is not a reflection of "The Right" or "Trump" but an integral part of the formation and perpetuation of the U.S white settler state into which progressive Democrats of color are trying to integrate—often as simply the best choice they believe is historically possible. In every major urban center it is the Democratic Party that is the political apparatus of the police state. Throughout U.S. history the police were armed settlers murdering Indigenous peoples nations in the way of their land grab hysteria, the police were the armed forces on the plantation and the white poor slave catchers organized at their periphery; the Klan and the police so integral that in the civil rights movement we said they were "blue by day and white by night."
In CORE and SNCC we knew that the Southern racist Democrats and northern Democratic liberals were joined at the hip. So today, in Los Angeles and among all of our allies in the Police Out of the Schools Movement, as we push beyond our important but short term victory, the larger strategic question is even more imposing: How do we "defund the police" when the police and the U.S. army are the institutionalized enforcement arms of the U.S. white settler police state?
See Section 1: Anatomy of the Breakthrough
See Section 2: The Strategy Center's Role
See Section 3: The Elected Officials' Role
Section 4: Board, LASPD Struggles Continue
Section 5: What This Taught a Veteran Organizer