Police Tyranny Is the Issue, Community Control Is the Solution
Please consider giving to the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) to help us fight for community control of the police in the US. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, millions in the United States are in open rebellion. Across the country and globe, the people have been called to action to end racist police murder and abuse. Everywhere, those demanding change have been beaten, gassed, shot at, and brutalized by the very militarized police forces whose injustice they protest.
The people are demanding change and proposals and slogans abound. But first and foremost, this historic moment demands that Black, Puerto Rican, Chicano/Mexicano, and other oppressed communities in the United States give ourselves historic new rights and power. Our communities have the right to be free of police tyranny. Defending that right requires the power to control the police, instead of being controlled by them. Before we can talk about police reforms, communities first have to take power to control and reform the police themselves. That requires that we directly elect civilian police accountability councils (CPACs) who will defend our rights, independent of the political masters who today use the police to serve their ends.
The masses in the United States are coming face-to-face with reality. They see now that the police are and always have been a tool of repression, serving the ruling class that descends from this country’s founding lineage of slave owners. In this moment of national outrage, abolishing, defunding, and reforming the police have become the watchwords of the day. We agree, but we first have to ask: who should have the power to decide and make reforms? The mayors and governors who unleash their police forces to occupy our neighborhoods and attack us, then shed tears over reform? The police unions who elect and celebrate open racists? The city councils who turn a blind eye year after year and pay for the silence of the families of police murder victims? Will we let them make their reforms for us? Or will we take their power to make reforms?
Since the 1970s, when the Black Panther Party first raised it, communities facing police terror have demanded the power to decide for ourselves who polices us and how we are policed. Community control is not about a particular reform to a particular system. It’s about making sure the entire question of reform rests on the correct foundation: the inalienable democratic right of the people to decide how we are policed. That means, henceforth, we control if, when, and how we use the police -- up to and including abolition. That means taking power over the very institution that has been used to repress us. That means taking power away from those who have wielded the police like a club over our heads. That means our communities decide what public safety looks like. With community control, we can defund, demilitarize, and regulate the police out of existence. But if we’re not in charge of it, police reform becomes just another tool of repression for the ruling class, and this moment withers away.
At its Refounding Conference in November 2019, headlined by founding member Angela Davis, the NAARPR took up the Black Panthers’ banner and made the struggle for community control of the police its principal resolution. We call on our sisters and brothers across the world to lend their international solidarity and help us see that resolution become reality. Help us land a decisive blow against racism in this country by taking away one of its principal weapons. Help Black, Puerto Rican, Chicano/Mexicano, Indigenous, and other oppressed communities fight for our democratic right to community control of the police through elected CPACs. Thank you for everything you do for the movement.
- Elaine Clemons
- Giscard Boulou
- Dallas NAARPR
- Zina Runyan
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