Rally for Amir Locke in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kerem Yucel / AFP - Getty Images
The US political elite and their elite press are using the fraudulent claims about a “crime wave” as an ideological offensive, a backlash, against the large-scale protest movements over the past few years.
As US domestic fascism continues to evolve, there is an overt reemergence of a pro-police narrative that no one seems to be talking about. It comes amid stories that suggest that there is a crime wave in major cities across the US. In response, the mainstream press has been amplifying pundits and politicians, especially US president Biden, who argue that the police need more “resources” to better do their job.
This is the ideological offensive, the backlash, against activists’ demands to “defund the police.”
Press outlets like the PBS NewsHour, once considered “one of the most trusted news programs on television and online” is just as much a propaganda machine for the Biden Administration as CNN or MSNBC. A February 4th broadcast portrayed the idea of defunding police as an abandonment of the streets to criminals, while promoting the false flag of a crime wave. The NewsHour is no lone gunman in this ideological assault.
The US public, particularly those who watch local news in big cities, receives steady doses of misinformation that first magnify crime as a bigger problem than it is, and then links this supposed crime wave to a lack of government support for the domestic occupation forces (police). Then, in the most perverse way, these news outlets frame policing as a form of racial justice. Sensational news reporting (if one can call it that) sidesteps FBI statistics that reveal a steep national decline in overall crime since the 1990s, with a significant 26% increase of homicides in 2020. “Still,” the report states, “the rate of homicides remains well below its peak in the 1990s.” Of course 2020 was an anomalous year because of the pandemic and accounting for this increase would require a careful analysis of facts and data.
Meanwhile, the US police state continues to get stronger as it wages the domestic forever war against indigenous, Black, Brown, and poor people. Related is the report by Statistica.com revealing that “In 2020, there were 1,021 fatal police shootings, and in 2019 there were 999 fatal shootings. Additionally, the rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 37 fatal shootings per million of the population as of September 2021.” Unfortunately the stats don’t account for Indigenous or Native American people.
In truth, the state and its corporate media appendage distract us with copaganda. News outlets readily cover public relations ploys like cops taking children from Black working class families shopping for toys during Christmas. There is the notorious National Night Out, neighborhood convenings in the summer when cops mix and mingle with communities over food and games - all meant to obscure the real role of police. Which is to uphold racial capitalism and contain those subjected to it.
The white supremacist legacy and racist inherent nature of policing in the US are exposed as police departments are in fact being refunded while also becoming whiter. As David Graham reports in The Atlantic, “... as two trends converge: A wave of Black officers is reaching retirement age, and recruitment efforts to replace them are sputtering.” The mobilizing and organizing since Trayvon Martin that has exposed the inherent racism of US police brutality and extrajudicial killings, has to have impacted Black millennials: “Retirements are a normal challenge for police departments. The problem is that departments are also struggling to recruit young Black officers.”
It has become impossible to suppress information exposing how police departments harbor white supremacist extremists.
Few cities reflect the contemporary fascism of US settler colonialism better than the nation’s capital, Washington DC, a city that for decades has been celebrated for having Black Democratic Mayors, as well as Black police chiefs. Last December the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that as far back as 2011 the Metropolitan Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau “closely watched Black-led organizations and anti-racist groups for years while ignoring the growing far-right threat” in their city. The report further states that ”this is in line with broader law enforcement attitudes toward such groups.”
Hacked internal emails and their attachments exposed a “Shock and Awe” campaign between 2012 and 2013 by a little-known intelligence branch of that same police department (MPD) called Robbery Intervention Program, or RIP. “The RIP spent most of its time roaming the streets of poor and Black neighborhoods, stopping and frisking residents, and arresting them for seemingly any infractions its officers could find” and “RIP officers had come up with another nickname for their unit — a play on its morbid acronym: ‘Rage Induced Policing.’”
The Democratic Party wing of the ruling class wants us to believe that only the crude and overt expressions of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 represent white supremacists. This is as they practice common cause with a Neo-nazis government in Ukraine, a government that they installed through a coup. Domestically, they support police, who are white supremacist by definittion, that treat groups challenging systemic racism as threats to the state. This is the modern day face of US fascism.
District of Columbia, MPD Chief Robert J. Contee III was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser as acting chief on January 2, 2021 and was confirmed unanimously by the DC Council on May 4th. Contee. (It is important to understand white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy as systems that are upheld through a plethora of identities giving service to these systems. As president of the United States, Barack Obama is a white supremacist, who presided over the inherently racist and patriarchal settler colonialism and imperialism of the state. As follows, Vice President Kamala Harris, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser are also upholders of patriarchy and the US ascendancy into naked fascism.)
Thus, for example, before he was chief, Contee led the Adverse Action Panel (APP), “a powerful tribunal of three high-ranking officers” that was complicit in overruling the termination of rapist officer Ronald Faunteroy. DC’s AAP has blocked the firing of 24 current officers found responsible for criminal offenses.
Despite DC not being unique in having criminal cops, the federal government has seen fit to make all police a protected class.
Many may have forgotten the Blue Lives Matter Act that makes the assault of a police officer a hate crime and thus a federal offense, protection for those that enforce Black and Brown colonization and capitalism.
Blatant extrajudicial executions by police, like that of 22-year old Black man, Amir Locke, continue to be treated as isolated incidents reduced to procedural issues about “no knock warrants” and “bad information” issued to well meaning police trying to do their jobs. Locke was fatally shot February 4th by Minneapolis police officers serving a no-knock warrant.
Trust between police and community is irrelevant because police do nothing to prevent crime or provide safety to the Black and Brown working class. And for the last 50 years, privately-operated police foundations have funneled massive amounts of corporate money into the pockets of local police departments across the country. At the same time, the federal government continues to supply surplus military equipment to police departments across the country, while the peoples’ human rights continue to be violated. The response by the US ruling class to its international problems is always a military one, just as its response to domestic problems is austerity with reinforced policing. That equals fascism.
So don’t be fooled by the mainstream media’s false claims about a “crime wave.” These claims are part of the ideological backlash against growing protests, over the past few years, against the US police state and the coercive machinations of US capitalism. The only “crime wave” is the one that is continuously waged by the police occupying force against racialized, poor, and vulnerable populations on behalf of the capitalist oligarchy.
Netfa Freeman is an organizer in Pan-African Community Action (PACA) and on the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace. Netfa is also co-host/producer of the WPFW radio show and podcast Voices With Vision.