Qualified immunity, gang culture, and the code of silence are mutually exclusive with police accountability. It’s time to strike back with a winning strategy.
As we watch in abject horror the prospect of losing the Supreme Court of The United States for a generation with the impending installment of in-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Democratic Party must have our own revolution of both tactics and strategy to remain relevant. Our two-party system as we know it is dead and gone forever. The GOP is now the cult party of Trump, and the rest of us — the rest of America — citizens, immigrants, and refugees alike are in the anti-Trump Regime movement.
Remember the “big tent?” Today it’s called “humanity.” Civil rights in America have degraded to a point where they are subject to the approval of the state, and thus don’t really exist at all. As we work, hope, and even pray for a “Blue Wave,” I’ll tell you now — it can’t and won’t be enough to save We The People. Are you scared? You should be.
The Democratic Party can become powerful and relevant only by moving forward in a manner previously rejected, criticized as “divisive,” and ignored— by giving up all attachments to past power and oligarchical control, and by joining the people in a mass peaceful uprising. The only other course of action will include sectarian violence and a second Civil War — both too horrific to imagine, even though many Americans today fantasize about violence as their preferred solution to the authoritarian rule of the Trump Regime. However, most of us have no real or emotional concept of what a war on our home soil would cost us.
First I’ll tell you why this is true. Then, I’ll tell you how We The People — We The Democratic Party can win and take our country back from the oligarchs and kleptocrats that literally own us today. Such a peaceful revolution will be incredibly scary, hard, painful, and dangerous — but we can “Just Do It” together, without mass civilian death. The Democrats can truly be the party of the people — but only if we choose to lead the revolution. Otherwise, irrelevancy awaits us.
At fifty-years-of-age, I’ve been abducted and tortured by police in Centralia, Washington. I’ve looked down the barrel of a gun in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’ve experience the fear of a father watching my wife give birth to my two children. I’ve never been more scared in my life.
We the People are the voice of our brothers and sisters that are heinously enslaved and imprisoned by our wholly unjust Justice System. We The People are the voice of both innocent and guilty prisoners — those tortured in America and on foreign soil. The 13th Amendment reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” It’s a good read and nice words — however many of our prisoners today live in conditions that can only be compared to concentration camps of the Holocaust. The Lee Correctional Institution prison riot of April 2018, was a manufactured slaughter by the monstrous South Carolina Department of Corrections. In our communities, We The People are the family of those murdered by police without any recourse, justice, or even accountability.
American police are the militarized occupation force that already control our streets and act with impunity. Who says so? The Supreme Court and your local District Attorney. No amount of protest, legal action, or societal anger can change it. We can only change the laws that are the source of our tenuous and subservient existence. Killing cops — as any grief stricken human might fantasize about in the wake of such horror, is a death sentence. We can’t fight police forces with weapons of war, and with trained soldiers that are fully installed and ready for violent action against the people by a simple request of the Regime.
Let’s look at today’s justice system that has been slipped into our American life without most residents of this stolen land mass noticing the loss of their right to liberty and life.
Excerpt from Emma Andersson, Senior Staff Attorney, Criminal Law Reform Project — April 9, 2018
“The Supreme Court just ruled that a police officer could not be sued for gunning down Amy Hughes. This has vast implications for law enforcement accountability. The details of the case are as damning as the decision. Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was simply standing still, holding a kitchen knife at her side. The officer gave no warning that he was going to shoot her if she did not comply with his commands. Moments later, the officer shot her four times.
‘Shoot first and think later,’ according to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is what the officer did.
As Sotomayor argued in dissent, the court’s decision in Kisela v. Hughes means that such “palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.” According to seven of the nine Justices, Hughes’ Fourth Amendment right to not be shot four times in this situation is less protected than the officer’s interest in escaping accountability for his brazen abuse of authority. According to Justice Sotomayor, ‘If this account of [the officer’s] conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court … insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.’”
Qualified immunity isn’t new — but it’s now being used to perpetrate a genocide upon our people — particularly, but not exclusively on people of color and the poor. Your civil rights exist in your mind. In reality, any police officer on or off duty — may be your judge, jury, and executioner. How about children with toys or that are simply caught in the crossfire? Yes. What about the eleven-year-old girl who allegedly carried a snack out of a Cincinnati grocery store? She was tased in the back. How about seniors in their 80s with garden clippers? Them too. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice died before the eyes of his family that was held back from giving him aid.
Young men of color might as well wear shirts with a bullseye at their “center mass.” That’s where cops will empty their clip-load full of bullets. You may not know this truth yet, and you’re lucky. I work daily with families that were drafted into unbearable grief and a lifetime of advocacy by the murder of their loved ones. By claiming fear — cops may do anything to beat, subdue, or kill those humans unfortunate enough to be caught in their brutal sights. No person or people can defend themself against a cop.
Add to these grave injustices that our “good cops” are an illusion. American police are the biggest and baddest gang on the planet. The gang culture turns well-intentioned rookies into brutal thugs and merciless murderers. Strong words? Terrifying — but all true. Gang culture requires obedience and comes with an iron-clad code of silence. Individual thoughts and desires are immaterial, and any honest cop will admit it. If cops want to break the code of silence, they will be personally endangered and ostracized until they leave the force. Most cops that are unwilling to work within gang rules take buyouts and sign confidentiality agreements. Some ex-cops stand with the people and become whistleblowers who provide us with a horrifying look inside the gang. Either way, the gang culture is real and no amount of public outcry can change it.
Where does our much discussed dream of “Police Accountability” fit into politics and policy? It doesn’t. Qualified immunity and accountability are mutually exclusive — they can’t exist together. Cops have qualified immunity for beating, brutalizing, injuring, stalking, threatening, harassing, lying, and murdering. You, me, your children, your parents — anyone. Grand juries are a farce perpetrated upon the people to label every action by cops as “justified.” It’s pure gaslighting as any civil rights attorney will tell you.
Justice is almost impossible to achieve and when victims “win,” it’s often through a multi-year civil rights lawsuit against the police and the jurisdiction. The damage and loss of life is never undone, however. Most victims and families won’t even get a lawyer to attempt to help them. Civil rights attorneys work on contingency and simply can’t afford to finance losing cases. The laws are stacked against them — against you. Add to that, the inevitable pain of patently false and emotionally terrorizing police narratives about their dead family members — the innocent victims that will never speak for themselves. The horror for the surviving families never ends.
Police are known as “professional liars” to those of us who study them daily. Cops don’t have to follow the law. They are trained to lie about facts, the law, witnesses, and everything else — and it’s all legal. Police narratives to the media and incident reports should be considered as wholly falsified and fictitious. If you lie to a cop even once — it’s a jailable offense. Do you see the imbalance we face — one that’s beyond recoverable?
How full of hubris and power are the police of the United States? They created “Blue Lives Matter” as their nasty, racist, fascist, and scurrilous dumping-ground for violent cops and their enablers — a vomitous and vile response to the peaceful “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The police employ immunity and lies as weapons. We the people have no recourse today. Justice is for the wealthy — whom are less likely to be targeted by police in the first place. Police are now in the process of further limiting the people’s access to evidence by threatening, stalking, and even killing people that film them on the job. Nevertheless, many civil rights advocates like my friend Eli Richey of Portland, Oregon persist in fighting to expose the reality of police behavior while an entire government cabal conspires to destroy them.
Behavior is the only thing that counts — nice words from a police chief, or a coffee forum with their foot soldiers will change nothing. It’s all impotent talk. Of course cops can choose to be nice to you. They can choose to come to your aid. They might help you. Or — they might kill you. Ask any parent who has watched their unarmed child murdered before their eyes during a welfare check or as a result of a reported mental health crisis. Their answers will give you nightmares.
What if we have a glorious “Blue Wave’ on November 6, 2018? It won’t solve this problem. As long as qualified immunity is the law of our land — we are but victims in the waiting — all of us. You don’t have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of us do. Why don’t more cops turn whistleblower or leave the force? They know what would await them and their families — and they don’t want to be you, me, or one of us. They know too much.
When we all “know too much,” we may be able to force a change at the source — the law and gang culture that today makes We The People subject to the whim of any violent, drugged up, steroid-taking, racist, fascist gang member in blue. When the “good cops” are bound by the same code of silence and gang culture as the worst monsters amongst them — there are no good cops to be found. At this point in our history — good cops can only leave the force to stand with the people. Many do — but few do it publicly.
As final proof of how far we have fallen, we can review two recent civil rights atrocities that occurred during the presidency of Barack Obama, whom many of us still love and respect as a great American and Democratic leader. The militarized occupations and human rights violations of Ferguson, Missouri and at Standing Rock both occured on Obama’s watch — on our watch! Both events included heavily observed heinous and brutal attacks on peaceful protesters who stood against tyranny. Ask yourself — why? Why did the Obama Administration allow such horror? Maybe they had no power to stop it. Are you scared yet?
We are being murdered daily and we simply can’t continue to make rich folks richer. Colin Kaepernick knows that being owned by rich white oligarchs is an abomination. NFL, NBA, and MLB players must not simply kneel, but also strike for the people before it’s too late. Or hell — just ignore the brutal reality of our lost America and go enjoy some sports until your kids or grandkids are murdered by the militarized cops who occupy our country — or in the inevitable civil war that will come if you don’t stand for peace. As a people and a party, we can no longer support and enrich the “Owners” and the advertisers that are in the process of murdering your family and destroying our country. “Normal” American life is over. Grieve your societal losses quickly and get to work if you want to live.
To survive as a country and party, We The People must lead a peaceful revolution that causes the oligarchs massive pain — the only kind they care about — financial pain. We must take our money back, by refusing to purchase their products, procure their services, and attend their events. Stick a pin in fascist dictator Trump and refuse their sports ownership — imagine the horror of “owners” without the owned. Fight for your damn lives and the lives of your children. We won’t get another chance to “Just Do It!”
Peaceful action is not just a winning strategy — it’s the only winning strategy — but peaceful action is not necessarily polite, nice, safe, or without serious power to destroy oppressors and oligarchs like the fascist Trump Regime. As Democrats, we must accept that we fail to provide effective opposition to our police occupiers and their heinous crimes against humanity. Of course we must register, vote, help register others in our community, and help others get to the polls. Voting is one critical tactic, but it can’t and won’t be enough to reinstall a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Are Democrats the “good team?” I’ve voted Democrat for my entire life and I’m tired of losing. Now the future of my children and my country are at stake. Consider voting on November 6 as one critically important tactic, but it’s not a “trump card,” in any way, shape or form. Fight!
We must lead and support a general strike that brings the business of this nation to a halt. This general strike must be so pervasive and complete that the oligarchs and kleptocrats flee our country to protect their ill-gotten wealth. It’s then that we can get our civil rights back and live in never before experienced safety and peace. It’s your choice — our choice.
There’s no happy ending in store, unless We The People — We The Democratic Party write it into history by leading a heroic struggle.
Jeff Thomas Black
Editor's Note: This piece was written at the request of the Multnomah County (Portland, Oregon) Democrats. It is also published on the Medium.com site, "Multnomah County Democrats - Resistance Writers," and is an excerpt from the upcoming book, entitled "Brutal Reality," by Jeff Thomas Black.