Baltimore, MD -- With the closing arguments of the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force trial complete, jurors have begun their deliberations. For nearly three weeks the citizens of Baltimore were given bits and pieces of information about the federal prosecution case which called more than 30 witnesses during the trial, including four officers who admitted their roles in acts of police corruption and brutality. Six members of the task force have pleaded guilty to federal charges that include racketeering, robbery and firearms violations.
The trial included years’ worth of allegations that officers from the elite unit used illegal tactics to stop citizens on the street and search their property without justification, then skimmed money. For members of the Black working class community, none of these revelations are surprising. These are the complains made for decades about various other police formations that terrorize the Black community.
Even as this trial moved forward, two key members of police force resigned their position to oversee the implementation of a sham consent decree process spearheaded by the Obama administration justice department.
When left to the local media and ruling class talking heads, a vigorous defense of the police department is still being made that it is a normally disciplined and honorable bunch of civil servants. These trial and resignations are just the tip of the iceberg about the corruption and terror the police commit against working class Black communities.
The Ujima People's Progress Party strongly urge Black workers to not let the media and city hall spin these police issues and fool you into believing that more accountable and trustworthy entities will be put in place to manage the consent decree properly. These resignations deepen the contradiction the people, especially Black, Brown and working-class people, have with the police. In a racist, capitalist, anti-working class system we live under, the police cannot police themselves. Their fundamental job is and has always been to protect the interests of the ruling class.
From the beginning, the Ujima People’s Progress Party opposed the consent decree process as a farce. The decree process is yet another neo-liberal attempt by the misleadership class to avoid and convolute the just demand for community control of the police. The UPP was one of the few organizations that went to the hearings and openly opposed this charade. This consent decree program does not change the balance of power, it only codifies policies which fight tooth and nail to protect the ruling class’ grip over the police at the expense of Black and working class communities.
Police misconduct, corruption, brutality and murder are not new issues or complaints from the community. Only the citywide unrest and protects in response to decades of police abuses was the driving force that pushed the government to half-heartedly address the issue of police. There is no will to change the relationship the police have with the Black community or working people.
Despite the constant media spin, the police are not the deciding factor in maintaining peace and lowering crime. Jobs, better education, a livable wage and economic justice are real factors in lowering crime. We live in a city where marginalizing Black communities and working-class people in hopes of luring middle class white families dictates that the current failed policing and economic development policies stay in place.
Restructuring the police to serve the interests of working people has never been up for discussion!
As an independent party led by Black working class people, we stand for community control of police to end police brutality and corruption. We call for local oversight by residents of the various law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Maryland. We call for subpoena power by citizen reviews boards with the ability to indict law enforcement officers who have been found participating in corruption or the violation of an individual’s civil rights and to levy monetary rewards for any hardship endured while suffering from their wrongful activity. The community must have ability to determine the standards for hiring and firing police officers who operate in our communities.