Socialist Worker

Police serve the state and the rich

Issue No. 2386

 The function of police forces under capitalism is to maintain order for the ruling class.  They do this by instilling fear of repression into people.

The police aren’t interested in helping working class people—they are concerned with keeping working class people in their place.

The inquest conclusion that Mark Duggan was “lawfully killed” despite being unarmed shows that the state is not neutral.

Mark was a working class, black man. If he had shot and killed a police officer the state would have used all its power to make sure he felt the full force of the law.

There have been 1,476 deaths at the hands of the police in England and Wales since 1990.

Not a single cop has been brought to justice.

Compare this to the sentences handed down to those involved in the 2011 riots where people were jailed for a total of more than 1,800 years. 

Judges and magistrates were directed to ignore sentencing guidelines for those accused of involvement in the riots. 

Magistrates’ courts stayed open through the night and held unprecedented Sunday sittings.

This tells us that the law acts in the interest of the ruling class and above all else will punish those who challenge the state.

And as the state uses racism to scapegoat and divide us, so racism is in turn institutionalised in the police force.

It is not about one “rotten apple”—racism runs to the core of the entire police force.

Why else do a disproportionate number of black people die in police custody?

Just look at the case of Christopher Alder, another black working class man, who died in Hull police station in 1998. 

As he lay dying after being restrained and beaten by police they made monkey noises at him.

And police spied on his sister Janet as she fought for justice during the inquest into his death.

Some campaigners have supported a police plan for officers to wear cameras on their uniforms to record their actions. 

But this will not change the way cops treat black people and working class people.

It will not make them accountable because the system is skewed against finding the police responsible.

There is CCTV evidence of Christopher’s death.  Yet the judge in the police’s manslaughter trial told the jury to find them not guilty on all charges.

Four of the five cops involved retired on medical grounds and received payouts of between £44,000 and £66,000 each.

From the killing of Mark Duggan to the huge number of deaths in custody it is clear that the police have a license to kill.

On the streets the anger may be subdued at the moment. 

But the massive inequalities of the system mean that politicians and the police cannot keep a lid on the fermenting rage forever.


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