What: Black Community Control of Police Conference
When: April 18-19, 2015
Where: Janan Academy, 3625 N. Garrison Ave., St. Louis, MO
Contact: Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, 224-572-9887 www.blackisbackcoalition.org
By Glen Ford
There is no possibility for even a semblance of justice for Black people until they control the police in their communities. Not oversight, but control: the power to discipline, direct, and hire and fire the police in their community. It is a self-determinationist necessity. If Black people fail to define for ourselves the functions and obligations of policing in Black communities, then others will continue to do it for us.
If the Black Lives Matter mobilization is to sustain itself – if it is to go beyond protests against the latest police atrocity and become a full-fledged movement – it must embrace the principle of Black community control of the police. The entire history of the United States screams out that Black people must define and control the processes by which justice is meted out in their own communities. If there is one historical truth that is indisputable in America, it is that Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system – which is why one out of every eight prison inmates on planet Earth is a Black American.
In the nearly half century since the Black Panther Party described the police as an army of occupation in Black America, we have learned the very painful lesson that inclusion of large numbers of Blacks among the ranks of the police does not change the nature of the occupation. Nor does the naming of Black police chiefs, or the election of Black mayors and city councils – and certainly not the election of a Black corporate president.
In fact, the Mass Black Incarceration regime – what Michelle Alexander calls the “New Jim Crow” – gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class. Black cops get jobs, but people get no justice, because the mission of the police remains the same: to contain, control and terrorize the Black community. That’s their job. And that will remain the mission of policing in the Black community until the community seizes control of the police.
Civilian review boards are not the equivalent of community control, by any measurement. Most are worthless. At best, such boards respond to police crimes after-the-fact and serve at the pleasure of politicians who are ultimately answerable to wealthy white people.
So, what would Black community control of police look like? The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a national conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19, to examine this crucial issue. If Black people fail to define for themselves the functions and obligations of policing in Black communities, then others will continue to do it for us. The choice is simple: either Black people discipline, direct, and hire and fire the police in their community, or the police continue to beat, kill and terrorize Black people in their own neighborhoods.
The National Conference on Black Community Control of Police will be held at the Janan Academy, at 3625 North Garrison Avenue, in St. Louis. Community organizers and activists from greater St. Louis and across the country will get down to the serious business of changing relationships of power on the streets of Black America, and advancing the cause of Black self-determination.
For more information and to register for the conference, go to the Black Is Back Coalition website. That’s BlackIsBackCoalition.org, for the National Conference on Community Control of Police, April 18 and 19, in St. Louis, Missouri.