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   Vol.64/No.26            July 3, 2000 
St. Louis socialist slams cop killings

The following statement was issued by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Kennedy is a garment worker and member of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees.

The cold blooded killing of two unarmed Black men, Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley, by police on June 12 in Berkeley, [Missouri] was a brutal act and an assault on the democratic rights of working people. On the pretext of a "drug investigation," cops from several local police departments and from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, part of a multi-jurisdictional drug task force, surrounded the car of Murray and Beasley in broad daylight in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant.

Eyewitnesses on the day of the cop killing said that a police vehicle rammed into the back of their car, trapping them, and fired 20 or more times, killing both of the men. The next day the cops said that the car of Murray and Beasley backed into the police van and jammed.

Even though the car could not move, the cops claimed they had the "right" to shoot because they feared that the car would hit them. It wasn't until two days after the killing that the cops admitted that the men were unarmed.

These two killings are part of a pattern of police violence that has led with increasing frequency, from one end of the country to the other, to cold-blooded killings by cops.

More federal funds are used to step up heavier and more deadly arming and equipping of police forces. Appeal and parole rights have been restricted. In the last seven years, the annual number of state-sponsored electrocutions, hangings, and deaths by lethal injection have tripled, while the number of defendants charged with federal capital offenses has tripled since adoption of the Clinton-initiated Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994.

The U.S. prison population today is some eight times what it was in 1971 and nearly twice its level since Clinton took office in 1992. Under the code words of fighting terrorism, drugs, and crime, the Clinton administration--with the backing of both the Democratic and Republican parties--has overseen sweeping attacks on democratic rights and the beefing up of police forces across the country.

The job of the cops is to mete out punishment to working people. They particularly target those of oppressed nationalities: Blacks, Latinos, immigrant workers, and anyone else who stands up for the their own rights and those of others. It's not a question of rooting out the "bad apples." This is what they all are trained to do. The role of the cops is to protect and serve the interests of capitalist rule. Police brutality is not an aberration. It is part of the job of the cops to brutalize working people to protect the property of the rich.

We see more strikes and struggles by working people and farmers in response to the attacks on our working and living conditions.

As the economic crisis of capitalism deepens, so will these struggles. The role of the cops is to protect and serve the interests of the rich. They are used and will be used more against workers who are on strike or organizing protests against attacks from the employers.

We can bring pressure to bear to jail cops who brutalize us. The cops that tortured the Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima in New York, went to jail because thousands of working people rallied in the street and demanded justice.

We need to organize protests against the brutal killing of Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley. The cops should be prosecuted and jailed. Protests send a message that cop violence will not be tolerated.

Contact the Socialist Workers campaign: P.O. Box 19166, 2910 Meramec Street, St. Louis, Mo. 63118 or call: (314) 924-2500.  
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