By C.J. LAPOINTE
— HARTFORD, Conn. — Protesters mobilized in the rain on Saturday, Dec. 12, for an action against yet another display of racism and misconduct by the Hartford Police Department. Detective Jeffery Plazceck in the department’s Major Crimes Division recently sent out a text to many law-enforcement agents asking coworkers to participate in a 2021 “dead pool,” or in other words, to make a wager on where the first homicide of 2021 would take place. Currently, Plazceck has been demoted and reassigned, which many think is not enough. This “dead pool” wager is just one example of a police force with a long history of violence and corruption.
One example is the 2005 murder by police officer Robert Lawlor of Jashon Bryant. The officer was acquitted of all charges in 2009. The city settled with the family, but Bryant’s sister Shirin is still fighting. Following the mass protests around the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Shirin organized a march for her brother. She said in an interview, “Every day I speak of him. I have a daughter who never ever got the chance to meet her uncle,” said Shirin Bryant. “My mom died not getting justice for her own son.”
In another example, in 2014, Luis Anglero Jr., a Hartford teen, was unjustly tased by police detective Sean Ware. Video evidence clearly showed Anglero Jr. was following orders and that the force was excessive. The city even tried to press charges of “breach of peace” against Anglero Jr. Police then led a vicious intimidation campaign that terrorized the family day and night in their neighborhood. Activists organized to defend the family’s apartment building in the North End by sitting out on the front steps in shifts. Following a grassroots movement, the city dropped charges against Anglero Jr.; at the same time, the city’s “independent investigation” found that police detective Ware had done nothing wrong.
The Anglero Jr. incident triggered the adoption of a Connecticut state law that required the collection of data regarding the use of tasers. Unsurprisingly, this data shows “that 30 percent of stun guns used in 2015 were on African Americans and 21 percent on Hispanics. Because the state is 75 percent white, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut points out that those statistics are extremely disproportionate to the state’s racial makeup.”
The “Police Accountability Bill” passed this year in Connecticut was cheered by many as a positive step forward toward reforming the police. The reality is that the police cannot be reformed to any significant degree since they are a repressive apparatus of the state that protects private property and the interests of the wealthy elite. The Revolutionary Socialist Network clearly lays out the issues around police reform, ” We support any demands that are aimed at weakening the police but oppose demands that assume the police function can be made positive under capitalism. We oppose attempts to win better police-community relations, i.e., we oppose reconciling the occupied to their occupiers, such as police review board initiatives.”
The recent police murder of Casey Goodson in Columbus, Ohio, shows how the killings and terror will continue and that the movement needs to stay in the streets. Defunding police, jailing killer cops, and reparations for oppressed communities are all examples of demands the mass movement needs to urgently fight for in order to weaken the police. Similarly, union members can organize in the AFL-CIO to demand that police unions be expelled from the labor movement.
Image: Community member speaks against the Hartford cops’ “dead pool” wager. (General Strike Graphics)