By the ROC DSA Steering Committee
Rochester DSA condemns the murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the Memphis police. However, expressions of condemnation are not enough. Shock and sadness? Anger? We do not call for feelings; we call, ultimately, for the abolition of the police. Liberal reforms have failed: Tyre Nichols was killed by five police officers at once; they were Black; they were wearing body cameras; and they were using non-deadly weapons. The promises our politicians made in the aftermath of the 2020 uprisings have not materialized, or have been ineffective.
Nichols’s murder is one of at least 781https://github.com/washingtonpost/data-police-shootings committed by police in 2023 alone as of January 25. That’s an average of three police murders a day following a year that saw the most police murders on record. In 2022, 1,1762https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-01-06/police-killed-1-176-people-in-2022-most-ever-in-the-us victims are known to have been murdered by the police.
Police exist to protect and uphold the capitalist state, and Black, Indigenous, and POC communities bear the brunt—it makes no difference who is wearing the badge. The police do not exist to keep people safe, or prevent crime: in the City of Rochester, the clearance rate is only 13%3https://rochesterbeacon.com/2023/01/09/a-mixed-picture-on-rochester-crime-in-2022/, and every year they beg for an increase to their nearly $100 million dollar budget, while our schools are failing—yet they don’t have to beg too hard. They find the time and resources to fulfill their true purpose, showing up en masse in displays of force when the people gather to express dissent. They do this to protect capital.
We also condemn and wish to highlight the state’s hypocrisy, pleading for the reaction to their own explicit violence to remain “peaceful.” We do not call for violence, but we are not convinced that the state is really concerned about violence; they are concerned about control. There are those who would say, “We shouldn’t make this murder political.” This statement is divorced from reality: when representatives of the state kill a man, the state has killed a man. The state murdered Tyre Nichols in cold blood; that act of violence was, at its core, political. It is our duty to dissent. We must stand together, and put an end to this institution.
Tyre Nichols should be alive today. Our condolences go to his family, and to all of the families who have lost loved ones to police violence. But words will never be enough. Without systemic change, and the abolition of policing, we will lose countless more to state violence. If we all don’t stand to demand that change, we will only be sending our condolences to another three families tomorrow, and each day thereafter.
This Wednesday, at 7 PM at Daniel Prude Square in Martin Luther King Park, join our comrades at Free The People ROC for a vigil in Tyre’s memory.