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OPINION: Police-State Violence, the Elephant in the Room

I didn't need the murders of Jackson residents to let me know that the city is a police state. I didn't need the Lumumba administration to move in lockstep with the Jackson Police Department and refuse to hold officers accountable in the face of terror to understand that the mayor is a high-ranking official in the police state.

I didn't need the murders of Jackson residents to let me know that the city is a police state. I didn't need the Lumumba administration to move in lockstep with the Jackson Police Department and refuse to hold officers accountable in the face of terror to understand that the mayor is a high-ranking official in the police state. Photo by Imani Khayyam.

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Adofo Minka

We live in a police state.

That is when a government uses organized force to act arbitrarily and violently against the interests of the masses of people, rendering them subjects instead of citizens. The term encompasses the institutions of policing, prosecutor's offices, the prison system, courts, the surveillance-state apparatus and government as we currently know it.

Historically, governments have used that power to enforce the hegemonic rule of the State and corporate interests that a few control to the detriment of the many. Anyone who doesn't believe we live in a police state is either living in an alternative universe or has willfully blinded themselves to the reality that has beset us.

I didn't need the murders of Jackson residents to let me know that the city is a police state. I didn't need the Lumumba administration to move in lockstep with the Jackson Police Department and refuse to hold officers accountable in the face of terror to understand that the mayor is a high-ranking official in the police state.

I didn't need to see poor people's human rights systematically violated to understand that what passes for a justice system in Hinds County and throughout the state of Mississippi is a vile station of oppression and degradation. U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst didn't have to threaten Jackson's majority-black and mostly poor population with the violation of basic constitutional principles, and international human rights norms and standards to let me know it is open season on poor and black people in Jackson. These are all symptoms of a deeper malady.

When I reflect on the ongoing police-state violence locally, I am reminded of the timeless words of George Jackson, "... understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act."

What will it take for more of us to challenge the hegemonic rule of the police state? What will it take for us to see that the dominant narratives around crime and violence only lead us in circles? How many more people will police have to kill before we demand the upending of the status quo?

In the midst of this raging debate about gun control, gun violence and criminality, we must reflect deeply. Who is controlling the narrative, and where are they trying to lead us? Whose interests are "leaders" serving? What is more violent than the racially bigoted police state domestically? What is more violent than the U.S. military industrial complex globally? Martin Luther King Jr. said that the greatest purveyor of violence in the world was the U.S. government. This still rings true.

Our primary focus must be on state violence because that begets all other violence. We have been socialized and indoctrinated to view state violence as legitimate. It is not. We must not be led astray by hypocritical politicians and misleaders who claim to abhor violence in Jackson and other urban cities, but will go to Congress and vote for President Trump's $700-billion war budget. This kind of recklessness wreaks terror and havoc on poor and black people around the world. Governments do it in the name of greed, imperial power and the further entrenchment of the status quo.

We must build a grassroots movement to dismantle the police state, abolish the prison system as we know it and defund the military industrial complex.

Adofo Minka is a defense attorney in Jackson and a regular JFP columnist.


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