Johnny Eric Williams, Racism, Selective Outrage & the Democrats                                      

by David Samuels

This column appears in the June 29 – July 6 edition of the Hartford News.


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Policy Watch

The System isn’t Broken

June 16, a judge found a woman guilty of killing a white male with texts and a phone call. Later a jury found a cop not guilty of killing Philando Castile with bullets. In my opinion, the ruling class wants to seal off peaceful means of police reform, because they want to provoke a street war between people of color and the police. If cops are killed, this can be used to argue for militarization, repression of urban neighborhoods, racial profiling, and harsher sentencing guidelines.

“The system continues to fail black people,” Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, said after the acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez,  the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot her son. “And it will continue to fail you all.” Respectfully I must disagree with Ms. Castile. The system is designed to oppress people of color, so it’s working EXACTLY the way it’s supposed to. The rulers don’t give a damn about protests; that should be clear at this point. What they do fear is the system being dismantled, which requires radical policy change.

I recently watched a CNN segment titled Delivering ‘Law and Order’ to Inner Cities?” Predictably, the piece aired after coverage of protests in Minnesota, following the Philando Castile verdict. Gun violence in Baltimore was the focus. There was a lot of talk about more police, and harsher drug sentences. The brief mention about the need for jobs was made by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat who vetoed a city council ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour; Pugh ran on a campaign platform that included raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.

Too much talking. That’s my reaction to Trinity College professor Johnny Williams endorsing a blog post, which tells Black people to be indifferent to the suffering of white bigots. I read the post. My response is that everything happens or doesn’t happen in this country because of policy. Two white cops gunned down Charleena Lyles, a pregnant Black mother of three children, because the current system protects killer cops.

I do policy work. Been doing it for 13 years. I don’t have time for esoteric debates about what I should do if I see a bigot drowning. I know the chances of that happening today are next to zero. There’s a much higher chance of me being pulled over by a cop, who will feel like they can put a hole in me because POLICY will protect him or her. My message to Williams and his supporters is that if they want to actually do something about structural racism, they need to step to the Connecticut Democrats, who prop up the system that protects dirty cops, while police officers who speak up about racism, brutality and corruption are run off the force. Democratic urban legislators didn’t make a peep about police accountability during the 2017 legislative session, until 15-year-old Jayson Negron was fatally shot last month by Bridgeport police officer James Boulay. After the shooting a press conference was hastily called to bring attention to Rep. Robyn Porter’s bill, which doesn’t come close to addressing police repression of communities of color. Prior to the shooting, all the Community Party got from House Majority Leader Matt Ritter and Sen. Gary Winfield was a shrug, when we complained about the lack of support for our two police accountability bills. Some Black folks want to fixate only on Republican congressman Steve Scalise, the primary target in the Virginia mass shooting, who is known for his racism and homophobia. What about urban legislators in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport who are in a position to change POLICY, and are doing nothing to dismantle the current system? Confederate flags and statues are rightfully a focus of outrage, but what about the other monuments to slavery?


Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport annually have the highest poverty rates in the country. The unemployment rate for young Black males in some areas of Hartford is as high as 50%, while the overall jobless rate for Blacks are at Depression era levels. Blacks earn 60 cents for every dollar whites make, and possess 12 cents of net wealth for every dollar whites have. We have talked to urban legislators about the draconian cash assistance program in Connecticut, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty in urban neighborhoods. The response we got was lip service. There is police accountability and economic justice legislation at the State Capitol every year. Bills that could really change things. The outrage aimed at Republicans like Scalise and white supremacists should also be directed at the Democrats, who control predominantly Black cities that are engulfed by poverty and gun violence. Conversations about racism must include the fact that the Democrats and Republicans deprive communities of color of jobs and resources. Instead of huffing and puffing on social media, get engaged in the political process.


Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s domestic policy platform included a Green New Deal (identical to CP’s urban policy plan): a federal jobs program modeled after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The New Deal provided over 8 million jobs at the height of the Depression, as people were trained and hired to work on infrastructure projects. Another New Deal program, targeting communities with the highest poverty and unemployment rates, is part of the prescription for economic justice in this nation. Dr. Stein’s platform also included universal health care, free college,  abolishing student loan debt, slashing the bloated military budget (54% of the federal budget) and independent investigators based in communities of color, to probe police brutality cases. How many Black folks who have involved themselves in the Williams flap voted for Dr. Stein? Hillary Clinton, a racist, neoliberal warmonger, who enthusiastically supported Bill Clinton’s racist crime and so-called welfare bills, which have fueled Black mass incarceration and poverty respectively, won Connecticut and the vast majority of the Black vote in this state. THIS IS MADNESS.


Dr. Stein dismantled the Democratic Party propaganda about her costing Hillary the presidential election, during her appearance Saturday on CNN’s Smerconish show. Stein pointed out that the picture of her seated at a table with Vladmir Putin (that liberals have pasted to their foreheads) during a conference in Moscow surfaced long AFTER the election, as the Democrats looked for anyone to blame for the loss of a candidate who like Donald Trump, had historically high negative ratings.


Dr. Stein reminded viewers that like her presidential campaign, her appearance at the conference with Putin was totally ignored by the U.S. media, because of her message. Dr. Stein spoke against militarism by the U.S. and Russia, touting her peace offensive plan that included a joint U.S. / Russia weapons embargo (including the allies of both nations), and freezing the bank accounts of countries that sponsor terrorism.


When Smerconish tossed out Stein’s vote totals in battleground states that Hillary lost, Dr. Stein countered with exit poll and research data. The numbers show that if Stein had not been on the ballot in battleground states, 61% of Green Party voters would have stayed home rather than vote for Hillary or Trump, and that one-third of the Greens who would have voted would have supported Trump. Dr. Stein added that 45% of registered voters did not support Hillary or Trump.  Finally Dr. Stein said that the Democrats can’t blame her for their loss of 1,100 legislative seats in the past 10 years, two-thirds of governors, or the special election this week in Georgia.

The Democrats would rather lose, than go to the left. Failed Georgia congressional candidate John Ossoff was a typical neoliberal, corporate funded, privatization Democrat. He lost. SURPRISE! Look around the country; the candidates who are winning are progressives like Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who won the mayoral election in Jackson, Mississippi. However the Democrats will keep rolling out neoliberal candidates, because they don’t want to upset their corporate donors. The Democrats’ approach to fielding candidates is like Kentucky Fried Chicken deciding to change their menu to hot dogs.

Black Agenda Report commentator Bruce Dixon broke down the problem with Ossoff prior to the election. “Jon Ossoff is running for the seat vacated by Tom Price, the nutcase anti-abortion doctor who is now Secretary of Health and Human Services. Osoff is endorsed by David Perez the new chair of the Democratic national Committee, and Congressman John Lewis, who has been coasting on his lifetime civil rights hero pass for two generations now. He is also embraced by a host of pro-privatization Democrats like Atlanta’s Stacey Abrams.
This is one of those political moments where there are bright lines which distinguish friends from foes. The American people have always wanted real healthcare for everyone and the only practical way to get that is to simply lower the Medicare age down to zero. Those who say it cannot be done or should not be tried are on one side and the rest of us are on the other. That is a bright line and Democratic party leaders have placed themselves on the wrong side.
The question of war and global empire is another bright line. Ossoff touts his top secret security clearance obtained by working on Capitol Hill as a national security staffer. But so far, in the tradition of warmongering corporate Democrats he has little or nothing to say about President Donald Trump’s one-upping the warlike Democrats with his ten percent hike in the military budget, and when he does have something to say it will be about Russia. This is the kind of Democrat that gets a DNC endorsement and millions of dollars from the likes of Tom Perez, and the endorsement of John Lewis, again on the wrong side of another bright line.
We haven’t heard from Ossoff on school privatization, raising the minimum wage or championing the right to organize unions and strike, but apparently those too are outside and beyond the pale of respectable Democrats, and many Berniecrats as well. These constitute still another bright line.
Jon Ossoff is another corporate Democrat, peddling a politics that deems an end to unjust wars unspeakable, Medicare for All impractical, and places cooperation with Republicans above standing for his own constituents and on the left side of history.”

BAR commentators slammed the People’s Summit, an annual conference of Bernie Sanders supporters that took place a couple weeks ago in Chicago,  for avoiding any mention of the U.S. war machine. I  listened to Sanders’ People’s Summit speech; while he talked about President Trump’s budget proposal including tax cuts for the rich and slashing funding for human services, Sanders said nothing about Trump proposing a historic $54 billion increase to a war budget that is already 54% of the total federal budget, or the U.S. bombing seven predominantly Muslim countries. You can’t talk about economic justice without mentioning the military industrial complex.


The Democrats at their core cannot be reformed. Independent grassroots political action is essential to dismantling a system that is at work every day, grinding up people of color.


Community Party urban policy paper:

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