We Must Unlearn the Lie That State Violence Is Inherently Legitimate

Kops and Klan go hand in hand!” This chant was shouted in road gatherings throughout the nation throughout the 2020 rebellion towards white supremacy and police violence. The historic connection of white nationalist vigilante violence and the police turned obviously apparent within the disparity between the remedy of the Proud Boys and that of antiracist protesters, the place police typically refused to intervene whereas the far-right gangs leveled assaults on left-wing demonstrators.

Antifascism is constructed on the notion that these insurrectionary fascist teams, such because the alt-right or the Proud Boys, are extraordinary and distinct from the bigger liberal order, but it’s not that easy. As a substitute, the function of the police as an establishment of social management in racial capitalism and settler-colonialism has all the time had some relationship to the rebel white supremacist teams that wish to reinstitute racial hierarchies. This apparently symbiotic relationship forces antifascists to reckon with the similarities and variations between white nationalist teams and the police as they construct methods to take care of each.

I interviewed abolitionist organizer Kelly Hayes — who’s the host of Truthout’s podcast “Motion Memos” and a contributing author at Truthout — about her experiences confronting these interlocking methods of oppression, how she turned an organizer, how she approaches this relationship between antagonistic forces, and the way we are able to construct up an abolitionist antifascism that goes additional than solely defeating fringe neo-Nazi teams.

Shane Burley: How does police abolition work connect with antifascism?

Kelly Hayes: Police, who’re themselves fascistic, are the entry level to incarceration. There’s nothing extra fascistic within the US than our jail system. If fascism escalates, it already has a mass disposal system for human beings and a populace that has been conditioned to disregard what occurs in these locations. We already know that individuals undergo and die horribly in these locations, and we all know folks permit it. Individuals take part in mythologies concerning the goal and performance of all of it. These services manufacture circumstances that result in untimely loss of life they usually extract time, as Ruth Wilson Gilmore has defined. The prison-industrial complicated and its many tentacles are the beast the fascists would feed us to.

It’s essential to do not forget that combating fascism means combating the erosion of human empathy. It means combating the additional normalization of mass struggling and loss of life. That makes the prison-industrial complicated floor zero.

What function does the police have within the development of the far proper?

The police are a pure residence for right-wing militants and it’s essential not to think about far proper forces and police as distinct. The membership overlap between police and white supremacist organizations is kind of telling.

However I feel folks additionally kind of restrict themselves generally in how they understand that overlap. Most racist folks don’t be a part of racist organizations. We have to perceive the police as a white supremacist group that has formalized energy. It’s entrenched within the authorities, and maintains state pursuits, and has an entire mythology of “upholding decency” round it. Policing, as an concept, appeals to lots of people who aren’t down with the [Ku Klux] Klan. Since police may be properly paid in an economic system that typically screws over Black and Brown communities, we see plenty of nonwhite cops, and that demographic variety helps legitimize police violence.

Individuals have a slim picture of what white supremacy and the far-right appears to be like like as a result of we’re conditioned to see state violence as inherently official. Police don’t simply have authorized immunity, for essentially the most half, additionally they have social immunity, and their actions are usually not scrutinized within the ways in which on a regular basis persons are. In the event that they have been, folks would don’t have any hassle recognizing, based mostly on easy inventories of occasions, that the police are a power for white supremacy.

Loads of vigilante violence that helped impose order underneath Jim Crow turned institutionalized because the police turned extra professionalized, and extra closely armed. Lynchings the place nobody was charged gave option to shootings and beatings and different violence that was dealt out from a spot of police legitimacy.

It’s not stunning to see collaboration between police and right-wing vigilantes as a result of they’re pure allies and grown out of the identical cultural formation. We hardly ever see them conflict, and, after they do, they typically do it with child gloves. You can not successfully pit these forces towards each other as a result of they’re too entwined and have too many shared values and functions.

We noticed these two forces, the police and the far proper, much more explicitly collapse into one another over the previous few years. How do you suppose we are able to construct social actions able to taking up each forces concurrently?

We’ve to grasp that there isn’t a various to taking up each the police and the far proper concurrently. The police are essentially the most highly effective right-wing gang within the nation.

When strategizing towards them, it should be understood that they’re in collaboration with different white supremacist organizations. When countering white supremacist organizations, it should be understood that police are both actively entrenched in these organizations, or might come to their assist at any time, as a result of they’re on the identical facet.