In less than two months since the election of Donald Trump there has been a surge in violent islamophobic and xenophobic attacks in this country. While the rhetoric, actions and entire campaign of Trump has prompted conversations amongst scholars, activists and folks on the political left it is important to remember that Trump represents not only himself, but, rather symbolizes the reemergence of white nationalism within the U.S. Empire. White nationalism is an ideological framework that centers the white heterosexual identity as inherently valuable in a national context while simultaneously positioning various ethnic, racial, sexual and gender identities as “other” and thus inferior. Trump’s rise to the U.S. presidency highlights the desire of white U.S. Americans to be “great again.” For the president-elect and his supporters, great is an active restructuring of a nation that champions political and social white supremacy while dismantling any legislative gains that have been made in the daily lived conditions of oppressed people in this country. In a nation where Trump spews racist, sexist and xenophobic remarks that have emboldened large groups of people to attack the most marginalized among us, what happens to our Black and Latino/a family? Unfortunately, for the marginalized in this country an answer to these questions was delivered by the Fraternal Order of Police earlier this month.
The Fraternal Order of Police is the nation’s largest police union with approximately 330,000 members. The Fraternal Order is implicated in the murders of Black and brown people. The Fraternal Order uses adamant legal defense to protect its members who kill people who resist their domination. This defense can be seen in 2014 when Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old Black man from Brooklyn, was murdered by police. Peter Liang, the cop who killed Gurley, called his union rep before the ambulance to tend to Akai. A local example can also be cited now as we witness the Fraternal Order’s support of Champaign ex-cop Matt Rush. Rush has recently tried to regain his position after a career filled with physical attacks on Black folks, resulting in lawsuits of approximately $300,000. Dave Blanchette, the Fraternal Order of Police spokesman, recently remarked that the decision to fire Rush last year was uncalled for, and that Rush should return to his job. In this nation, the police act as a force of repression, physical harm and power in communities of color, specifically Black neighborhoods. This year alone the blood of gunned-down victims of state-sanctioned police violence such as Philando Castile, Korryn Gains and Alton Sterling is still flowing in the street. The Fraternal Order serves as an agency of protection for these killers in uniforms. Policing poor Black and brown neighborhoods is done with an approach that is inherently punitive.
An example of this type of policing is the Fraternal Order’s policy plan for a Trump administration. Located on the Fraternal Order of Police website is a list of policies that it would like to see implemented during Trump’s first 100 days as president. Days after it was initially posted the document was edited to include a statement that attempted to shift the purpose of the policy from the political agenda of the union to a statement of what its members and supporters should expect from a Trump presidency. Regardless of the determined reasoning for the document its content is disturbing and violent in nature. The fifteen-point policy plan by the Fraternal Order of Police focuses largely on anti-Black and anti-immigration policies and actions.
The policy plan targets Black folks as well as strengthening the militarization and power of local state police. The policy calls for U.S. attorneys to seek the death penalty in federal cases involving the murder of police. Another point pushes for Trump to reverse or amend the ban on racial profiling used by law enforcement, and calls for the rescission of Executive Order 13688. This executive order was implemented last year and it restricts local police from obtaining military-grade weapons and vehicles such as armored vehicles, specialized firearms and ammunition, explosives and riot equipment. During the time of the Movement for Black Lives we have seen an increase of righteous social rebellions from Ferguson to St. Paul. Recently, more Black folks have taken to the streets to actively resist social, political and economic suffering at the hands of the state. The anti-Black points in this plan are a reactionary attempt to hinder the progress of political actions taken by Black folks. It is also a repressive response to the demands of revolutionary change and calls of freedom by Black folks. In order to solidify the anti-Black agenda presented in the document, it calls for the reversal of “friendly” U.S.-Cuban relations until “cop killers” harbored there are returned to the U.S. This is a direct attack on the Black freedom fighter Assata Shakur, who has been in Cuba since her escape from an unjust prison sentence in 1979.
The Fraternal Order of Police policy is also anti-immigration. Much like Trump, the Fraternal Order attempts to use immigrants as scapegoats for the economic crisis that capitalism, corporate greed and deregulation of labor has wrought upon this country. The policy plan calls for a restriction of all federal aid and grant funds to sanctuary cities, the end of deferred action for immigrant children arriving in the country (DACA), as well as the increased use of federal databases to identify and deport undocumented people. The immigration policy in this document is essentially proposing an increase of surveillance and social control of immigrants and their families. If DACA is repealed there will be no protection for many children who enter the county and it will mean the continual destruction and displacement of countless immigrant families. The plan also calls for the removal of funding for cities that stand with immigrant folks to limit the financial support that is available for them. The Fraternal Order of Police is using policy as a fear tactic to constrict the daily movement of immigrants in this country.
The Fraternal Order’s policy extends the hate and bigotry that is a mainstay of this country and furthers the criminalization and monitoring of Black folks and immigrants. If it is not resisted by the people, it could strengthen the already colossal power wielded by the Fraternal Order of Police. The policy should be seen as an open display of violent, dehumanizing and deadly action toward historically and presently oppressed populations. Advocates of revolutionary change must remain steadfast in the condemnation of policies such as these. The political left must also continue to challenge the legitimacy of not only police, but the Fraternal Order as well. As the nation prepares for the inevitable repression from a Trump presidency there must be solidarity among the political left and social movements that champion Black and immigrant struggles. We must organize against mutual threats against our lives and create collective momentum in combating reactionary responses to our calls for justice such as the Fraternal Order of Police policy plan.
Kadeem Fuller is a Local Black Lives Matter CU organizer. He is also a UIUC graduate student committed to Black liberation and the universal right of human dignity across the world. Kadeem is researching prison abolition as a theory of Black liberation.