With so many news stories emanating from the new administration, it’s easy to miss an important one like “With Executive Order on Policing, Trump Declares Racialized War on Dissent” by Flint Taylor, published on truthout.org 2-10-17. Taylor’s article concerns an executive order issued 2-9-17 encouraging newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions “to bring the wrath of the federal government down on anyone unfortunate enough to have a confrontation with a cop, a prison guard, a border patrol officer, or anyone else outfitted with a badge and carrying a gun. The order can be read as an official authorization, from one white supremacist – Steve Bannon – to another – Jeff Sessions – to pursue the most racist and reactionary criminal legal policies in recent memory. It takes aim at protesters, most urgently the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter protesters, people protesting the Muslim ban, and many others practicing acts of civil disobedience that bring them into conflict with law enforcement. Not content with local prosecutors dealing with these confrontations, the order encourages Sessions and his Department of Justice to find more punitive federal laws to charge protesters, to seek the passage of new federal laws to further aid this effort, and to seek new mandatory minimum sentences to enhance the punishment of protesters, all under the guise of protecting law enforcement from ‘violence.’
The order also directs the Department of Justice to work with other federal agencies like the FBI, CIA and NSA to ‘develop an executive branch strategy to prevent violence against federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.’ This was the same rationale, using the exact same language, that the notorious J. Edgar Hoover used in his COINTELPRO directives targeting Black liberation leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Fred Hampton, and their organizations, and permitting wildly illegal government surveillance and orchestrated state violence during the 1960s. The order also calls for the DOJ to evaluate ‘all grant funding programs currently administered by the DOJ to determine the extent to which its grant funding supports and protects’ law enforcement and to seek legislation that would ‘adequately support and protect’ these agencies. What seems apparent from these provisions is that funding for police reforms in training, discipline, monitoring and the like will be quashed, while funds for wartime armaments such as SWAT tanks, drones, high-powered weapons and sophisticated 21st-century surveillance will be the norm.
This order, like similar legislation that the American Legislative Exchange Council is pushing on the state level, is designed to criminalize and quash dissent. Like the Trump administration’s attacks on the media, it’s aimed at defeating, with broad authoritarian strokes, growing popular opposition to a wannabe neo-fascist regime. Wrapped in ‘law and order’ and protecting the police, the next target after those who practice civil disobedience may well be the millions who have been taking to the streets.”
Flint Taylor has been litigating cases against police torture in Chicago for 30 years and is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. For more information on the Hampton/Clark case, the history of the Black Panther Party, and the FBI’s program to destroy it, visit PeoplesLawOffice.com.