Yesterday for a few minutes everything was not calm in Ragoo Lane. Loud talking nearby. Ram and I go out and look up the road. A clapped-out 4x4 was parked in the middle of the narrow lane and four men were getting out, two giving a close escort to a third, while the fourth, who seemed like the “tit-antrepener boss” giving a loud running commentary. There was a kind of citizens’ arrest going on. A young neighbour was being escorted manu militari into his own house by two other men – all masked, of course – and they were then together carrying out two heavy tool-boxes, and all the while the “boss” berating the “arrested” neighbour for what sounded like theft on the worksite, as well as for having pretending he had a driving license. The accused neighbour was shamefaced. They drove him and the recovered goods off – either to the police station or just giving him a warning, it was not clear. They had already made their point. Other neighbours had also witnessed the event. So, I hope they did not take him to the police.
The point is that the event proves that you often don’t really need the police. You act to get the stolen goods back with a minimum of duress. Neighbours come and check this. You issue a loud warning. And that can be that. Even when it is something as important for a livelihood as tools – which seemed to be the case. But, then again, everyone involved, as far as I can make out, was in the same class of people: working people.
While this citizens’ arrest happens here, we hear on TV that the police officer who murdered George Floyd a year ago in Minneapolis, USA, one Derek Chauvin, has been found guilty on all three charges. He, Derek Chauvin, killed someone gratuitously in public over the course of 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
But, the question remains: why was George Floyd arrested in the first place?
The police needed only to take his name and address, so as to know where to issue a summons-to-court once they had prepared whatever case they had against him. Even if they were given a false name or address, it would not have been serious because he clearly was unaware of having committed any offense. Why arrest him at all? It seems stone mad.
The same can be said, sadly, in the cases of deaths at police officers’ hands of Kaya (Reginald Topize), of Rajesh Ramlogun and of Iqbal Toofany. The police knew their addresses. Kaya was accused of a minor offense of smoking a joint some days earlier, for which there was no forensic evidence anyway, and to which charge he already pleaded guilty. Why arrest him at all? The police found him in his house in Beau Songes, so they knew his address. Mr. Ramlogun was possibly a witness of some relevance in an atrocious murder, but why was he arrested? He should have been invited into an office in the day time. Mr Toofany, like Mr. Floyd, was alleged to have done something he didn’t even know what – concerning his newly acquired car’s technicalities. Why was Mr. Toofany arrested in the first place? All the torture the three men here, and Mr. Floyd two oceans away, suffered afterwards – when they should never have been arrested at all – ended up causing their deaths at the hands of officers employed with public money, our money. Such is the bourgeois State. It pays men to do this?
In any case, let’s look at what George Floyd is alleged to have done? He had allegedly produced – clearly without his knowledge because he hung around nearby innocently, unaware of any possible charge against him – a fake $20 bill to a superette. The value of one-and-a-half hour’s work at US minimum wage. The supermarket called the police, saying Mr. Floyd was still standing across the road. And the police arrived knowing this. Everyone knew all this. So, why was he arrested at all?
The police are there, inter alia, to protect capitalist currency. A dollar bill is thus a holy artifact. It is the State-monopoly on currency. To use a false one – even inadvertently – is blasphemy in capitalism. The arrests of Kaya, Mr. Ramlogun and Mr. Toofany are also related, in their different ways, to keeping all in smooth running order for the capitalist class to continue its exploitation of the rest of us – directly or via the State.
We can feel all this repression all the more when the police, right now, are checking that we go out only to work for the capitalist bosses on the WAPs the police provide. Or to shop on our day. This lockdown must serve an awakening to us as to how we need to get out from under the capitalist state’s rule. No less. We need freedom. But for that we need a proper program on what we intend to replace the Jugnauth regime with.