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It has been four years since the massive George Floyd protests shook the country, bringing millions into the streets to demand justice for black people. But today there are no mass protests and no major struggle. Does that mean police brutality has ended? Obviously not. It has not even slowed. Last year had the highest number of cop killings in decades, and 2024 has already seen over 300.

The need for a new movement against police brutality is clear. We propose to rebuild this movement around the demand to open all the police archives (OPA). Crucial to that task is mobilizing the power of labor behind this fight. We have taken some initial steps in that direction by getting unions to sign on to the campaign.

Recently, OPA activists met with Belkis Terán, mother of 26-year-old Manuel Terán (Tortuguita), who was gunned down in a hail of 57 bullets by Georgia State Troopers during an attack on a Stop Cop City protest encampment in January 2023. “They went to kill him,” she said, “as they used to do with slaves. They would hang them and let them be seen by others to set an example.” Georgia officials have absolved the cops while refusing to turn over even a shred of evidence to the family. Down with Cop City! Hands off the protesters! Open the State Patrol archives!

Last month, PDC counsel visited Mumia Abu-Jamal, who endorsed the OPA campaign. If any case shows the need to open the archives, it is Mumia’s. A former Black Panther Party member and MOVE supporter, he has spent 42 years behind bars after being framed up for his political beliefs on false charges of killing a Philly cop. There is a mountain of evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, which the courts have tried to bury, and still more is coming out. These files must be opened now! Join us in Philly demanding Mumia’s freedom on his birthday, April 24!

We also just completed a tour in Florida and Louisiana, where we met with victims of cop atrocities and affected families. These cases and many more scream out for a fight back, for the archives to be opened to expose the crimes of the capitalist state to all:

  • In 2022, Antwan Glover was brutally assaulted by cops at a traffic stop in Polk County, Florida. In retaliation for surviving the assault, Glover was then falsely charged with resisting arrest and battery of a first responder. The full footage of the night still has not been released. His next court hearing is May 21. All out for Antwan! Drop all the charges! Release the full video!

  • In 2019, Ronald Greene was killed at a traffic stop in Monroe, Louisiana. The cops initially claimed Greene died from a car crash. But after state officials finally released the footage that they’ve been sitting on for two years, it shows the cops beating him to death. There will be a protest in Farmersville, Louisiana, on May 10, the fifth anniversary of Greene’s death. Join us and his family to demand justice!

  • On 27 March 2019, while sitting in their car in an IHOP parking lot in Gretna, Louisiana, Davari “Bebop” Robertson and Chris Joseph were blockaded by the cops and killed. IHOP video footage still hasn’t been released, and the killer cops were granted “qualified immunity,” i.e., the right to gun down black people at their volition. Down with “qualified immunity”! Open all the archives on the case!

  • Glenn Foster Jr., a former New Orleans Saints defensive end was beaten, tortured and killed by cops in Pickens County, Alabama in 2021. His family was lied to about his death, and the cops tried to cover up the whole thing. We must fight for the police files to be opened now!

  • Le’Keian Woods was brutally beaten at a traffic stop in Jacksonville, Florida last September and is now facing bogus charges. A cellphone video of the beating went viral, but how many more victims of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s department is the state keeping under wraps? Open the archives now! Drop the charges!

Obviously, racist cop atrocities aren’t limited to the South. In 2019, the NYPD broke into Kawaski Trawick’s Bronx apartment, shot him while he was cooking in the kitchen and then left him to bleed to death. Last week, after five years of cover-up, the police commissioner cleared the cops of any wrongdoing. We must expose the police crimes by opening the police files!

During our travels in the South, we encountered groups that have been organizing around these cases, such as the Tampa Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, both affiliated with Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). It is good they want to fight for the victims of cop terror, but there is a massive contradiction between what they want to achieve and the strategy they put forward. Their main demand is for “community control” of the police, pitched as a way to make the police “accountable” and get them to work for the community. But in reality, community control would only make black and working people responsible for administering the very racist state apparatus that is responsible for repressing them.

No amount of “civilian oversight” can cause the cops to change what they are: the guard dogs of the capitalist class. They brutalize and kill black people and the oppressed not because the wrong people are in charge but because they are doing the bidding of their capitalist masters. In fact, community control is part of the same liberal program that led to the failure of the BLM protests in the first place.

By organizing against police brutality under the slogan to open all the police archives, we seek not only to build a movement of the broadest possible forces, but also to put the liberal politicians who claim to stand on the side of black people on the spot: Do you protect the dirty crimes of the cops or do you stand on the side of black people and all the oppressed? The struggle to open the archives will make it clear what side they are on. We hope through joint work with FRSO and other groups to debate what strategy is the way forward for the black struggle—and to demonstrate it in action.

Open All Police Archives!
Endorsers as of 16 April 2024:

  • Mumia Abu-Jamal, PhD Student, “Life” Row,* Frackville, PA
  • AFT Chicago Black Caucus, Chicago, IL
  • Shannon Bland, Cousin of Kawaski Trawick, Brooklyn, NY
  • Chicago Area UAW Civil & Human Rights Council, Chicago, IL
  • Committee For a Fighting TWU, New York, NY
  • Kim Ford, President/CEO, Community Recallers, New Orleans, LA
  • Antwan Glover, Building Bridges Florida, Lakeland, FL
  • Tarik J. Haskins, Rank and File, Black Panther,* Bronx, NY
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, San Francisco, CA
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 34, San Francisco, CA
  • International Longshoremen’s Association, Local 2078, Tampa, FL
  • Cedric Johnson, Professor, Black Studies and Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago,* Chicago, IL
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, University of California Los Angeles,* Los Angeles, CA
  • Jefferson McCain, Chairman, NLG University of Wisconsin,* Madison, WI
  • Edward Perez, President, NYC & Vicinity Latino Carpenters of America,* New York, NY
  • Marlena Ruprecht, Organizer, United Campus Workers AZ,* Frontera Aid Collective,* Tucson, AZ
  • Rev. Belkis Terán, Tortuguita Healing Center, Republic of Panama
  • Andy Thayer, Co-founder, Gay Liberation Network,* Chicago, IL
  • Francisco Torres Sr., San Francisco 8,* Woodbridge, NJ
  • Roosevelt Williams, President, UAW Local 3212,* Chicago, IL
  • Natassia Woods, Mother of Le’Keian Woods, Jacksonville, FL
  • Paul Zulkowitz, The Art & Politics of Justice & Joy,* New York, NY
  • Jacob Zumoff, Associate Professor, Department of History, New Jersey City University,* Jersey City, NJ

*Organizational affiliation listed for identification purposes only.