Photo: A vigil for Atatiana Jefferson Sunday night turned into a protest with speeches and a march against police brutality targeting Black people
By Jennifer Kelly
On Tuesday, Interim Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus publicly distanced the department from the latest police killing in Texas, the October 12 murder of Atatiana Jefferson, a young Black woman, by police officer Aaron Dean, who currently walks free after posting the $200,000 bail Monday evening. The incident provoked mass protests last weekend, with the unified call that “enough is enough.”
Around 2:30 am last Saturday, Dean shot Jefferson through her window after sneaking into her backyard. Dean and another officer had been dispatched in response to a non-emergency call from a neighbor, James Smith, who saw that her front door was open. This man made a horrible mistake that cost Jefferson her life by believing the myth that police serve the people. Dean shot Jefferson in front of her 8-year-old nephew, with whom she had been playing video games.
“I’m shaken, I’m mad, I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” Smith said. “It makes you not want to call the police department.”
Activists, religious leaders, and hundreds of community members, some of them armed, gathered Sunday night for what started as a candle vigil for Jefferson outside of her home, but which quickly became a protest and later a march.
During the gathering several speeches were given, calling for a diverse array of responses, from disrupting city council meetings, to building community oversight organizations for the police, organizing community policing, and disrupting the economy of Dallas-Fort Worth.
What came across as the greatest point of unity among protesters was the demand to end the police killings of Black people and for an end to oppression. Initially, Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price showed up to “listen to the community” but she left hurriedly as the masses made it clear she was not welcome and would not be allowed to speak.
She refused to answer any questions or demands of the masses, ignoring them while answering questions from the media on camera. “You’re going to leave and not gonna stand here and listen?” said a cousin of Jefferson as the masses began to chant “go home!” Later, one protester called her “the most racist mayor in all of Texas.”
As night fell on Sunday, the masses, some of them masked, began to march through the streets, starting in Jefferson’s neighborhood and eventually shutting down portions of I-35, where they were met with armed police.
“When they come into our neighborhoods, their mind is already made up. When they come to our neighborhoods it’s for one reason, to kill,” one protester can be heard saying over the megaphone during the march. He went on to call for continued marches and protests, saying “if it is not sustained, they ain’t gone give a damn.”
On Monday, before he could be interviewed by the police department, Dean resigned. Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus attempted to deceive the masses into believing that the police are on their side, saying that Dean will face criminal charges and that “none of this information can ease the pain of Atatiana’s family, but I hope it shows the community that we take these incidents seriously.”
Despite Kraus’s statement that there was “no excuse” for the shooting, this publicity stunt follows the actions of other police chiefs who throw rank-and-file officers under the bus when they do their job too well, betraying the real purpose of law enforcement agencies to relentlessly terrorize the working class and oppressed nations.
The only concern on the mind of the police is maintaining capitalist society, with the few bourgeoisie at the top and the masses at the bottom. While the masses express their anger in the streets, bourgeois officials in the state and emerging among the masses will attempt to lead them astray, down the path of reform, elections, and “community oversight” organizations for the police. It is the duty of Communists to give the masses leadership in their just struggles against oppression and to make good on the righteous demand to end the police killings of Black people once and for all.