Why World Can’t Wait Will Be A Part of Rise Up October to Stop Police Terror

Jill McLaughlin | September 11, 2015

I wrote the following back in April of this year and as we draw closer to #RiseUpOctober, I feel it is important to refer back to it:

One may think that police murder of unarmed civilians, particularly people of color, in the U.S. has no connection to the wars perpetrated by the U.S. government across the globe, but there are striking parallels.

When police killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, grand juries did not deliver justice; no police were prosecuted. Black and Latinos, particularly young men, continue to be criminalized, targeted, and outright murdered with impunity, while the U.S. claims to be number one in human rights! The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture at the end 2014 revealed sickening details of the brutality and torture that many detainees, including those held at Guantanamo, have endured.

These crimes too have been sanctioned by officials at the highest level. None of them have been held to account. The U.S. government has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia through its drone warfare program, all without any legal – let alone moral -- foundation. A drone operator who sees a group of people on his screen moving together and presumes they are terrorists is not at all unlike a police officer who sees a group of youth and presumes they're criminals.

All of these horrors are committed in the name of our "security and safety," whether it is the targeting of people of color in the U.S. or the targeting of people across the globe.

What we allow our government to do in this country, we allow it to do to others around the world. American lives are not more important than any others. Black and Brown lives matter just as much as white. We stand with those in the righteous struggle to end police brutality and murder here because the system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses people around the globe is the same system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses Black and Latino people in its own streets.

— From Why We Protest Police Murder in the U.S — A Call to Support #ShutDownA14

There are many ties, connections, and parallels between the terror by police here in the U.S. and the terror the U.S. government brings to humanity around the globe. For example, the ties between the practice of torture by our government in Guantanamo and black sites and the use of torture and brutality by police is glaring in the stories of Chicago cops, Jon Burge and Richard Zuley.

Burge led a ring within the police department that extracted false confessions from Black men through torture including beatings and electrocution in the 70s and 80s. He served 3.5 years for perjury starting in 2011 and is now out, still collecting his police pension.

Burge learned how to torture when he was in the U.S. military police in Vietnam. This included using hand cranked implements to shock people’s genitals, which was commonly practiced by the U.S. military then. Richard Zuley is a former cop who spent 37 years at the Chicago Police Department and was part of the Navy Reserve while still a cop. He was put in charge of a “Special Projects Team” at Guantanamo which tortured Mohamedou Slahi. Slahi wrote about it in his book, Guantanamo Diary which documented beatings, sexual humiliation, mock executions and psychological torture, as well as solitary confinement. One type of psychological torture that Zuley carried out in parallel here and in Guantanamo was threatening people’s families. He told one woman in Chicago, Benita Johnson, that she’d never see her kids again if she didn’t confess. He told Slahi that he had Slahi’s mother in custody and would be bringing her into the all-male environment of Guantanamo, which was intended and taken to be a threat of rape.

Finally I want to share a anecdote. In August I was in the Stop Mass Incarceration Chicago contingent in the Bud Billiken Parade, which is the largest African American Parade in the country. Prior to our entering into the parade one of our crew was setting up the Rise Up October Banner which features the faces of those whose lives have been stolen by police. A six year old Black girl ran over to the banner and I went with her. While we were hunched down looking at it she was asking me many questions. Suddenly she said to me, “The police don’t help us because they kill us. That’s why I can’t sleep at night because the police are in my head.”

This struck at my heart and I almost gasped out loud. I couldn’t help but think of how children in Pakistan have talked about being afraid to go outside on a clear day for fear of drone attacks. So we must take responsibility for stopping the terror our government brings to people here and all around the world. We invite everyone to take part in Rise Up October: October 22nd through October 24th.

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Jill McLaughlin, based in Chicago, is a member of the national Steering Committee of World Can't Wait.

Main Mass Incarceration Why World Can’t Wait Will Be A Part of Rise Up October to Stop Police Terror


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.