Part of epidemic of police violence
On May 11, Ron Hillstrom, age 44, a resident of University Place, Washington, died after being Tazed and beaten by police – despite the fact that he posed no threat whatsoever to them, and despite the fact that he had already been subdued and effectively restrained by the police officers.
As reported by KOMO News, Hillstrom was evidently suffering some sort of episode of a mental illness in the parking lot of his apartment complex when the police were called for assistance in calming him. Although Hillstrom had a screwdriver in his hand, onlookers reported that he never made any threatening moves toward any of the police officers, and in fact was trying to get away from them.
Nonetheless, the four officers who responded each used their Tazers against him simultaneously. Once Hillstrom was subdued and lying on the ground, all four officers pinned him and began viciously beating him with flashlights and batons, while continuing to also use their Tazers on him. While the officers were attacking him, Hillstrom desperately cried out for help. He was subsequently taken in to custody, and died merely an hour later.
Hillstrom’s family is devastated: “I sit here in my study room, supposed to be writing a final paper. I can’t help but sit here begging God for it to not be true, begging for my uncle Ron not to be gone. It feels so wrong when the family gets together and you’re not there… I love and miss you so much,” wrote Hillstrom’s niece on Facebook.
This incident must be understood for what it is: part of a larger epidemic of police brutality in the United States.
Instances of law enforcement officers brutalizing and killing innocent people are not isolated cases of “just a few bad officers.” Rather, these cases are a direct and inevitable result of the nature of law enforcement in a capitalist society.
Police officers are the heavily armed and increasingly militaristic domestic enforcers on behalf of the ruling class, whose purpose is to stamp out dissent and to terrorize poor and oppressed communities in an effort to suppress any attempt at fighting back.
The killings of innocent people by police officers will not cease until police officers work for the people and for communities, not the capitalist class.