The continuing horror of racist police violence resurged in Syracuse earlier this month when video surfaced of three Dewitt police officers brutalizing two Black women in an East Syracuse Walmart. The disturbing footage depicts the July 4 incident, in which officers Rory Spain, Corey Buyck and Rebecca Bishop restrain the two women, one of whom was pregnant. As the women struggled and called for the officers to release them, Spain punched one of the women in the face after a moment in which the police claim the woman attempted to bite him. After the incident, Officer Spain was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
The video soon gained national attention on social media. Protesters, led by Rebirth SYR, and including Syracuse Party for Socialism and Liberation, gathered in Dewitt to protest the brutality.
The Dewitt police quickly began the process of damage control. Officers released security footage, which they claim depicts the two women assaulting other customers and store staff. Additionally, the Dewitt police chief, Chase Bilodeau, agreed to an interview by reporters from CNYCentral. One quote from this interview is especially telling in regards to the police’s stance towards incidents like this. Bilodeau says, “These things are going to happen in policing. You are going to have situations that are … controversial. You’re going to have situations that might not look good on camera. You are going to some of the most complex, complicated and sometimes violent situations that occur. So, they’re not always going to go perfect.”
Bilodeau here claims correctly that incidents such as these are business-as-usual for police everywhere and indeed that policing itself necessitates such brutality. Working and oppressed people know too well the ever-present reality of racist police violence and incarceration in the United States. Police act not to protect poor and working people but only to ensure the security of property and profit for the capitalist class. This incident is as clear an example as any other. Without flinching or hesitating, these officers acted with brutal force on two women in distress simply so that business could resume in a retail store. As is clear in the footage, these officers showed no concern for whether or not these women were pregnant, disabled or experiencing mental health crises. And, in arresting them, they demonstrated the routine process through which millions are brought into the horror that is mass incarceration in the United States.
Also in his interview with CNY Central, Chief Bilodeau stated proudly, “The last three years we’ve arrested a little over 3,000 individuals and there have only been six instances where we had to strike an individual in order to take them into custody.”
A better world is possible. We do not have to live in a society in which the police bully, brutalize and kidnap us by the thousands. These racist systems of state violence serve only to ruin lives, destroy communities and to line the pockets of all those involved. The Dewitt police only escalated the situation with the use of brutal force. These events and Bilodeau’s statements bring to our attention once again the extent to which police violence like this occurs every day, in public and in private, and whether or not working people will allow it to continue.
No justice, no peace!
No racist police!