A year and a half after the George Floyd protests began, a socialist organization called Speak Out Now held a talk about police brutality at Keyser Quad on September 16. At the event, club members discussed the idea of capitalism as the root cause of inequality. in society, arguing that socialism is the solution.
Although Speak Out Now is located in different parts of the United States, its members are in the process of starting a club at the university, known as Students for Socialism. The club will share the same mission as Speak Out Now but will remain separate from the national organization.
Senior John Burns, president of Students for Socialism, said the club is meant to provide an outlet for students to voice their political questions and find solutions.
Burns explained the purpose of bringing the organization to the Hopkins community in an interview with The News-Letter.
“We believe that we cannot rely on those in power to make the changes that we want to see. The people in power did nothing or the situation got worse, ”he said. “For example, Biden increased the police budget. For this reason, now is the time for people to understand the world and figure out what the problems are. “
Burns hopes the organization will unite students and create a community among those who want to take action against society’s most pressing issues, including racism, climate change and poverty.
Hopkins Alum Megan Johnson, a member of Speak Out Now, opened the discussion by stressing that society has an obligation to continue conversations about police brutality.
“A year and a half ago, the brutality of the police was projected before the eyes of tens of millions of people. Police brutality maintains the social and economic inequalities of capitalist society, ”she said. “This social explosion has sparked discussions over the past year about the role of the police and what it would take for a systems restructuring.”
According to Johnson, about 80% of working-class Americans live paycheck to paycheck and more half a million people are homeless. Based on these statistics, Johnson pointed out that the majority of Americans cannot be considered safe, which would mean having a secure job, a place to live, and access to health care, education. and basic necessities.
When discussing police brutality, Burns thinks the central problem lies in capitalism.
“The police are a solution to the violence in our society. Nothing in our lives is guaranteed. Because of this and the massive inequalities we have in society, the police exist to protect property but not people, ”he said. “For this reason, withdrawing the policy does not remove the root causes of these problems. Until we begin to tackle the problems of inequity created by capitalism, we will be stuck living in a violent society.
Lena Davenport, another Speak Out Now member, pointed out that socialism is founded on the belief that the working class is essential for the world to progress and transform society.
“We have to understand our own opinions and analyze what is going on in society. If socialism is a world built by workers, then we have to start now, ”she said. “Racism continued. The killings of police officers continued. Poverty continued. When we talk to students, many of them bring up the police and racism as something they are concerned about and want to change.
Freshman Novie Truitt said she came from a conservative hometown and described her surprise when some of her friends decided to join the police force rather than go to college after the George Floyd protests.
“It caught me off guard and really upset me. The setback against Black Lives Matter is worsening and spreading, ”she said. “I have seen more rallies supporting the police than the Black Lives Matter movement. It made me very interested to learn what I could do so that it was not so prevalent.
She expressed her conviction that capitalist society prevents society from reaching its full artistic and creative potential.
As a result, Johnson believes it is important that communities keep up the fight. She praised activists in Baltimore for staging protests in communities most affected by these issues rather than staying in the safer areas.
“It’s important to remember that it sounds more powerful as a collective action than when you are alone,” she said. “Hopkins really brings in a lot of us who wouldn’t normally get the chance to talk or hear about other people’s experiences. It shows how similar a lot of our situations can be in different places and how they can spread in different ways. “
In an email to The News-Letter, Truitt noted that as a white woman, she had the privilege of avoiding issues such as police brutality. Coming to Hopkins allowed him to initiate conversations on these topics.
“It’s really important for me to make the effort to understand the perspectives of marginalized people, because I didn’t grow up always being able to meet those perspectives, being from such a conservative region of the world. Delaware, ”she wrote.
She said the university should provide more opportunities for students to have conversations and learn from each other.
Sophomore Rafael Stamillo attended the event because he wanted to discuss topics related to socialism. He stressed that these events are important for students to understand the perspectives of others.
“It brought more topics to my attention. I don’t think my views have changed, but they are more complete, ”he said. “Maybe I’m not aware of something, but others are, and we can all share these ideas and have a more complete understanding of what we should be doing for our future.”
Speak Out Now will hold other discussions in the next weeks.