United States and World Politics

The Killers of Children

By Bonnie Weinstein

A fully loaded AK47 assault rifle weighs in at around 12 pounds.1 A toy version like the kind 13-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz was holding at about 3:30 P.M. in broad daylight on October 22, 2013 when he was fatally shot seven times by Santa Rosa, California Deputy Erick Gelhouse, weighs in at about five-and-a-half pounds.2

According to a October 23, 2013 article titled, “Hundreds protest deputy’s fatal shooting of Santa Rosa teen,” by Julie Johnson, in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Andy (who was, incidentally, wearing a hoodie) was holding the gun by his side in his left hand—not so easy to do for a thirteen-year-old if it were a real, fully-loaded AK47. And according to the same story, “…the model Lopez carried was clearly plastic with a transparent center section. The BB gun also had a shorter barrel.”3

In a Reuters article in the October 29, 2013 New York Daily News the police admit that, “No more than ten seconds elapsed from the time the deputies spotted the boy carrying what they believed to be an assault rifle and the moment Gelhaus opened fire….”

Gelhaus, 48-years-old, is no rookie. According to the same article, he’s “…a firearms expert who has trained officers for nearly two decades…has been on the force for 24 years, 19 of them as a range master and firearms instructor….” The title of the Reuters article is, “Santa Rosa, Calif. Deputy Erick Gelhous, who shot boy carrying toy assault rifle, was a firearms instructor, gun range master, Iraq veteran.” 4 

Thousands have been protesting the murder of Andy Lopez Cruz. We want to know how such an “expert” couldn’t distinguish a toy from the real thing.

Capitalism’s glamorization and glorification of war

Gelhaus didn’t think before he acted with deadly force. It is what the police are trained to do—shoot to kill. The necessity of deadly force is reiterated in government policies, the military, the police, in the prisons, in the mass media and the gigantic entertainment industry—all owned and controlled by the capitalist class and it’s executive committee, the U.S. government. The Obama administration, and every administration before him, has rationalized war and pre-emptive strikes and/or killings as being “necessary to keep ‘us’ safe.” What they don’t say is the “us” they refer to really does mean themselves—not us, the masses of humanity. To them we are expendable.

The primary purpose of capitalism’s violence is to enforce oppression. But their violence also has a more subtle purpose. It threatens the very foundation of our security and our community. It reinforces alienation by planting suspicion on any and everyone. It also makes clear that our government is more than capable of killing with impunity. They hold the biggest stick—the most plentiful and most powerful weapons ever before seen on Earth.

So how can something like this keep happening?

On an ABC TV Evening News segment about the protest that took place on Wednesday, October 23, a young schoolgirl, about the same age as Andy, spoke into the microphone and asked why there is so much violence. She said we should be following the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. Violence is wrong. This young girl wanted to know why they are taught about King and Gandhi in school, yet there’s violence all around!

Even in the games designed for children to play, they are armed to the teeth. Kids play with toy guns but get killed with real ones.

Capitalism tries to convince us that we are powerless

Capitalism has to promote seeming chaos, and disaster. It has to convince us that the world is irrational, brutal, and that it’s “dog eat dog” by nature—survival of the fittest and the richest. And why they deserve to be on top and the rest of us at the bottom.

Ironically, however, violence is both the means, and means to the end of capitalism. Capitalism does not hesitate to stir the flames of fire when it is to its advantage—even when it’s to the disadvantage of everything else, including the survival of our planet. This isn’t what capitalism says; it’s what it does. And the commanders of capital can’t control it. If there’s a dollar to be made from wood, the rainforests will get cut down.

A socialist world is the answer

It’s up to us to collectively organize a peaceful world, to end the violence, to end the plunder of our environment, to redistribute the wealth fairly according to need and want and not private profit, to reshape the world for the good of all.

Capitalism’s power is ephemeral. Either its disregard for the people and our environment, and its use of weapons of mass destruction, will cause the destruction of the planet—and thus capitalism itself. Or, opposition to capitalism’s inherent injustice will become a unifying and driving force for massive human cooperation—revolution—proving that we are capable of disarming and dethroning the rotten capitalist system and establishing a new socialist democracy that will ensure peace, justice and equality for all, and the health of the beautiful planet we all share.