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Home » The Functioning of the System

The Functioning of the System


When a police officer murders a person of color with impunity, the system isn’t broken. That’s the system functioning all too smoothly.

We live in a state where a radically militarized police disciplines communities of color through terror. You see the system at work not only in the chokehold, but also in the lassitude of the paramedics, how they can’t be bothered, just as Mike Brown’s body was left to bleed out in the street for hours. And of course you see it in the sham of the grand juries—a video of an officer choking Eric Garner to death doesn’t warrant a trial to determine whether or not an officer choked Eric Garner to death.

Our students don’t need me to teach them any of this; for many in the CUNY community, this is the daily reality. We need to stop talking about these events as unfortunate anomalies and join those all over the country who are organizing to shut down a system that depends upon the brutalization of racialized bodies.


Ben Lerner is a professor of English at Brooklyn College. He is author of the novel 10:04.


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Protest at the CUNY Trustees Meeting-NEW LOCATION-May 20th at Bronx Community College