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America’s justice system is racist. There is no other way to put it. From its racist policing built on profiling, to its war on drugs which dis-proportionally incarcerates black (and brown) people, to its sentencing laws that increase in severity if you are black, to the fact that a black man is killed by cops or vigilantes every 28 hours. It’s murderous and racist to its core. So when “the law” is the instrument of oppression, this leaves little recourse for communities like Ferguson.

But the logic of oppression will always place the onus for civility on the victims of oppression, never itself.

If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it—by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.

But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers—the US and Russia—still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.

The phrase “rubber bullets” is often used to describe what are more accurately termed “rubber-coated metal bullets”, heavy steel projectiles with a minimal coating of 1mm or 2mm of rubber, that are regularly used to lethal effect alongside — not instead of — live ammunition.

Rubber-coated metal bullets are fired from metal tubes placed on the end of high-velocity rifles such as the M-16s commonly used by Israeli troops. Tubes contain around 8 rubber-coated, cylindrical, steel projectiles, which are powered by blank rounds fired from the gun’s magazine.

[….]

Writing in the medical journal, The Lancet, [doctors] said firing the bullets at civilians made it “impossible to avoid severe injuries to vulnerable body regions such as the head, neck and upper torso, leading to substantial mortality, morbidity and disability.”

They added: “We reported a substantial number of severe injuries and fatalities inflicted by use of rubber bullets when vulnerable upper-body regions such as the head, neck and upper torso were struck.

“This type of ammunition should therefore not be considered a safe method of crowd control.”