If we are to combat police violence, racial or otherwise, we must first begin by understanding it.
Social inequality is a reflection and a product of economic inequality. Unless we are to wallow in unscientific claptrap about “human nature” and “tribalism,” we must recognize that the essence of social inequality is that it provides a material and ideological structure that permits some to take things by denying them to others. Racial inequality is a particularly clear example of this. For anyone who hasn’t read it, I recommend MLK’s speech at the end of the Montgomery to Selma march. Whatever disagreements I have with King’s pacifism and reformism, he certainly understood the origins of racial oppression, and gave a beautiful and succinct summary beginning in paragraph 9. I also cannot recommend too highly the book he refers to, The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward.
In order for economic and social inequality to exist, three things are necessary: the first is the production of a surplus; you cannot have an argument about who gets the extra apple until there is an extra apple. The second is an ideology that accepts inequality as normal, as just part of life–the idea that we live (or could live, or almost live) in a meritocracy is one, a sense of morality accepted from the oppressors through their control of the media and the academy is another. Any moral code, such as pacifism, that interferes with the fight for equality serves the interests of those who benefit from continued oppression. Reformist ideology by definition treats the object it intends to reform, capitalism, as permanent, and thus plays its part in accepting inequality is normal.
The third is a means of enforcing the inequality through violence and the threat of violence. This is, and always has been, exactly the role of the police. I think, of all the illusions under which many people operate, one of the greatest is that it is possible to fight against police violence without simultaneously fighting for social and economic equality, because violence in defense of economic inequality is why the police exist. The fight for social and economic equality is the fight for socialism.