At such a critical juncture in our democracy, I wanted to offer a perspective on the reality of why all cops are, in fact, bastards. I cannot properly do so, however, without first acknowledging my white, male, and socioeconomic privileges along with the agencies they afford me every day.
Moreover, this piece is intended for those of us whose vantage has been narrowed by such agencies, to serve as an admonition of the neoliberal and centrist narratives condemning the protests so callously and imprudently.
As a queer leftist, even the sight of police still strikes fear and hatred into the pit of my bowels, and yet I have been deeply conditioned throughout my life toward deference despite the comprehensively abhorrent deportment of those sworn to serve and protect.
That instilled deference, common in whites and doubtless sustained by fear alone, has since been washed away by years of horror stories and a few instances of innocuous harassments I have personally endured. What modicum of respect I once had for law enforcement was a parasite of a mentality wont to recognize that there but for the grace of God go I, but that, in itself, was a fallacy.
It takes a very specific type of person to want to be a cop. Despite whatever disingenuous call to serve they may allege, there is almost always a conspicuous, perhaps inherent, need there to experience authority in some way. This could take root literally anywhere, but in my experience, it most often stems from a fairly unexceptional brand of insecurity affiliated with a virulent white conservative masculinity.
The same brand of insecurity is further reflected in the pathetic costume players who don military gear and assault rifles to somehow counter whatever inconvenience they have deemed more unjust than the sanctioned murder of minorities. These people do not want to protect their community under constitutional allowances, they are merely grasping for justification to flaunt their unbridled ignominy.
The differences between these people and uniformed police officers could effectively be delineated by formalities, as both parties flagrantly commit unspeakable hate crimes with impunity. To favor these troglodytes with the benefit of the doubt, provincialism is another common thread here, though not part of a conscious, collective dogma as is white heteronormative maleness.
This insecurity can penetrate marginalized communities as well, especially in that it is the foundation upon which the institutions governing those communities are built. These white power structures spare no expense in the indoctrination of those communities, mounting spurious othering campaigns to distract from more substantive evils, and manufacturing more gay republicans and black police officers every day.
Heinous police proceedings, perpetrated as they are in lion’s share by white men, are not excused in the presence of a few officers physically resembling the civilians that they victimize. When I see a black police officer, or even one with a female gender expression, I am not inspired by whatever unity they purport, I am disgusted, not only by their wanton desertion of decency and community, but by the co-option behind it as well.
Police agencies are state funded militias that find purpose not in protection, but in the act of policing. They bolster the institutionalized hatred and violence against the most vulnerable of our citizenry.
A good person does not inherit the social detriments of their blackness, queerness, or womanhood and overcome the injustices of their existence to inflict the same trauma on others. A good person does not train and endeavor toward the enforcement of laws that are intrinsically inhumane. There are no good cops.
What of the officer being lauded for aligning with protesters? If he truly had any stake in a revolution, he would not be kneeling in a uniform stained with the blood of Indigenous, queer, and people of color. Racism is not solely composed of individual acts, it is the culmination of prejudice and systemic power. When that officer finally stood up, he went back to serve and protect a white power structure. How dare he and other officers now assume the position that murdered George Floyd?
At least forty percent of police officer families experience domestic violence. That is to say that at least forty percent have put themselves at great risk to report their abuse. It takes a very specific type of person to want to be a cop.
All over the country, and even here in Portland, we are being served a mere tasting of what happens when a tyrannized community raises its voice. And yet, one would be mistaken to misconstrue a Chase bank set ablaze as a symptom of a riot. It would also be disadvantageous to conflate property damage with violence.
Our country was founded of revolution. When the people were pissed about taxation without representation, they destroyed millions of dollars of property by throwing it into the goddamn harbor. Regrettably, as we know, this led to the formation of a union dependent on slave labor and a white power structure exploitative of the working class that remains in place today, but the protest was consequential nonetheless.
“Riots are the language of the unheard”, so what is it that we have failed to hear? Protestors are being condemned even by those who incessantly tout their own liberalism. These people fail to see the connection between property damage and years of oppression, and continue to spout imbecilities such as “not all cops” and “ALL lives matter”. All cops serve and protect despotism, and if all lives mattered, black lives would be worth more than a broken window.
When cities and centrists demand peaceful protests in response to unchecked systematic violence, they openly value property above human life. Yet, where are these voices when grown white men violently take to the streets after their sports team lost they game they play?
Where were they when grown white men stormed their state capitol in military gear with assault weaponry to verbally assault police and legislators? They are now defending the militias that are shooting people in their own homes, macing children, and generally unleashing their straight white male rage and cruelty with exemption.
With what these people actually take issue are black men who kneel for injustice. They have nothing to say of diminished communities being assaulted for the conviction that blackness is not a capital offense, because, however subconsciously, they know and believe that being black is a capital offense. If there can be no taxation without representation, and there can be no peace without justice. These protests are well founded, if not long overdue.
Those who are so quick to look down on protest, assumedly safely from their ivory towers, should be demanding peace from police, not protestors, and yet it is clear that in some minds, there will never be a reasonable means of dissent for people of color in this country.
These people, often white and living just above the poverty line in my observation, have been brainwashed by a criminal ruling class. If their values were in any sense cohesive, they would be demanding the prosecution of murderers and billionaires, not lamenting the loss of their favorite Starbucks window. They are gaslighted by people like Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target who offered a few hollow words of solidarity in light of his stores being. . . targeted.
Target, to digress, has a longstanding history of bolstering police states by funding surveillance and other militarized activity within communities. Furthermore, they displace small businesses and monopolize local markets in exchange for poverty wages. Brian Cornell makes over $17M a year from others’ labor. He is not an ally.
On an ostensibly related note, if you were to work every single day, making $5,000 a day from the time Columbus sailed to the Americas, you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Billionaires do not earn their money.
I am inclined to mention this and the blatant failings of capitalism here, because the gaslighting I’ve mentioned is integral to the mindset of those denouncing the actions of protestors, and to the mindset of cops. Insidious and divisive rhetoric from the upper echelons is disseminated to actively deceive poor whites into believing that their poverty is derived from their incompetency in regard to our economic system.
Black poverty, then, is a result of an entire community’s complete disregard for an economic system which, when engaged with correctly, will make you richer than your wildest dreams. It is a lie that is reinforced by the media, and exemplified in mistruths and misconceptions surrounding the disproportionality of “black crime”.
This is how Donald Trump received working class votes. People making very little money align themselves with the ruling class, blinded to their own exploitation, and clinging to the lie that they, too, could be billionaires if they just worked a little harder. The average police officer makes $23/hr.
These are important certainties we must address in that policing, as it is, is a means to jail people for trying to survive in an economic system that necessitates their poverty. Communities do not require policing, they require that their needs be met. Militarized gangs do not protect people, they protect themselves and the power structure that supplies the crumbs of authority off of which they subsist.
Our president openly encourages white nationalists and terrorists to whom he refers as “good people”, and has put a target on the backs of the “thugs” protesting systemic violence. We have now seen the most powerful military in the world deployed to protests before an arrest was made for the murder of George Floyd. Instead of holding their own accountable for the brutal murder of Breonna Taylor, police shot at least seven civilians protesting the atrocity.
This is what is means to be good at your job as a police officer. If there were good cops, legions would arise to police the criminals and oligarchs that present real dangers to our society and our earth. As it stands, the police are exclusively a branch of the military intended to protect property with violence.
It was police who instigated violence during the protests in Minneapolis, Omaha, and Chicago, of that we know. It is the police who are so willingly deploying tear gas in the midst of a viral pandemic that attacks the respiratory system. It is the police beating elderly women to the ground purely because they are begging to not be beaten to the ground anymore.
The law is by no means definitive of good morality, it exists to tell us which things are punishable like poverty, resource distribution, receiving affordable medical care, and being black. When those in power refuse to entertain alternatives, they are not just being lazy or intolerant, they are intentionally securing the top down weaponization of their power structure.
I used to believe in a moderate approach. I thought these issues could be addressed with a wealth tax, reparations, a reinforced welfare system, massive justice reforms, and elevated training, salary, and bar of entry for law enforcement based in conflict resolution. I used to believe that it was wholly ridiculous to categorize all cops as bastards.
Now, more than ever, I find there is no place in our society for moderation or centrism. It is obvious that the police are a group of radical thugs beholden to a white power structure that benefits very few. If you fear antifascism, you are weak, and so you should.
Justice is not an institution, it is a community. Our community is finally raising its voice to say that we have had enough. We must de-fund the police and work together to protect ourselves against the real dangers we are facing. We must overthrow the police state and demand community prosecution. When we abolish capitalism, the crimes we thought needed policing will falter in its wake.