TW: racism, police violence
Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake on Sunday, Aug. 23. The police shot Jacob Blake seven times. The police shot Jacob Blake in front of his three children — aged 3, 5 and 8.
It’s still happening. It’s not going to stop happening until the police are gone.
Activists organized tons of protests around the country, ranging from New York to Seattle, and managed to accomplish a lot. On June 3, charges against Derek Chauvin — the policeman who knelt on and killed George Floyd on Memorial Day — were increased to second-degree murder charges and the Minneapolis City Council is investigating plans to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, with a few other cities across the country following suit.
Seattle is another city working to minimize their police force with plans to remove 100 officers and cut the police budget in half.
But how many “bad apples” do we need to fix the problem: the entire system is rotten.
Police are part of a system built on white supremacy that requires suppression and marginalization of underprivileged groups. The counter to this system: All Cops are Bastards — ACAB.
The problem is there is not enough big, structural change to meaningfully alter behaviors of officers. Instead, politicians enable the system by calling murderers like Chauvin “one bad apple.” But how many bad apples does it take?
While some groups have interpreted the ideology as all cops are bad, ACAB is intended not to make moral character judgements on police officers, but instead point out that all police officers enforce a bastardized, or broken system. By inherently being a member of law enforcement, officers uphold this agent of white supremacy.
It’s important, especially for white-bodied individuals, to recognize that individual positive interactions with police officers shouldn’t be used to mask the immense history of violence that police have plagued the country with for ages.
Let’s take a look into the origins of modern policing and from there, analyze why the institution needs to be dismantled. American Police evolved from slave patrols. The goal of the institution was to prevent slaves from escaping and organizing revolts. Before this, “police” largely didn’t exist in America. Having a system of active officers was created because of a need to reinforce an oppressive institution.
Because of the police force’s inability to change, it continues to reinforce the oppressive system it was created to uphold. Police identified certain neighborhoods as “high-crime” neighborhoods which were typically impoverished as a result of redlining. Because these neighborhoods were supposedly more likely to commit crimes, they placed more police in said neighborhoods.
Police began to — and still do — patrol these areas at a higher rate than others and as a result they find more crimes. Based on police data, the neighborhoods continued to be “high-crime” since they found more crimes there due to the fact that they weren’t equally policing other neighborhoods.
Police systematically imprisoned segregated neighborhoods in order to directly maintain white supremacy, and blamed black people for “causing more crime.”
So what can we do instead to “keep people safe?” Spend money on things that keep people safe.
Instead of sending two people with guns to handle domestic violence incidents, send a social worker who has training in de-escalation. Spend money on affordable housing so people can have a place to live and get a job, which will decrease or eliminate the need for people to steal or commit other crimes related to poverty. Increase access to mental health services by offering counseling to kids in schools and provide the same services to other people in the community, so people are able to get care they need by trained professionals, not overworked people with no training.
Spend money on education, so kids can learn the skills they need in order to be successful.
NYPD’s budget for 2020 totals almost 11 billion dollars. While it will face significant cuts in 2021, that money could — and should — be used to actually help communities. In Madison, the police budget has been increasing over the past 10 years, up to a staggering 82 million dollars.
Compare this to 2 million dollars for Madison’s Department of Civil Rights, 7 million dollars towards affordable housing and only 8 million dollars for childcare, youth support and senior support efforts combined.
Police have shot and killed 1,026 people in the past year according to the Washington Post’s police shootings database.
The same database shows that police kill black people at more than twice the rate of white people. You may have heard the argument that police kill twice as many white people than black people, which is true based on raw numbers, but it’s an absurd argument because the police shouldn’t be killing any people.
Some may say, “the police aren’t racist because they kill more white people.” The police shouldn’t be killing any people. American society normalizes cops killing people, but why? Police are not a judge. They are not a jury. They have no right to enforce capital punishment.
Right now, the police are being watched more intensely than they have ever been before. Instead of actually behaving like the protectors they claim to be, police officers have miserably failed at justifying their roles.
During protests in Buffalo, they shoved an elderly man to the ground, fracturing his skull and leaving him unable to walk. In Philadelphia, they pinned protesters against a wall and rained tear gas over them. Police shot a journalist in Minneapolis who was covering the protests.
Police also have been used as a tool of the Trump administration’s excessive abuse of power The president ordered police to gas protesters outside The White House for a photo-op.
In addition to deflecting chronic instances of police brutality, our country fails to support protesters. Following George Floyd’s death, protesters were met with tons of resistance by both police officers and other media pundits. Instead of criminalizing the officers who kill people, protesters were criminalized for their tactics.
Colin Kaepernick sat down for the national anthem explaining, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color, to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Opponents told him that kneeling was “not the right way to protest,” as it disrespects members of the military. In other words, “my blind patriotism refuses to recognize the inherent police violence problem because you disrespected a piece of cloth.”
Protesters often block traffic on busy roads as a way of getting noticed. In Minneapolis, they blocked traffic on I-35W following George Floyd’s death. Police in St. Petersburg, Florida issued fines to protesters blocking traffic, demonstrating that this was “not the right way to protest.” In other words, “my need and desire to get to a destination is more important than acknowledging the systemic violence police disproportionately direct towards black folx.”
Peaceful protesters get criticized, by supposed allies, “I support what you’re saying, but not the peaceful ways you use to spread the word.”
So what is the right way to protest?
It seems like no matter what protesters do, people choose to enable a racist system instead of demanding leaders make meaningful change. Hundreds upon hundreds of black people have been killed by police, but instead we’re worried about the windows of a Target?
Across the country, there were countless videos of police assaulting peaceful protesters when their jobs were under heavy criticism. Cops should not exist. Until this country eliminates the police force, Americans will continue to die every single day. It is immoral for us to allow this system of oppression to continue to plague the country.
Riley is a Junior studying Computer Science and Journalism. Do you think the police should be defunded? Send all comments to email@example.com.