I try not to hate anybody. Hate is a rot. It festers and spoils; it disrupts. It’s not healthy, not that I’m pretending to care about my health, but most beneficially, hate can be an agent of change. When we acknowledge problems, we name them, and ideally start the work to make them better. Or I guess people insulate themselves from them as necessary too, but my goal here is the former. I recognize this probably isn’t the best piece I could write as far as personal safety goes, and I don’t really expect anyone to change their mind because of something I wrote, but if they at least understand where the other side is coming from, and maybe take that into account when working on policies for the future, then I’ve done my job.
So with that said, on the list of things I truly can’t help but hate, cops are about as high on the list as it goes. I think I speak for the larger community here when I say this, but for the sake of this argument and not putting a target on anyone else’s back, here’s my take on some of the inherent issues with the police force as it exists today, and why so many of us are so wholly opposed to their entire state of being.
He Said What?!
Now I know as soon as they see this headline there’s going to be a mob of thin blue line folk on social who want to tear into this one, and I get it. Your dad, or brother, or husband’s a cop. Maybe even your mom, or sister, or wife. *Equality!* ‘They’re not all bad,’ you’ll say. Sure, but for the sake of understanding, get through this before jumping down my throat and let me know if your father, brother, or husband (or that of the opposite sex) co-sign the aggrieved behavior.
I would also like to remind you from the jump that this is a choice they made, and not an unavoidable physical or mental trait they were born with. It’s just a job, and I know very few people who like theirs, so take that for what it’s worth.
Further, recognize this is not personal. This is not some ‘I hate this PERSON’ statement. It’s more, ‘I hate this machine’. ‘I hate the industrial complex.’ I hate what the individual represents more than I do the actual human, but I can’t help the associations people choose to make – no matter the consequence.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if they do not see the issues in any of the below examples, and if they’re not actively – on their own – working to be an agent of change to correct these major flaws, then yes, I am abso-fucking-lutely talking about them.
The Fundamental Problem with Cops
I think at the most basic level the core issue here is that cops are paid tattletales. Whether or not you remember, understanding that tattletales are dickheads is like one of the first lessons you learned on the playground. It’s been ingrained into us. When someone, who was usually uninvolved in whatever you were doing, goes to tell whatever authority that may exist that you’ve done something you maybe shouldn’t have, something that they would otherwise be unaware of, we can all agree that’s pretty lame behavior, right? Fuck tattletales.
I understand the first response to that is going to be that you were doing something wrong, too – which I’m not objecting to whatsoever, but you also learned that two wrongs don’t make a right, right? I’m not advocating for violence or destruction here when I say that there’s some super fun shit to do that isn’t exactly cool in terms of the law, but if it’s not hurting anybody, does it really matter? A tree falling in the woods, if you will.
I’m not saying that there’s never a reason to get a higher power to help right a wrong, especially if someone is in need of help, but I am saying that 99% of the time it’s not necessary. Sure, call the authorities and get someone to the hospital, or out of a burning building. But tattletaling is not that.
Worse, however, is if you’re an uninvolved observer who tattletales on someone else for the sake of getting themselves out of trouble, or for profit. It could be something they did too, but often didn’t even involve or affect them – for whatever reason. We have a word for that too, it’s snitch. This is more specific to undercovers I guess, but we don’t like those either. Fuck all them, too.
So at this base level, understanding how we all felt back as kids, how are you all now, as full-grown adults, surprised that people think being paid for that action is lame? That’s day one shit. Snitching is against the code, and you’ve made it a profession. The very idea of patrolling is going out and looking for people to hem up because they’re violating some needless restriction that’s most often not hurting anybody – that’s nonsense. However, it gets worse. Maybe it’s just my perception, but it doesn’t seem like the tattletales have to follow the same rules and restrictions as the rest of us…
Above the Law
Now I think it’s important that everyone understand these very simple points: the idea that some of us are able to transcend the law in order to hold others accountable to it is fucking bullshit. The idea that we are supposed to surrender our rights to another human at the behest of their mood is absolute fucking bullshit. And finally, the idea that police are somehow better citizens, or not breaking the law regularly, or that they should be protected when violating said laws they’re once again *employed* to protect, is complete and total bullshit.
Now, I will say from the start of this point that I recognize this is a dangerous job, dealing with sometimes dangerous people, and that in certain, dire situations, lethal force is going to be necessary. But here’s probably the most glaring issue – we all agree murder is bad, right? So then why do those paid to protect us seem to do it so goddamned often? Isn’t that like, something we all agree is pretty much the worst thing? Why are they allowed to do it if they don’t feel like someone is listening to them well enough? Shouldn’t there be like a long list of options before lethal force? And when they fear for their safety! Aren’t they supposed to be above that fear? Aren’t they trained? You gave them guns! Aren’t they supposed to be the ones running in to stop whatever issue, not create more? Isn’t it about time that we created some goddamn rules that they’re expected to follow too? And held them accountable? Like, killing someone because they’re squirming around (while you’re trying to take their freedom – a moment when they’re understandably distraught) isn’t okay?
I woke up a few weeks ago to another video of unnecessary police violence. They didn’t kill anybody this time; it was just another recorded power trip by the boys in blue on an unsuspecting motorist. An NYPD truck basically ran a guy on a scooter off the road using maneuvers that at the very best would be considered dangerous driving, but at worst could be considered an unlawful attempted assault. Fortunately, the scooter-er managed to make an exit before the cop was successful in causing a crash, but remind me, who pulls them over when they may be driving under the influence? Or at the very least recklessly endangering the lives of other motorists? The answer is they may get a slap on the wrist, but their licenses aren’t at risk. Their insurance rates won’t go up. They don’t have to feel the ripple effect the consequences of their actions would typically push out. Why?
If we are to respect those upholding the law, I don’t think it’s wrong to expect them to follow the same ones. They should be setting the example, no? Not breaking them to prove their points…
Tools of Oppression
Another core issue here is the way policing has developed to increase the pressure of oppression onto certain communities. That is to say, there are certain communities the police love to ‘make an example’ out of – where small infractions are turned into bigger problems simply because of who the offender is. Minorities are the most visibly affected by this, and over-policing has not only not solved the big issues affecting their communities – in many situations they’ve made them worse – while simultaneously promoting a deep mistrust of authority in those targeted.
I’m not arguing here that we should blindly trust authority, but can you imagine how much more anxiety a person of color must feel when being pulled over compared to a white person? I’m speaking from a place of privilege when I say there’s a lot less of a chance that the encounter ends with being shot for me than it does for those with darker skin, and it’s still the worst thing I could imagine. That in and of itself should be a major issue we all want solved.
But that’s not the target I can effectively speak to. While those actions are horrific in themselves, let’s take something a bit more innocuous, and specific to this publication: cannabis. How many lives have been ruined over the war on drugs? How many families were destroyed or ripped apart because of a plant that grows freely from the earth? Something that we know isn’t as dangerous as say alcohol or cigarettes, something that’s been used for hundreds of years, and something that the forefathers of this country cultivated. And it’s not just cultivating this plant that’s been cause enough for them to wreck someone’s existence as they know it, we all know people have been thrown in jail for quantities that cost less than $100. And what was the result? Nothing beneficial to society. Lots of people locked up, and the industry is larger than ever.
How do you tell someone you’ve got locked up that the ‘crime’ they committed is now legal? And even worse, how do you not immediately let them out when that happens?
And finally, for a group of people who are supposed to protect and help us, why don’t they ever show up when you need them? It would be far harder to make this argument if we all could readily think of a handful of examples of them truly protecting and serving, right? Why does it seem like society is devolving and they have bigger budgets than ever? They’re sucking up every resource that should be used to protect and empower communities, and are destroying them. And they get more money every year, and you have no other option. We have no mental health services, fuck – the cost of healthcare at all is through the roof – and people are hurting, and yet it’s like they only show up to increase the stress. People will break into your house and if the cop shows up the criminal will be back on the street by breakfast, but a gang shows up with guns to rob licensed facilities and they don’t even pull up at all? People get into car accidents now and you tell them to handle it themselves, but 14 squad cars will rush over to the street takeover for the chance to beat up some kids!
For all of these reasons, I can’t help but despise what your uniform represents. It’s not a symbol of hope today, it’s the costume of the opposition.
Although I do believe people can change, and that we should forgive those who do wrong – especially after they’ve served time attempting to right the wrongs of their past – it’s seemingly impossible not to despise the agents of this chaos that’s causing a lot more visible harm to our homes and neighbors than it is good. Maybe back in the day things made sense. In small rural areas, where everybody knew everybody. As I’ve said before, I’m sure there are officers all over the place who really do want to help people, and serve their community, but that’s not how it looks from the big picture today. It looks like those people are far outnumbered by overzealous egomaniacs who just want to tell everyone else what to do, or what they can’t. And who may kill you if you don’t act EXACTLY the way they’re commanding – often in overlapping and contradictory requests. In fact, it looks and feels to most of these over-policed communities that you’re making matters worse – and these are communities that need you, and the resources you’re supposed to provide. That’s buster shit.
So let me be very clear here: I hate anyone who thinks they should be able to make or enforce rules for the rest of us, but feels above them themselves. I hate cops, I hate snitches, I hate tattletales and all the like. Anyone who for any reason thinks their freedom or rights are any more important than anyone else’s. Anyone who thinks we should surrender ours to them, and every wiley bitch tellin’. I hate the judges and the politicians too while we’re at it, but frankly they’re not the ones with the tendency to maim & murder. At least not in the same way.
And if you got through this, yes, I’ll admit again I do know they’re not all bad – I have some friends with family ‘serving’ who are going to be very upset with me once they see this – but if firefighters had a tendency to start fires on a regular basis, don’t you think we’d have problems with that too? Or if paramedics caused new injuries? Doctors with a high death rate lose their jobs. For fuck’s sake, in most high pressure jobs, if you fuck up royally – like killing or severely injuring another human being, but often much smaller less serious things than that – you’re at the very least getting fired. Why is it different for those who are supposed to be THE EXAMPLE?!
If you want us to feel differently, you have to show that you’re different. You need to enact real change, whether it be in your own community, or in your city, county, or state at large. You’re mad kids are screaming ACAB, but you guys are the ones acting like it. You have harassed us, demeaned us – but not often protected us like the sides of your cars say. It’s *y’all* that needs to show people you’ve changed, and are here to help, and not hurt them. Until then, it’s always going to be a bird from me.