Thursday, May 22, 2014

We Must Always Remember: The Police Are The Bad Guys

Rodney King, post-beating
Not all cops are bad. Some of them are good. Some of them are great. Some of them are the kinds of people who will rush into dangerous situations to save people.

But many, possibly most, of them are not, and society must treat police monolithically. Because all police can shoot us and suffer few consequences. All police are protected by the court system. All police protect one another, and when the protectors protect themselves, who are people to look to?

It is for that reason that we must always remember that the police are bad guys. We should fear them. It is also important to stress that saying so is not a radical thing. It has never been a radical thing. The police have always been the bad guys. They stood against civil rights workers. They stood against anti-war demonstrators. They stood against Occupy Wall Street. They stood against suffragettes. They stood against union organizers. The police have literally been the wall through which justice and progress must punch.

And that is a sad thing to say. The police should be our knights in shining armor. They should be protectors. They should be many things, and they are not. Instead, they are bad guys.

The Cost: What Stop and Frisk Does to a Young Man’s Soul

By the time our boy was an adolescent, big for his age, very grown looking though he was still just a kid, I understood too well what Marilyn’s expression had meant that day in the pizzeria. Of course it wasn’t middle-aged, middle-class white women giving him grief. It was the white security guard at his school, for instance, who found Trey wearing his cap indoors one day in violation of school rules. The guard tried to confiscate it, but Trey resisted—that Yankees cap was a gift from Erick, he was afraid he wouldn’t get it back if the guard took it, and so Trey held on.

The guard grabbed him in a headlock, clamping his arm around my godson’s throat, choking him, and Trey, unable to breathe, grabbed hold of the man’s arm, trying to break free. The guard shoved him against the wall, jerked his hands behind him and handcuffed him. Then he took Trey, not to the principal’s office for wearing a ball cap in school, but downtown to Brooklyn Central Booking, where my godson was charged with assaulting a school security officer. Trey was 14 years old.

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