10 Reasons There are No Good or Bad Police
Content Warning: State violence, gendered violence, racialized violence, colonialism
Good and bad people don’t exist.
People react to circumstances and socialization and their actions relate to what they have been trained to value and how they have been treated since birth. Survival looks different ways for different people of different conditions in a society.
Using the ‘good and bad cop’ dichotomy to explain police brutality makes us feel better about ourselves by placing blame on individual ‘abnormalities’ rather than the systemic flaws of our society.
What models in our society teach police that violence is a reasonable way to resolve conflict?
1. Outdated ideas on masculinity in North America bring men to erase their individual value by cloaking their insecurity in a blanket of an identity that benefits the hyper-minority of oligarchs more than the men themselves, resulting in violence against women, transgender, gender-queer, and, yes, men, who are buried in the ground to keep the idea alive.
image via The Mask You Live In
2. Canada’s participation in the ‘self-defense’ occupation of Afghanistan trains our children to value dominance through force.
3. Do we really want to reduce violence?
If yes, we need to accept the discomfort that comes in accepting that our system of patriarchal and industrial capitalism trains our kids to become violent. When they become police officers, it makes sense that they act with values of white supremacy as violence against ‘abnormal’ citizens. Their reactions are further justified by the idea that violence as a reflex of insecurity is considered a legitimate way to resolve conflict.
Officer Darren Wilson, when questioned why he murdered an unarmed black child, said it was because the child resembled a ‘demon’
4. We need to critique a model of news that has placed all their chips on the fact they can scare the viewer, which serves to dehumanize whole groups of people- people of colour in particular– and justify their resulting murder or imprisonment by the state. It also assumes that viewers are manipulable idiots.
5. We need to forbid corporations whose products require violence and exploitation. We need to expel them from doing business or disband them completely should they not drastically change a profit model that requires economic violence to cut costs.
6. We need to reexamine who owns the land where we live, and how that land was acquired.
and in Canada
Why not invest in programs to prevent violence, avoiding the supposed ‘deviance’?
What conditions from birth bring a person to commit acts of violence?
8. We need to question our laws and how they result in the disproportionate incarceration of the racialized poor.
9. We need to view police brutality as an expected symptom of systemic violence. Placing persons socialized in this system that discards whole groups of people as less worthy of life will always result in violence.
We at Word and Colour believe that our collective will for justice can overcome the deliberate exploitation of our insecurities. People in positions of privilege owe it to the imprisoned and all those on the wrong side of an economic oligarchy- to those whose bodies act as the place of state and domestic violence.
Industrial capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism and patriarchy require the bodies of women, Indigenous peoples, the mentally and physically disabled, people of colour, immigrants and others to be displaced, disenfranchised, attacked, starved, and murdered. Perhaps the most illustrative example is that even those in positions of privilege, who are more likely to enact violence on others, suffer depression and kill themselves at an alarming rate– demonstrating that the current system does not serve the majority of citizens. Patriarchy kills men, too.
and for people who don’t identify as ‘men’ or ‘women’
10. Avoiding the hospital does not cure sickness. The bodies of victims will continue to amass whether or not we choose to look at the pile.
Defending different shades of violence between individual officers fails to remedy issues that will always occur when people are placed in positions of power who are raised in a place that glorifies violence.
The dehumanization of bodies that are considered less worthy of life will always legitimate and intensify the scope, need, and frequency of violence to resolve the day-to-day conflicts of a society.
Liam Lachance, Montréal, 22 Apr 2015