Everything that I have described up to this point in the series shows a police force that is completely divergent from the goals of community health and safety. This post is going to be a final analysis of how American law enforcement violates our constitutional freedoms and show once again that police were created as a means to hold the working class within a specific hierarchy and status quo.
From the moment they receive a badge officers have it reinforced that their lives are constantly in danger and are told they have free reign to do anything necessary to bring our dangerous, crime ridden streets under control. This in itself is a fallacy, as the crime rate in America has significantly dropped during the last 3 decades despite our fetishization of the military or law and order authoritarianism. Yet the training that police receive creates this mindset that they are at war with the people they’re supposed to protect, and then once released to their supervising officers the imminent threat of the community is emphasized even more. Close Quarters Combat (CQB) and other law enforcement training programs routinely create nightmarish scenarios out of ordinary police activities that have a very (very very,) low probability of actually happening. Cops shoot because they are always scared, and we can tell what they are scared of, we just have to follow the bullets.
Police kill what is estimated to be anywhere from 25 to 500 domestic dogs a day, and the vast majority of reports for these incidents cite that the officer felt their life was in danger. Over 1,000 humans die at the hands of law enforcement every year in a similar manner, and a vastly disproportionate number of them are African American, in crisis, or disabled in some way. These victims often get no formal investigation opened into the circumstances of death due to cover ups by medical practitioners paid by corporate interests (excited delirium), and the public is expected to accept that when an officer feels threatened they can kill anything that moves without consequence. We only see a select few incidents that get filmed and gain national attention, but there are thousands of innocent lives that have been unnecessarily lost because a bully with a gun, up to 6 other weapons on their belt, thick body armor, and all the backup in the world somehow has enough insecurity to feel threatened by appearances.
There is a reason that law enforcement has exceedingly high rates of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and a propensity for racism and hatred among its ranks of officers. The American police attract a very specific type of individual; an abuser that feels big and powerful by showing physical aggression or domination towards someone else. We then take away any accountability those individuals may face from their brutal actions, sending insecure bullies onto the streets with more weaponry than most countries’ military. Those in power want this reality though, as the mercenaries they employ to patrol our streets ensure that the status quo is upheld and no other group outside of the rich white ruling class can thrive in our country.
America has been so desensitized to police brutality that every 12 months cops kill more civilians than have died in all of the school shootings throughout the last 20 years combined.
It is extremely ironic then that police use unionization, a tool of the people they’ve fought against, to insulate themselves from the consequences of these murdered innocents. Civilian unions have been a target of law enforcement since departments were first created, as wealthy interests use cops to deny labor organization and savagely beat down opposition to the standard American hierarchy. Unionization for law enforcement has not only increased their willingness to pull the trigger whenever they are scared, but encourages them to continue to oppress populations they are prejudiced towards as there are virtually no ramifications for violence. It has allowed officers like Christopher Humphreys of PPB to choke a black man to death (who was not resisting) then two years later seriously injure a 12 year old girl by shooting her with a lead filled bean bag round flying 200 mph, still being guaranteed a spot on the force without missing a week of pay.
The fourth amendment has been spit on as we allow police to randomly target POC, stopping people on the street based on racial biases that assume they are engaging in criminal activity. (Justified by the Supreme Court after Biden’s Omnibus Bill, by the way). Children can be demanded to consent to a strip search or have their belongings rifled through in the name of “justice,” based merely on their appearance. A practice that only yields results because if you stop enough of any population who is afraid to deny your command (even though they technically have the civil right to,) illegal activity is bound to be discovered, especially when laws were written to specifically allow cops to find reasons for locking people up. We grant police permission to blow doors down, serve no knock warrants with little to no justification, utilize K9’s to circumvent probable cause rules, and obliterate anyone who dares to reasonably defend their home from a faceless fucking invasion force. We can not allow the continued brutalization and murder of our citizens under a reign of terror from small, weak, insecure bulllies. The discussion of solutions that can be implemented will come soon, I promise.
The horrific real life outcomes of these dystopian freedoms we let law enforcement operate with, combined with their deeply ingrained racism, have seen tens of thousands murdered with no accountability. One in every 1,000 black men or boys can be expected to die at the hands of American police. In their war waged against civilians police have murdered men, women, and children of all backgrounds while dealing irreconcilable violence and trauma to countless more. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Duncan Lemp, Kathryn Johnston, Manuel Ellis, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Chad Brienholt, Vincent Belmonte, Alberta Spruill, Michael Reinoehl, Gregory Lloyd Edwards, David Glauzinsky, Kevin Peterson Jr, Elijah McClain, Kalief Browder, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, David-Marcus Peters, several among thousands that I’ve mentioned in my work. So many lives lost, young lights with the world ahead of them. An inconceivable number of murders have gone without justice, and it is not just an issue for the black community; as long as we are distracted by petty culture war identity politics no lives will matter, because we can’t have a society in which all lives matter if black, other POC, poor white, LGBTQ, or children’s lives are all treated as disposable by an institution that has the green light to murder whoever they want with no accountability. Reforming the police is not a politicized, partisan issue; it is both a human rights and constitutional violation we must address if we want to believe America is a great nation.
I would like to close this discussion by noting that the justice department has provided law enforcement with unconstitutional means to harass and search millions of Americans. There is currently a 100 mile “protection zone” that extends inward from every border in this country, even from the Pacific or Atlantic coastlines. Within this zone federal law enforcement has virtually zero restrictions on what they can do in the name of protecting the homeland. A common practice within this area is to stop people without probable cause based on appearance or feelings that officers have. When someone is stopped with no probable cause and they call officers out on it, they will be forced to wait for a K9 unit to arrive on scene for one very specific reason; police handlers have trained their dogs to alert on command.
Therefore even though it is perfectly legal to deny a search without probable cause, officers can force people to sit and wait for as long as they want while a K9 unit arrives to “verify” that there is no probable cause. However in many cases, up to 80% of the time if we are going by findings from a NORML study, an alert is false and has been prompted by the handler. In each one of these cases police were able to brutalize and search someone with no reasonable evidence because their dog “said so” on command and they were able to bypass a warrant. 2 out of every 3 Americans lives within the border buffer zones and are subject to these search and seizures if a federal officer deems them “suspicious” or a threat, since individual officers determine the level of force necessary based on how they feel.
200+ million Americans could have their fourth amendment rights violated for simply minding their own business and having the “wrong look.” We ignore this thought because the people being targeted currently are mainly minorities and immigrants that ICE sweeps off the street. However a chilling example of what this power can and is used for was during the protests of 2020 when Trump sent federal goons to Portland. These agents drove around in unmarked vehicles with phone scanners that picked up groups of people moving. When they saw a group splitting, cops would quickly pull up and hop out in full assault gar, weapons at the ready, and wordlessly drag people into their vehicles while they and the folks around them understandably panicked.
When it isn’t leftist protestors being targeted, say a right wing demonstration gets out of hand and the government actually decided to respond like they do to the left (unlikely I know but for the sake of the hypothetical), what do you think would happen? It would become a shootout with the only people left standing the thugs in blue who have military grade gear and vehicles, endless resources, and no hesitation to pull the trigger. Would the right still back the blue if the force that is used on POC and marginalized communities everyday was turned on them? I would argue that no, they wouldn’t, because after the January 6th riots many conservatives were shell shocked at how law enforcement treated them. Just know that it was a fraction of the disrespect and brutality shown towards the average American because many of those DC cops were on the same political side as the insurrectionists.
How have we allowed this to happen under our constitution, supposedly the one that guarantees the most freedom in the world? Further, why has neither party brought this to the forefront of national conversation, especially the GOP who claim to live and die by constitutional word? The reason that law enforcement has been able to consolidate so much power and influence is that they are doing the job elites want them too. What better way to create a culture war than to implicitly defend the cops killing black men as heroes protecting white America? By exploiting the hierarchal divides in our status quo and providing a scapegoat in minority communities for people’s frustrations or disillusionment, while simultaneously presenting a ‘heroic’ force that promotes the ingrained prejudices that many Americans have, the establishment has been able to ensure cops maintain the status quo while portraying them as brave public servants in propaganda that many on both sides of the aisle eat hand and fist.
This is where American law enforcement currently sits; they are untouchable from unionization and fiercely defended by the political establishment in power. They quite literally have free reign to enforce the law, no matter how restrictive, against whoever they want in whatever manner they desire. Looking back over the last few discussions we’ve had I hope that readers can see police are not on our side. No matter how upstanding an individual you may know in law enforcement, they are still complicit in upholding a system that disproportionately targets poor and POC individuals, the bottom of American hierarchy that have been told for years they are nothing more than criminals. Meanwhile Wall Street ransacks our pension funds, drives our debt based banking system that harms the majority for a few individual profits, and continues to promote the industries destroying our planet. Not to mention the vile and sociopathic character of most of the individuals in that industry which is overlooked because they provide fat checks.
More than anything I would like readers to take away the fact that no one is born a criminal, illegal, or a mistake. If we want to move towards a society that allows all Americans to prosper we must begin looking at the groups we’ve historically labelled as “others” to be just as worthy of opportunity and respect as the “good Americans.” (A group we know to be traditionally rich white families). I will see you all in a few days to wrap up series III with a final discussion of what American law enforcement would ideally look like.
- “Know your rights; 100 mile border zone,” ACLU. 2021.
- “False Alert rate for drug dogs tops 80%,” NORML, 2011.
- “Behind the Police” Robert Evans, 2020.
- The New Jim Crow, Alexander, Michelle, 2010.
- “Woman Dies after police mistakenly raid her apartment,” Rashbaum, William, 2003. NYT.