Lindsey: Abolish the Police

This article originally appeared on the blog of Heretic, the magazine of We Are Libertarians.

How many black people have to be murdered before the smug white liberals realize that their insistence on growing the state makes them culpable? How many black people have to be murdered before racist conservatives realize that they are the finders and supporters of the modern-day KKK?

There are no good cops, because the entire system is rotting to the core. Burn that system down. Abolish the police.

Police as an organization, policing as the system that exists in America, is based on oppression, racism, and violence.

Without the cops, who is there to enforce the racist war on drugs? Without the cops, who is there to unjustly lock up tens of thousands of people, an insanely disproportionate number of whom are black and brown? Without the cops, who is there to perform all these lynchings of black men with legal authority and protection?

There’s no one!

To put on a cops uniform and badge is to sell yourself to that system. From the moment you put it on to the moment you take it off, you are making yourself just a cog in that racist, authoritarian system. That’s not me dehumanizing cops, that’s what they do to themselves by their choice in profession. Their good intentions are irrelevant.

The system of policing requires the degradation of the under-privileged and marginalized. Being a cop means willingly being a part of that system. Willingly being a part of that system is nothing but a way to degrade yourself and slowly suffocate your own humanity.

Now, thankfully — unlike skin color — the profession of being a cop is a choice. I beg cops to go AWOL, to take that uniform off and throw it away for good. You can save your humanity and be a part of making good in this world, rather than enforcing the system of privilege and violence and power. Good men and women can be underneath cop uniforms, but that uniform chains them down.

The following is an excerpt from Alex Vitale’s work, The End of Policing:

Reform won’t save us. The origins and function of the police are intimately tied to the management of inequalities of race and class. The suppression of workers and the tight surveillance and micromanagement of black and brown lives have always been at the center of policing. Any police reform strategy that does not address this reality is doomed to fail. We must stop looking to procedural reforms and critically evaluate the substantive outcomes of policing. We must constantly reevaluate what the police are asked to do and what impact policing has on the lives of the policed. A kinder, gentler, and more diverse war on the poor is still a war on the poor.

What we are witnessing is a political crisis. At all levels and in both parties, our political leaders have embraced a neoconservative politics that sees all social problems as police problems. They have given up on using government to improve racial and economic inequality and seem hellbent on worsening these inequalities and using the police to manage the consequences. For decades, they have pitted police against the public while also telling them to be friendlier and improve community relations. They can’t do both.

We are told that the police are the bringers of justice. They are here to help maintain social order so that no one should be subjected to abuse. The neutral enforcement of the law sets us all free. This understanding of policing, however, is largely mythical. American police function, despite whatever good intentions they have, as a tool for managing deeply entrenched inequalities in a way that systematically produces injustices for the poor, socially marginal, and nonwhite.

Is our society really made safer and more just by incarcerating millions of people? Is asking the police to be the lead agency in dealing with homelessness, mental illness, school discipline, youth unemployment, immigration, youth violence, sex work, and drugs really a way to achieve a better society?

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