Police are the vanguard of state power. Every law passed is enforced by the police. Otherwise, politicians are people with bad opinions. They must uphold the basic rights found in the Constitution. The rights of a person in custody are supposed to be protected first and foremost. Most citizens have intentionally allowed society to demonize “criminals” to protect our rights instead of worrying about the rights of the accused.
Multiple officers stood by as one man chose to deny the right to life that George Floyd inherently had. Why did they do nothing? Maybe they didn’t see Floyd as a human deserving of rights. I don’t know their motivations, but I do know that Americans are asking police officers to enforce too many laws, which puts them in a hostile relationship with the people they are supposed to serve. It is creating an environment where the public becomes less human and more “a criminal” to some in the law enforcement profession. They’re too busy to build relationships with the communities they serve.
Voters generally beg politicians to create environments that require deadly force to solve society’s problems. Then they cheer on state power by calling police heroes. While their work is far more dangerous and precarious than mine, police officers are not a special class of citizen with super rights. I don’t think the vast majority of officers want to be considered unique, nor are they evil, and I think they want to see crimes within their ranks prosecuted. I think they have a terrible job that they ought to quit.
A bureaucratic state has one fatal flaw: it refuses to hold its own accountable. Government is a monopolization on force, and it uses this power to absolve itself of wrongdoing. From impeachment no longer working as a check and balance to police shootings not being prosecuted, the system protects itself.
We protect the system with this “All ____ are heroes” bullshit. Patriotism has historically been used to manipulate well-meaning citizens into letting power off the hook. As an individualist, I firmly reject that. Patriotism is collectivism, and it becomes nefarious when it is used to support moral and ethical violations within a system. Great atrocities can happen when an agent of the government can absolve their conscience by saying, “What can I do? I am just following orders.”
When they deny basic human rights to the people in their care, they should be held accountable for their actions. When they see other police officers doing nothing, they become complicit. When they don’t keep their own accountable, we must.
If the system creates a lack of consequences for illegal acts, more illegal acts become more frequent. When the force of law no longer reigns in immoral acts, then it is time to use the power of public opinion to bring the administrative state to heel.
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