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Ideas: Sound of the Police

category north america / mexico | repression / prisoners | opinion / analysis author Monday February 11, 2008 23:24author by Devin K - Common Cause Report this post to the editors

Since the time we are young we are saturated with images of the friendly cop, there to help you and your community. We are told the police are here to protect us from the "bad guys" and keep us safe from the salivating hordes of criminals just waiting for an opportunity to harm us. But what really is the function of the police? Who are they really here to protect? Here Devin K tries to answer such questions.

For a lot of people, the sight of a cop’s cruiser down rolling down the street brings tension rather than comfort. For those of us who don't spend our time in privileged neighborhoods it is easy to realize that the police aren't here to protect us, they are here to accuse us, intimidate us, arrest us, brutalize us - whatever it takes to maintain the existing social order.

The police are the physical manifestation of the power held by those above us, the blue line between the ruler and the subject. The police operate under a veil of legitimacy provided and supported by other authority figures and maintained by corporate media. The fact that their fundamental purpose is violence against us is obscured due to this, and killing people is made easier for them all the time. Using the 50,000 volt Taser is becoming a new favourite pastime for police everywhere. The body count of the “non-lethal” alternative to a firearm, is stacking up over 150 deaths in the US and 17 in the last four years in Canada, as cops continue to kill people for, in many cases, minor incidents.

Some common arguments of those in favour of the police are that they mean well or that they are also part of the working class, just trying to do their jobs. It may be true that many cops come from working class backgrounds, but it should be fair to say that any working class identity is quickly negated when one decides to serve the interests of those in direct opposition to it. The officer friendly image of pigs helping the elderly cross the street, tipping their hat saying “good day” is a fairy tale for anyone who is seen as undesirable in the self righteous eyes of the police.

The police aren't here to prevent crime and cure society's ills - on the contrary - they are here to enforce the crimes inflicted on everyone on behalf of those who make up the ruling class - politicians, corporations, CEOs, law makers, judges, bosses etc etc.

Laws are made to criminalize the poor, to legitimize locking up those who are victims of systematic violence. This is glaringly obvious in the fact that Aboriginal peoples, who have born the brunt of the most brutal capitalist violence and oppression in Canada, make up 3.8% of the population and 20% of the prison population. How often do you see yuppie scum bags being tossed in prison? Or celebrities? Or cops themselves? When the rich and their soldiers in blue do get caught breaking laws that would get any one of us locked up, they generally get slapped on the wrist. A favourite "punishment" for the police when they are forced to discipline one of their own is a suspension - with pay! Sounds like a god damn vacation.

Its poor people who are filling the prisons, most of whom are property offenders. The police are here to protect the governments and the ruling class. Anarchist Errico Malatesta put this bluntly: ”Government means the right to make the law and to impose it on everyone by force; without a police force there is no government”. Who is going to come and kick you to the streets once you can't afford to pay the rent to your lazy asshole landlord? The pigs.

Who is going to arrest the boss who is getting fat off your labour while your family is going hungry? No one. who is going to evict the corporations destroying First Nations’ land? Again, no one.

The police are not here to protect us, and by definition are unable to do so. Once you've been condemned to a life of shit it's the job of the police to make sure you don't get too fussy about it.


From Linchpin, the newspaper and site of Common Cause. If reprinting articles please include our web address

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