Police Brutality: Stop Trying to Cure the Symptoms!
The despicable events in Ferguson, Missouri centering on the cold-blooded murder of teenager Mike Brown, has drawn more attention to the subject of police brutality, to the point that even establishment shills like Arianna Huffington are saying things have gotten out of control. The fact that police in the United States have grown increasingly militarized over the last 40 years, and almost no politician or pundit ever took notice at all, is sickening. Nevertheless, isn’t it good that they are finally dealing with reality, even if it is late in the game?
Yes and no.
“YES,” because when it comes to social ill, any public attention is better than no attention at all.
And “NO,” because many people aren’t actually dealing with the problem: they’re dealing with the symptoms.
Take this interview of former LAPD deputy police chief, Stephen Downing by RT as an example. According to both the host and Mr. Downing, the problem with police militarization stems to 1990, when the U.S. Dept. of Defense began funneling weapons and equipment to police departments around the country. Downing goes on to elaborate how this, combined with ‘lack of training’ and misunderstanding of the “police mission,” leads to police forces that essentially act like hammers, and therefore see every problem as a nail.
Here is a question we should ask ourselves: what exactly is “militarized police”?
- Body armor?
- High powered rifles?
- Gas masks?
- MRAPs and other armored vehicles?
All of those are things that militarized police use and equip themselves with, but it would be ludicrous to say that these things are the police themselves.
Let’s look at the picture of the proud “warrior” to the right. If you were to strip this guy of his armored vest, M4 rifle, drop-leg holster, grenades, helmet, etc. what would we be left with? A saint?
No. He’d still be the same, lumbering thug, a man who thinks it’s perfectly fine to kill people (or “just” lock them up for years) for suspicion of smoking a certain plant, or selling a product or service without state permission.
There are a lot of memes going viral through social media that convey a similar idea. A meme might show a picture of Barney Fife, next to a picture of a SWAT team, and ask “When did cops start looking like this?”
So, if you take the armor off, does Bubba in the picture become Barney?
This emphasis on military equipment is to miss the point.
“Militarization” consists in mindset, not in equipment. The police didn’t change their mission because they received the equipment. Rather, the national government ensured police received the weapons, tanks and equipment they needed to fulfill the mission the political class had tasked them with.
“People who lament the militarization of police too often come at the issue from the false mindset that police are supposed to be something other than what they in fact are…”
The War on Drugs, for example, did not start after police acquired SWAT teams. The SWAT teams were created to prosecute the Drug War. State policy preceded training and equipment, as should be obvious by remembering the creation of the DEA, the ATF and the FBI that long preceded. In the FBI’s case, how many citizens were talking about “militarized national police” in 1908?
This isn’t a new problem, that’s for sure.
People who lament the militarization of police too often come at the issue from the false mindset that police are supposed to be something other than what they in fact are: enforcers of legislation that is drafted by and for the benefit of a parasitic class that lives off of acquiring “donations” from people under threat of violence (taxes).
Police aren’t “confused” about their mission. They are fulfilling their mission precisely every time they serve a no-knock warrant or bust up a protest.
Police aren’t lacking in “proper training.” To the contrary, they are given all the training they need in how to employ their weapons with deadly effect, how to talk people out of their 4th and 5th Amendment rights, and how to escalate otherwise benign situations to the point where arrests can be made and property seized.
United States police are modeled in their structure and mission scope in the likeness of the British Metropolitan Police, as envisioned by Sir Robert Peel. If anyone takes the time to examine the history of Peel’s “reforms,” it becomes clear that the first mission of police is to enforce state control of the populace, i.e. to quell dissent, stop sedition, and to ensure collection of taxes.
“What we are witnessing in Ferguson, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and in all of the other cities of the United States is not devolution from the original mission of the police. It is the fulfillment of a mission.”
Peel had the task, as Chief Secretary in Ireland, with finding an efficient way to ensure the Crown’s control of rebellious Irish subjects, and he set about building a force that could accomplish the pacification mission that state armies and state-hired mercenaries had been assigned.
In light of this, it should be no surprise when people bemoan the ever more brutal police in the United States, and say things like: “The police are like the Army now! We might as well have the military on our streets!”
That was always the point.
What we are witnessing in Ferguson, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and in all of the other cities of the United States is not devolution from the original mission of the police. It is the fulfillment of a mission. Police equipped with military weaponry are simply one part of the vast machinery of state that has been constructed over many decades: the DHS with its harassment and warrant-less investigations of citizens; the NSA with its domestic spying; the ATF with its registrations and seizures; the FBI with its synthetic “terror” groups; etc.
Talking about “reforming,” or “providing better training,” or “scaling back” police is like saying that the local mafia’s soldiery needs to be “better trained,” or “reformed.”
No, the answer should be to not let the mafia run your neighborhood to begin with. Mafia soldiers don’t need training in how to be more polite, or to use their brass knuckles (the “less than lethal” option, using police parlance) more than their guns. They just need to leave decent people alone.
Isn’t it long past time to try some alternatives to Peelian-style policing? Forget the body armor, MRAPs, assault rifles and all the other symptoms; let us cure ourselves of the disease afflicting society to begin with.
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