Policing as a tool of white supremacy; why All Cops Are Bastards

Total abolition of policing and incarceration is the only path to justice and equality.

ACAB a phrase, often seen on social media, that elicits profound responses from people of all ideologies. From vehement disagreement and an insistence on “backing the blue” and praising officers for their “selfless service,” to apprehensive agreement that the system and policing as they exist are wrong, but surely “not every cop is a bastard.” Surely there are good cops, with good intentions. And after all, don’t we need policing? 

Then there are those that loudly chant ACAB in the streets, love the sight of a burning cop car and demand abolition of a system that criminalizes and kills so many. A system built on our suffering and oppression will never lend itself to justice. Those that claim that the duty of the Police is to “protect and serve” misunderstand the nature and ultimate goal of policing.

The Zine titled “A World Without Police” explains how “historically, police forces were created to protect the property of businesses and the wealthy and enforce white supremacy. In cities, they formed to repress the growing numbers of poor people that accompanied the rise of industrial capitalism, while on plantations and in agricultural colonies they formed as a response to the threat of a slave revolt.” 

Policing has been a tool of the ruling class since its very inception, and it has been sold to the masses under the guise of protection. As “A World Without Police” demonstrates, being an arm of the state rather than any individual person “policing appears to serve the public as a whole, and those targeted by police appear to be enemies of the public.”   

But the only thing that they protect is the status quo, which keeps the masses under the boot of our oppressor. Those that are comfortable under this system see no need to challenge it, even those that have struggled to gain their semblance of comfort see no need to rock the boat. The American dream has been sold and bought. If you just work harder you can get there. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” they’ll say, not understanding the irony of the phrase in its impossibility. 

So, we continue to live in a society where the working class never sees true prosperity while the top one percent has enough money to solve just about every world crisis. Instead, they hoard their money in bank accounts, and occasionally start a foundation where they get to play god and pretend to do some good – ignoring the fact that their wealth only exists because of the exploitation of workers here and abroad.

The system of policing and the existence of cops only upholds this inequity. The over-policing of communities of color and those in poverty works as a way to criminalize individuals and strip them of their rights. 

“A World Without Police” reveals that “ … policing always requires the threat and use of violence …  police have the authority to take away individual rights by force — including taking your life. Regardless of legal limits placed on them, the police role requires the power to detain, beat, imprison, or kill in the service of law and order.” 

From the war on drugs to the persecution of immigrants to the sweeping of homeless encampments, individuals have long been criminalized and stripped of basic human rights by the system of policing. Upholding any aspect of the system means we are complacent in the criminalization of individuals and the gross abuse of the human rights of those in our community. It means we are complicit in the deaths of those at the hands of the system.

“A World Without Police” illustrates, “No matter how nonviolent police forces become, this systematic violence will always remain. No amount of training, legal oversight, or reform can alter the fundamental violence of the police institution.” 

We cannot allow ourselves to be complacent. Hundreds of years and we have seen no real progress because there is no progress to be made within this system. Defunding is not enough, “50 percent at least” gives us nothing. There is no other option; only abolition of the fundamentally unjust system and a revolutionary transformation of society which includes the equitable distribution of wealth and access to resources.