Monday, February 16, 2015

The Inhumanity of Being of a Cop

Cops deny the humanity of people who are not cops, and in doing so destroy their own humanity. There is no solution to this, other than dismantling the entire law enforcement system in this country and building something very different from scratch.

At TPM, Aurin Squire talks candidly with cops who are family and friends, and discovers that even the least conservative and aggressive are too conservative and aggressive:

Our chorus of sad and angry laughter echoed through my head as I took notes— disbelieving laughter at how far we still had to go, but hope for how far we have come. (I was sitting in the student lounge at Juilliard, after all). The system was racist, yes, but after hearing officers describe their jobs, I realized the very nature of their profession is one of infuriating contradictions and compromises. Regardless of color, to be an American cop means being both powerful enough to take someone’s life, and powerless to change the societal systems that breed crime and fear.

“You can’t fix anything. You don’t have an answer. You have a mandate,” said Wright. “The ritual of doing the job”—seeing people at their worst, barking orders at them— “makes you disconnect from yourself and the world…It only takes three to five years for your humanity to be gone.”
Which makes it very easy to shoot to death a mentally ill teenaged girl.

Yes, there is undoubtedly something else they could have done. This was a mentally disturbed teen-age girl with a knife. They could have retreated, called for some help to try to talk her down or even used a taser if they really felt afraid for their lives. But why should they bother? This is easier. 

Remember, these cops have very tough jobs. We can't second guess their actions even when it might seem obvious to anyone with half a brain and the tiniest common sense that there might be other options besides opening fire on a disturbed teenage girl inside a police station. 
 How did we get here?  Another TPM piece gives a brief history of policing.

And Gaius Publius at Hullabaloo cites another piece on the origins of police and comments:
"The police were created to use violence"

I'll close with what for me is his main point. This is hard to believe, and hard to grasp, but it's the only way to make sense of news that comes at us like a train. Chris Hayes could do "killer cop goes free" stories from now till the rest of his life, never run out, and in our hearts, every one of us knows it. There's an endless supply of "killer cops" and their stories, most hidden from view, never prosecuted unless there's an outcry, and rarely even then.

So why is there seemingly no way ever to curb the violence of the police? The answer's in front of us. Because:
The police were created to use violence to reconcile electoral democracy with industrial capitalism. Today, they are just one part of the “criminal justice” system that plays the same role. Their basic job is to enforce order among those with the most reason to resent the system — in our society today, disproportionately among poor black people.
Every word a true one. Remember your Dickens, then remember that you can't have a world owned and harvested by men like David Koch and Jamie Dimon without an enforcement mechanism.
It continues in yet another example of cop terrorism, cop racism, cop power-tripping, cop attacks for no reason.

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