Black and Blue

There is no free America where Police exist.

Years of oppression do not lie to the face of the oppressed, nor does the memory fade from a traumatized mind. The police are not just a weapon of the government, knocking any heads that rise up. They are the weapon, the wielder, the decider, and the Grim Reaper. The average upper-class white American can live in this lie we call the “Justice System” because they will never see that weapon pointed at themselves. I do not use the words gun or taser in place of ‘weapon’, because the average police have never had a hard time finding the closest weapon possible, whether it’s a knee or a knife.

The concept of a Police Department was not present in years previous to the Emancipation Proclamation. The Polices initial duties derived from slave catchers, working for wealthy plantation owners to return “property”. When the civil war ended and the call for Emancipation came, it was these same Wealthy White People who looked to previous slave catchers and provided them with the power and resources we associate with the Police Force today. At the time, arrests were made for any minor crime such as loitering and homelessness: common struggles for newly “freed” Black folks who were displaced and unable to get jobs within white society. Those afraid to be arrested or brutalized by the police would have to turn to sharecropping, a deeply racist and exploitative practice that allowed White landowners to financially hold control over generations of black families. All the while, these “police” worked under their wing.

From the start, the police were protectors of property, not lives. From slave catching to mass arrest, oppression adapted to its environment. This trend has continued today. In an overview of the approximately 900,000 Seattle Police arrests made between 2008 and now, over 90 percent can be labeled as crimes against property. In most cases larceny and theft–victimless crimes which send poor whites and people of color  away for years of their life, only to return as a “burden to society” with many basic human rights such as voting taken away.

Anyone who has been to the countless protests against police can attest that human life is not more valuable than wealth in the eyes of the police. A broken window will end a life, and the killer would be commended for doing their job. 

The culture within the police force makes sweeping misconduct under the rug easier than committing the crime itself. Although transparency laws have been put in place, such as those in Seattle, a quick trip to the Seattle Police will show the information provided is basic and vague. When the police control who and what gets investigated it stands without question that a slew of criminal activity would go unreported.

The power given to the police is entirely disproportionate to any other profession. Despite cases being raised, the police’s financial backing and control over the justice system gives  officers  inherent immunity. It took months just to get an officer who committed a senseless act of murder on  video to be convicted, a sentence that has since inspired a spike in hate crimes and brutal violence against black Americans by police and citizens alike.

The words “serve and protect” have done nothing for the marginalized, and everything for the police. These words shield their honor and their track records, and police unions cover most court costs not paid by the city itself.