Are Police Really the Good Guys?

This post was submitted by Sterlin Lujan via our Submit Page.

Our society implants us with the myth of police as heroes, as tireless protectors and servers of the people. The idea of police as the good guys permeates culture; television networks air shows that glorify them; Hollywood deifies them through film; educators condition our dependence on them, urge us to call on them for aid, settle disputes, and to tattle and snitch on bad guys. We imagine chaos without them. We envision the collapse of society, hallucinate rampant vigilante justice, and experience constant fear when we ponder a world without them.

But in truth, cops fail to serve and protect. They cause more violence and chaos than they prevent. Police duty relies on obeying political doctrine, even if doctrine undermines the protection-and-service belief. Furthermore, police adhere to “law” regardless of situation, and without considering objective circumstances. They simply act. They rush in. They violate. They blindly follow orders to harass and assault and cage people – even if the reasons for doing this resemble utmost stupidity and immorality. In essence, the police “service” and “protection” attitude equates to a schizophrenic, social superstition.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines police as “the civil force of a state, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order.” And the etymology of the word comes from Middle French Politia, and the Greek Polis, which means “citizenship, administration, and civil polity.”

This common definition of police skews perception. It gives us the the impression that police are good guys. Therefore, we need an objective definition of police: a group of men working on behalf of politicians to control the population with coercion, force, and by kidnapping and caging, or beating and killing citizens.

Indeed, we believe that society needs police to lessen violence. We view policing as a preventative measure that keeps the streets safe. This argument fails due to a single problem: taxation. Most police forces receive tax funding from the government. But taxation is extortion. It is violence concealed as service. But many of us suffer an inability to see this. However, if we follow the logical path of taxation, we discover a white chalk line. Indeed, if we avoid paying taxes, if we avoid the IRS’s ugly letters and phone calls, the cops who claim to protect us show up at our doorstep with truncheons and guns. And if we defend ourselves, the police beat or shoot us. In light of this, the police cannot maintain honesty when they assert that they lessen violence; they cannot claim that they offer safer streets; nor can they claim that they allow for order when the robbery that pays their bills causes unholy and maddening disorder. They cannot claim to protect us when they threaten to kill us if we do not write their checks. Therefore, policing relies on violence against people from the start.

We believe that an obligation exists that requires police to protect us. Sadly, no such provision exists. Warren V. District of Columbia, a 1981 Supreme Court case validates this. The case involved three women living together in an apartment; two men broke in and commenced to raping one of them. The other two women heard screams. They dialed the police many times. The dispatcher assured the ladies that she sent help. The women, then, crawled out onto a window ledge, waited, and finally watched an officer arrive at their door, knock, and then leave. Next, the women went inside to investigate. The men were still there; the men subdued the women; they dragged them back to a house. The men raped them over and over. Consequently, the women survived, and marshaled a case against the State. They claimed that the police did not protect them. The women said that the cops exhibited incompetency that caused further harm. The court ruled 4 to 3 that the police are under no obligation to protect anyone.

Similarly, we think that police maintain order and peace by caging criminals. The police do apprehend and detain evil doers, but the majority of criminal activity involves nonviolent consent between people. These are the individuals who smoke plants; eat pills; make love with strangers for payment; make love with family members; who gamble with their personal money; or who sell lemonade without a permit. Where we may dislike these behaviors and tastes, people who behave in these ways do so privately, without harming anyone. One statistic from The Sentencing Project clarifies how many decent people the police lock up. The site states: “Nearly three-fourths (72.1%) of the population are non-violent offenders with no history of violence.” Indeed, when cops claim to serve and protect, and they assault and arrest people for violating consensual laws, police contradict their stated agenda of keeping peace and maintaining order. Additionally, the news overflows with examples of the madness caused by police duty. An internet search of “Mexican Drug War” reveals police and soldiers fighting the drug cartels, which the government started by creating black markets. Incidentally, if police stopped enforcing nonviolent laws, following orders, and hurting peaceful people, black markets would vanish overnight.

In regards to “law”: Following it equates to an excuse for police to harm others. It justifies assault on peaceful people. When victims complain about this, they hear this retort: “it was the law and you broke it, so face the consequences.” This piece of propaganda does not weigh morality, or consider history. Police work contradicts itself as a result. For instance, in Nazi Germany, under the Nuremberg Laws, Jews could not wed Germans on penalty of “hard labor.” However, laws against assaulting, kidnapping, and the use of violence existed alongside the Nuremberg Laws; and in order to enforce them, police would have had to break certain laws. Today, nothing has changed. Cops must assault, kidnap, and murder. They must sacrifice higher moral codes to lower ones. Consequently, this places cop duty on shaky ground: it grants them the belief that hurting people amounts to acceptable behavior, and following bad orders reflects a normal day of hard work.

Another problem: the authorities train children and adults to call the police if they require assistance. This mentality presses the delusion that the police protect and defend. However, a glance at the newspapers or media shows the opposite: ungodly and unnerving police brutality after calling on them. And it is not just “bad apples.” it is not just a few loose cannons. These are not isolated incidents. Consider the international case of Kelly Thomas, the Fullerton California homeless, schizophrenic man who police beat to death in 2011. This is the story: the owner of a club called the police on the hunch that someone was breaking into vehicles. But police arrived and did not uncover evidence of this; instead they found Thomas, and attempted to question and frisk him. The first officer on the scene, Manuel Ramos, did not realize the mental condition of Thomas. But video footage revealed Thomas’s disoriented and confused condition. What happened next would disgust anyone watching the video: officer Ramos put on latex gloves and told Thomas, “do you see these hands, they are about to fuck you up.” Shortly after, more officers arrived, and they tackled Thomas and flung him to the ground. They landed blows and used their taser guns as they held him down. The whole time, Thomas did not offer resistance. He cried in agony. He begged for mercy. He apologized profusely. And he called out to his father for help. No help came that day, and Kelly Thomas slipped into a coma and died. All the police involved were not held accountable.

Blindly, we fail to imagine a functioning world without police. We assume that a de facto land of mayhem and vigilante justice crops up in the absence of law enforcement. However, there is a modern example of what “police” could look like. Currently, the city of Detroit is in a state of weakened governance due to bankruptcy. Since Detroit started failing, private security firms have risen to supplant them. One such agency called Detroit Threat Management conducts business regularly. After 20 years of operation, the firm boast no loss of life for employees, victims, or criminals. They maintain a policy of focusing on prevention rather than apprehension. Dale Brown of Detroit Threat Management, in a Cop Block interview, says that the agency operates off of a philosophy of love. He says that the reason why city police officers fail to serve and protect results from their flawed thinking that “officer safety comes first.” Dale Brown argues that victim safety comes first. He says that his organization implements a “strict recruiting policy.” They do not recruit people with “violent backgrounds.” They are careful about people with “military history” also, he explains. Furthermore, Detroit Threat Management receives funding for providing security for corporations and other businesses. This allows them to aid private individuals for free. This also models how private security firms function in the absence of State power; which in turn, weeds out vigilante justice and abolishes the myth of mayhem in the absence of police. Let us look back in time to see a system without police enforcement altogether.

Consider the polycentric law system of Gaelic Ireland. Ancient Gaelic Ireland was almost entirely private. They established a customary law system driven from the bottom up rather than top down. This is not to dismiss the primitive or barbaric aspects of Ireland. In many ways Ireland was rough and unforgiving. They even had blood feuds and kings. However, the Irish handled law within the community through private arbitrators called Brehons. These arbitrators subsisted on insurance schemes. They called these insurances “sureties.” Indeed, anytime a person wronged another person, their tribal policy, so to speak, allowed them access to the Brehon to resolve the dispute. And all of this occurred without a police agency. No one rounded up evil doers and locked them away until trial. Daniel Hawkins wrote eloquently about this in his Never Been Tried series part II. He said, “we see enforcement being a social responsibility. If a guilty man refused to give restitution, he was cast out by the community – an exercise of their right to free association.” Indeed, the Irish ostracized or exiled tribe members who wronged others. They did not resort to a centralized police force that apprehends criminals for punishment. Gaelic Ireland did not even appear to function with such a thing as “criminality.”

And in this state of affairs, removing criminality might improve conditions, seeing as police abuse power. However, the police do appear to provide an important role in society: they maintain peace by taking murderers and thieves and rapists off the streets. But modern police steal and murder to accomplish this. And this defeats their purpose. Therefore, if we disband police, other means for handling problems surface on the market, including private security firms or other organizations. And people would pay for them. Because in the current social makeup, we see that the police do not represent our interests, do not provide the services we wish, and do not protect. Instead, we see the police as gangs of assholes who do injustice and violence. We see the men involved in this gang as ugly, pitiful creatures, whose decency has been snuffed out by power, like Gollum in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. We see the assertion of their power in the aggression and violence and hatred that flare up against us, in so many forms, each day. Therefore, we must pry the Ring from their fingers. We must join in and sing to the the tune: “fuck the police.” And we must altogether vanquish these costumed street gangs; and never forget that they are not here to help us. They are not heroes. And they are not the good guys that we believed them to be.


My name is Sterlin Lujan.

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Dylan Donnelly

Artist and Photojournalist from Fresno, CA Editor at Fresno People's Media & admin of Cop Block Fresno, CA Follow me on Twitter and Facebook Subscribe to my Youtube Channel