Somebody has to do the managing

One more good point, this one from Mychal Denzel Smith.

The rhetoric Lynch, Giuliani and others employ only reinforces the message protesters have been trying to get across. Lynch and Giuliani can see the tragedy of Liu and Ramos’s deaths, but do not extend that same sympathy to the families of those killed by police officers. The lives of officers Liu and Ramos are held up as more valuable than the lives of Garner, Brown and so on. That’s the reason the protests must continue, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call for them to be suspended.

But also, you’d have a hard time convincing me that the reason Lynch and Giuliani mourn Liu and Ramos is because of their humanity.

By all accounts, Liu and Ramos were well-liked members of their community, but that’s not what has inspired Lynch to attribute the violence that killed them to nonviolent protesters. Liu and Ramos were police officers. Their jobs represent institutional power. The protests are a challenge/threat to that power.

I think it’s also runaway tribalism though. Esprit de corps. Out of control in-group loyalty.

The protests are not meant to be a challenge/threat to the lives of police officers, which is why it is disingenuous to link the actions of Brinsley to the movement. Activists, organizers, protesters involved in this fight for justice are not looking for more blood in the streets. They are seeking an upheaval of the American system of racism.

And yes, that directly implicates the police. The police are a violent and racist arm of oppression. That’s not because every person hired to be a police officer is a violent racist. It’s simply the job they’ve been given by the American people.

And why is that? Because that’s how the country started out, for one thing – with racist oppression – and the legacy is still very much there. And because the country favors inequality, for another thing, and inequality has consequences, such as high rates of crime. That has to be “managed” and the police are hired to do the managing. It’s a depressing arrangement.

The rejoinder to that assertion is typically some form of “not all police are bad/there are good cops.” There are certainly good people who are police officers. But good people sign up to do terrible jobs every day. They don’t, however, deserve to be killed for doing so.

As such, we all should mourn the deaths of Liu and Ramos, as well as send supportive energy to a recovering Shaneka Thompson, whose shooting has been lost in all of this. But that mourning doesn’t mean we become less critical of the police as a violent and racist tool of oppression.

I don’t suppose we could consider tackling the inequality itself? No I didn’t think so.


  1. johnthedrunkard says

    At their foundation, the New York Police were, quite literally, ‘managers’ of the criminal classes. Collecting ‘taxes’ from brothels, fences, and gambling hells. Police actually ‘rented’ trolly lines to pickpockets so that their depredations were controlled and their profits taxed.

    This is the underlying pattern for city ‘Machine’ police. An alternate model, that of Spain, France etc. is of a police composed of cavalry units organized to protect landowners, the church, the nobility, from uppity peasants.

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