“Defund the Police” is one of the major sentiments of 2020 into 2021, with good reason. Police and civilian tensions have been going strong ever since the dawn of time, when a group of people were put in a position to “uphold the law,” which thus elevated, in the eyes of mankind, the “law” above the individual, and the “upholders of the law” also above the individual, and in many cases, above the “law” itself.
I had an empathy for the police at first. It seemed like Derek Chauvin’s highly publicized killing of George Floyd had defined the entire national sentiment for the officers of the law. I had to wonder, why would people hate cops so openly, yet call them immediately when a crisis occurred? That’s hypocrisy; Americans are cursing themselves through shitting on the moral of the police. And, while listening to the trial, it almost appeared that Chauvin was innocent; he used a restraint tactic that had been approved by the Minneapolis force. Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose. Case closed; can the riots stop now?
This leads to the question: why was there so much fentanyl in Floyd’s system? Could it be because George Floyd, and many people that he knew and loved, had been in a similar place before with the police? Maybe it’d be easier to risk eating the drugs than dealing with more things lined up on the rap sheet when they threw the book at him. Because, as I’ve heard a police officer say before, “We use whatever we can hoping something will stick, so that we can catch the bad guy.”
“The bad guy”. Aren’t we all that person, in the eyes of God? I’m not trying to dismiss Floyd’s past, but let’s take his past actions and compare them with what the police do on a regular basis. Police drive through lower income neighborhoods, pulling people over for minor offenses, hoping to score a bust. I know this, because I live in a lower middle income community. The first time that I was pulled over in my neighborhood, I hadn’t fully stopped at a stop sign. The cops let me go with a $10 fine for not having my insurance on me (God forbid my boyfriend walked down the road to give me a copy), but also informed me that the neighborhood was dangerous and they were looking for criminal activity. If they had known I wasn’t a “criminal”, they wouldn’t have wasted their time- but it is like fishing, for them. I was but a bottom feeder cat fish to get thrown back, and they were preying for a snook.
The second time that I was pulled over (seconds from our home), my boyfriend was with me. He had, moments earlier, cracked open a roadie and taken a swig. Before I get into my story, which I’m sure is unfortunately relatable to many people who have dealt with the police, I want to tell you the lesson the experience taught me. This experience gave me clarity to the word “systemic”. The color of our skin, white, probably more or less helped us in our scenario, but our car itself was targeted for the neighborhood we were driving in, which, as the cop from before had informed me, is known for criminal activity. I’d like to demonstrate how a higher police presence combined with human error and minor traffic violations could lead down but one vein of a systemic oppression of people, amongst other things. Criminal activity isn’t just happening in low income neighborhoods, but they are the prime communities that get the rap for it. They’re easier targets and can’t afford the same lawyers; with a higher police presence, more people will get caught, thrown in prison, and then have their lives altered to make it more difficult to change route. Police have now removed the breathing room a person has to change their life path, whereas in a richer community, these petty crimes are easily escaped from; either because they didn’t have police choking them out, or they could afford a good lawyer.
Back to the story; here is my own context: my boyfriend and I had finally gotten to a point in our lives where we could begin chipping away at our debts and put somewhat real food on the table. Our move to Florida had dug us into a deep hole of debt, which had grown massively due to the fact that our money had to go to keeping ourselves alive. And now, we were finally stabilizing, and feeling somewhat human again. We were driving home from our jobs, and he cracks open the ever smelly, nauseating Cranberrita and takes a sip. And that’s when we saw the car in front of us do a U-turn in the middle of the road to get behind our vehicle. To make the story short, we were pulled over for a headlight; we scrambled to hide the roadie, I reached into the back to grab breathmints, the cop thought I was going for a weapon, cocked his gun at us, called other cops to the scene, they searched us (which involved a lady cop going under my bra) and searched the car for drugs, found the roadie, let us go (I took the fall for the roadie as the passenger), and found the whole entire scenario hilarious. They were laughing about it; meanwhile, the rest of my month was screwed. I couldn’t preform well at my workplace, or even interact normally with others, because my whole being was unsettled. And now that I’m contemplating it again, I’ve realized, two other things could have happened. My boyfriend could have been shot and killed (the cops were laughing because of this), or we could have had the book thrown at us, because of the alcohol on his breath (how did that first cop not smell the Cranberrita?) and an open container in the car- and that would have ruined us. This incident, because we had been caught, would have set us back so far, and all the blood, sweat, and tears would have been for nothing, because of a little, after work, premature crack of a beer. And, because the cops did not see us as a human. They saw us as a fish; they saw us as potential “bad guys”. The cop approached our car under the assumption that we WERE bad guys. In fact, he probably wanted us to be those “bad guys”; it would have been great for him, and his quota. But I won’t make assumptions. My question is, how could the other cops have been so jaded, as to find this initial police officer’s mistaken paranoia that could have cost us our very lives, to be funny?
This incident is nothing compared to what others go through all the time; even my boyfriend said that the cops behavior towards us was docile, compared to what he’s experienced before. Once a person has been legally labeled a “criminal”, the chances for them to clime their way out of the hole- get hired at a well-paying job, get out of debt, provide adequately for their families- lessens significantly. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions, or work harder to find another way, but when it’s a matter of putting food on the table and keeping a roof over your family’s heads, a person does what they have to do. A father does what he has to do. That father then gets caught by the police, who see him as a snook, or a shark, or a tuna- they see him as a “bad guy”, they dehumanize- violate- him as they drag him to the cop car, throw his body on the hood, handcuff him in front of his family, and cart him away to the station: if he makes it through the whole interaction. As if, because they are the “upholders of the law”, they have the privilege of treating this man like an animal; worse than an animal. They have the privilege to beat into him their idea that he is nothing. Because the “law” means more than his life, his family, his story. The “law” is their excuse to hunt down and traumatize. The cops are either jaded, sadistic, or narcissistic; I believe in many cases they are all three. As a result, the people are traumatized: it’s a natural reaction to feel a shiver down your spine when a cop pulls up behind you. This reaction has been programmed within us, to protect us from lions and tigers. The cop is the new tiger, and tigers were not designed to protect humanity. “Protection” is not what their claws and their teeth are intended to do.
As a result of the anxiety wrapped up within our subconscious, and the depression that comes from getting stuck in life, many people are now hooked on anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants, and street drugs. These make the world go around by their own methods; police are, I’d like to think, supposed to direct society in a way opposite of this darkness. But, through murder, imprisonment, harassment, bullying- I could go on, they push people further and further into the epidemic of sin. Sin has claws of its own, and will ensnare anyone in its path; the number of victims grows and grows each day as more people are pulled over for minor crimes and have the full force of the law slammed into their gut. PTSD is a real disorder which the cops (seemingly) have no issue handing out. They have (seemingly) no issue deepening the inner chaos within another’s soul, and through that, they do just as much damage to the communities they claim to “help” as does the crime itself. If we all deserve the fires of Hell, then those humans who “enforce the law” deserve it all the more, for they are capitalizing on the struggle of others. They shove others down in order to step their way up. George Floyd would be alive today should the police not be so associated with trauma. Does breaking the “law” give one human (flawed in the eyes of God) permission to violate another human (flawed in the eyes of God)? Isn’t dehumanization towards any person flawed, not only in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of man as well? And aren’t those who go on websites to watch others get murdered and destroyed “perverted”? Wouldn’t acting on those things be even worse than merely watching a recording of them happening- wouldn’t that person be a pervert of the worst sort? What distinguishes the actions that the humans (called cops) take on other humans as heroic, rather than a deep rooted perversion?
Should we want the best for everyone, punishment is a necessary force. But acknowledge the humanity and treat with respect those you attempt to punish, for you are no better than they are. And should you not regard their humanity, there should be punishment for you as well. And hopefully, our nation’s steps for change within this system will be fruitful.
I know that I’m not the most “educated” on this subject. I’ve never been an “SJW” as they call it; I’ve never been to a rally or protest. The only thing I have is my own experience, and I apologize ahead of time for that; this is, unfortunately, a conclusion that I’ve only recently come by. I’m also open to any criticisms; I’d love to understand a cop’s perspective on this (if they even want to talk to me, after I called their people “perverts”) but I’d like to think I’m already aware of it. I respect that their job is complicated and involves a lot of nuance that I couldn’t understand, and should I be in their shoes, I wouldn’t know how to react to the majority of situations in which they find themselves. But, that’s also why I wouldn’t consider myself to be a great candidate for that profession; I do expect more of those who deem themselves capable of mandating justice.