Cops may yet come to regret their hostility

Over and over again, law enforcement demonstrates that they are not only interested in forcing their alien vision of "law and order" on the people they're supposed to "protect and serve", but that they are actively hostile and sadistic towards the protestors. We've seen this before, like in Miami's '06 FTAA protests:

The resentment has come out full force, now. On Democracy Now!, the arrested journalists told how the police would tighten restraints when detainees complained about how tight they were. The psychology of the human beings in law enforcement is becoming a serious menace and is being actively promoted in their training:

The police brutality that we've seen in Denver and St. Paul this week is the result of ongoing indoctrination of the police against protesters, especially any protesters of the left-wing stripe. Local police departments have been militarized to deal with protesters, with much of this militarization happening during the Clinton administration. After 9/11, local police were further turned into anti-terrorist organizations, with the effect that they see their work as fighting terrorists. Local police are also bringing home the terror tactics that the U.S. has been using in dozens of countries around the world for the past century.

The war on terror has escalated into an increased war on the "rabble" of America, most significantly protesters and anarchists. This doesn't surprise us, because the U.S. government has always been at war with dissidents of many kinds.

We do not have any hope that the police will change their attitudes or their ways. The purpose of the police is to act as the violent arm of capital and the state. The only way for the people to stop the police is to stand up to them, abolish the police and build a different society which needs no police.

Indeed, this jives with my own research: police are being trained to see civil society as their zoo full of mere animals to keep in line, and many are adopting an abusive relationship with their "wards". Witness their open sadism in St. Paul:

Hat tip to Black Bloke

The sad part about all this is that these attitudes towards the public are going to make the jobs of officers who genuinely want to get along with the public much more difficult. While many officers may look forward to the police state as their chance to beat up hippies (see the end of Daniel Clowes' Like an Velvet Glove Cast in Iron for a perfect portrayal of this attitude), I'd advise them to take a good look at Iraq. The officers there are targeted by insurgents and are never safe, on or off duty. It's easy to be a bully when you can still go home to your family in relative safety - a police state turns street protestors from prey into predators. Moreover, it was arguably the attitudes of American soldiers (including cops in reserve units) that turned the people against them and their police. Not only are these attitudes quite similar to those displayed by cops in the twin cities, the attitudes may even be brought back by soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan to new careers in domestic law enforcement.

If cops want to militarize their jobs, they need to consider the down side for themselves, their families, and their communities. There's a lot more civilians than soldiers and officers, and continuing abuse - including the branding of activists as terrorists - just threatens to push Americans over the edge the same way Iraqis were pushed. If civil society is lost, cops may look back fondly on the days when the public merely committed minor property damage.

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Written on Wednesday, September 03, 2008