I'd like some perspective on "ACAB"
June 3, 2020 7:36 AM   Subscribe

With all the protests going on, I'm seeing a lot of ACAB (All cops are bastards) and similar type sentiments on my feed, particularly from close friends and people I admire. However, every time I see the acronym I have a sudden urge to immediately fight back on the statement (which I have never done). I'm looking for some perspective here. I don't usually disagree so much with my community and am having a real hard time understanding why my compass is not aligning on this.

The ACAB acronym seems so obviously not true. At face value, it seems comparable to being racist even (judging an entire group of people by the actions of some). I 100% agree that there are some, many, bad cops. I actively speak out about systematic racism and sexism in police forces with my peers and with the youth I work with. I 100% believe that the cops who stand around while people are being mistreated by their colleagues should also be held responsible, which yes, should include charges and employment termination.

I have seen posts about and agree with supporting protesters without dismissing them to focus on looters, and even understand looting as a form of protest for the most part. I have seen and agree with the messaging around denouncing All lives matter (the house on fire comic or that helpful tweet about a family dinner analogy where asking for food means you want to be included TOO and not that you want to be the ONLY one with food, for example). I've read up about why the standard party line of police cams and better training are not enough, and agree that more meaningful change is needed. My baseline views are pretty aligned with the current movement, I think.

ACAB just seems like it's harmful. Good people (including POC/women) may be reluctant to become cops, because they will automatically be considered to be awful people if they do. Youth will be reluctant to engage with cops because they are the enemy (which yes, I agree that for many people, the cops ARE much more likely to hurt or kill them). The black and white division between non-cops as good and cops as bad will make policing harder in all areas, like domestic assaults and sexual assaults, and will likely result in even less help for victims. I dont want to go on about why we need (ethical, good) cops, but I think police forces can be a source of support for a society, and we get farther away from that when we're not having nuanced conversations about it.

I think that ACAB may be meant to stir action on the part of the police force, forcing organizations to make a clear statement denouncing police violence and outlining how they will address it. Is it that people have asked for this very thing nicely in this past and now calling all cops pigs, or whatever, is the only way forward? If this is the case I'd appreciate some more reading on this idea of, I dont know, "extreme" thinking/action leading to meaningful and positive change, if you happen to have any resources like that.

I can see also that saying ACAB can be healing for people who have experienced real trauma. But, many people I know using it have not and are not very likely to be at the end of police violence themselves (I.e. not in the US, not a member of the dispropprtianally targeted races, etc.). They could be using the term as allies. Any insight here would be helpful.

Full disclosure, somebody close to me is a police officer and I respect him. Also, 30 years ago my black father was beaten pretty badly by police officers while out drinking with my (white) uncle in Montreal. I am very white passing. I think these things also jostle in my head while trying to better understand how to best be supportive in these times.

Any perspective would be helpful. Thanks.
posted by eisforcool to Human Relations (66 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't believe that ACAB. Of course there are police and even police departments that are trying to be good for their communities. Let's get that out of the way.

But, I don't see a lot of value right now in focusing your energy on having a "not all cops" conversation when so much of policing in the U.S. serves the purpose of being oppressive towards everybody but the white ruling class. The existence of so many bad cops depends on the complicity of the entire structure. If it were just a few "bad cops" they'd be ousted and prosecuted, not protected.

I would not engage on this. IMO you'd have better success pushing your own, more nuanced perhaps, messages that call on police to be accountable and stop the abuse. You don't have to take the all cops position, but in-group squabbling about "all cops" vs. "most cops" or "some cops" is only good for taking the heat off pushing for change. So don't be part of a distraction.
posted by jzb at 7:48 AM on June 3 [79 favorites]


Yeah, without even getting in to the merits of any of your pushback (and there's a lot to discuss there) you absolutely don't need to be carrying this water right now, for the reasons jzb says. The police can do this work themselves. Via actions, not words.
posted by saladin at 7:50 AM on June 3 [21 favorites]


I have, in the past, been willing to give police more of the benefit of the doubt, but that time is over. It's clear that police as a class have no interest in rooting out abusive and/or racist members of their cohort or it would have happened by now. Instead, they rally to protect these cops when they kill unarmed people of color, and their unions aggressively fight any proposed measures intended to increase law enforcement accountability, responsibility, or oversight.

So yeah, at this point, I definitely think of ACAB as more true than not. If members of the LE community want to be perceived as something other than that, then they have to start doing the work to eliminate the behaviors that lead us to this conclusion.
posted by uberchet at 7:51 AM on June 3 [58 favorites]


Is it that people have asked for this very thing nicely in this past and now calling all cops pigs, or whatever, is the only way forward? If this is the case I'd appreciate some more reading on this idea of, I dont know, "extreme" thinking/action leading to meaningful and positive change, if you happen to have any resources like that.

I can see also that saying ACAB can be healing for people who have experienced real trauma....


Part of what makes this difficult is that different people who use the phrase mean different things by it. Some of us mean "No good person ever becomes a cop, period, end of story" or "Any good person who becomes a cop is inevitably corrupted." Some of us mean something way milder, like "There are lots of good people who work their whole lives as cops, but they're still complicit in a bad system and that means it's wrong to praise them." Some see themselves as speaking literal factual truth, and some see themselves as expressing anger in an exaggerated way. Some have trauma from police abuse and some don't. (And some of the people without trauma still mean it in the strongest and most literal way, out of strong rational political conviction.)

In fact, part of what makes the phrase effective is because it resonates with different people for different reasons, and so unites different groups.

I think if you want to understand why people talk that way, the first step might be recognizing all this political and emotional diversity and not treating us as monolithic.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:55 AM on June 3 [70 favorites]


Even if your individual cop friends and family are good people, if they are not involved in cleaning up the rest of the system, they are complicit.

That's hard to swallow and it hurts but it's true. It's not enough, as people are saying, to "not be racist." It's imperative to be "anti-racist."

Opposing "ACAB" is very much a "not all cops" stance, and like "all lives matter" or "not all men," it's pretty useless and takes away from the point. As other posters have said, if these good cops want to be seen as good, they need to be doing the work. If they're not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:56 AM on June 3 [87 favorites]


> I think police forces can be a source of support for a society

fwiw, this is essentially the point where you differ from the ACAB position, which recognises that police forces exist wholly to preserve the privileged position of a ruling elite - and that any "support" they might appear to offer to anybody else is window-dressing - that support being better sought from elsewhere
posted by rd45 at 7:57 AM on June 3 [32 favorites]


I’m trying to find an old Reddit comment that explained this very well, but not having much luck. The gist of the comment is that the job/role makes one a bastard by consenting to do it, and continuing to do it, in light of the history that (I can’t source this, but believe it ) organized police in the US were originally formed to track down escaped slaves and protect the wealthy from revolts, and in contemporary times the wide-spread police brutality and lack of accountability. I think the argument is that even if one is otherwise a good person, however you define that, joining a police force puts you in a certain position vis-a-vis one’s community, the poor, minorities, etc.
posted by Alterscape at 7:57 AM on June 3 [11 favorites]


While I do believe and am sure that there are individual good people who are cops and doing the best they can, when I hear All Cops Are Bastards, what it means to me is The Police (as an entity) Are Bad. "Police" is a bad institution.

And that's true. Just because Oskar Schindler was a member of the Nazi party and used that power to save lives, that doesn't mean Nazis aren't universally Bad Guys. Just because there were probably Nazis who never turned anyone in or hurt anyone specifically, doesn't mean that being Nazis wasn't a bad thing they participated in.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:59 AM on June 3 [28 favorites]


I've always thought it true. In fact, I believe if a candidate wants to be a policeman he should be disqualified immediately, because he (pronoun intentional) is attracted to this career because he wants to bully and push around civilians. The heroes that actually want to help people join the fire department.
posted by Rash at 7:59 AM on June 3 [22 favorites]


Here is a Tiny Snek comic that explains the history that Alterscape is referencing above.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:01 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Or to put it another way: I’m a mostly straight-edge law-abiding upper middle class white cishet dude and I’m afraid of interacting with police because of the history of those interactions going basically however the officer in question wants them to go. If I, Mr. Privilege Himself, am concerned about that, what’s it like for anyone with less privilege to interact with that role/organization?
posted by Alterscape at 8:02 AM on June 3 [55 favorites]


People’s tempers are up right now and there is a lot of us vs. them thinking going on. People want there to be clear battle lines and are not in the mood to deal with messy realities.

I’ve learned to just let it play out. People are frustrated and angry and will mentally place you in the enemy camp if you disagree on virtually anything right now, so the only thing speaking up will do is cause hard feelings later.

Give it a few weeks.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:03 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


I sympathize, and also have to bite my tongue in similar contexts. Words mean things! Absolutes are shitty and almost always wrong!

The simple fact that helps me (or at least changes my frustration) is that "all" no longer means "every single one". People use "all" to mean "most" or "many" all the time! Unless you're in a class for math or logic or science or something, try to mentally replace "all" with "many" every time it's used incorrectly, and go about your day.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:03 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


At face value, it seems comparable to being racist even (judging an entire group of people by the actions of some).

That statement is entirely, entirely wrong, and makes me question your understanding of what racism truly is.

A cop can always take the uniform off. They can go home, at the end of their workday, take off the uniform and suddenly, they aren't a cop anymore. No one knows they're a cop unless they say they are. No one looks at them twice and says "Hey, that person's a cop" and changes their reactions. When they enter a business, or meet a stranger, or even meet other cops no one will know. There isn't a black person in the entire world who has that power.

And even if this hypothetical cop is the greatest, kindest, gentlest person in the world? They still work with racists. They still take orders from racists. They still wear the uniform that puts them shoulder-to-shoulder with all those "bad apples." But they can take it off.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:03 AM on June 3 [96 favorites]


nebulawindphone makes a really good point.

For me, ACAB is not a blanket statement but rather a recognition that the system of policing, as it currently exists in the US, is racist and violent. We know that black people are brutalized, arrested, and killed by the police at higher rates than white people. We know that police have escalated and caused violence and death in situations where they were brought in to help. These are facts.

Therefore, anyone who chooses to participate in a violent system by becoming a cop, even though they have good intentions, is part of the problem. I believe that there are many cops who genuinely are nice people and care about protecting their community, and saw policing as the natural way to do that. However, the fact that they continue to participate in the system despite seeing abuses firsthand, and refuse to speak out, means they are part of the problem. Therefore, ACAB.

I do have some sympathy for these "good cops", because I think that a big part of the problem is that there are not currently systems in our society where one can participate in community safety without participating in a violent system. I think if such a thing did exist, if we had alternatives to policing, many "good cops" would choose to participate in that system instead.
posted by mekily at 8:04 AM on June 3 [25 favorites]


Not literally every police officer is a bad person. The police as a whole are a violent, broken, group of instigators. Every police officer chooses to participate in that system. Whether they cause the problems, ignore the problems, acknowledge the problems, or even try to fix the problems -- they still participate and lend it legitimacy.
posted by so fucking future at 8:17 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]


One thing I want to keep reminding myself is that I'm not my friends' press secretary or communications director. I might think that their framing is unhelpful or inaccurate, but optimizing their framing isn't something they necessarily want, and, if I'm being honest, they might know their particular audience better than I do. The fact that their messaging hurts the spread of the underlying message with the people *i* want to reach is my problem. That doesn't mean I can't talk with my friends about it, but I think those types of talks are more fruitful one-on-one, and with the baseline recognition that you may each be trying to say different, related things to different sets of people.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:22 AM on June 3 [14 favorites]


Agents of a corrupt system cannot be trusted. Their motivations may be honorable, but the agencies they serve are not and the orders they're given are not.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:33 AM on June 3 [15 favorites]


When people say ACAB, they're not talking about each individual cop, we're talking about cops as a class and as a political entity and as an oppressive force. Cops exist to uphold the law, and protect capitalism. The law is racist and capitalism is shit. So, no, you can't have a good cop.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:52 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


One of the more succinct ways of putting it that has been going around lately:

If you have 1000 good cops, and 10 bad cops, and the 1000 good cops don't turn in the 10 bad cops, then you have 1010 bad cops.
posted by automatronic at 9:01 AM on June 3 [41 favorites]


good cops quit.

When people say ACAB, they're not talking about each individual cop


the fuck we're not.

nobody who makes special smarmy exceptions for their best friend-my dad-my uncle-who doesn't beat ME-can't-be-a-bad-cop has a principle. they have a prejudice, and like all prejudices, they flex and twist it to suit their personal comfort. and they just about never do so much as a simple news & court search to see what other people have had to say about their good cop's activities.

If you don't see a police officer at work all day every day, you don't know what kind of a cop they are. and nobody sees that but other police and the people they police. their family doesn't see it and their friends don't see it.

good cops quit.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:02 AM on June 3 [65 favorites]


being racist even (judging an entire group of people by the actions of some).

That is not what racism is. What you describe is "stereotyping." Racism is a system of oppression based on race. Since police are not an oppressed racial group, judging police as a whole based on the actions of a few is not racism. Judging all white people on the actions of a few is not even racism because white people are not an oppressed racial group.
posted by slidell at 9:02 AM on June 3 [36 favorites]


“ I’m a mostly straight-edge law-abiding upper middle class white cishet dude and I’m afraid of interacting with police because of the history of those interactions going basically however the officer in question wants them to go. If I, Mr. Privilege Himself, am concerned about that, what’s it like for anyone with less privilege to interact with that role/organization?”

I’m echoing this comment and taking it a step further. I’m the same, and I’ve had an interaction with police that was as positive as it’s possible to be (my privilege, friendly cop, sympathetic situation, etc), and it still left me filled with fear, confusion, sadness, and anger. I’ve come to believe that interactions with police are inherently oppressive because of the power imbalance. Even my privilege can’t protect me; it just allows me to hide so that I don’t have to experience it very often. If I had to deal with it on anything more than the once-in-40-years I have, I don’t think I could function.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:06 AM on June 3 [15 favorites]


I think that ACAB may be meant to stir action on the part of the police force, forcing organizations to make a clear statement denouncing police violence and outlining how they will address it. Is it that people have asked for this very thing nicely in this past and now calling all cops pigs, or whatever, is the only way forward?

No, sometimes people mean what we say. Not everything is a tactic or framing or PR or self-therapy. This particular sentiment happens to be a good slogan but that's just by the way.

philosophically it probably comes down to whether you believe that absolute power is in any way corrupting or not. Take the nicest sweetest kid who loves his mother the most, give him a real gun and tell him we all make mistakes but his brothers will always have his back, and check back in ten years. power does not get much more absolute than the power to beat and kill who you choose with minimal or no consequences.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:07 AM on June 3 [22 favorites]


I think also, that it might be fruit from the poisonous fruit--for example here in Canada, the cops have a long history of violence against indigenous communities, but they were founded in the 19th century as the RCMP to aid the genocidal "clearing of the west", and have been complicit in everything from helping Indian agents dragging kids to residential schools, to killing sled dogs in Northern Communities post WWII. It has been their job, since their creation, to kill native people.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:11 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


While I agree with others that fighting back against this sentiment with your friends on social media is likely to be counterproductive and missing the bigger picture, you shouldn't feel as though you have to align with everyone in your community on every nuance of every issue. It's normal and healthy for groups of people with the same fundamental beliefs and values to nevertheless disagree on at least a few points - conformity for conformity's sake is not a virtue. It's apparent even from the answers here that some people use the ACAB term literally, others as a deliberate exaggeration (which is meant to be understood by the audience), others have different understandings of the words or what they're meant to refer to, etc.

If you're feeling unmoored by how differently you and these people you respect react to ACAB, I'd suggest focusing on the underlying feelings that they're expressing and which it seems that you share. People are angry and frustrated and worn down and demanding change. Not everyone expresses feelings in the same way, but you can still be a part of the movement coalescing around these tragedies.
posted by exutima at 9:17 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Good people (including POC/women) may be reluctant to become cops, because they will automatically be considered to be awful people if they do. Youth will be reluctant to engage with cops because they are the enemy (which yes, I agree that for many people, the cops ARE much more likely to hurt or kill them).

You list these as bugs-- but they are features. Abolitionists believe good people should be reluctant to become cops, because it is a fundamentally destructive role. Youth should be reluctant to "engage" with cops (though in reality, this is not a choice that is generally at the discretion of the policed).
posted by dusty potato at 9:27 AM on June 3 [15 favorites]


POC cops stood around and did nothing while a white cop murdered George Floyd. To choose this profession is to be complicit in the atrocities this institution perpetrates. This isn't the time for #notallcops.
posted by TwoStride at 9:28 AM on June 3 [24 favorites]


Have you ever heard the sentiment "you shouldn't give that job to anyone who wants it"? Cop, the role as it's defined in this culture, isn't a job a good person should want. Not in this country; not in most countries, where the police force serves as customer service for the wealthy/powerful, whose primary tools are terrorism.

There is no way to fix this system from the inside or self-regulate or just get the bad ones out, because they make/preserve too much wealth and power for the wealthy/powerful; at this point the closest thing you might find to a "good cop" is someone not in the employ of the police pursuing local politics with the stated goal of dismantling the police union just to get things rolling and risking the daily threat of assassination for it.

If all your "good" cops aren't quitting, they aren't good. They cash the checks, they work side by side with enthusiastic rapists and murderers and racists and thieves, and they're not doing anything about it except maybe - maybe - not personally raping, murdering, and stealing. They're still security guards for whiteness, if they show up to work at all. You should consider this person you respect and figure out if you can actually respect them or if you are doing so on very selective criteria. Surely you have boycotted a business for far less, at some point in your life?

I guarantee your friends have thought hard about this; we're all groomed from the cradle to fear-respect the police, if not semi-worship the power and wealth-protection they embody, and it takes EFFORT to get past that. If you feel your friends' stance is incompatible with people you want to be friends with, you should definitely respect your own boundaries and disengage from them. If you want to shift gears from "I don't understand this because they are wrong" to "I don't understand this, maybe I should" (which is maybe why you're asking this question) you probably know who in your circle is the researcher-type who can help point you to the information that helped them reach their own decisions.

Lots of people have gone from "that seems very unfair" to "this is a terrorist organization" in a very short time - some just in the course of the past week. Lots of people are writing and talking about it right now; this is a great time to start following the conversation.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:29 AM on June 3 [14 favorites]


When people say ACAB, they're not talking about each individual cop

the fuck we're not.


For one, you're misinterpreting what i'm saying, and for 2, as nebulawindphone's wonderful comment points out - each person says the phrase for their own reasons. I don't think creating unnecessary aggression towards others answers will provide the best possible answer for OP
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:30 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Good cops quit.

Or get fired. (Read the examples in the replies too: example, example plus follow up on that example, example.)
posted by slidell at 9:32 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


[OP is asking for perspectives from people who use this phrase. It's ok if those perspectives differ; please stick to saying what it means for you. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:39 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Yes, this is where I ask from "I don't understand this, maybe I should" and reading through each individual answer several times through and reading through the answers as they relate to each other has been helpful.

Thanks also for the pushback against the comparison to racism. I understand that they are not literally the same and that stereotyping would have been a better word, and also that stereotyping is actually likely not what is going on with the use of ACAB for the majority of voices.

Just in case it's not clear, I will not be engaging in pushback of the use of ACAB, publicly or now, I'm just trying to make sense of my feelings.

Thanks again, I will continue to reread through these answers and the provided links.
posted by eisforcool at 9:43 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]


That is not what racism is. What you describe is "stereotyping." Racism is a system of oppression based on race.

There's also an important difference between the kind of stereotyping currently being directed against police and the kind that's always been used as the excuse for racism.

ACAB is a generalised expectation of how an interaction with police is likely to play out, based on copious well documented evidence of terrible behaviour from members of that organisation - members who are in it because they chose to be.

Racial stereotyping, in stark contrast, is all about the way its targets are said to behave and the things they're said to be capable or incapable of, or inclined to do or not do. It's self-perpetuating "common sense" nonsense that rests squarely on groupthink, wilful ignorance and faulty reasoning from spotty and unreliable anecdote, and it's aimed at people who get classified as they do through no choice of their own.
posted by flabdablet at 9:45 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


To me the phrase means "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch." That's why you inspect and remove the bad apples. Has that been happening? 18 complaints were made against Derek Chauvin before he finally killed someone.

If change is possible from the inside, good cops have had 200 years to do it.

Domestic violence is an issue near and dear to my heart. How can the police force protect victims of domestic violence when they tolerate abusers and allow them to keep their jobs even after a conviction?
posted by muddgirl at 9:49 AM on June 3 [20 favorites]


That's a good point - an actual good cop is a liability in the current system. They get fired, they get framed, they turn up dead.

Something else that I think confuses people is that there are a lot of public services that have gotten dumped under the umbrella of police services (and watered-down and perverted to serve the agenda of the police); nobody's saying those services in and of themselves, well-executed as real robust social services, are inherently bad. There should, in fact, be people that investigate murders and look for missing persons and provide protective and investigative services for the mistreated and exploited. Social Workers are not bastards, though individual social workers may be assholes and there are definitely educational systems that are instructing from a racist patriarchal perspective and that'll need handling. But these jobs ought to be performed in a system with strong checks and balances and oversight, largely without weapons or the sort of legal immunity and cover of secrecy cops operate under, and it absolutely cannot function in a fair and equally-distributed fashion as a semi-privatized semi-militarized entity with almost completely unchecked power provided by dark money and the complete perversion of a "union" that is police unions.

They all have to go, first, to get to that. Everyone who benefits from that system has to be removed from it, even people that seem nice.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:53 AM on June 3 [19 favorites]


That's why you inspect and remove the bad apples

and also why, when barrels and barrels and barrels of apples have been repeatedly shown to keep on going rotten, you turf the whole lot in favour of apple packing methods that don't have a propensity to spread rot built in as a structural feature.
posted by flabdablet at 9:55 AM on June 3 [33 favorites]


I stumble over the phrase too, so I get it. But, I think it's worth considering how sometimes you need an extreme position (cops are bad) to counteract the societal position (cops are good). I think the big issue is this: at what point people are complicit by willingly participating in a knowingly corrupt systems? Some people think it's better to work for Trump to try to make him less bad. Some Nazis were just taking orders, right?

This will be a big jarring, but perhaps this framing will help:

ANAB (All Nazis Are Bad) just seems like it's harmful. Good people (including POC/women) may be reluctant to become Nazis, because they will automatically be considered to be awful people if they do. Youth will be reluctant to engage with Nazis because they are the enemy (which yes, I agree that for many people, the Nazis ARE much more likely to hurt or kill them). The black and white division between non-Nazis as good and Nazis as bad will make policing harder in all areas, like domestic assaults and sexual assaults, and will likely result in even less help for victims. I dont want to go on about why we need (ethical, good) Nazis, but I think Nazi forces can be a source of support for a society, and we get farther away from that when we're not having nuanced conversations about it.

Also, you mentioned women and people of color. The chief of police in Philadelphia is a black woman. You know what's been happening in Philly lately? That's on her watch. She was chief in Portland before, where I saw cops escalate with protesters time and time again. People do participate in their own oppression.

I don't think we want to believe it because it is profoundly disturbing to realize how wrong we have all been. It's much more comfortable to think that the institutions that are supposed to protect us are good.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:02 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]


That's why you inspect and remove the bad apples


It's not just bad apples, though its:
-the fact that the supplier only gives the apple vendor apples that are prone to premature decomposition
-the barrels themselves are rotten
-the apples are piled so high the ones at the bottom are burst open and fermenting
-the vendor allows people to store other things inside the barrels, like poisonous chemicals
-the apple vendor won't let you inspect his apple warehouse where he keeps them all
-apples are the only fruit you are allowed to buy, there are no other options
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:03 AM on June 3 [20 favorites]


We were talking about this last night, and we covered many of the points highlighted above.

The reason I was snagging on it is that I've been taught not to tell someone what or who they are, because that puts them on the defensive and they're less likely to be motivated to change, but rather how they're behaving, which leaves a path for change.
posted by aniola at 10:06 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


All cops are bastards until they all use their position and power as cops to hold the "bad apples" and the system that leads to racial discrimination and murder accountable.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:08 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


In addition to different people meaning the same thing, people may mean different things at different times. A few years ago I'd have said ACAB in the sense of "as an institution, policing is deeply harmful and it's more important to highlight that than to jump up and down and point at the three good cops and say BUT NOT THESE ONES." But I would have agreed that the three good cops exist.

These days I've read, heard, and seen more and I've moved through calling for police reform and on to police defunding. At this point, if you're a cop and you're not intensely and actively searching for your way out and taking it as soon as you find it, then yes, ACAB to me means you, specifically. I'm not going to say all cops need to quit tomorrow (though boy, would I cheer all cops who quit tomorrow), because I get that people have families to support and health insurance to maintain and the whole system beyond policing is also fucked up and has some real disincentives to quitting your job without a Plan B. But at this point, American policing is rotten to the core and anyone who is staying in it is complicit in it, accountable for it, and a bastard.

We've pretty much all been absolute flaming bastards about SOMETHING in our lives - though hopefully not about racist brutality - so I'm not saying all cops are irredeemably bad. (Some cops, probably most cops, are irredeemably bad. But I'm not saying all. Ask me again in three years, who knows?) But we can have the talk about redemption and restorative justice and how they find another place in the community to do whatever they were doing that was good, after they quit the police force. That's step one.
posted by Stacey at 10:09 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I see Thin Blue Line flags and trucks with Punisher logos literally everywhere in my town. I don't think ACAB is suddenly moving the needle on police radicalization.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:10 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Excellent discussion here - it's helped me to form my own thoughts a bit better, and really highlighted some of the conflicting lines of thought in this issue. This may not be the time or place for it, but let me share my line of thinking when I say ACAB:

I'm probably similar to the people you're reacting to - very privileged and lucky enough to have never had a run-in with the police in my entire life. I even have family who are cops. However, I firmly believe ACAB.

When I say that, I'm talking both about the system of policing as a whole, but also about the individual cops who are active and complicit participants in that system. In "normal" times cops are aggressive, hostile, and entirely unaccountable for their own abuses. In times like these, they act like they've been waiting for any excuse to go beat people anonymously.

It doesn't have to be this way, and the solutions are so obvious, but they all involve accountability for cops. Police as a whole absolutely refuse to allow any community check on their power, and they have the backing of powerful politicians and their own unions. They get violent over the question even being raised - look at the current protests for an example.

It needs to be easy to criminally charge cops when they break the law. It's currently next to impossible.

It needs to be easy to fire cops who break policy. It's currently next to impossible.

Police policies and conduct should be supervised by the community, not the police themselves. That idea is just a non-starter at the moment - cops refuse to allow it.

These are just a few basic ideas - there are a lot of organizations doing excellent work on this question and I'd defer to them, but these are the things that stick in my mind as pressing needs with absolutely no clear path forward due entirely to police intransigence. If they were really intending to be community servants, wouldn't be eagerly embrace methods to better protect that community from bad actors in their own ranks?

For all of this, and for the decades (or centuries) of absolute lawlessness and terror, and for all of the "good" cops who do nothing to reign in their awful peers - absolutely ACAB.

Sorry if I got a little worked up here - the last week has left me feeling a little raw I think. I'll be spending my time doing what I can to turn the ship in the future.
posted by owls at 10:14 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]


All Cops Are Bastards until they start turning on the "few bad apples".
posted by b1tr0t at 10:18 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I work every day with peace officers, who are basically indistinguishable from police officers. I also do work from time to time with NYPD detectives. I can tell you that taken individually, yeah, they're not all bastards. But that's really not the point. ACAB is a political slogan; it's not meant to be a statement of incontrovertible fact.

And as a political statement, think of it as shorthand for, "Don't think of the police officer you're about to interact with as Officer Friendly, as you were taught in school, because he probably isn't. Chances are a lot better that he's a asshole who's ready, willing, and able to abuse his authority just because he can." Which is actually accurate.
posted by holborne at 10:59 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


My personal perspective: I work in a very different field (teaching), but from practically the first moment I had my own classroom, I could viscerally feel the authority my position accorded me. The uniform you wear is transformative. Even in a profession that most would agree does more good than harm, it takes constant, principled effort to earn that authority, and not to be corrupted by it.

To many of us, the police uniform represents something so uniquely revolting that principled effort -- personal morality -- is simply not strong enough to redeem it. The authority invested in that uniform cannot be earned because its sources are illegitimate, inseparably mixed with white supremacy. It's fruit of the poison tree.

That doesn't mean there aren't many cops who are trying to do the right thing. But the truly right thing is to reject that power, to take the uniform off, because it will never fit.
posted by aws17576 at 10:59 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


The fact that there was not an immediate, and swift, outcry from every cop in the country over the murder of an innocent man tells me that all cops are bastards. The fact that supposed officers of the law are out on the streets not protesting the unlawful killing of a civilian by somebody who took an oath to protect and serve tells me that all cops are bastards. The fact that the police have made accountability all but impossible tells me that all cops are bastards.

The fact that I - someone who lives on the other side of the goddamned planet - can name Trayvon Martin, Armad Aubrey, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Breonna Taylor as people who were murdered for breathing while Black off the top of my head tells me that all cops are bastards.

Look, it's a natural human impulse to want to believe the best in people. But it's evidently clear that the police, as a whole and individuals have lost any right they may have had to a modicum of trust or belief in their basic human decency by their actions over the past decades, forget weeks or months or years. Until they prove - with actions, not words - that they are worthy of that trust? Sorry, mate, but all cops are serious fuckin' bastards.
posted by Tamanna at 11:12 AM on June 3 [23 favorites]


not protesting the unlawful killing of a civilian by somebody who took an oath to protect and serve but instead firing tear gas and rubber bullets at non-violent protesters tells me that all cops are bastards, that should be.
posted by Tamanna at 11:21 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Some actually useful data to make up for the ranting.
posted by Tamanna at 11:32 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Someone said that in certain professions everyone has to be good. You couldn't have an airline saying 'most of our pilots like to land safely, but a few bad apples like to crash into mountains, please bear with us'. *and then do nothing about those pilots even though everyone knows who they are*

No one ever made a song called 'Fuck the fire department'

There's a German saying 'if you have 2 nazis at a table with 10 other people, that's a table with 12 nazis at it'
posted by ananci at 11:33 AM on June 3 [35 favorites]


I got taken to task for using a very similar phrase in a tweet just recently. I have a sister who has a paycheck that comes from a police agency (she is not a cop) and has cop friends. I stand behind people using that phrase significantly more than people who argue against that phrase.

My feeling about public statements of beliefs--one that often must be pithy because of the medium--is that it's more about alignment and less about absolute statements of incontrovertible fact. Any side is going to be a little broken.

Anarchists do good works, they have some flaws. Cops do good works sometimes, as an institution they are flawed in a way that feels beyond redemption and has been for some time, maybe ever? ICE are cops, Homeland Security are cops, Blackwater private security forces are cops. Whoever those shitheads were at the Lincoln Memorial are cops.

Everyone who has spent any time arguing with an internet person about how men can be raped too (true) or they knew this one false rape accusation this one time (it's happened) knows how these arguments go. Cops have too much power. They have abused it. We've been watching many of them abuse it on television for days, knowing that mostly nothing will happen to them, that they're supported by the systems that pay them, and people who think that the worst thing that could ever happen to them is that someone would damage their property. They've killed, blinded and maimed people, with our money.

I do not look down on people who decide the phrase is not for them, that's a personal choice. But I often see the people who do use that term publicly as more aligned with my feelings on the matter. Hope this is helpful.
posted by jessamyn at 11:46 AM on June 3 [22 favorites]


[Chris Rock] said that in certain professions everyone has to be good. You couldn't have an airline saying 'most of our pilots like to land safely, but a few bad apples like to crash into mountains, please bear with us'.
posted by zamboni at 11:59 AM on June 3 [20 favorites]


Thanks Zamboni!
posted by ananci at 12:22 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


A corollary to the (very apt) Chris Rock analogy-- when it does happen, there's an outpouring of demand for changes in regulatory oversight, and pilots' unions don't vehemently oppose it.
posted by supercres at 12:23 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


This TikTok explained it in a concise and clear way that now gives me an opportunity to pass it on. And I’m appreciative of their time spent to educate people like me.
I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion on this app about the acronym ACAB and how it stands for “all cops are bad.” But no no no all cops are bastards. It would be too simple to say all cops are bad. And it’s usually with his misinterpretation that the argument that “oh no not all cops are bad.” Obviously not all cops are bad. But they are all bastards. At first glance you’re probably thinking we mean bastard by an unpleasant or despicable person. But that’s not what we’re saying, at least that’s not what I’m saying. When I say bastard I’m taking it from the word bastardize meaning to corrupt or debase. Cops are inherently corrupted in two ways. The first is that they are corrupted by the positions of power. That they can use their authority to inflict violence on people. The second and the most important reason and why all cops are bastards is because the very laws that they are trying to enforce are corrupt. And are used to subdue different minorities and identities. So cops can be corrupted by their power, cops are corrupted by the laws they enforce, all cops are corrupted, all cops are bastards.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:24 PM on June 3 [9 favorites]


I too have one or two issues where I don't align with people I usually align with 100%, and this is how I deal with it.

My non-alignment, as close as I can tell, comes from an emotional place that I can't and don't really want to defend.

Part of me keeps wanting me to go to 'my opinions are right' - and isn't that the point of opinions!

But my heart and my brain try to keep a grip on it, consciously remind myself that actually there is a chance that I'm wrong and they're all right, and to try to act as they do (because I see all the justifications for it) even if my heart isn't fully in it.

I basically treat this as something I don't need to urgently resolve my feelings on, as long as I can keep my actions and words (which are a type of action) in check.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:33 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Ferguson and the Cult of Compliance: When the police won’t take no for an answer:
The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, set off by a policeman’s shooting of an unarmed black teen last week, appear to be spinning out of control — not because crowds are rioting nightly but because law enforcement is operating as though they are in a war zone. Peaceful protesters are facing nothing short of a domestic army, armed with military equipment, waiting for a provocation.

As the protests progressed, the police have used noncompliance, or the failure to obey their every order, as their justification for whatever violence came next. That’s also the excuse that the police used to explain why an officer shot Michael Brown. They said the incident started because Brown didn’t comply with an order to move, so it is he who is to blame.

What happens if you don’t comply when the police give you an order? What rights do you really have? How free are you, really, when the authorities have weapons pointed at you or when they have the right to draw a weapon and use it with relative impunity?

Over the past few years, I have been tracking the rhetoric that police and other authority figures use to justify all kinds of violence. In cases that seem very different, separated by factors such as age, race, gender, sexuality, geography, class and ability, police explain away their actions by citing noncompliance. They do it because it works. They do it because according to their beliefs, any sign of noncompliance is an invitation to strike.
It’s like the police captain in Blade Runner told Deckard; “You know the score; If you’re not cop, you’re little people”. There are cops, and there are pissant nobodies who get pushed around. You have family who are cops, so that exempts you slightly from thye “little people” category.

But if you did not have cops in the family, you as well would be a pissant little person to be pushed around and threatened.

Essentially, all cops are “Schroedinger’s Cop”; maybe they’re a piece of shit racist who will kill you for being dark and not moving fast enough when they order you to.
Maybe they are not.

But until that reality is tested, you can’t say for certain whether or not the cop coming to talk to you is an authoritarian racist or not just by lookoing at them.

And dark-skinned people are dying on camera after testing that proposition.

All cops are bastards. My first cousins and beloved uncle (of sainted memory) in the NYPD included.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:26 PM on June 3 [17 favorites]


I don't subscribe to that philosophy myself, but I believe it's often meant in the same spirit as the safety rule "Every gun is always loaded". I.e. maybe not strictly 100% technically true, but that one should approach every interaction with the subject with the assumption it is the case.
posted by subocoyne at 4:26 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


Every cop has volunteered to use lethal force to enforce laws against victimless "crimes." Every single one. That's why they're all bad.

At face value, it seems comparable to being racist even (judging an entire group of people by the actions of some).

No one is born a cop. It is an evil that they choose.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:05 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


I want to start out by saying that I'm deeply compassionate to the disclosure about your own complicated racial family and personal history, and from what you're saying about ACAB feeling like criticism of an ethnic group people are born into rather than a profession that people choose to enter and choose not to leave. It sounds like you have a lot of personal pain about passing politics and everything that comes with that tangled up in here and that's not something I can judge, and I hope this is something you're able to work out with people who understand. It's a really difficult position.

I'm someone who is privileged in many ways: I usually read as white to police, from a middle class educated background. I can pull off a Karen voice if I have to. I have also worked in an adult profession in Los Angeles, which means that I know many women in my city who are designated "NIH", "No Human Involvement," by the police when they are killed, a designation that allowed at least one known serial killer to roam freely in my city for 20 years. I bring this up because of your point that someone, in a functioning society, needs to deal with serial killers, murderers, rapists, etc. I agree with you, but in my experience, the police have abandoned their post when it comes to those roles to such an extent that I do not consider them, as police currently exist in America, to be an effective or remotely legitimate solution to these problems. I know many privileged people within the industry who would be considered human beings by the police if they were killed, but I also know, and constantly worry for, many women who would not be given a second thought if they were hurt or disappeared. In New Jersey, a man colloquially known as "Joey the Rapist" in the professional dominatrix and sex work world was recently jailed on an Al Capone style loophole after a ten year career of serial sexual assault, ignored by NYPD and various NJ departments, during which time these communities circulated his photograph on social media, cell phones, craigslist postings, and wordpress sites to attempt to identify him to women either doing sex work or using hookup sites who were not aware of his presence in their city and of his history. On the issue of domestic abuse: Even if I take the entire adult industry out of my personal data pool, I know more people who are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence than I do those who are unaffected by these things. I do not know a single person who has brought their rape, their assault, their domestic abuse case to the police and received help, if they weren't put in danger, mocked, or harmed by the officers they called to save them. 40% of police families have reported domestic violence in their homes, and I suspect that number is much higher simply because that's just the number of families who feel safe openly reporting. The abuse, the addictions, the suicides. The horror stories I have heard and witnessed from both women and men who attempted to divorce or leave police officers are extensive and devastating.

I have had encounters with police who I felt were attempting to protect the members of their community, who were legitimately trying their best. Who believed in "to serve and protect." I support and understand people who use the chant All Cops Are Bastards because of what it means about the police as an institution that systemically turns those officers trying their best into a minority who are incapable of preventing the atrocities committed by their fellow officers that the country is currently burning over.

ACAB is about a deep and persistent culture of violence and corruption. It is about the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force, currently serving 25 year federal racketeering charges, who spent years robbing the citizens of Baltimore, were caught taking trash bags of pharmaceuticals they looted during the Freddie Gray riots of 2015 to their drug dealer to resell, and who were so steeped in police-vs-civilians culture that they named their unofficial headquarters after details of the notorious inter-police murdering and bank robbing CRASH unit gang within the LAPD Rampart Division in the 1990s, who were so infamous that they became an inspiration to criminal police nationwide. ACAB is about the rank and file officers who testified in that racketeering case that they participated in civil asset forfeiture robberies, not as outliers in the department, but because that was the only way to gain their superiors' trust and get promotions. It's talking about the facebook group in my neighborhood, started by a member of the police, who riled up my neighbors into endless fantasizing about turning water cannons on local homeless encampments and in some cases actually harrassing and assaulting homeless people, with zero disciplinary action taken when that officer was exposed. It's talking about a friend of mine, whose husband beat her relentlessly for ten years with the full knowledge of his entire small town department, who kept a wall of silence for him, because they all thought the pressures of his job justified the bruises on his wife and his children. ACAB is talking about the NYPD Union, whose latest press release states that they worry that they will lose the "war on NYC if they are not allowed to use more destructive weaponry and tactics". ACAB is about the Oakland 166th Police Academy Class, where so many members of the OPD were involved in the sexual trafficking and sexual assault of the teenage daughter of a dispatcher that three Oakland PD chiefs resigned in nine days because all of them had too many connections to the officers involved in her abuse to be able to do the job without bias or implication.

ACAB is about the many, many videos and photographs on social media right now of protesters ranging in age from 16 to 59 who have been deliberately shot in the face or head with "non-lethal" rubber or projectile bullets. ACAB is about the identical ruptured eyeball and cranial penetration injuries of these teenagers and grandmothers in cities 13,000 miles away from each other, from the same illegal use of weaponry. Police departments across the country have adopted the practice of shooting people in the head with these weapons against US law and UN conventions, and they have done so deliberately, as an organized tactic. Did they learn it in the "warrior training" or "killology" that has been conducted in Minnesota after the state banned it? Were they inspired by police and military forces in Chile using eye shots to intimidate protesters? I couldn't tell you, but the precision and uniformity of these injuries are not accidents.

It is that organization of brutality, that uniformity of violence and abuse, that gallery of identical eyes shot out and projectiles sticking from bloody foreheads in every city in the country, that makes people say "all cops."

What ACAB describes, ultimately, is a major crisis in the institution of policing: brutality, corruption, and a mentality that police exist as a warrior caste whose highest goal is to protect other police, and who have a righteous and total contempt of civilians who don't understand the hardship of the job and who don't deserve their sacrifice. This mentality has gone from being a lawless subculture within departments to a majority culture within the profession. If you look at statements from any police union representative, at any internal letters, the contempt for civilians is extreme, and it is omnipresent. NYPD 's union letters claiming that they are currently waging a "war on NYC" or doxxing the mayor's daughter on twitter-- a major police department of the biggest city in the country threatening the family of a public official. For some perspective, friends of mine who live in Serbia who remember the Balkan conflict contacted me about NYPD doxxing Chiara DiBlasio, concerned, because it was so familiar to them as the behavior of an armed force that is on its way to becoming a rogue militia. Bob Kroll, the Union President of the Minneapolis PD, has been going on television bragging about how many people has has personally killed and how those deaths don't affect him, and how he does not understand or respect officers who have PTSD from having to use force against citizens, how these officers who suffer the mental consequences are "in the wrong job."

I do not actually think every single person on every police force is a terrible person. When LAPD was dispatched to deal with protests in downtown LA, I listened in on police scanners, and a majority of the officers from my suburb were sent halfway across the city. The officers who went downtown were audibly male, aggressive, hopped up, frustrated and full of aggression. The ones left were almost shockingly young-- men who still had that teenage nasal tone to their voice, women's voices who were absent from the protest squads. These were the officers doing the actual job of community emergency response-- dealing with overdoses, fights, intruders, coordinating with the fire department and ambulances. The overwhelming sense from listening to those two scanner feeds was that the more gentle young men, all of the women, and anyone with a Spanish or AAVE accent had been left to do the unglamorous work of dealing with overdoses and car crashes and actual neighborhood emergencies, and not the prestige/glory job of getting to go beat and gas protesters in military formation that was given to the older, angry white men. I wonder what is going to happen to those young officers when they inevitably start to feel the mental and emotional effects of working these crises, and have to go up against people like Bob Kroll when seeking help and support. I wonder how long any of them are going to last on the force.

When I think of "good cops," I think of the viral video of police breaking up a pool party of mostly black tweens, ending with one officer kneeling on the back of a tiny black girl screaming. There's one officer at the beginning who stands out to me. He is very, very young. At the beginning of the call, he's explaining how police flashlights work to a group of small black boys who found one that another officer dropped and gave to him. He is gentle and engaged. Then he sees the offending officer start to get physical with some of the other children, and he bolts after him. From my years working in bars and seeing physical altercations, I can recognize that he knows his colleague is dangerous, and is running for him as fast as he can to make sure he doesn't hurt anyone. He succeeds in disarming him when he almost shoots one middle school-aged black boy. He isn't able to stop him from tackling that young black girl, and forcibly arresting her, face to the ground, in almost the same kneel hold as the one used on George Floyd. What happened to the young officer who prevented that shooting? Who knows-- I've never been able to find his name. I wonder, though, because as it happens, the offending officer was the vice president of the local union and his commanding officer. What did that call mean for that young police officer? What do you do when your union leadership is beating children and drawing weapons on them? What is your recourse when your CO throws a little girl on the ground? Do you think that young officer was rewarded for trying to restrain someone who both outranked him and held that kind of power in their peer group? I can't imagine that he was.

I wonder, every now and then when police brutality comes to the forefront of the news and when friends of mine chant ACAB, what happened to that young officer. If he was punished, if he quit or was fired like so many who speak out against brutality within the force, or if he was slowly desensitized to that brutality, and if the spark of that young man who wanted to protect innocent children from his commanding officer has been snuffed out. I wonder what is going to happen if he's put on protest duty and the man next to him takes aim at a journalist or a protester to try to shoot out an eye. I wonder the same thing for your police officer friend. I believe you when you say that you respect him. If he finds himself traumatized by any of the violence taking place in this movement, at his own hands or the hands of his fellow officers, if he ends up on the line with men who decide to start taking eyes, I hope he finds a more adequate help than the union heads who think ptsd is an indication that an officer is in the wrong job. Because while all cops don't start out on the force as bastards, the institution of American policing is dedicated to a culture that either radicalizes and traumatizes them into monsters, or destroys them. It is a dark, dark time for anyone trying to be a decent human being while wearing a badge in America. May God have mercy on his soul.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:12 AM on June 4 [29 favorites]


I thought this line from a comic by Ben Passmore was very clarifying: "Even a nice cop's authority comes from an implicit threat of violence, death, or imprisonment."
posted by babelfish at 7:20 AM on June 4 [11 favorites]


If this is the case I'd appreciate some more reading on this idea of, I dont know, "extreme" thinking/action leading to meaningful and positive change, if you happen to have any resources like that.


Honest question: without the current protests, riots, and the burning of the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct, if people had made a hashtag and mourned and petitioned like they did for an uncountable list of black people murdered by police, do you think Officer Derek Chauvin would have been charged with murder rather than simply fired? That his charge would have been amended to the more accurate 2nd degree murder and not manslaughter? That the George Floyd killing investigation would have been taken over by the State Attorney General, rather than the Minneapolis PD's Internal Affairs? That charges would have been brought up, a week later, for the three other officers who held George Floyd down and helped asphyxiate him? Without the current unrest, do you think the shooting of Breonna Taylor would have been reopened as it was this week? Do you believe that police officers who use lethal force should be investigated, charged, and convicted if found guilty?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:33 AM on June 4 [16 favorites]


Any perspective would be helpful.

From my perspective, I believe that policing in America is a highly visible and destructive symptom of institutionalized racism and the operation of white privilege, which by definition includes all cops. However, I worry that a slogan like ACAB could encourage a more superficial approach to a much deeper problem, similar to how I would worry about a slogan like 'All Men Are Rapists' being expected to be understood as a call against rape culture and the patriarchy. I don't want to talk about 'not all men,' because of course that is technically true, and of course it is well-documented that men are survivors and victims - the problem is that those discussions completely distract from and miss the point about the larger societal and cultural institutions that have to be addressed if we are actually going to make progress. I worry about wasting time talking about 'a few bad apples' when the overarching system is so obviously rotten to the core, so I would rather have a slogan that didn't lead us to what I think is a distracting discussion, so we can just focus on how to address the failures of police to protect and serve.

I also think a focus on the larger underlying issues will likely have a positive impact on the recruitment issues you mention, because of related changes to policies and procedures that focus on eradicating institutionalized racism and police brutality. I also think you are getting at something important when you wonder about the various backgrounds and experiences of people who do and don't feel comfortable with the phrase. I have my own background and experiences that inform my perspective. ACAB is a slogan long used by racist skinheads, and yes, I know, "not all skinheads," but the apparent origins of the phrase emphasize for me how much BLM feels de-centered by the slogan.

This essay in the Guardian by Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, summarizes what I feel is at risk of getting drowned out by ACAB: "Say its name. The condition is racism. It is manifest in a lack of opportunity; in economic inequality; in the absence of healthcare; in a biased criminal justice system and mass incarceration; in schools that scream for care; in a denial of truth; and more."

I appreciate the intent of the phrase in how many now use it, but it is the impact that I worry about, as well as the crisis and opportunity we now have to focus on racism, economic inequality, health care, the criminal justice system, education, the denial of truth, and more.
posted by katra at 10:07 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I think all the points I am raising have been raised above. I wanted to add some data to support some of the claims.

Policing in America is vastly different than other countries. The use of force far outstrips other countries. See Canada , Europe. When you add race component to it , the matter is exacerbated even more. Police violence US data shows Black Americans are 3x more likely to be killed than White Americans.

The protests are for the policing system to change. I don't think an individual officer can change these policies as they work within the bounds of the system. Derek Chauvin who conducted the maneuver on George Floyd was following Minneapolis police guideline. 10 years ago the same maneuver was used on David Smith, another black man. Minneapolis settled for $3 million but did little to change the root cause.

The only reason this came to the national spotlight was that somebody died because of it and it was caught on video. These are just the tip of the iceberg - How many times have these happened where a person was just injured or wasn't captured on video and did not go viral.

In addition, it took 4 days of protests around the world for the officers to be charged instead of administrative leave/suspension which has traditionally been with every other case involving unarmed black Americans.
posted by radsqd at 11:53 AM on June 4 [10 favorites]


So here's a story that you may have seen that explains why all cops are bastards. A cop was caught on camera shoving a 75-year-old white man to the ground, and when the cop stopped to see if his victim was injured, another cop ordered him to get up and keep moving. When the city of Buffalo suspended the two cops in question, the entire Riot Response Team resigned in protest.

To recap: Police are not upset when their actions cause a head injury, but they are extremely upset when someone tries to hold them accountable for causing a head injury. If anyone can follow this story and still have respect for the police as an institution, I seriously don't know what to say.

On the plus side, that's 57 cops who probably won't kill anyone tonight.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:18 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


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