Stories run the world. Most of the time, when you approach a person on the street and suggest that the police be abolished, they respond, “what would replace them?” People believe the police are necessary to preserve the order of the day. Deaths caused by police among inordinately Black and brown populations occur under the watch of an institution with roots in slave patrols when slavery was the order of the day.
Were there good aspects to the order of the day back then? A few people were doing quite well, some were doing okay, and many were barely surviving. And many more were deemed necessary casualties for the economic system to funnel money to the rich.
Sound familiar? The racial and economic order of today is intolerable, too. We want to overthrow it, too. We are not interested in reforming the police. We want to abolish the present-day policing model entirely.
What would replace the police, you ask? What replaced slavery? What replaced sharecropping? What replaced Jim Crow? Author and civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander doesn’t call the prison-industrial complex the New Jim Crow for nothing. How do we look out for one another – care for one another – without being susceptible to the state offering us repression wrapped in the guise of public safety? We are fighting to abolish oppressive forces such as racism, capitalism, patriarchy and imperialism from the social order entirely.
At the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia the weekend of October 21-24, 2017, there were many events with titles like, “Managing the Narrative of Your Critical Incident as Captured by Body-Worn Cameras,” “Public Trust After a Police Use of Deadly Force Incident,” and “Managing Critical Incidents, Officer-Involved Shootings, and Viral Social Media Posts.” But none titled, “Stop Killing Black People.” This is very telling about the intentions held by chiefs of police around the world. They are not good intentions. They are not moral intentions. They are focused exclusively on PR, covering their own ass, and silencing political dissent through media management strategy.
There were reports of vandalism of memorial plaques to dead cops during the weekend the IACP was in Philly. There was attempted media spin. But that spin doesn’t capture the essence of the message they sent: “The Only Good Cop” written over these memorial plaques celebrates the people’s power to rewrite the stories about who has the right to be in charge or have power over life and death. The police have lost that right, if they ever had it in the first place. They have no moral authority. The people must take it back. The message for the International Association of Chiefs of Police is: The people are waking up to your lies and the lies of those who pay you. Your story’s days are numbered. We call for police abolition. The only good cop is a dead story.
Remember Brandon Tate-Brown. Remember Sandra Bland. Remember Freddie Gray. Remember Philando Castile. Remember Laquan McDonald. Remember Michael Brown. Remember Eric Garner. Remember Amadou Diallo. Remember Oscar Grant. Remember David Jones. Remember all victims of racist state violence.
Cops think revolution is a flower to be crushed. Year after year, they think they can surround us with monuments celebrating state oppression. They understand neither seasons nor seeds. We are growing, we are spreading, and we will be victorious. We can, and we must, overwrite the intolerable stories set in public stone. All power to the people. Abolish the police. Tell a better story. Build a better world.
The only good cop is a defaced memorial plaque. They’re all over Philly. We’ve all seen them. Even though the police state seems insurmountable, a million angry fires can burn it down, one tag at a time. What are we waiting for?