Before I start this piece today I want to offer up websites for bail funds, GoFundMe, advocacy groups, and activist organizations in Canada/USA. Donate if you can or share the links to your social media. Stand in solidarity with the people or stand for State-sanctioned violence. Justice for George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, and Fuck The Police!
https://blacklivesmattervancouver.com (BLM Vancouver)
On May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. For nearly 9 minutes, his neck was crushed under the knee of (ex) Officer Derek Chauvin as 3 others stood around gawking. George Floyd, at 46 years old, died in the hospital an hour later. Was Derek Chauvin immediately arrested for murder? Fuck no. Until civil disobedience began, he was a free man, alive and breathing, unlike the human being he just killed. George Floyd would have just become another statistic of police violence if it wasn’t for the outpouring of support and rage from the people. It is a sad world when you’re not surprised by yet another unjust police killing, but here we are in 2020 with no reforms, no accountability, and no justice. It’s become crystal clear who the police “serve and protect” and it ain’t any of us. They aren’t protecting the poor, people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, or the mentally ill, and most of us are probably not mentioned in the VIP section of the police manual except as a footnote. Cops are the staunch defenders of property, landowners, celebrities, politicians, wealthy socialites, and your local chapter of Neo-Nazis. You can rest easy knowing the KKK can march safely down our streets and you can get torn out of your home by a cop for being late with the rent. This isn’t just America’s problem. This isn’t just our problem. This has been a systemic issue with all policing in the past, in our present, and will be in the future. Now the chickens have come home to roost and you best ask yourself what side you’re on.
This tepid response to corruption and murder isn’t new for the boys in blue so let’s recall some of their past sins. The website and advocacy group Mapping Police Violence found that approximately 24% of police shootings in 2019 were of black individuals despite them only making up 13% of the population in the US. We live in a hellscape where 1 in 1000 black men can expect to die at the hands of a police officer. In 2014, 18 year old Mike Brown was shot 6 times by Officer Darren Wilson in alleged “self defence” and 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot for being a black kid “maybe with a gun” according to dispatch calls. 2014 also saw the death of Eric Garner who was restrained and choked by an officer in Staten Island and pronounced dead an hour later. In 2015, 21 year old white supremacist Dylann Roof shot up a church in Charleston, South Carolina killing 9 black parishioners, but he got some Burger King from the cops afterwards. 2015 also gave us the unjust death of Sandra Bland, a 28 year old black woman taken into custody for a traffic stop, who was found hanging in her cell 3 days later. Also in 2015, 25 year old Freddie Gray was arrested, sustained injuries to his spinal cord while in transport due to the excessive use of force, and died under the watch of 6 goddamn officers. In 2016, Philando Castile was fatally shot 5 times in his car in front of his partner and daughter despite complying with police instructions during a traffic stop. February of this year saw the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by two white supremacists (one a former police officer) and they weren’t arrested for another two months. Then on March 13th of this year, Breonna Taylor was shot 8 times by Louisville police during a residential search with a “no knock” warrant. This is why people are mad and I’ll be damned if they don’t have a solid reason for it.
I’m going to stop here for a second before some red and white blooded Canadians barge in. We’re just as bad up here so put away that wagging finger. We just love to puff out our chest and declare ourselves the tolerant and not-racist neighbour to the Yankees. “But remember how slaves came up here to not be slaves anymore? Wow. Go us!” *Cue the Heritage Minute* So how well do our police hold up to scrutiny? Well there was the case of D’Andre Campbell of Brampton who was killed in April of this year after calling the cops for help. They tased him and shot him while he was on the ground. Machaur Madut, a 42 year old Afrikan immigrant, was fatally shot in his Winnipeg apartment by police in 2019 while suffering from mental distress. He was shot because he allegedly had a hammer. Nicholas Gibbs, a 23 year old Afrikan man who suffered from mental health issues, was shot 5 times (one in the back) by Montreal police in 2018 when they allegedly tried to break up a fight. In 2017, Constable Michael Theriault of Toronto beat 19 year old Dafonte Miller with a pipe so badly that it required the removal of his eye. Toronto police are now under investigation for an incident that saw 29 year old Regis Korchinski-Paquet fall to her death from a 24- storey apartment. This doesn’t even begin to cover Indigenous violence by police. Eishia Hudson, a 16 year old Indigenous girl from Manitoba, was fatally shot by police just 2 months ago. 2019 saw Randy Cochrane, a 30 tear old father of 3, die of a heart attack while in police custody. In 2014, 15 year old Tina Fontaine was reported missing and found by Winnipeg police, but wasn’t taken in for her safety, and as a result of this selective racial policing she was found dead and wrapped in plastic and a duvet cover in the Red River. We best not forget the Vancouver RCMPigs who ignored the missing women that ended up becoming Robert Pickton’s victims. Why? Most of these women were Indigenous sex workers so they weren’t seen as high enough priority for cops to give a shit. Those examples are barely scratching the surface, but oh no no we don’t have racially motivated policing in the Great WHITE North. Dudley Do-Rights the whole lot of ’em.
I wanted to write this piece because the death of George Floyd and the ensuing riots have sparked a massive debate about police brutality. Every side is weighing in from alt-right shitheads caressing their Richard Spencer posters to your next door neighbour Carol who’s only really upset about Target getting looted. I’ll get my opinion out of the way. Police aren’t my friends or yours especially if you belong to a vulnerable population, racialized group, or just happen to be walking in the wrong place on their bad day. Modern policing is rooted in white supremacy and State power which are values that they continue to espouse to this day. Maintenance of society’s power structures is their sole reason for existing. Our beloved RCMP was created to suppress Indigenous groups and enforce the genocidal policies of the Canadian government. United States police forces were born from slave patrols of the 1700s and that tradition is being upheld well into 2020. The times have changed in the past couple centuries, but police remain the same tools of State oppression and, in the case of the riots, State repression. They just wear different costumes now.
“There’s no such thing as racially biased policing. They are just doing their job enforcing THE LAW, punk” I hear some of you saying. First, calm yourself down there, discount Dirty Harry. Second, I’m going to give you a clear and recent example. COVID-19 gave us several anti-lockdown/ Second Amendment protests where armed and angry people demanded the economy reopen, lockdown measures be scrapped, and their dick be replaced with a military-grade firearm ASAP. Police responded to these with a unanimous “meh” even as people barged into State buildings with their guns in tow, hanged effigies of governors, and threatened both politicians and public safety. No tear gas. No guns drawn. No turning off their body cams. Why? These people were in violation of lockdown orders and making threats toward government officials while fully armed in several cases. The Kentucky man in the photo above made an effigy of Governor Andy Beshear and dangled it on a tree outside of his residence. All he got for that blatant threat was a slap on the wrist and the loss of his job. On May 12th, the Michigan Home Guard, a militia group, defied lockdown orders in order to keep a barbershop open and threatened to blockade the shop if police arrived. Police didn’t give much a shit about that violation either. In all of these cases, their complexion made the difference between being called a “thug” or “very good people” by President Trump and between cops gassing them or leaving them alone to utter threats at elected officials.
Now let’s talk riots. There are protests and riots occurring in most major American cities (and some Canadian and international ones) in solidarity. Unfortunately, now we’re also subjected to constant debates telling us the right and wrong ways to protest. I’m sure many of you are angry with my comparison between the “peaceful” armed protesters and the folks rioting against police violence. I compared them because some people just LOVE to moralize crime when it benefits the status quo. Militias broke the law and threatened violence, but it’s only because they have a constitutional right to protest and were “very good people” just looking for work. Oppressed groups broke the law because they are being ignored, but really it’s just because they are “thugs” and want to destroy their own homes. One group is made up of predominantly white, middle class folks screaming threats because they can’t get a haircut or they can’t legally acquire a nuke for gopher hunting. The other group is composed of society’s downtrodden who are rioting because politicians, cops, and and the 1% won’t take notice otherwise. Yes, property is being destroyed/looted, but you know what’s more important than property? Human lives. Innocent folks are dying at the hands of people supposed to protect them while being shooed away by politicians who could potentially reform this crap. I couldn’t give less of a shit about Target when every year we see an increase in police violence with no consequences. The police (and now National Guard) response to the former over the continuing riots is a sign that property is more important than people. Bootlickers tend to agree and would rather see black people die than sacrifice a fucking Starbucks. They are emboldened by a State that would rather imprison or kill its own citizens than provide justice for those beaten down by its unchecked foot soldiers. If it wasn’t already clear, I fully support the actions taking place. Martin Luther King, Jr said it best in 1968 “And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?” You’ve ignored their cries and peaceful protests in favour of wealth and power for too long. This is the result. I’m sorry if it’s not the type of protest you want, but you’ve had plenty of chances to change this crooked system.
Does it seem unfair of me to pin this blame on police officers as a whole instead of a few bad apples? You’re one of those “good” cops or you know one, right? Great. Now’s the perfect time to prove it! A “good” cop should denounce racist policing and turn in fellow officers who abuse their power and authority. They should fight against the use of force and condemn “oversights” by their department. If all else fails, they should quit and serve people properly outside of a corrupt institution. If they can’t bring themselves to do these simple tasks, well that just proves there’s another piggy in the mud. They’re free to squeal “blue lives matter” all they like as their co-workers beat another homeless man to death for loitering too long, but they’ll find no respect from people with a moral compass. Reform from within or give up the idea of an honest police force because that hasn’t been working out well thus far.
Trigger Warning for police violence
As we get close to the end of the piece, I want you to do me a favour. Tell me…is this justice?
How about this?
Maybe this one?
No? I’m sure of this next one.
Each photo and video above may paint a brutal picture of policing, but it’s an immediate and concerning one for us all. The Rodney King verdict was nearly 30 years ago and this shit is still going on like nothing was learned that day. Police are not friends of vulnerable populations, racialized peoples, or the poor. They only serve the will of the State and are provided with the tools meant to keep people like George Floyd, Philando Castile, Mike Brown, Randy Cochrane, Tamir Rice, Tina Fontaine, Machaur Madut, Sandra Bland, and D’Andre Campbell down and keep the rest of us quiet about it. We will be silent no longer. The people are taking back control and we, as allies and concerned citizens of the world, should follow suit. There’s a lot you can do to help them succeed right now. Protest alongside our brothers, sisters, and non-binary friends if you are able, but do not take away from racialized voices or leadership in these actions. Donate money to bail funds, activist websites, charities, advocacy groups, necessary news sources/podcasts that are covering the real stories, and spread word about the protests on social media before they are tainted by corporate media’s lies and slander. You can fight public ignorance and apathy with truth and compassion. It is time to show police the sins of their profession and send a clear message to the slimy politicians that we’re not afraid of their boots on the ground. Simply stated, if police can’t serve and protect the people then what good are they?
I want to end my piece today by acknowledging that I write this from a place of great privilege. I am a young, white, lower-middle class Canadian who has never been subjected to racial or discriminatory violence in my life. I attended RCMP camp in high school and spent most of my youth idolizing the police as the “good guys” protecting the public. Cops were never a threat in my neighbourhood and treated me fairly which I know is the experience of many white Canadians who are probably disgusted by the anti-cop rhetoric as of late. However, their disgust and condemnation of racialized peoples and the riots down south come from privilege and from ignorance to historical truths. Our luxury of being left alone by the police comes at the cost of innocent lives. We live comfortably in a system built for us upon the backs of people who suffered and continue to suffer through the pains of colonialism, slavery, and systemic racism. I am not blind to these facts and my past only cements my dedication to the cause.
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again. Solidarity, my friends.