There Aren’t Two Sides to Police Violence

there aren't two sides to police violence

Since the Black Lives Matter movement was founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in July of 2013 after Trayvon Martin was murdered, racists responded with All Lives Matter—a bigoted co-opt of BLM. Even though the police executions of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (here’s the official GoFundMe for Breonna’s family) have garnered national and international (for George) outrage, there are still large portions of people who want to make the case against BLM and for unity between cops and anti-police protesters. Critics of “non-peaceful” protests have invoked the All Lives Matter slogan, defended cops instead of the protesters, and directed sympathy toward corporations and landlords/business owners instead of Black people being teargassed, beaten, and shot with rubber bullets by cops at police brutality demonstrations (even there, cops can’t stop brutalizing people). In the past, I’ve remained fairly non-confrontational on social media (this isn’t to say that I don’t love a good subtweet or pointed discussion about abolition), but there aren’t two sides to police violence, and I no longer refuse to argue against anyone who believes so. Over the past several days, I’ve quarreled with a few family friends and social media mutuals who did the classic “not all cops” bit, and I wasn’t about to listen to that type of argument. As you all know by now, in This Is Noelle’s household (aka me alone in my room), we are consistent PIC (Prison Industrial Complex) abolitionists who fight against all forms of policing and incarceration including the military, police, ICE, COs, jails, prisons, etc., and therefore, there aren’t two sides to police violence, brutality, and murder.

I’ve had to explain to several friends beginning their own abolitionist tracks, why every cop is a bad cop and the institution of policing must be eradicated, not reformed. I’m going to plagiarize myself (don’t worry, myself doesn’t mind) and share this paragraph I wrote in my police abolition post, where I shared a brief history on policing:

“If we go back to the colonization of America, police, just like prisons, were established as a part of slavery. The first members of a form of cops were volunteer community cops who operated as slave catchers: groups of armed white men who patrolled plantations and the areas surrounding them for runaway slaves and/or potential uprisings. After slavery was “abolished” (note: it was not) in 1865, the Klu Klux Klan joined forces with the institution of police to perpetuate violence and oppression against Black people, most notably participating in public lynchings and other forms of unregulated brutality. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander writes about the modern version of the KKK even announced in 1990 their intentions of joining “the battle against illegal drugs by becoming the eyes and ears of the police” (55). Although the police have always been given virtually unlimited authority and immunity to do whatever they please to citizens (particularly those who are Black and Brown) since the days of slave catchers, their power was expanded by the War on Drugs, which established policies such as stop-and-frisk, lawless traffic stops, bribery, military policing, and civil asset forfeiture, among others. Police officers were bred to assault and kill any nonwhite person, and specifically Black people, who they deem “threats.” This creation is why most, if not all, white people have such an appreciation and reverence for law enforcement, while BIPOC are taught the opposite. Pigs are inherently violent, prejudiced, and dangerous. They are legally allowed to lie to, steal from, and cheat citizens without any retribution, and we are forced to watch them do whatever they want, as we see with Breonna Taylor’s and George Floyd’s murders.”

There aren’t two sides to police violence because policing was conceived as a violent organization—built to assault and execute Black people specifically and non-Black people of color. When people like All Lives Matter supporters defend cops from Black people demanding they stop being summarily executed in the street, they are attempting to humanize both sides of the protests, and there aren’t two sides when it comes to the inherent injustices of policing. Almost worse, is when liberals uplift and celebrate national cops kneeling, talking to protesters, and hugging people at demonstrations as if those same exact pigs aren’t teargassing, shooting, beating, and running over the people with their cars shortly after. By protecting cops enacting violence on protesters, people who are utilizing the “both sides” argument are effectively and maliciously disregarding BLM and every Black person fighting for their right to exist. There are no good cops, and there is no reason to support or defend the ones who currently wear the uniform, carry the murder weapons, and brag about their violence. And while defunding the police is a good first step, we are fighting for a world without policing, not a world where police reforms lead to more Black deaths and disappearances.