Including both a historical and broader context for policing and its purpose can help frame this debate in a much more useful way. Historically the institution of policing was created during slavery and after its abolition as a force to control slaves and former slaves and enforce a color line between whites and blacks. The default position of police at this time was that slaves and later freed blacks were always at fault in a crime and that whites were not just innocent but rather un-deputized police.
Over time as people of color received citizenship, voting rights, and slavery was abolished, the overt policies of police as maintaining a color line were dropped while also broadening the scope of its mission to become one of keeping inline those considered “anti-social” or outside the norms of societal behavior. The inherent problem with this mission is how these norms are defined and what is consider “anti-social”. While many well meaning police exist within police bureaus, the real problem is the inherent nature of policing in our society and the formation of policing as an institution. As an institution, policing is at its core reactionary, racist, and repressive. Its purpose being to enforce a definition of society and acceptable behavior that corresponds with the identity of very few citizens of our country. The acceptable definition of society being white upper class usually men and the acceptable behavior being the behavior of this group of people. For example, why is it that rates of white collar crime have been rising more than most other forms of crime yet the rates of arrest, indictment, and imprisonment of these types of criminals are very low? Because police are not looking for white collar criminals...they are the very definition of civilized society that their job is to enforce.
posted 3 years, 2 months ago
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