Trout Fisting In America #18 – Cops

I’ve been working on this entry for three months now, and every time I think it’s ready to go another police killing (a/k/a murder, or at the very least homicide, if you or I did it) happens and I realize I haven’t said enough. There’s yet another shooting of an unarmed black male, usually with a video that churns your guts and fills you with impotent rage—and makes you feel guilty for watching, one more snuff film. Then the cop goes free, if they were ever charged in the first place). People riot, people talk, people argue. It isn’t even shocking anymore, it’s just the sad, stupid way we live in this country.

Last week we saw Philando Castile’s killer go free. Did you watch the video? a friend asked me. I hadn’t. I stopped watching after the first couple of videos. I found myself starting to feel like a witness to a series of lynchings, knowing full well these videos would be watched with amusement by a large segment of the population. As for my friend, I could tell she was horrified by the Castile video, but this was the first time I’d heard her mention it. Never mind taking to the streets, she hadn’t even taken to her facebook page, and when she brought up the subject she knew perfectly well that everyone at the table saw Castile’s death as an outrage, as a tragedy.

Some of us feel so powerless in this country that it hurts to imagine doing anything. I understand that feeling very well—what the fuck are we supposed to do when nobody listens. When it comes to protesting the state, you reach a point where you either back down or you become the Weather Underground. To care about justice in this country is to be considered an enemy of the state, and as far as the state is concerned, an enemy is something that you either imprison indefinitely or you kill.

Let’s hear a story about kids! Years ago I worked at Asheville City Schools Preschool (as an employee of the state, my take home pay, in 2004, was $1118.18 a month). One day a police officer came to visit the kids and one of the 3-year-olds walked up to him, looked him in the eye, and said, ‘You a pig,’ to which the cop smiled and said, ‘Well actually my name is Sergeant _____ of the Asheville police department. And what’s your name?’ But you know if that kid said that shit as an adult he wouldn’t get away with it. Hell, Tamir Rice was only 12 years old and all he did was…well he didn’t actually fucking do anything, but the cop was scared and so the cop killed him and for the jury that all the justification they needed to hear.

I usually write this column on a Saturday and then post it on a Tuesday. I worried that within days of finishing this, the next victim would be a child. Some days it feels like only a matter of time. In this case, the latest killing turned out to be a black police officer shot by one of his co-workers who mistook him for a criminal. This headline appeared in my newsfeed this past Saturday between the time I finished this article and the time I finished my lunch. Go ahead and read it, apparently white cops shooting black cops because they thought the black cop was the criminal happens a lot

Personally, I don’t like it when people call policemen pigs. Pigs are sensitive creatures, with kind eyes, and they taste delicious when eaten. Cops are none of those things. Cops are bullies. They’re prone to overreaction, prone to violence. Combine those qualities with a thin-skinned hypersensitivity and knowing they’ll almost never be punished for anything they do, and you get the worst people in our country today. What a bunch of hypersensitive cowardly shits. When I think of the years of abuse I was expected to take working in the service industry—the number of times I had to stand there while someone cussed me out, or threatened to beat me up after my shift, or tried to get me fired for rolling my eyes. Shit, if I’d become a cop I could’ve just shot them, or beaten them to death with a club, and in some people’s eyes I would’ve been a hero.

The people they kill, especially the unarmed people they kill, are disproportionately black. They’re almost always male (I can’t use the word ‘men’ b/c so many of victims are under 18). To your average white american there is nothing scarier than a young black male, but to me there’s nothing scarier than a white policeman, or a white US senator, or a white white supremacist. Black americans? I’ve worked with them, gone to school with them, eaten with them, drank with them, danced with them, watched tv with them, played video games with them, laughed with them, lived in their neighborhoods, etc. etc.

But of course, police departments, like everything else American, are incredibly, stupidly, unnecessarily racist This isn’t made up. There’s nothing hypothetical or imagined about their racism. There is an abundance of fucking evidence to support the theory. When people are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, killed without justification, and the skin color of these people is disproportionately black, then your police force is racist. Or to put it another way, there are more drugs in fraternity houses than in public housing, but the cops aren’t patrolling those streets. And there’s more theft on Wall Street, more corruption in congress, more illegal killing of innocents perpetrated by our military, than there is in black neighborhoods. But then police work isn’t about catching criminals—it’s about catching a specific type of criminal.

I mean, police departments are filled, literally filled, with white supremacists. They’re deliberately targeted by neonazis as good places for neonazis to work. As opposed to, say, Greenpeace, which is a terrible place for neonazis to work. There seems to be nothing a white police officer can’t do to a black person, on tape no less, and get away with. The term Black Lives Matter, a phrase that should be met with agreement—’of course they do, of course they should’—inspires fear & retribution among the people who are supposed to, in theory, be protecting black lives.

Don’t talk to me about the good cops. If you cover for a bad cop, then you’re a bad cop too. (I think the legal term might be accessory, or harboring a fugitive). As much as we hear about how moderate muslims need to denounce the extremists in their ranks, no one ever demands the same from police officers. It’s one thing to have a few bad apples, it’s another thing to know these apples are poison and watch people eat them and die while you say nothing. And when any officer who speaks out against their co-workers is harassed, or at the very least shunned, you have a system incapable of changing from the inside, incapable of fixing its problems on its own. This country would be a better place if the police were armed with social worker degrees instead of guns.

And the fact that police officers are, by definition, employees of the community who should be answerable to that community’s citizens the same way a landfill worker is, or even a firefighter is, should tell you there’s a problem. Our police force is answerable to no one. In fact, the very idea that the police should be accountable for their actions, should stand trial for their crimes, is outrageous to them. And isn’t it fucking fascinating that for all the hatred of unions, especially ‘public-sector’ unions, on the right, they love their police unions.

Let’s talk about the people who defend cops no matter what, the people who see a video of needless violence & death and rush to justify the violence. These people are scared gutless bootlicking proto-fascist cowards whose lives are consumed by fear, mistrust, and spiritual death. Their inability to see humanity in others, to identify with anyone they perceive as being not like them, means they live a life adrift, disconnected, and extremely lonely. They aren’t victims—they’re enablers of death—but their suffering is real, one more link in a chain that, were a policeman, to wrap it around the neck of an unarmed black boy and choke the life out of him, these people would rush to defend. They are sick twisted fucks. They refuse to grant others the dignity of life, and in the process they themselves become less dignified, less human, more monstrous. Cop lovers are snails who imagine themselves as bears by aligning themselves with the violence done by others.

At least a policeman is, in some sense, just doing his job. Cop lovers are just rooting for murder—like cheering for a football team or something. But a policeman has one job really, adn that is to enforce the power of the state. The police protect the powerful. If you’re at the bottom of the economic ladder—or, because of your skin color, you’re assumed to be at the bottom of the economic ladder—any encounter you have with the police is probably not going to be a good one. The police are the people who hit you when you protest, who arrest you for demanding your rights, who use pepper spray when you sit someplace you aren’t supposed to. They hate it when you exercise free speech, or free assembly, or free press. This January you could be arrested for simply protesting the inauguration of our new president.

In the sense that they are just doing their job, that they are the public face of evil that allows the true horror of everyday life to maintain its smiling facade, allows me to feel a moment of pity for them—but only a moment. I’m tempted to repeat the maxim that the only good cop is a dead cop, but even when one dies they just hire a replacement (sign up today to be a sheriff deputy and get a $3000 bonus says the billboard next to our county jail). I’d say the only good cop is a retired cop, but retired cops, like retired military, tend to puff out their chests a little more than they deserve, and the ones who were the biggest cowards when they served suddenly become the biggest tough guys once they’ve finished. I guess I’d say the only good cop is a brave cop, except our society often mistakes murder for bravery and cowardice for strength.

So let’s just say the only good cop is a good cop and I wish a few more of them actually existed. But you know what they say, wish in one hand and pour the blood of the latest unarmed victim murdered by a cop into the other, and see which one fills up first.

 

Trout Fisting In America appears here every Tuesday. We’re going to keep going until we reach #50, or until the Trout begs for mercy. Check out previous installments HERE.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
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