Say It Again: Abolish the Police
Uvalde is all the evidence we need that the cops need to go.
You can come up with a million academic arguments about why police are such a worthless part of American life, but none of them would be nearly as compelling as the scandal that has unfolded in Uvalde in the past couple of days. The police response to this week’s school massacre has been so pathetic, so callous, so cruel, so selfish and arrogant and stupid, and so undeniably inhumane that it has proven beyond a doubt that this is not an institution worth protecting.
Every hour, it seems, has brought new and increasingly horrendous examples of the cops’ uselessness in Uvalde. The police failed to stop the killer from entering the school building. Then they were thwarted by a locked door. They lingered outside the school for nearly an hour while the gunman was inside the building, as parents screamed and cried and begged them to actually do the job we are supposed to respect them for so bravely doing. They put a mother in handcuffs because she was telling them to go in and save the children. (When she was set free, she promptly went into the building and got her kids out, something the cops were apparently not interested in doing.) They pepper-sprayed and tackled other parents who were urging them to act. When they finally entered the building, they reportedly got at least one kid killed because they idiotically told the students to cry out for help, and when one did, the gunman shot them.
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When confronted with the extremely understandable outrage about what they did in Uvalde, police responded in the normal fashion. They spread a packet of lies about their handling of the massacre, and they attempted to portray themselves as the real victims.
Any one of these things would be appalling on their own; taken together, they produce a kind of stupefied rage. Forget being a cop—how can you be a person and act this way?
We are constantly told that police are the only thing standing between us and complete anarchy; that they must be revered because they are the foundation underpinning our free and prosperous society; that they are the bravest and most selfless and heroic among us. We are urged to embrace their presence in our childrens’ schools, or on our trains as we go to work, or on our streets as they hover like a constant shadow. We are assured that they are the solution to every problem. Our politicians and our municipalities hand over obscene amounts of our money to police in service of this narrative. Uvalde, for instance, spends nearly 40 percent of its general fund on policing. Think about that. Nearly 40 percent of all the money Uvalde spends goes to a department that wouldn’t lift a finger to save the town’s children from being slaughtered.
The hero cop line has always been bunk, but the monstrousness of the police reaction to Uvalde has struck a chord like few things I can remember. This is supposed to be the essential function of policing: when a madman is slaughtering young, helpless children, the cops rush in and help. It’s the most basic concept around, the building block of every copaganda show and badge-humping movie out there. But when push came to shove, the Uvalde cops were clear: that wasn’t their job. And when parents who were desperate with fear for their children confronted the cops about it, they were met with much more aggressive resistance than the actual gunman got.
If you don’t come away from all of this understanding what the police really do and who they are really for, I don’t really know what to tell you. The Uvalde cops might as well be screaming it from the rooftops. They are not here to protect us. They are not here to save our children. They are not here to run towards danger so that we don’t have to. They are not here to stop the bad guys. They are here to keep us in line, to never question their right to pacify and discipline us, and to make sure we stay cowed so that the powerful can continue to run roughshod over us. In that sense, Uvalde is not a failure of policing. It is simply policing.
You won’t hear any of this from our political leaders. Democrats and Republicans are almost completely united in their devotion to hero cop bullshit. They spend their time competing over who can hand more and more of the money they take from us to the police. They scream and whine about how dangerous it is to even hint that we spend too much money on policing in this country. They race to constantly assure us that they love love love love the police. (White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre began her response to a question about the Uvalde police on Thursday by saying, “The president has the utmost respect, as you all know, for the men and women of law enforcement.” Thanks for clearing that up. The dead children in Uvalde will be happy to hear it.)
You won’t hear it from our media either. The TV networks are constantly flooded with cops and former cops, propagandists passed off as neutral experts on law enforcement. Local anchors bend over backward to peddle crime hysteria and clamor for police to be everywhere you look. Police narratives are still taken as gospel truth, even when they are so frequently found to be lies. Crime reporting is riddled with falsehoods and distortions, all in service of the cops.
But even though our politicians won’t say it, and our top journalists won’t say it, nothing stops us from saying it. We know the truth. We know that we cannot have a decent society while the police exist. We know they don’t care about us. We know that they don’t keep us safe. We know that they must go, and that the whole legal architecture that allows them to oppress us with near-total impunity must go too.
Abolish the police. Say it again: abolish the police.
And if we are ever told that we’re wrong, we can look at what the cops did in Uvalde—can remember that they would not even save precious little children from being murdered—and know that we’re right.
Update, 12:44 p.m. ET: It just gets worse and worse.
They were IN THE FUCKING HALLWAY RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR and they let him kill all those kids. Fuck these people. Fuck them forever.