The Underground Reporter
Are police necessary? Although this existential question often produces a knee-jerk ‘of course they are, who would protect us?’ a growing call for the abolition of police — and working examples to back it up — deserves more than scornful dismissal, particularly amid epidemic-level violence by agents of the state.
Police are under no obligation to protect the public they putatively serve — a series of state and Supreme Court decisions stretching back more than three decades indisputably establish this fact — so the lingering question, ‘who will protect us?’ is of no consequence to the case for dismantling every police department in the nation.
On the contrary, police kill, maim, intimidate, harass, and generally brutalize the citizenry with alarming frequency — and rarely face consequences beyond a paid vacation farcically termed ‘administrative leave’ for doing so.
Rather than fight and solve violent crimes, police act as little more than heavily militarized code-enforcers, or as David Graeber of the London School of Economics aptly terms, “bureaucrats with weapons” — protecting us from broken tail lights, missing front license plates, and imperfect lane changes more often than from robbery, homicide, and rape.
Give police the equipment and weapons of war under the premise of fighting terrorism, when terrorism is all but nonexistent, and predictably, they will go to war. As Abraham Maslow posited in 1966 in a concept known as the law of the instrument, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
We, the citizenry, are not nails to be forcibly and violently coerced into submission over the tiniest of nonviolent and inconsequential infractions — but, whether or not we’re inclined to admit as much, that summarizes our current situation in the eyes of an overbearing state and its criminalization of, in essence, daily life.