It's a Scientific Fact
You Can't Be a Cop in America If You Won't Be a PIG
August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Police: Enforcers of oppression and madness [00:18:24- 00:30:10] - From Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian
An op-ed piece in the New York Times by Joseph Crystal, a former Baltimore cop, describes what he characterizes as the “attitudes and practices” of the police in Baltimore. (“When Police Are Poor Role Models for One Another,” August 15, 2016). This piece, and a Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the Baltimore police that Crystal refers to, reveal some of the reality of a city terrorized by cops who systematically and illegally degrade and brutalize Black people. And what is revealed in the DOJ report about Baltimore is also true of every major police department in America. (For background on what was exposed in the DOJ report, why it came out in the first place, and what it was intended to accomplish, see “A Summer of Police Terror... Why? And What Can Be Done to STOP It?”)
In this short op-ed piece, the pervasiveness of police supervisors insisting on and enforcing wanton police abuse comes through. Crystal says it broke his heart that a cop who witnessed police planting drugs on someone “was scared to report it, fearing retaliation.” And through understatement, Crystal points to what “retaliation” means in a police department: “It is hard to speak up against colleagues anywhere, but in law enforcement there are more serious concerns, like your safety.” The implication is clear: when cops plant drugs on people, any cop who even thinks about reporting that has to fear for their life, and is going to keep their mouth shut. Think about how this violently enforced policy of planting of drugs on people fits into the larger picture of a society where the prisons are filled past overflowing with victims of a so-called “war on drugs.”
Freddie Gray, murdered by Baltimore police in 2015.
Crystal writes of telling a Baltimore detective who made an illegal, unconstitutional arrest—based on a search without probable cause—that this would not stand up in court. And he describes what happened next: “A sergeant pulled me aside and said I needed to mind my business. ‘We don’t care about what happens in court,’ he told me. ‘We just care about getting the arrest.’”
Crystal invokes an incident where a cop shot a man in the groin who was already down and helpless. Again, the one cop who considered complaining was silenced by threats from other police.
Crystal describes an incident in the DOJ report where a Justice Department investigator went on patrol with a sergeant. The sergeant saw a group of young Black men on a street corner and told a cop to order them to leave. The cop said he had no reason to do so. “Make something up,” the sergeant replied. And Crystal writes, “That the sergeant would do this in front of a federal official investigating civil rights violations may be astounding, but it demonstrated his mind-set. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He must have been in the department for years and had probably been taught to take such action by his field training officer, and even the department’s commanders. It was learned behavior, part of a culture rooted in an ‘us versus them’ mentality.”
According to a lawsuit Joseph Crystal brought against the city of Baltimore, he himself was driven out of the Baltimore Police Department by threats for attempting to blow the whistle on police abuse.
“Choices” Dictated By a Criminal System
Crystal paints a picture of all-pervasive, egregious, undisguised, illegal harassment and violence against Black people, and a culture where this is not just condoned, but enforced within the police department.
But then, Crystal poses the root of the problem this way:
The drug trade is so insidious in some neighborhoods of Baltimore that when I was a detective there I sometimes had to arrest children for selling narcotics. Sad as that was, a drug counselor told me, they learned to do it from the people around them.
Police officers learn egregious behavior from those around them, too, I thought, when I read the Department of Justice report issued last Wednesday about the Baltimore Police Department’s systematic abuse of black citizens and violation of their rights.
This is all wrong. This is twisting reality in a way that, regardless of intent, legitimizes and justifies the very outrages Crystal exposes, and so many more he does not.
Children in the inner cities may learn desperate means to survive from others around them. But why are they confronted with the need to turn to desperate means of survival in the first place? The “choices” they face are a product of this system, they are dictated by this system, and they are enforced by the system’s police.
Walk through the Gilmor Homes, the project where Freddie Gray was murdered by Baltimore police. You will meet people without a change of clothes, without a cell phone, without a chance in hell of getting to a grocery store. This killing inequality and oppression is expressed in the fact that life expectancy in the neighborhoods around Gilmor Homes is 20 years lower than in suburban Roland Park, less than five miles away.
And under these circumstances, in seeking a way to survive—and absent getting with revolutionary role models who are about overthrowing all this at the soonest possible time, and emancipating all humanity—people’s outlook is going to be overall shaped by the dog-eat-dog mentality and “morality” generated and enshrined by capitalism.
If the youth in these communities are driven to desperate means to survive, that is not fundamentally a product of bad influences or bad choices. It is a product of a system that has no decent “choices” for them. (The preceding discussion of “choices” draws on “On Choices...And Radical Changes” by Bob Avakian, as well as “More on Choices...And Radical Changes by Bob Avakian.” Readers are strongly encouraged to dig into and share those pieces).
Those who rule this system remember how in the 1960s, uprisings by, and the influence of, a revolutionary movement among Black people shook society to the core. The uprisings and spirit of revolution inspired millions from all walks of life who were in rebellion against the powers that be. The system responded with violent repression. But at the same time, some doors were opened a bit for Black people to enter into different professions and endeavors. Those openings have been under assault ever since. And it remains the case that any Black person, regardless of what they’ve accomplished by the system’s own standards, is subject to racial profiling, “driving while Black” stops and worse.
But today, as a result of the traumatic and anarchic nature of capitalism-imperialism, factory jobs that were the basis for survival in cities from Baltimore to Oakland, Detroit to Atlanta, are gone. They have been moved to places where capitalists can exploit people even more viciously in dog-eat-dog competition for profit. Other jobs have moved to suburbs essentially off-limits to Black people. Today, conditions for millions of Black and Brown people are worse then they were back in the ’60s.
Those in power see the seething anger in the inner cities as potentially explosive and threatening to their whole setup. And the only real answer they have is violent repression.
People in Gilmor Homes heard Freddie Gray’s screams of pain a block away as police folded him up like a pretzel on their way to murdering him. Message delivered to the oppressed that anyone, anytime, who steps out of line, or does nothing at all, has a target on their back. That is police doing their job in the United States.
You Can’t Be a Cop in America Without Being a PIG
Despite everything he himself reveals about the “attitudes and practices” of one of the largest police forces in the United States, Crystal claims “most of the officers are good.”
No. The overwhelming majority of cops are PIGS and consciously so.
Here’s an excerpt from how the Black Panther Party once defined a pig:
What is a pig? A low natured beast that has no regard for law, justice, or the rights of people: ...a foul, depraved traducer, usually found masquerading as the victim of an unprovoked attack.
If you’re a cop in America, you’re a PIG. That’s not just a curse. And it’s not a “choice” you make—or not make—once you become a cop. It is a scientific fact. And despite his intent, Crystal’s own piece makes clear that anyone who does not go along with participating in, fostering, and covering up piggery is threatened or worse.
Being a pig, acting like a pig, and relishing the “opportunity” to be a pig are job requirements for being part of police forces that terrorize the inner cities of the U.S. like an occupying army, in order to keep people down. Police do this as part of doing their job as violent enforcers of a system: capitalism-imperialism, a global system of exploitation and oppression. Adopting the mentality of a sadistic, depraved murderer is a perfect fit for that job. If that wasn’t the case, why is that “culture” promoted, enforced, and rewarded in every police department?
How are you going to change that “culture” when you are talking about an oppressive occupying army whose job it is to lock down, terrorize, and attempt to crush the spirit of an oppressed people?
And why would you want to try?
...And What Should They Do?
Here’s what Bob Avakian said in 2002, responding to the murder by police of the unarmed and unconscious young woman Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California:
If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people.
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