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Fuck the Police?

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.

2010 Olympics

I have been doing some thinking since the action that occurred on February 13th.  I was at that event and participated in the black bloc.  While participating in that event, I was struck multiple times by police officers (when the riot police moved in and tried to cut the bloc in half) and I was later tackled to the ground, arrested, and detained.

Furthermore, I am no stranger to police violence.  Having both been street-involved as a teen and having worked with street-involved and marginalized people for the duration of my adult life, I have witnessed what can only be described as the systemic corruption and violence that is integral to the police system.  I have known underage female sex workers who were raped by police officers; I have known young men who were hog-tied, pepper-sprayed, and tossed in the trunk of patrol cars; I have witnessed the bruises and missing teeth, along with the physical, emotional, and psychological scars that have marked the bodies and minds of those who are easy targets for police officers.  Of course, the multitude of marks I have witnessed tend to be considered too inconsequential to make the news, but one can also recall more public events like when police officers murdered Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in October 2007.

Now, one might be inclined to think that all of these acts of violence are performed by a few 'bad' people who abuse their power, and are not representative of the police force as a whole.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Again, pointing to the Robert Dziekanski murder, one can see how officers were coached to lie on the stand, how they attempted to withhold evidence, and so on.  Or one can simply look at the (false) statements made by the Vancouver chief of police after the action that occurred on February 13th.  The truth is that something is wrong on a much deeper level, and more detailed studies exist that confirm this (one thinks, for example, of the books Our Enemies in Blue by Kristian Williams and The Story of Jane Doe: a book about rape by Jane Doe; both do a fine job of demonstrating that police corruption is a systemic issue).

With these things in mind, it is no wonder that at the action on February 13th, people were chanting: “No justice!  No peace!  Fuck the police!”  It is also no wonder that the police were able to so easily incite some of the protesters.  I witnessed more than one person who was tripped or struck from behind by an officer, who then responded by lashing out – either verbally or physically – at that officer.  This is all quite understandable, and it might even by commendable.

Yet, I believe that it would help our objectives if we were more deliberate about the ways in which we engaged with the police.  While I make no claim that my objectives for pursuing social change are the same as those of others, I do have the impression that most of us would agree that we are striving for a world where abundant life is available to all people and not just to some.  It seems to me that most of us are striving for a world where all people have equal access to resources, to labour, to leisure, to freedom, and to justice.  We are striving for a world where the glorious humanity of all people is recognized – where nobody is dehumanized and abandoned into the hands of poverty, illness, isolation, and death.  I reckon that these are some of the key things that led people of diverse faiths, ethnicities, languages, and sexual orientations to put on black clothing and stand in solidarity with each other.

However, if this does describe something of our common goals, then we must remember that, within the context of oppression both the oppressed and the oppressor end up being dehumanized.  Oppressed people are dehumanized because they are not provided the opportunity to flourish and share in abundant life.  However, those who engage in oppressive acts are also dehumanized because abusive and violent actions are not reflective of those who are living out their full human potential.  Therefore, we must always remember that, in the pursuit of liberation, we must be committed to the liberation of all people.  Thus, without ever losing sight of the priority that must be granted to the oppressed, we should also seek the liberation of the oppressors.

Consequently, I have no problem chanting, “Fuck the Police!” but I always remember that ‘the police’ is not a person – it is a system and a culture that is given over to violence, exploitation and death.  As such, it is a system that must be abolished if we are to live an abundant life together.  However, the destruction of ‘the police’ does not require the destruction of individual police officers.  Rather, each police officer is also a human person who has been made into something less than he or she could be due to his or her participation within (and enslavement to) this death-dealing system.

Therefore, although I chant “Fuck the Police!” I also try to treat each officer I encounter as a brother or sister in need of liberation and life – just like the rest of us.  This is why I did not strike back, when I was struck by police officers on the 13th.  In my work, I have been struck more than once by a person who was strung-out on drugs or whose actions were the result of a chemical imbalance.  I would never consider striking back in that situation – striking an addict or a person with a mental illness is not the way to bring about freedom from addiction or mental illness.  Similarly, when struck by the police – who are not in bondage to addiction or mental illness (at least not always…), but who are in bondage to the death-dealing ways of Police culture – I do not strike back.  The answer, to all these situations, is not blows but a willingness to love and do the hard work required to bring about liberation and life for all, not just for some (even if that means I will continue to get struck along the way).  Perhaps if we kept this in mind, instead of allowing ourselves to be provoked, we might yet see the day when officers drop their truncheons and join us on our side of the barricades.  On that day, our dreams might begin to be realized.

 
 
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Commentaires

Black and White or Grey ?

Thanks for taking the time to write this, We tried for 3 days to get an interview done with anyone from the Bloc. Instead we were accused of being cops by a senior Bloc member, who in hindsight was most likely an informant himself, Our small group in the past has gone at some of the planet's biggest demons and done it with cameras and in the open , We went inside the Vancouver Convention Center and confronted Colin Powell on Depleted Uranium and his war crimes, none of us had any fucking masks on, it was 4 of us in a crowd of 2000 of his biggest fans. One of our cameraman was roughed up and thrown in jail for filming on a side walk while we were inside. I've had police pepper spray me in the face for absolutely no reason. I'm not posting here to cheerlead for the police.

Here's how we unwelcomed Nazi Schwarzenegger last week while he ran the torch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1djC3D1dxdc

I've been victimized by police brutality and i've also witnessed some amazing cops.The fact is most cops are just humans and some of them were spat on and had coworkers get injured on the Friday. What we witnessed Friday was mainly exemplary behaviour by the VPD. Saturday was not so good.

One cop told me friday night outside of BC PLACE "We're sick of all the bullshit too and support these people's right to protest, we also have to support the rights of the people wanting to see the events"  an hour later he was getting spat on and punched in the face. Would you be so nice the next day ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE39xNX-AJ8

I share your frustration though, i'm looking at footage from the Woodwards Squat in 2002 and thinking to myself, "no wonder these people are so pissed" Hollow fucking promises while our wealth gets dumped on a 2 week sporting event.I'm not a fan of banks either and to be honest the ecomonic terrorism these institutions get away with is disgusting and pales in comparison to a couple broken windows. That being said ,these complex problems will take all of us working together to fix and alienating 95% of the population by vandelism tactics is a foolish way to proceed in my opinion.

I think your bang on with your last point as well.

We need the patriots in the police and the military to stand with us and then we can truly smash the machine.

They're NOT all "fucking pigs" in fact most of them are human beings.

Building "bridges" will be more effective than breaking windows.

respectfully

DJ BALL

 

PS

I've seen way more assholes with painted red faces than in black ski masks the past week.

Re: Black white or grey

 I really don't know,  I guess they are human beings but I just don't buy the "few bad apples" theory to explain away how the police behave. For whatever reason, lying is just as much a part of the police on the job activity as anything else they do. It's as if it is a part of their job description. I've seen such a gross example of lying and deceit coming from the police that I know was not just one officers act but rather a coached involvement by others as well as some higher up. It is an encouraged as well as learned skill of their job description and trade. The skill to which the lying was, was so flawless and obviously honed, written so expertly into their police reports  that obviously this is a problem of corruption that is pervasive throughout the institution. 

Re: Black white or grey

 I really don't know,  I guess they are human beings but I just don't buy the "few bad apples" theory to explain away how the police behave. For whatever reason, lying is just as much a part of the police on the job activity as anything else they do. It's as if it is a part of their job description. I've seen such a gross example of lying and deceit coming from the police that I know was not just one officers act but rather a coached involvement by others as well as some higher up. It is an encouraged as well as learned skill of their job description and trade. The skill to which the lying was, was so flawless and obviously honed, written so expertly into their police reports  that obviously this is a problem of corruption that is pervasive throughout the institution. 

Yeah, FTP !!

 

 I really don't know,  I guess they are human beings but I just don't buy the "few bad apples" theory to explain away how the police behave. For whatever reason, lying is just as much a part of the police on the job activity as anything else they do. It's as if it is a part of their job description. I've seen such a gross example of lying and deceit coming from the police that I know was not just one officers act but rather a coached involvement by others as well as some higher up. It is an encouraged as well as learned skill of their job description and trade. The skill to which the lying was, was so flawless and obviously honed, written so expertly into their police reports  that obviously this is a problem of corruption that is pervasive throughout the institution. 

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