Posted March 2, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion
 
 

Police are Not Our Friends

By Georgie Hicks

We received a letter to the editor by Connor Quisenberry in response to an opinion piece about the new Evergreen Chief of Police Stacy Brown. We do not want the discourse about whether or not police are bad to continue indefinitely, but did not want to publish this letter without a brief response.

The letter represents the mainstream liberal viewpoint that those who are not threatened by the police often hold. The whiteness that allows some to see the police as their friend rather than their enemy, is a position that is so privileged and normalized that this opinion is presented as logical fact any reasonable person can see. This is not the case.

It is not the case that policing evolved in response to crime, it is not the case that the police are here to protect us. Modern policing was invented and codified in response to the resistance of enslaved people in the American south and working-class popular uprising in Europe. As Kristian Williams writes in “The Demand for Order and the Birth of Modern Policing” police were “not created in response to spiraling crime rates, but developed as a means of social control by which an emerging dominant class could impose their values on the larger population.”

Quisenberry begins by asserting it is “narrow-minded” to say it’s a fact that “the cops are a racist and oppressive tool” as I originally stated. This is not only counter to the history and mission of modern policing but fails to consider that as a queer woman of color I do not hold the privilege to see the police as anything other than dangerous, oppressive, and racist. For most people of color it is indeed the fact of our lives that the police operate as a racist, oppressive system.

The letter continues to describe an absurd scene in a narrowly imagined police free future where the rest of the system of punishment remains in order as is. This liberal falsehood that our system of policing and laws is somehow natural or inherent to the world completely misses my perspective, which is not a personal vendetta against Stacy Brown but an understanding that all police are part of a larger white supremacist system.

In this imagined world the hypothetical is offered asserting it would be damaging if anyone can arrest or punish one another rather than the power of violence and imprisonment being relegated to a certain few. I do not disagree, if one can understand the inherent problems in a power dynamic where people are allowed to randomly harm others under the guise of punishment, they should understand that this is already the current relationship to the police.

Liberal discourse resists any argument that indicts all police officers, even as it disingenuously claims to understand our problems with the policing system. Quisenberry’s letter says “We cannot see Brown as simply a symbol of police oppression. That dehumanizes her, and makes assumptions about her based on stereotypes of police officers.” What this means is Quisenberry refuses to see her as a symbol of police oppression, most likely because they are not oppressed by the police. I do and can and will see all police, who have chosen to join a violent force that upholds slavery to this day, as a symbol of oppression.

Saying “let’s just treat everyone nicely” does not work! We have been asking (nicely) for much longer than either of us have been alive and we are still victims of violence and unjust treatment everyday.  The victimized in this country should not be made to jump twice as high to “make the police our friends” when the police were never meant to be our friends in the first place.

The police will never be my friend and if you bust out of the white liberal fantasy they help you uphold you’d see they shouldn’t be yours either.