This systemic issue presents “crime” as an evil to be eradicated at all costs rather than critically examining the reasons behind those invented social transgressions. It is one that divides and conquers through some mythic “enemy” (poverty, crime, drugs, terror, etc.) so as to avoid dealing with the real issues and the underlying problem. This issue has led to the largest imprisonment of human beings this world has ever known and the murder of countless numbers of innocent people.
Marisol LeBrón articulates that the system of policing—as well as the severely disparate distribution of access, opportunity, and violence that it maintains—works to preserve the “genocidal notion that not all lives are livable and not all deaths grievable.” We are reminded that it is not an isolated, irrational exception within an otherwise “rational system” that entire communities are subjected to constant intimidation, humiliation, disregard and abuse by the police they are expected to place all trust in, or that the uniformed officers tasked “to protect and serve” the white population play the role of an occupying army in neighborhoods where Black and Brown children are raised and educated.
These racialized bodies are routinely slain in cold blood and sustain lifelong injuries by the singular source of legitimate force recognized by the state. They are taken from their families and put into cages, determined unfit to rejoin society without enduring surveillance, micromanagement and limitations placed around where and how they may exist. They are then depicted to be monsters by the media, so that the guttural fear police officers claim after an altercation is made public may be understood to be justifiable.
The issue we face is policing itself. If we accept mass incarceration and continue to believe that band-aids in the form of police reform policies will be enough to put an end to the ongoing and unrelenting harm and deprivation endured by communities of color and low-income people across the United States, in the words of Justin Hansford, “the only values we will be transmitting to the next generation are a lazy willingness to clothe a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a moral vacuity to keep punting the key racial justice of our time.”
To know how to resist oppression and where to focus education and activism, one has to be aware of the problem from a personal perspective. Policing the Planet offers insight into gaining that perspective. Our fellow human should not be targeted or profiled due to the color of their skin, or arrested due to being unable to provide for themself or their family. Let us all forgive and teach, include and heal.