I Have a Problem With the Police

This is a guest post by Mike Nam. Nam is a journalist and activist from the NYC metro area. He has volunteered for observing police interactions through Cop Watch, escorted patients at abortion clinics and led a skeptics group in New York City for a time.

I have a problem with Walmart. Not necessarily every Walmart greeter, cashier, marketing associate or vice president, but I have a problem with their employer as a monolithic organization that exacerbates poverty and global labor exploitation.I have a problem with Congress. Not necessarily every rep, every staffer, but I have a problem with the institution that maintains pay-to-play style governance and gerrymandered “for life” type membership, all married with ideological gridlock.

I have a problem with Fox News. Not necessarily every writer, producer, executive or even on-air talent, but I have a problem with the network’s adherence to misinformation and spin, and the rampant bigotry and misogyny it exploits so that wealthy individuals like its CEO Ailes can continue to live a life free of consequences (including from sexual harassment).

I have a problem with my profession of journalism in general. I have a problem with the Boy Scouts of America. I have a problem with the Roman Catholic Church. I have a problem with the NFL. I have a problem with the corn-growing lobby. I have deep criticisms for and distrust of many organizations, institutions, professions, associations and corporations.

So, this shouldn’t be difficult to understand when I say I have a problem with policing in America.

I have a problem with the use of police as a revenue stream through targeted citations and civil asset forfeiture – disproportionately in poor, black and hispanic communities – often under the guise of “broken windows” policing. 

I have a problem with the heavy militarization of police forces without even the accompanying military use of force restrictions. 

I have a problem with the majority “good” cops that turn a blind eye or knee-jerk protect the violent, racist ones. And when members of the police come forward to do the right thing, they are shunned, careers destroyed, or even get brutalized themselves.

I have a problem with police feeding the prison industrial complex. 

I have a problem because if the police are the guards of civil society, who guards the guards themselves?

Courtney Caldwell

Courtney Caldwell is an intersectional feminist. Her talents include sweary rants, and clogging your social media with pictures of her dogs (and occasionally her begrudging cat). She's also a political nerd, whose far-left tendencies are a little out of place in the deep red Texas.

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  1. The last line would be better as: “if the police are the defenders of civil society, who defends against the defenders themselves?” As is, there’s that quarter second of questioning: why do the police need people to protect them?

    There’s a difference between the problems with WalMart and the problems with US police, which you touch on: rank-and-file WalMart employees are almost universally just normal people and not causing trouble, whereas rank-and-file police officers are the ones murdering people (and disproportionately people of color) on a daily basis.

    With WalMart, we can keep the idea of large stores carrying a wide range of goods if we replace the people at the top and enact laws to reduce the amount of pain those few can cause.

    With the police, we need to destroy police culture, remove a wider and harder to identify segment of police from any sort of power, and rebuild institutions from the ground up.

    1. Who watches the watchmen? Actually goes back to Juvenal. So this is on one level (simple police corruption) an old, old story. On another level, the racial aspect, it’s…still pretty old. I mean, racist police forces go back to the old slave catchers.

      (They always forget Indians, even though we’re statistically even more likely to be killed by cops. And…jurisdictional issues make it hard to prosecute crimes against Indians some time. Thank Rehnquist for that.)

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