Imagine your perfect world: does it have a police force? Thomas More’s imagined Utopia didn’t, ours certainly would not, and even your average police officer’s probably doesn’t. We have one because we don’t live in a perfect world, a world of equality – that much is clear. But what if the existence of police forces is exactly what’s blocking even our first tentative steps towards that world?
Throughout history, when people have joined together to collectively assert their rights, the police have frequently acted like bastards to stop them. Whilst it’s true that we are greatly indebted to Sir Robert Peel for our current cadre of goons, before the invention of the police force it was the army or some other hired militia that doled out violence at the bidding of the rich. And from Gezi Park to Egypt to Brazil – all the world over, state-sanctioned thugs are still behaving like a shower of bastards today.
Our own Boys in Blue, the Metropolitan Police Service, are notorious for killing newspaper sellers in the street, racially abusing arrestees, throwing rape reports in the bin, and sparking the London riots by shooting Mark Duggan and behaving like a criminal gang in uniform. Yet dull-witted Daily Mail readers cheer on the Constabulary with the same gusto usually reserved for Her Majesty herself.
ACAB is a provocation: a gross generalisation, an absurd assertion, an invitation to think. Zipped up into every MPS stab-proof vest there’s probably some semblance of a decent human being; even the most rabid ACAB hardcore would concede that, along with an egotistical desire for authority and the perceived need (financial or otherwise) to submit to employment, most police officers believe that their force is a force for social good.
No, you don’t necessarily need bastards to make a police force, but perhaps a police force does make decent people behave like bastards…
Source: Strike! Magazine.