The flaws in our police state

One year after the death of George Floyd, Black and brown men are still dying at the hands of trigger-happy police. Time and time again, news has come across our timelines of yet another incident of police brutality, of yet another young Black man being brutalized for their skin color, of yet another American backstabbing to our Black and brown communities. This, quite honestly, could not be less of a surprise, yet we are still moving with glacial speed towards police reform, as if that ever had any impact on the racism that is embedded within our justice system. As if these police shootings are not accepted lynchings and as if our prison system is not 19th century slavery modernized. 

We have been and are continuing to be so far desensitized to this terrorism that we see Daunte Wright’s murder as disheartening but regular. He and the thousands of other Black and brown men that have been, are currently being and will be brutalized by police are all brothers, sons or fathers. Each death is a silent genocide on a family, on a community and on generations that view this as accepted. With each instance of a shooting by police, the Black and brown man loses his identity and is demonized by the media and weaponized by the public. We are living, and are allowing ourselves to live through, systemic racism as it’s been lived through for decades before us.

Wright’s case highlights just how flawed the conjunction between our police and justice system is, and precisely how exponentially dangerous it is for Black and brown people. One of the first, and immediate, issues with this case of police brutality is the fact that police are too far involved with traffic violations. Weaponized police officers patrolling our streets for air fresheners, broken tail-lights and tinted windows is in itself calling for confrontation beyond acceptability. This inherent power imbalance between police officers and drivers for infractions that are absolutely and wholly non-violent is a situation that is fueled by inequality. 

Beyond the fact that armed police officers simply should just not respond with that level of aggression to simple traffic violations, police routinely use these instances to find warrants and run up their arrest rates. This system of using racial profiling for minor infractions in order to find warrants is the police and justice system teaming up on their inherent racism. It is these systems working together to best identify marginalized people and ensure that once they become institutionalized, they stay institutionalized, and Daunte Wright knew this. The ability to use warrants as immediate reasons for arrest is the way police are able to consolidate power over Black and brown communities, which must absolutely be abolished to prevent this obvious cyclical oppression. 

An even more disgusting fact about Wright’s case being an exemplification of the institutional racism that is so well weaved into our justice system is that his warrant stemmed from his inability to pay a fine for a previous marijuana charge. What has become so clear, as it has been for literally decades, is that the law criminalizes the poor and is on the side of the rich, and that ultimately police do not serve people but protect capital. Wright’s “crime” was that he could not afford to pay a fine, and his eventual price was his life, meanwhile young white men get to commit worse crimes, pay their way out and grow. What we see here is America’s obsession with capitalism and classism intertwined atrociously with its simultaneous fear and hatred of the Black and brown people that exist despite this. If we even want to “reform” a justice system that is so obviously skewed to the rich white man, we must strip it of its woven connection to capital that so often is synonymous to race. 

Ultimately, this death was unwarranted, should not have happened and was completely avoidable. It was allowed to happen and was perfectly constructed to happen because our police system, prison system and justice system constructed themselves to act in this way. The justice system was constructed to institutionalize the poor Black and brown man and label them for life as property to their system. The police system was constructed to protect money and feed to the justice system the marginalized and institutionalized individuals that have been systematically sought after since the very beginning. Evidently, when we say the police and prison system have to be abolished, we mean it literally must be torn down and forgotten. The criminalization of poverty and skin color is purposeful and strategic because the systems were designed with these populations as their enemy, and the reason why they continue to exist is because the rich population and the white population in this country are in full support of it regardless of how trendy civil rights is. The second we are able to abolish prisons, tear down our police state and revitalize our socio-economic thinking where classism is not inherent, is the moment that equality and equity will feel so strange, but only because they have been realized for the first time.

Menu Title