Donovan Martin ’22
As the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the hundreds of black lives lost under the hands of police brutality circulate in the media, demands of police reform and even abolishment follow suit.
The most common phrase supporting these claims is “ACAB,” which stands for “All Cops Are Bastards.”
The exact origins of the term are unknown, yet it’s presumed to have arisen in the 1940s as workers on strike had aggressive encounters with the police. In the 70s, ACAB was used amidst the punk rebellion in protest of police controlling people’s way of being and livelihood.
Now, the meaning of the term is mainly to combat the actions of police brutality, more specifically, against black lives.
Those who argue against the phrase ask “Is it truly possible for every cop to be bad?” “What about all the good things cops do?” “Wouldn’t society crumble without police?”
To the first question, of course no single cop is directly responsible for every single case of police brutality. However, they continue to support a system that turns a blind eye to injustices, even inside their departments. The few who do call out injustices are often fired, as was the case for Cariol Horne and Justin Hanners.
As for the second question, even if they are responsible for some good (preventing murders, catching thieves, etc.), it’s still evident that they are responsible for acts of brutality against hundreds, if not thousands of people. Regardless of the good they do, there are still countless acts of injustice.
And with regard to the third question, police have been intertwined with society for years. In a utopian society, there wouldn’t be a need for police whatsoever. An attempt at a police-free zone (the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ or CHAZ) occurred in Seattle this year but did not end in success.
Yet, to state that the police are a flawless institution is inherently false. Police continue to over-police neighbourhoods of colour and are often overtly trigger-happy against black individuals. It is integral that the time in police training academies be extended, that funds be removed and reallocated to ensure citizen safety, and most importantly, that cops be held accountable for injustices and brutality.
Photo Credit: Wong Maye-E