Dismantling the Thin Blue Line that Turns Its Back On Us

For those surprised that the New York Police Department has officers turning their backs on their own mayor, don’t be. The NYPD has long since turned their backs on the Black community in New York City. It has, like the majority of policing organizations in the US and abroad, long since turned its back on accountability for its own actions and misdeeds. But I do not blame this fully on the police – this is partly the work of White Liberalism (and particularly our endorsement of harsh policing policies), and we need to resolve the matter of a dismissive and antagonistic Thin Blue Line.

Let’s be honest: The police have a job to maintain the de facto social order. That is their primary objective. And in a country built on and maintained by White Supremacy, that’s a huge problem. Black people’s free movements are viewed as an inherent threat to the social system. Native Americans are supposed to be extinct. Latinos are supposed to be on the other side of the border. That’s the popular perception – even in the liberal mind – of White people toward People of Color. It may be unintentional and even subconscious, but it’s still there.

And the police are here to enforce this kind of mentality. This is why black and indigenous people and Latinos are so often rounded up, are overwhelmingly stopped and frisked. Are shot dead within two seconds if seen as potential threats. This is why a young black person in the US is killed every 28 hours by a police officer or a security agent.

In Ferguson, Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown’s body with six bullets, including twice in the head. Wilson went on to describe the teen as an unstoppable monster and claimed no regrets about the fatal shootings. When police are questioned for hiding Wilson behind their Thin Blue Line, they wear T-shirts that say “I Am Darren Wilson.” The Ferguson and St. Louis County PD have been suspected of tearing down memorials to Brown a few times. When the Washington Post asked the FPD’s opinions on the lastest tearing down of the shrine, Ferguson Police PR asked why anyone should care about “a pile of trash in the middle of the street.”

If black football players raise their hands up in a show of solidarity against anti-black police brutality, they are seen as being disrespectful by the police. They cannot even ask for their lives to matter to a force that will not be held accountable for killing unarmed black young people like Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Rumain Brisbon, Yvette Smith, Mariam Carey.

The uber-narrative is that blackness is a threat to white security, and security is the possession of white people.

Police are here, ultimately, because they need to protect White People’s property. Now it is up to us to change how this is approached.

In the meantime, while taking on this admittedly difficult and dangerous job, police forces have organized codes into manners of survival. In some quarters, the police are seen as the first gang, and the No-Snitches rule that gang members are notorious for is seen to have originated among the officers. Not being able to take criticism or outside oversight is an extension of the near-impossible and super-human job they are given – and that is to protect White Supremacy by forms of psychology and violence. They act this way as a means of survival because their job is to protect white, stolen property. And that is a job too demanding for anyone.

This is their Thin Blue Line.

So when they are questioned for their behavior, they will hold fast to their Thin Blue Lines – to their rankism – because it’s what we’ve given them. The task of protecting White Supremacy against the violence that White Supremacy has unfolded in our own backyards. And we are surprised that the mere questioning of this force by White Liberals means that they will turn their backs on White Liberals like de Blasio.

Ultimately, we’re going to have to pay the piper and dismantle the racist economic, prison, medical, and housing systems that murder scores of non-White people every week here in our own back yards in order to dismantle the racism within the police (or we can dismantle the police all together), but that would be up to us and our organizational initiatives.

Change the policies, change the police.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


Facebook comments

  • Jim Bean

    Sounds like a gargantuan undertaking. Seems it would be much easier for society to insist that people refrain from engaging in criminal activity and from resisting the efforts of police officers to do their job.

    Hundreds of millions of people have used that method to successfully stay alive and out of prison. Why not work off a proven model?

    • I-RIGHT-I

      It’s too White, that’s why.

      • Jim Bean

        Maybe. I’m just thinking that avoiding conflicts with the law is much simpler than trying to construct a system that mitigates all the un pleasantries and inconveniences that come with violating the laws.

      • I-RIGHT-I

        That all went out the window when MLK gave up the cross of Christ to become a community organizer. The proof to be followed fifty years later by Black moral truants in the White house and behind Black pulpits across the country. Up is down and wrong is White in the current racial scheme of things.

    • FD Brian

      that would make perfect sense if cops weren’t continually shaking down honest black people. And lets not get started on how the justice system favors white/rich people.


    “The uber-narrative is that blackness is a threat to white security, and security is the possession of white people.”

    “They act this way as a means of survival because their job is to protect white, stolen property. And that is a job too demanding for anyone.”

    This person should be working in the bean field and not collecting a salary for community organizing on my dime. This is what Black people teach Black kids. No wonder so many of them end up eating lead.

  • Bill Smith 999935

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  • Pipercat

    Got the attention of the white peanut gallery!

    • I feel like I’m reading the comments section on CNN. I mean, here’s a place where MLK isn’t valorized because he decided to not just speak out against racism but actually DO something about it?

      • Pipercat

        Funny, I was going to say “Mad World!”

  • bestfriend

    Is it the White Supremacy causing Blacks to kill Blacks? I’m seriously asking? Is it (white supremacy) the root of all evil, that once vanquished will allow the rise of a truly free and spiritually meaningful existence for all? And, if so, does that mean, whitey is the devil? There must be an answer.

    • White Supremacy is the main force of economic and bodily harm in the world, yes. However, how you get from “White Supremacy is bad” to “White people are the devil” is specious. There is nothing intrinsically biological or essential about whiteness. Whiteness is the enemy – not white people. White people must reject White Supremacy, for sure, but not their own existence.

      • bestfriend

        Do they need to feel shame, or make amends? What is the supremacy that then takes its place, or, after all whiteness is gone, does everyone live happily ever after? You can answer these questions if you want, but to be honest, your distinction between ‘whiteness’ and ‘white people’ is like saying “Oh, you’re Jewish, you don’t act Jewish” or if that one doesn’t work how about “Oh, you’re gay, you don’t act gay” In other words it sounds like bullshit.

      • There is no room for shame. Shame and guilt (and really, this defensiveness you’re posturing here) put the focus back on White people as a means of deliberation. White Supremacy created this mess of killing Black and Indigenous people – to cease it isn’t to say that somebody else should take over. That’s an argument straight out of the White Supremacy playbook. The aim is to destroy these oppressive hierachies (and Whiteness is a way of organizing the world that serves that function. It is not part of White people’s identities and culture. It is not integral to white people’s value as human beings) and replace them with ways of being that are more focused on cooperation and liberation.

      • bestfriend

        AND, furthermore it is no different than saying Black people aren’t the enemy, it’s Blackness, come on you know that, just renounce all blackness and we’ll be cool, go ahead, you can do it.

  • Demittry

    “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Ne gro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Ne gro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
    — Booker T Washington, “My Larger Education”

    • Another White person using black people’s words against black people. Do us all a favor, if you’re gonna quote a Booker T, just use the musician. You might have a better chance at grasping what’s happening there.

      • Demittry

        Amazing, someone you’ve never met, you can tell what color they are! HAHAHA!!!!

  • rossbro

    All they have to do is stop killing unarmed people. Better training and better supervision should help. They’re demanding to be backed up now, no matter what the policeman does, right or wrong. Everybody is accountable for their actions.

    • Black people and indigenous people have been being shot down in the streets by our security forces in this country since its earliest days. It’s only now that others are starting to recognize that. The most well-trained cop sighting a black youth is just more dangerous.