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!


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