Design by Zac Pomphrey, taken from Grindhouse‘s Piss On A Cop shirt
CW: police brutality, domestic abuse
Last week a candlelight vigil in London held in honour of Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old woman kidnapped and murdered by PC Wayne Couzens of the Metropolitan Police Service, was obstructed by needlessly violent tactics from the same police force who allow far-right protests to proceed unimpeded. When a vigil in which people were making a stand for women’s right to safety was itself attacked the message is clear – the police are not and never have been there for our safety. Not only was this yet another example of this country’s dangerous slide towards authoritarianism, exemplified by a bill passed just last Tuesday that aims to stifle any and all protest, but it once again proves that yes, All Cops Are Bastards.
Though there is seemingly a worrying lack of citable data surrounding police officers and domestic abuse, there are multiple instances of officers being charged for domestic violence. In America, a 2013 study found that of the 281 officers arrested for domestic violence in the cases they examined, more than half of those officers kept their jobs. Though this study comes from the US, the reasons for this statistic are transferable, with UK officers accused of such crimes also being less likely to face charges due to their position. Some women in the UK report that local police forces “lost evidence” they provided and even gave copies of their witness statements to their abuser.
In addition, in the financial year 2019/20, the UK saw eighteen deaths in (or following) police custody, three police shootings, 24 deaths related to road traffic incidents, 54 apparent suicides following custody and 107 “other” deaths following contact with the police in a wide range of circumstances. Recently, a spreadsheet detailing an exhaustive list of police employees charged or convicted of an offense between 2009 and 2019 was spread around on social media, and it again highlighted just how many “bad apples” there are within the UK police force – and remember, these are just the ones who got caught.
The frequency of these so-called bad apples should be concerning in and of itself, but ultimately officers like Wayne Couzens, or Derick Chauvin in the US, are not “just bad apples”, they’re a symptom of a system that is rotten from the inside out. Three officers stood by whilst Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes – clearly, even the officers who see themselves as “good” are encouraging the worst officers through their silence. ACAB doesn’t mean that every officer goes into the profession with an aim of abusing their power, but it does at the very least mean that every single member of the police force is complicit in a system that is broken, built upon foundations of white supremacy, misogyny and classism. The police is an institution that exists to preserve the status quo, keeping the wealthy safe and protecting the power of those at the top. It is not there for your benefit.
In the face of something as ubiquitous as the police force, it goes without saying that art will never be a replacement for direct action. Nevertheless, it can serve to inspire us, offer catharsis in dark times or help us envisage potentially brighter futures ahead. So if like us you’re full of anger right now, we hope this playlist serves to help you channel that anger and think about the ways it can be used constructively.
Words: George Parr