The Gangster Mentality of U.S. Police: Where Does It Come From and How To Change It?
It’s common practice among the police in U.S. cities to brutalize people who exercise their rights and don’t submit to illegal searches or don’t answer questions that they don’t have to answer and then to arrest them for resisting arrest and interfering with police work or obstruction. Sometimes, after such victims of police brutality have been booked and kept in jail for a day or two, they are released and the charges are dropped. In other cases, especially in the case of African Americans and Latinos, the person remains in jail, usually due to poor representation and being able to afford the bail.
What officers have learned through the years is that in any case, no one will hold them responsible for their assault and beating or for false arrest and filing a false report, or even for shooting and killing without a just cause, even in cases where there is a video of the incident clearly showing discrepancy between what happened and what the officer reported. You’d think just the filing of false report or false arrest would be sufficient reason to fire or at least to discipline the officer, let alone the assault and battery or killing of an innocent person. Even in cases where the city ends up paying millions of dollars of tax payers’ money in damages to the families of the victims who get shot and killed or beat to death, the officer responsible for the unjustified shooting continues to patrol the streets. When the city finds itself in need of revenue after such payouts, it increases its effort to catch more drivers with faulty tail lights or expired registration or driving without a seat belt, etc. to eliminate the deficit.
Police officers thus learn that they can beat and brutalize anyone who talks back at them or doesn’t comply with their orders right away with total impunity and without any consequences. This culture of indiscriminate and gangster type violence with government backing and defense becomes a magnet for violent individuals who enjoy beating and killing people. They enjoy the feeling of power they have over ordinary people. Imagine, if you will, you walk down the street and someone bumps into you which annoys you. If you’re a violent person or if you’re angry about something else, you may feel like punching the man. Or imagine someone cuts you off in traffic or steals your parking spot and you get irritated and feel like beating him or her. Well, if you’re a police officer in the U.S., you can. All you have to do is approach the person and order him or her to show you his or her ID and answer questions like where they’re coming from or going to and order them to put their hands on your car so you can frisk them and make them sit on the curb with their hands tied behind their back. And, if at any time, they refuses to comply or are too slow to comply or talk back at you or challenge your authority, you can take out your baton or flashlight and beat them severely and arrest them for resisting arrest.
The unwillingness to change and reform things comes from the very top. The politicians of the two corporate parties, who really are one party with two faces and serve the billionaire class, feel threatened by those at the bottom strata. As was revealed after the killing of Michael Brown and the protests that ensued in Ferguson, Missouri, the police are taught to view people as “the enemy”, rather than citizens to “protect and serve”. As it applies to everything else in the society, serving and protecting is relative and not devoid of class content.
What this means is that politicians can be pressured to make the needed reforms, but won’t do it, without a movement of protests on the streets, which will threaten the safety and security of the system that the upper class enjoys.