Do We Live in a Police State? On Law and Order

Do We Live in a Police State? On Law and Order September 17, 2020

Sometimes I wonder: do we live in a police state?

After videos posted to social media on Saturday showed two officers from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia pinning a Black man to the street, punching him, and seemingly attempting to suffocate him, one of the cops in question has been fired.

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill announced the firing on Sunday, but did not disclose the name of the deputy in question.

According to Atlanta’s WSB-TV 2, Roderick Walker was traveling as a passenger in a ride-share with his children on Friday when the car was stopped by Clayton County deputies, due to a broken tail light, and they asked Walker to show them his license.

Family members who first posted videos of the incident on social media say Walker questioned why he was being asked for his ID, given he was not the driver of the vehicle, and that this is what ultimately resulted in him being pinned to the ground by the two officers and beaten.

Now yes: there are often different rules for Black Americans than there are for white Americans. Different rules and different treatment by the police. But I think we need to be clear that this sort of “show your ID or get arrested or beaten by the police” bit is police state nonsense. In other words, in many areas of the country—if not most—Black Americans live under a police state. 

When conservatives talk about “Law and Order,” it’s crucial to remember that we live in a country with a police force that has been caught falsifying evidence, framing people for things they didn’t do, running torture rings, planting evidence, having parties for new officers the first time they shoot and kill someone, and so much more. We live in a country where people who have not been convicted of any crime can sit in jail awaiting trial for years. (And even, in some cases, decades.) What exactly, against this backdrop, is “Law and Order”?

If you haven’t already, you should listen to episode 1 of season 3 of the podcast Serial. In it, a working class white woman was groped and physically harassed in a bar, eventually stood up for herself, became involved in an ensuing brawl, and unintentionally hit a police officer who was trying to break it up. She was arrested, kept in jail for several days, and charged with assaulting a police officer.

The man who assaulted her in the bar was not arrested or even questioned, even though the woman’s friends pointed him out to police while she was in the back of the squad car. The woman’s public defender was able to plead the case down to a lesser offense and get the woman off for time served, and various court fees and fines amounting to about $1000. Over this time, the woman had to make a full twenty visits to the courthouse for her case, and she didn’t live nearby; this caused her to lose her job. But this, the defense attorney happily told the podcaster, was an example of the criminal justice system working correctly.

If that doesn’t scare the pants off of you, it should. The woman, by the way, did not have $1000 to pay off her fines, and when the podcaster last talked to her, the money she owed was fast accruing interest. And remember, she never should have been arrested in the first place. She was not the only one involved in that brawl, or the only one throwing punches. She was just the one who happened to accidentally hit a cop. And the cop was fine. But they couldn’t just let it go, or ask what happened. No. Instead, they had to derail her entire life.

Any candidate who actually supports law and order should be all for police and criminal justice reform, because what we have now ain’t it, and it shows. So much for “freedom” and “liberty.”

I have a Patreon! Please support my writing! 

Browse Our Archives