I got my black shirt on
I got my black gloves on
I got my ski mask on
This shits been too long
I got my twelve gauge sawed off
I got my headlights turned off
I'm 'bout to bust some shots off
I'm 'bout to dust some cops off
I'm a cop killer
(from "Cop Killer" by Body Count)
It's been 23 years since Rodney King brought to light the problem of Driving While Black in Los Angeles. The video of the police brutality, followed by the subsequent acquittal of the cops who unleashed their frustration on that poor man unleashed a torrent of anger and frustration by a black community that had been dealing with institutionalized bigotry for decades.
The song "Cop Killer" came out the following year. In the 2 decades since of discussion and innumerable cellphone videos that show police still have a problem with maintaining an appropriate level of response, we've gotten to a point that seems a little scary. What was once considered marginal, criminal and somewhat theoretical (and 1st Amendment protest) seems to have become a political movement. I am referring, of course, to the Three Percenters
The name of this movement refers to the historical notion that our country was formed because 3 percent of the colonists were the force that fought the British to secure our emancipation from royal rule. I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of that, but rooting one's actions in the bedrock of our American democracy is a sure-fire way to absolve oneself of any criminal wrongdoing. If it was good for the Founding Fathers, it's certainly good for the self-styled "patriots" who declare themselves emancipated from the very laws that were created via the mechanisms put in place by the Constitution that our Founding Fathers created. If that seems contradictory - it is. One cannot declare themselves a patriot while simultaneously flouting the laws that were created by the Democracy that one ostensibly is trying to protect.
It has often been said that we are a nation of laws, not a nation of men. Certainly that is the ideal, and certainly we often fall short of that ideal, but nonetheless we have a legal infrastructure in place to ensure that we abide by those laws. That is our flawed criminal justice system, with police as the front line sworn to protect and uphold the law. There will always be those who abuse the authority, but the alternative is an anarchy that most of us would rather not contemplate. It may not be the best system, but it's better than anything else out there.
That is why we should all be deeply concerned with the ever-increasing assaults on the force of underpaid soldiers for the citizenry. To be fair - I have had my own run-ins with the law, most of which were my own fault. Every line of work has jerks, assholes, and psychopaths, and when they have a position of authority, it's that much worse. But let's be fair - the bad ones get all the attention. The good ones get killed in the line of duty, a public funeral, and quickly forgotten. The bad ones get the cellphone video replayed ad nauseum on the evening news.
It's a problem, though, when an officer gets killed
by someone who wants to be famous for killing a cop. It's a problem when two cops get killed eating lunch
by two nut jobs who think they are starting a revolution against the government. It's a problem when cops have to worry about an organized effort to kill them
. It's a problem when gangs essentially put a bounty on any cop's head
Yes, police brutality continues to be a problem. It will not be resolved by declaring Open Season on police any more than more bombing in a foreign country will result in less death, violence, and destruction. We have mechanisms in place to deal with the rotten apples, and it would do well for police to recognize they are doing themselves no favors by protecting the rotten ones that end up spoiling the rest of the bushel.
The Cliven Bundys of this country think they are taking this country back from a federal government that has overstepped its bounds. They think of themselves as patriots, and the cops and sheriffs as enforcers of a fascist regime. The reality is that they are traitors to a government that was elected into power via a democratic process by a majority of voters. They call themselves the Three Percenters, but they are a much smaller percentage than that. They are a tiny minority of selfish violent idiots who think their small corner of the country speaks for the rest of us, and will save our ungrateful asses for us.
They do not. They may as well be burning the flag. Most of us appreciate that the police keep the order and dissuade the Ids of the general public from running amok. Otherwise, we would be sliding into Lord of the Flies territory, and we'd all be Piggy. What role do you suppose the Three Percenters would be playing in that
UPDATE: I just came across this story
which adds more evidence to this looming problem.