I am staggered by some of my fellow citizens’ responses to the anger being expressed about the frequent killings of citizens, most often people of color, perpetrated by police forces across our country.
To those who tut-tut about property damage and civil disturbance and agitation by protesters, I say shut the fuck up and instead spend your misplaced righteous energy thinking about how to solve this problem, because it is tearing the country apart and making a mockery of the values you so piously trumpet and use to bludgeon those you disagree with.
Those citizens in the streets are not grumbling about parking tickets or fees or taxes.
They are protesting the systemic, long-term denial of their Constitutionally-granted rights, which provides cover for the continued takings of life by those charged with keeping civil order. They are protesting that few, if any, of those killers are brought to justice. They are protesting all of the other myriad indignities and violations that disenfranchised peoples endure, including institutionalized poverty and incarceration. Go hear what else they are protesting; I am only providing a synopsis of what I have heard and understand–I do not speak for them.
Let’s get clear about the chains of authority and responsibility when it coms to civil order in the United States to put their justified anger in context.
The Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the additional constitutional amendments define the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the federal government and all the citizens of the United States of America.
Each state has its own equivalent charter documents, defining the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the state government and all the citizens of the state.
Each county/parish within the states has its own equivalent charter documents, defining the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the county/parish government and all the citizens of the county/parish.
Each incorporated city has its own equivalent charter incorporation documents, defining the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the city government and all the citizens of the city.
Federal rights, roles, and responsibilities trump state rights, roles, and responsibilities, which trump county rights, roles, and responsibilities, which trump city rights, roles, and responsibilities.
City governments, (also state,) hire commissioned police officers to maintain and enforce civil order, which includes enforcing the laws and regulations of the city, and by extension, the county, the state, and country, due to the hierarchical structure as described above.
Of particular relevance to civil order are the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments of the Bill of Rights.
They provide for the “…right…to be secure…against unreasonable searches,” (4th Amendment), “…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” (5th Amendment), “…the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,” (6th Amendment), and “…nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,” (8th Amendment).
Every single citizen in the United States of America, including police officers, is duty-bound to adhere to and support these rights of our fellow citizens. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Even. Police. Officers.
Many police officers swear an oath, and the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police includes the line, “I will always uphold the constitution”.
So every time someone is detained for not being white, (and/or for being poor,) and is killed in police custody or interactions when lethal force is not called for, the police contravene our Constitution and send the message that the country, duty-bound by the Constitution to protect them and that duty being borne by the police, doesn’t consider them citizens worthy of the rights accorded to them.
Those angry people out in the street marching are protesting against the inherent, actual fascism in our system of civil order that they disproportionately bear the brunt of.
And until we decide to work together to dismantle the apparatus of oppression and replace it with something more equitable, we are, all of us, good and fucked, because it is on course to explode in all of our faces and unleash uncontrollable forces that will very likely require spasmodic paroxysms until it burns itself out and cooler heads prevail.
We will start the journey to equality by listening to our compatriots, really listening to them, hearing their grievances, finding solutions and rectifying the problems, and effecting and stiffly enforcing violations of the solutions, together.
The same vigor now applied to corralling and suppressing Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of free assembly and protest should be redirected to rooting out every last vestige of differential policing, and every prosecutor and judge with the zeal for applying justice to those that upset the civil order should also add to their dockets the so-called guardians who so willfully and callously deprive others of their rights instead of remaining complicit.
To the Thin Blue Line I say this: police yourself.
Your comrades are committing high treason against our republic, subverting the Constitution with frightening regularity. The populace is restive and may demand the price be paid for treason, and mobs cannot and will not discriminate between good blue and bad blue–they will only see blue when they see red, so it is up to you to rid the bad.
To all of my fellow citizens of the United States of America, it is up to every single one of us to live up to and practice the ideals set forth at our tumultuous beginnings that rocked the world of monarchy and empire: that all people are equal, that we have right to alter our government if we so wish, and that the powers of the government come only from the consent of the governed.
We must treat each other equally, we must alter our government to ensure it treats all of us equally, and we must withhold our consent from the current government until it does.