On distinguishing the individual from the system, removing policing from Pride.

Sharing this again, with some thoughts…

blacklivesmatter handpainted sign

Image: dark skinned hands hold up a white sign with thick painted black lettering “BLACK LIVES MATTER”

One of the many things i appreciate about the Black Lives Matter -Vancouver BC open letter to the vancouver pride society and the vancouver police department (specifically thinking about the distinction they make re: individual cops marching in the parade out of uniform vs the cop-float and military presence etc) is that it explicitly recognizes what so many folks either can’t or won’t: that policing is a SYSTEM. That recognizes it’s not about individuals who just happen to be cops like some people just happen to be plumbers and so “what gives you the right to “discriminate” against them?” and “by demanding they not march in the parade aren’t you doing the exact same thing that you claim they’re doing to you??” [pro-tip: no]. That recognizes that yes, like any job there may be individual cops (etc) who aren’t power-hungry abusive asshats while at home bathing their dogs/ watering the plants/ wearing matching pajamas watching a movie with their dear old auntie; but that as *cops* they are an armed and integral part of a violent colonial state system that goes well beyond the individual, that is and always has been seriously messed up, and which is not capable of reform[*].
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That explicit recognition is important. No, not as a way to say “not all cops!”, but as a means to better understand the roles policing plays in our lives whether we want it or not, whether it’s positive or negative or both, the ways it’s woven into our every day experience, the ways we absolutely *must* listen to and take leadership from those folks who are hit the hardest by it, and the incredible amount of work it takes to undo that tangled mess.
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[*Full disclosure: i personally don’t want cops anywhere, ever, uniformed or not; i want policing (etc) as a system and the state it rode in on to be dismantled and burned to the ground.]
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