I used to spontaneously wonder in my somewhat confused and murky way: "What does that mean? To serve and protect what? For and against what?"
When one is a kid, even a tough kid from a tough (poor) neighborhood as I was, a policeman in his dark uniform that included a gun and a club, and an impenetrable air of confident power is an intimidating presence. Or perhaps I should say especially if one is such a kid. Or perhaps both tough and intimidated.
The other kids and I were both afraid of
and defiant before the police. Spontaneously. Both fear and defiance felt
natural to the psycho-neural system. It's simply what a trapped animal does.
When I was 14 years old, a friend of mine
was killed by a policeman. Shot in the head. He was admittedly a 'wild child',
very taciturn and intense, but revealed as shy and truly affectionate, if he
trusted you. He trusted very few and had the air of doom about him. It was that
early teenage kind of doom that adults find so hard to take seriously except in
a strictly negative way. His affliction actually frightened them. And he was a
big strong kid capable of effective violence, that is, he was a good fighter, a
'bad ass'. He was Hispanic with a little touch of Africa somewhere in his murky
ancestry. David Zuniga. I remember him quite clearly with the same affection.
Actually, it's not that I remember him. I don't need to remember him. I never
forgot him. He sits still burning in the flame in my bone, in my gut, in my
heart, in my mind.
To 'serve and protect' what? The law. As in 'law enforcement'. This lucid realization hit me in the face like a big fist when I was in my later teens (it knocked me sober and I no longer felt a need to be a tough guy).
It was to 'serve and protect' the law and therefore the makers and supporters of the law. The propaganda that saturated the society wanted me to believe that the purpose was to beneficently 'serve and protect' people. But the category of 'people' was restricted to those who submitted totally to their LAW.
'To serve and protect' the people who are only those creatures that submit totally to their LAW. And it was obvious then that the point of the LAW was to protect Capitalism and its power-structure.
The LAW was of no protection to me unless I submitted totally to it and therefore submitted totally to the Capitalist power structure which the LAW served and protected. I was not a real person unless I submitted to Capitalism and its politico-economic power-structure.
When I heard a politician say, "I believe I
speak for the American People when I say"" I knew he was not including me in
that group of real people who are all American People. I was merely an 'American
Problem' which 'Real Americans' intended to rid themselves of as they rid
themselves of David Zuniga. Then I had another realization:
"Outlaws in America are not only uneducated, suffocated, trapped and tortured animals like David Zuniga who end up dead, imprisoned, and crushed in poverty, or part of some utterly feckless gang living in a power-fantasy world. No. They are also deeply aware and educated people who wake up from the 'American Dream'. The honey-glazed 'American Nightmare'.
The purpose of the police force in the USA is to protect capitalist power and
to create the illusion of serving and protecting people in general. The police
force in the USA is just an extension of the military force of the USA. It is
just the domestic side of the military, the purpose of which is to serve and
protect the empire of global capitalism. The use of the police against people
inside the USA is the use of the military against people who do not serve and
totally submit to Capitalist Authority. The so-called 'militarization' of the
police is nothing more than a deeper revelation of what the police have always
My experience was real and happened in the
reality of the capitalist society. And when I 'rose above' my youth environment
and worked my ass off and became educated and serious and responsible and
willing to be a genuinely productive citizen, I became persecuted and
marginalized for being too conscious, too responsible, too grown-up, too human.
Even as such an adult, I still had to submit to the police-enforced LAW of
Capitalism that created the environment I freed myself from as a total being if
not economically. For me to have the material 'benefits' of the 'LAW-ABIDING'
society, I had to merely pretend to be against that society and mouth
platitudes, while actually living in accordance with it as all Liberals do.