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“Never applaud a fish for swimming”
This rather simplistic idiom encapsulates the current debate in America over the stature of police in society, specifically, how they should optimally engage with citizens. Act after act of injustice and violence towards the black community at the hands of police have brought light to the current failed system that continues to tolerate abuse of power while simultaneously praising officers that do exactly what their job entails. Rather than differentiating between police officers to create a distinct “right” and “wrong,” the attention should focus on the system itself that, from the start, normalizes prejudice and racist acts in society.
Whenever a video of law enforcement officers knowingly committing acts of injustice surfaces, individuals rush to support the hypocritical system of institutionalized racism that should protect citizens and uphold the law. Unfortunately, this false promise of justice that blinds individuals is what allows countless inhumane acts to seep through the cracks and remain unanswered.
This is exactly why the term “good cop” in and of itself is an oxymoron. It is unfair to make a blanket statement and say that all police officers are cruel. Before that uniform, there might have been a lawful, caring human being that would not look at his black brothers and sisters with the same disdain that his colleagues might have. These individuals might have had strong pillars of equality and equity that they wish for the government to answer. It is when they step into the role of an officer, however, that predictable acts of injustice occur. While some police officers might be kindhearted individuals wanting to create positive change, they become agents of a system that relies on disenfranchising black bodies to empower white bodies the second they put on the uniform.
Pushing for the notion that “good cops” exist distracts from that entirely.
“What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.”Ziady, Hanna. “Why Ben & Jerry’s Statement on White Supremacy Is so Extraordinary.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 June 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/business/ben–jerrys-george-floyd/index.html.
Senator Booker stated that at this point, empathy and words of kindness will not suffice, emphasizing that “laws and systems of accountability” must change.Nilsen, Ella, and Li Zhou. “Democrats’ Sweeping New Police Reform Bill, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 8 June 2020, www.vox.com/2020/6/8/21283841/democrats-police-reform-bill-explained-george-floyd.
With a broken system, there withstands a limit to the justice given to its martyrs, George Floyd being one of the unfortunate many. Reform is necessary for transforming the current climate of police brutality, eliminating the racism that is deeply embedded into the justice system, and giving rise to an equitable system that empowers all.