A row of police cyclists

People Are Sharing All the Ways the Police Never Helped Them

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As we talk about the movement to defund/dismantle the police, those opposed to the idea love to swoop in with an “Oh yeah, well who’s gonna come help and protect you when you need it?” That question operates from a place of extreme privilege, because to ask it in the first place, you have to not worry that calling the police in a time of need will result in violence against you—something Black and other POC have to worry about every day.

The question also assumes that even if calling the police won’t result in active harm, it will result in actual help. And that’s a pretty naive view of the police.

Tons of people have been sharing their own experiences with the police failing to help when they’ve needed it. (Many of these are really personal and sensitive, hence the blurring on some. Also, content warning for domestic abuse, rape, and police malfeasance.)

For anyone who’s ever shamed a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence for not reporting the crime, here’s some insight as to how futile and traumatizing that process very often is.

This thread is also a really illuminating and depressing look into how police are instructed to manufacture crime:

I recommend the whole thread but here’s the key bit:

And that was night: a full shift devoted to manufacturing crime — desperately searching for reasons to pull people over and then harassing people until they snapped.

My classmate wasn’t an exception to his department’s rule. He wasn’t a “bad apple.” As he told it, he was doing exactly what his department expected him to do. He saw himself — in fact had been trained to see himself — as a dog protecting sheep from wolves. But from inside his car, the sheep receded from view, and all the flesh-and-blood people in his community — and especially the people of color — took on a decidedly wolf-like aspect. He clearly viewed them as enemies and interacted with them as such.

In short, nothing he did made anyone safer. He didn’t protect or defend a damn thing, except white supremacy and class domination. His entire shift had been devoted to profiling, harassing, and intimidating people.

There’s a reason (a lot of reasons) why people are so opposed to the idea that giving more resources to the police will solve any of these problems.

So many of the resources they already have are so clearly misallocated. If the police aren’t set up to help the people calling them (again, to say nothing of the people they actively harm), stop making police the default response team!

Just because the police have been the go-to institution for basically all of our safety issues for centuries doesn’t mean it’s working (it’s not) and doesn’t mean change isn’t possible (it is).

(image: EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.