The Cops Have Met Their Enemies: They Are Us

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Fellow political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow deploys a character, Officer Friendly. The always-smiling 1950s-style cop is a clever meme because it reminds us of what has been lost to the militarization of local policing: the fictions that their job is to keep us safe and that they work for us.

In case you harbor any lingering doubts about the true nature of the relationship between us ordinary serfs and the constabulary, the Guardian reports that the Missouri National Guard “used highly militarized language such as ‘enemy forces’ and ‘adversaries’ to refer to citizen demonstrators” in Ferguson during the protests following the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American man:

Documents detailing the military mission divided the crowds that national guards would be likely to encounter into “friendly forces” and “enemy forces” – the latter apparently including “general protesters.”

A briefing for commanders included details of the troops’ intelligence capabilities so that they could “deny adversaries the ability to identify Missouri national guard vulnerabilities,” which the “adversaries” might exploit, “causing embarrassment or harm” to the military force, according to documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by CNN.

And in an ominous-sounding operations security briefing, the national guard warned: “Adversaries are most likely to possess human intelligence (HUMINT), open source intelligence (OSINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), technical intelligence (TECHINT), and counterintelligence capabilities.”

Isn’t that sweet.

Naturally National Guard officials are backtracking.

missouri national guardCaptain John Quinn says that ‘enemy forces’ really means “potential threats” like — as Dave Barry says, I am not making this up — “inclement weather, heat, failing levees, etc.”

Incoming. Failing levees?

“It’s disturbing when you have what amounts to American soldiers viewing American citizens somehow as the enemy,” said Antonio French, local alderman and captain of the obvious.

Except, it ain’t “somehow.”

In many American cities, particularly those with majority white police forces in minority neighborhoods, the police are an occupying army. They view the locals not as citizens whose taxes pay their salaries, who are in fact their bosses, but as dangerous, troublesome rabble to be contained, controlled and suppressed. The militarization of domestic policing, which dates back to the 1950s and the establishment of the first SWAT team in Los Angeles, further separates gendarmes from civilians via training derived from warfare, heavy body armor and wildly excessive firearms.

Trust in the cops is at a record low, thanks in part to ubiquitous cell phone and security camera videos that document police abuse so meticulously that it’s no longer possible even for white law-and-order types to deny accusations by blacks that the cops are treating them like dirt. Look for the cop-citizen gap to widen further as the police increasingly treat whites — for example, during the crackdown against the Occupy movement — badly as well.

The cops have met their enemy, and he is us.

And now there’s no denying it.



  • Adversaries and enemy forces? Honestly, that’s a bit beyond what even I imagined. It’s like they really are becoming caricatures of themselves. This truly is the new feudal age.

  • During the Vietnam War, anti-war activists wanted to “bring the war home” by making the secure, chicken hawk, war mongers feel a tiny bit as insecure as they would feel if they were in Saigon.

    Well folks, looks like the pro-war corpo-state has brought the war home with a vengeance against any anti-war-sentiment bearing people of conscience (even though they fearfully exaggerate this presence and mostly fight their own shadows) and a nearly totally inert amoral population zombied into self-absorbed indifference.

  • Did I read this right? “Enemy forces” and “potential threats” should be understood to be “inclement weather, heat [etc.]” ?????

    • They really think they can get away with any lie–even one as ridiculous as this—because they really can!

    • Yup, that’s right! Inclement weather that are “most likely to possess human intelligence (HUMINT), open source intelligence (OSINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), technical intelligence (TECHINT), and counterintelligence capabilities.”

      That’s some weather!

  • Now people in the United States – primarily «people of colour», who of course, have always known, but increasingly, others as well – can learn from their own experience what the sort of police state that the United States created in say, Latin America from the overthrow of Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán really looks and feels like. They are to be congratulated on their expanding knowledge….


  • So, statistically speaking, among America’s Black population, when compared to the White population, they get murdered by about 3 to 1 by our national crew of badge-dangling gangbangers.. As a proud Caucasian trailer-trash member, how are these numbers supposed to make me feel more secure? While “Black Lives Matter,” as far as statistics are concerned, poor-white-trash get slaughtered with about the same number of bullet-holes as the colored-class … we all niggers now.


    • While Candace McCoy does adumbrate the issue («[f]elony crime is highly correlated with poverty, and race continues to be highly correlated with poverty in the USA,»), what is lacking in the «Politifact» discussion is a breakdown of the numbers killed by cops by wealth owned by the person killed. That, indeed, would be a revealing statistic !…


      • alex_the_tired
        April 27, 2015 6:58 AM

        Go one step farther. It isn’t just the graph of income and deaths, it’s the graph of income and police disruption of life from that point on.

        Take the standard case. Defendant gets dragged into court on a charge. Something low-level like smoking a joint. For a lot of people the only real option is to take a guilty plea due to how the system is set up to prevent the poor from getting a fair shake. And that guilty plea follows you for the rest of your life, just like the smoking habit you started when you were 15 and quit when you were 35.

        For some people, it won’t matter. For most, it will. It’s like being shot. Sometimes, it’s an uncomplicated injury. Everything heals up and you can pick up your life. Sometimes, the bullet goes through your head and you spend the rest of your life in diapers trying to learn to read and wipe yourself.

  • Some communities have taken strong action in response to all the vids of police brutality. They’ve outlawed taping police.

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