On Tuesday, February 2nd, a gunman opened fire on the campus of Bridgewater College, terrorizing thousands of students and College workers. Two Bridgewater College security officers were killed.
What happened was a tragedy and the families of those two Bridgewater College officers had their lives involuntarily changed by one person’s selfish and terroristic actions. I hope the families of all involved can find peace someday but for now, I know they are feeling an indescribable pain.
Whenever actions like this take place and law enforcement officers are killed or injured, the conversation usually shifts to include statements like “It’s so sad that people across this country have lost faith in law enforcement” as one commenter in the Staunton, VA Facebook page stated.
There is always some talk of the courageousness of police and how some people in this country simply aren’t grateful for their sacrifices. But people have lost faith in law enforcement because of the actions of law enforcement. Are these two officers’ heroes for what they did? I’d say so.
They sacrificed their lives to protect the people of Bridgewater College and their actions potentially saved countless lives. But the divide between actions of Officers Jefferson and Painter and the actions of the Miami police officer that put his knee on the neck of a pregnant woman while tasing her twice in the stomach (she would go on to miscarry) are profound but constantly explained away with the bullshit “few bad apples” argument.
Daniel Shaver’s wife is still trying to find justice six years after her husband was executed in a hotel hallway, crawling in his knees while following an officers demands. The family of Breonna Taylor are still fighting to find justice after their EMT daughter was killed in her own home by police over nothing.
Dozens of families in Los Angeles are still without their homes because of the LAPD’s Ramboesque display as they attempted to destroy fireworks in a residential neighborhood. The parents of Gage Lorentz and his entire community still have no answers on why their son deserved to be killed by US Park Police at Carlsbad Caverns.
It is profoundly sad that people across the country do not have faith in law enforcement. Sad because that lack of faith comes from the persistent assault against the working class, primarily the BIPOC working class of this country by those who wear or support the badge as armed agents of the bourgeois dictatorship.
Many (primarily white) segments of society paint this distrust and contempt of law enforcement as a new phenomenon led by petulant pot smoking teenagers and Molotov cocktail wielding Antifa agents. These same people fail to acknowledge the history of policing in this nation.
A “feeling” of distrust of the police is not necessary, one need only look at the pages of old newspapers to know that not only has this been happening since the beginning of this nation, it has only gotten worse as time progressed and police funding ballooned.
The “Officer Down Memorial” page for Orange, VA states that Sheriff William B. Young “was shot and killed while attempting to serve a lunacy warrant on a suspect”. The page does not go into detail of why there was a lunacy warrant for a Black man in the first place and cavalierly mentions the details on how 2,000 people surrounded this person’s home.
The lynch mob lit the house on fire, driving the man and his sister out of the home where machine gun fire and gun fire from the 2,000 white lynchers rained down on both of them. A memorial to Sheriff Young stands in the lobby of the Orange County Sheriff’s office to this day.
There is no shortage of stories like this happening at the hands of police and these pieces of history, for as much as white America has attempted to hide them, are so widespread that they need no further mention.
On the rare occasion when police officers are killed in their line of duty (note that law enforcement is not even in the top 20 deadliest jobs in America) reactionaries waste no time in using their deaths to highlight how necessary police are and how we should all be grateful to them for their heroic sacrifices. Anyone that disagrees or merely questions the narrative are hateful, unpatriotic brutes that deserve to be spit on.
This is said without irony as even police officers attack their own through sexual assault and white supremacist racial abuse. We always say that actions speak louder than words and while there are LEO’s that do protect and serve the people as Officers Jefferson and Painter showed, far too many shatter that notion every day through actions that result in the brutalization or murder of people trying to exist.
The system that Jefferson and Painter represented is set up as a force of oppression and no matter how many heroic acts are performed within that system, the system is still rotten to the core. It is the system that enforces institutional racism, classism, ableism, and sexism in this country and protects the interests of capital against the needs of the working class.
So we can’t act surprised that someone bristles when they see cops tearing a homeless person’s tent open with a knife or surrounding a bunch of kids playing basketball in the park. Of course people across this country have lost faith in law enforcement. People over the years have had faith in law enforcement to do one thing: perpetuate the capitalist system by any means necessary. So when the question is asked, no one should be surprised when they hear an answer that doesn’t conform to their reactionary worldview.
Yugo is a member of the Shenandoah Socialist Collective