Racism in America’s police force is linked to their role as keepers of the status quo in an unequal society. They enforce laws written by politicians on behalf of the wealthy — laws that end up trapping poor and working-class people in desperate lives. Racial and sexual minorities, legal and illegal immigrants are seen as threats to the social order. When we protest the law and “occupy” a space we are beaten and arrested. When we commit a crime to “get some” we are beaten and arrested. And when we do neither but simply live we’re busted to make a cop’s stop-and-frisk quota.
Language plays an essential role here. It starts with a defensive joke, a “perp” profile that becomes so blurred it encompasses nearly everyone on the street and a constant sense of danger. Each builds on the other until the change is complete and one day, they casually listen to NYPD Capt. James Coan give a racist hurrah speech to detectives executing warrants in Brooklyn. “They’re fucking animals,” he repeatedly said of black people from 2008 to 2010, “If you have to shoot, you shoot them in the head.”"