The uprising in Missouri is not about the militarization of the police, freedom of the press, the right to free speech, or the right to assemble: it’s about the oppression of Black people that lies at the core of American society.
To be sure, cops playing soldier in the streets of America is pretty scary. I think it’s received a lot of attention, though, because privileged segments of society see these images and think, “Oh, they could be coming for us next!” The implication being that the everyday violence against poor Black communities is all fun and games until it turns against white people.
Also, freedom of the press, the right to free speech, the right to assemble - commonsense democratic rights - are certainly fundamental to a constitutional democracy. But one point that’s too often overlooked is that, just because some asshole in a wig or whatever wrote them down on paper 200 years ago, doesn’t give them some magical power. Power is in the hands of the state, and it is exercised by the police. In this way, the police are already an arm of the military and have been for a long time, with or without body armor. Corollary to this is that, if the state sees fit to oppress some segment of the population - not just through military-style force, but through random searches, mass incarceration, etc. - democratic rights will make way for it.
And of course by “some segment of the population” here I mean Blacks. Why it’s this group and not some other, or not just the general population, is a complicated bit of history that begins with slavery. I mean, it’s really a pretty clear shot from slavery through Reconstruction to Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement and the backlash against it, especially the prison boom and disparate drug laws and sentencing.
But I’m not very good at history, and the point I really want to assert is that this oppression is at the core of American history, society, and politics. Honestly, I’m not sure how to do that. I’m sure I’ve seen the argument made elsewhere, and I’ll look for it. So I apologize for the incompleteness of my argument, and for the lack of references. I’ll try to post some of the links to articles that have challenged me as a white liberal and made me reassess some of my politics. I’d be interested to hear others’ views and always send me stuff to read!
FUCK THE POLICE