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The increasingly extensive brutality of the police

Defy the police, Police domination
VIOLENCE: «Security» is a highly profitable industry where large French private arms manufacturers are increasingly developing and selling
security technologies – stun guns, tear gas, water cannons, lightning grenades and drones. Two new books look at French police violence and brutality.

ACAB: a small four-letter acronym that does not require a long university degree
and a diploma to decipher. On the contrary. The four letters are a worldwide illiterate protest symbol against the state's monopoly on violence – the police – a completely encrypted common reference for millions of prisoners, expelled, brutalized and marginalized worldwide.

ACAB ["All Cops Are Bastards"] is everywhere: it is tattooed on thousands of knuckles, scratched into the walls of the world's detention and prison cells, and is without a doubt the world's most widely used anonymous graffiti tag.. In the digital world, ACAB is also a reference: on Instagram alone, there are approx. 2,2 million postings tagged with ACAB.

Since the brutal police assassination of George Floyd in May 2020, the enigmatic letter combination has also been seen in world press images of Minneapolis' police station in flames: a symbol of widespread distrust – or even hatred – of police in American society.

The George Floyd protests – which have been the most violent clashes between police and protesters since the 1992 Los Angeles uprising following police racist deaths against Rodney King – put the issue of police legitimacy on the global media agenda.

Activists of the Black Lives Matter movement have, in the wake of prominent intellectuals such as Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, succeeded in creating international awareness of a critical and necessary debate on the social function and legitimacy of the police and prisons.

More extensive brutality

Europe, too, has now begun to discuss the increasingly widespread brutality of the police, and overt racism and statistically cemented readiness for violence. In France – especially in the suburbs (banlieuerne) has experienced a long historical course of racially motivated arrests for trifles, systematic discrimination, surveillance, harassment, visitations and searches – now raises a number of important, critical and principled questions about the police as an institution.

We and our children are fed up with news broadcasts, movies and TV series where the police or other authority figures are the heroes.

There are two recent French-language books in particular that are worth reading if one wants to be updated on the European echoes of the American debate on the police: the collectively edited collection of texts, Defeat the police (which can perhaps best be translated as «Discontinue the police»), and the updated and expanded re-release of sociologist Mathieu Rigouste's new classic Police domination, originally published in 2012 and caused a great deal of debate in France.

Both books basically reject that the police only exceptionally exceed its powers:. . .

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Dominique Routhier
Routhier is a regular critic of Ny Tid.

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