The truth is of an organisation that ignores the security and well being of the majority of people. Anti-social crimes committed against working class families are neglected. Women who are victims of rape or domestic violence find the police unsympathetic. Black people are victimised. Many hold this up as proof that the police should have more money and power. Such a conclusion is utterly wrong. The fact is that the fundamental role of the police is not to protect you from crime.
First and foremost, the duty of the police is to defend the existing social order. This means repressing resistance to capitalism and its effects. This is their ‘law and order’, and it is not in our interests. As such the state must disguise this true purpose.
The police need the trust of ordinary people, to ensure our day-to-day obedience and our acceptance of law and order policies: more power, more weapons, greater numbers. They need to con us into believing that without them crime would explode. Press and politicians – Tory, Lib Dem and Labour alike – propagate this lie. It is all based on the idea that communities would be incapable of policing themselves, if allowed to.
These lies have been smashed. Thousands of ordinary students, exercising their democratic right to protest, have in the past few months experienced the true brutality of the police at first hand. For all the smoke and mirrors deployed by the state and the media, the violent, repressive nature of the police can no longer be hidden from the people it professes to serve.
At the student demonstrations of 2010, the police armed themselves with batons, horses and kettling tactics, and used them ruthlessly in medieval displays of force. Alfie Meadows suffered brain damage as the result of a truncheon blow. Jody McIntyre was pulled from his wheelchair and beaten. The media has done its utmost to cover up or distort these acts of barbarity.
Meadows and McIntyre were lucky. Others have died as a result of police repression. Ian Tomlinson was a victim of such indiscriminate violence. And we are far from seeing the worst of what the police are capable of.
There are suggestions that water cannon be used at demonstrations, despite a protestor in Germany having been blinded by them. There is even a strong lobby for the routine carrying of guns. Given that Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson described the protestors that vandalised the royal car as having been “lucky” for not being shot, the results of all police carrying guns are not hard to predict.
Who they really police
The true role of the police exposes itself most nakedly when the working class and oppressed organise together and fight back.
In 1984, the most militant section of the working class, the miners, fought against the Tory government’s attempts to destroy their industry. The Tories knew this was a movement they had to crush any cost – they pumped billions of pounds into the police force and intelligence services.
Thousands of police were poured into the pit villages. Pitched battles were fought as they tried to break the strike. The state was determined to smash the miners, and the police force was the weapon of choice. Any opposition to the established order was attacked ruthlessly. The march against the BNP in Welling and the demonstration against the Criminal Justice Act at Hyde Park were both attacked by a tooled up police force on government instructions.
We cannot turn the other cheek to the repressive aims and methods of the police. We need to organise disciplined defence, so that we are capable of defeating police attacks.
On demonstrations, stewarding should be geared to defence and organised enough to resist attack. On pickets, defence squads run by the workers need to stop the police breaking strikes.
Imagine if a movement, supported by the mass of working people, tried seriously to change the distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. It is clear what side the police would take. They are an arm of the state – ultimately the state will always defend the greed of the elites against the interests of the people.
The state is not neutral and neither are the police. This has been proven during the student demonstrations.
A generation of students has been shown the brutal truth of how our ‘democracy’ works, of how their basic human right of education is worth less than the profit and power of the elites. We cannot let this pass unopposed.
The police are not an unassailable moral force. They are a tool of power that can and must be fought. Before we can start building a socialist society, the police will have to be abolished, and replaced by the legitimate self-defence of the population. The first step on that path is fighting the police now in an organized, disciplined and democratic way.
The police are a real, every day threat to our interests and an obstacle to our socialist goal. We must strip them of their powers, and fight for our right to self-defence – now!
- Abolish the police
- Abolish Tactical Support Groups
- Strip the police of their weapons: no batons, riot shields, horses, CS gas, water cannons etc.
- Organise disciplined self-defence