One more blunder

By Esteban Debruelle

As dramatic as it may be, the death of an individual(1) left in the care of the police is not one blunder too many, no. This is just another blunder. For in the world as it is now, there can never be too many blunders. Never too many skids. These facts, media or not, are systemic. That is to say that they are not to be considered as isolated facts, but as a whole. On April 10, a 19-year-old man lost his life under the wheels of the police(2). A few days later, a young Sudanese man was kidnapped and beaten(3) in a police van before being thrown away, stripped, in the Place Annessens. On August 15, three young women, victims of street harassment, were brutalized(4) by an intervention team. And since the deconfinement, the list of facts of police violence continues to grow.

These police aggressions are mostly carried out on the public people, and against the principles of the law. of feminist emancipation. And the reactions of the the police or political authorities, are the most important systematically of the same order: blaming the victim or the her version (she was drunk or aggressive), presentation of the of the police action (intervention in the framework of the the law, protection of public order) and reminder of the use of internal control procedures (managers seek to ensure that first to clear their name and then to hide behind the secrecy of instruction).

From then, there are only moments to erase from the memory collective. In order for things to get back to normal, for the cowboys continue to act with impunity, that the hierarchies keep their seats and the politicians their mandates, it is necessary to forget it. To forget the death of a teenager, a man and a child in less than two years. To make people forget the interpellations of feminist activists during the March 8 demonstration. Do forget the racist remarks of a police commissioner at the beautiful mid-summer. Putting segregation techniques behind us (or ethnic profiling if you prefer) that followed in some areas of the country. To forget the migrants gassed at 6 am morning at Parc Maximilien. To make this Afro-descendant woman forget violently arrested and imprisoned for not wearing the mask at the exit of the metro. To make people forget that the police are today in freewheel. Yes, freewheeling.

The politicians need the police to enforce measures increasingly unpopular. Businesses need the police to protect their means of production and enrichment ever more destructive. The police, themselves, need their the most violent elements to maintain fear and keep a means of pressure on those who would like to denounce or reform. And people who commit « to contribute to the protection of individual rights and freedoms » (according to article 1 of the law on the police function) are reduced to the silence.

Like any public service that is constrained by austerity measures, the agents are understaffed, under-equipped, poorly trained and « eaten » at every turn. Slowed down by red tape sometimes pushed to the point of absurdity, the function also has a high suicide rate and many violent family and sentimental situations. Even if this reality is the result of a policy led by parties that drain public budgets and at the same time promise more means, more manpower and more security, the racist, sexist and fascist ideology that characterizes them seems to percolate more than ever in the police ranks. Proof of this is, once again, the Facebook group(5) updated by the Apache site.

So, if you’re tired of being spit on, start with the uniform wash! For every day, the body to which you belong reminds us that we are not equal, not safe and not even less protected when you intervene. You gas and you bludgeons. You insult, twist and break. You break, you suffocate and you cover it up. You are an instrument of violence that we cannot no longer tolerate drifting. And if you are not one of them, remember that « you have all the signals », as you say about neighbourhood youth. So the day you take also on the face, will not have to come crying to the politician. À At this point, he too will have been decapitated.


Except if, collectively, we are able to propose a future for the police.

He There is no illusion possible: if the situation remains unchanged, the crystallization of the bodies that make up our society will growing. And, in this case, victims of police abuse will continue to be radicalized and the police will continue their path towards greater repression, and exits, including media, increasingly racist, sexist and violent. The degree of violence will therefore continue to increase.

From this situation, the politician is both a victim and responsible. Responsible, because its austerity measures and its political conception to protect the interests of a few the lead to let things go in order to ensure the loyalty of a armed force that protects him from the wrath of citizens every day more legitimate. But tomorrow, this same political class will be victim of this wait-and-see attitude. When she can no longer to call to order those who will engage in abuses more and more outrageous with regard to fundamental rights and values that underlie the rule of law, it will have no choice but to choice than to side with the violence of the police force to safeguard its interests.

In this Mexican impasse, the right wing and its little racist brothers and xenophobes are currently doing well. Like Marine Le Pen in France, the Belgian parties that rely on an economy of rich and a decomplexed xenophobia let the slippage happen from within the police ranks. For the latter legitimize their speeches of fear and rejection, allow the expansion of their retrograde ideas and guarantee a electorate reassured in its sufficiency and its mental confinement.

The left, unable to propose another form of policing for our country. society, has frozen in a whining posture, denouncing in great phrases, but without real victory. His inability to obtain the creation of a truly independent body of control over the police is undoubtedly the illustration of these words without result. Yet, imagining how to organize the police is essential to the progressives of the 21st century, because the left of the political spectrum has left the issue to rot in the hands of Liberals, who let in the right-wing vermin. This is an unforgivable mistake of the left and a complacency irresponsible right-wingers who are now threatening the balance of the our societies.

So here are some thoughts that could be offered for public discussion:

  • refocus the missions for which armed police officers are called;
  • diversify the profile of the intervention teams, by integrating
    street workers, psychologists, nurses and social workers;

  • expand the missions of peacekeepers to meet the needs of the
    interventions of lesser intensity (dispute between neighbors, disturbance
    night, spontaneous gatherings…);

  • to ensure the transition, offer police officers at the end of their careers
    train peacekeepers for expanded missions;

  • Systematize training for all parties in contact with the public in non-violent communication, the risks of ethnic profiling, and
    the management of situations of conjugal and family violence;

  • impose the
    to all field agents, with the obligation to activate it at the beginning of any intervention;

  • systematize the consultation councils between neighbourhood houses and
    local police stations ;

  • redefine the methods of deployment of police officers in the country;

  • to finally set up an independent monitoring and sanctioning body for officers who are responsible for police violence;

  • effectively sanction (suspension, dismissal, fine and jail time) officers who create a situation of violence or discrimination.

In a debate as sensitive as the role of the police in our society. changing society, it cannot be a question of simply decide whether or not to disarm the police. It is about whether all the situations it currently addresses require exclusively men and women in arms, trained to apprehend, control and stop. It is about to prevent our police stations from becoming lawless zones, that our individual and collective freedoms are threatened by law enforcement agencies, instead of being protected by them.

Today, Antwerp is a hub for cocaine(6). Limburg is the European province of choice for ecstasy production(7). Brussels carries bodies damaged by human trafficking(8).

Weapons of war(9) pass through Liège, and rival gangs(10) operate in Charleroi. In parallel to this criminality, the white-collar workers(11) who engage in tax evasion, money laundering and the destruction of natural resources and our solidarity system do not fear raids, prosecutions or surveillance. Like the others, they act with impunity, without worrying about police actions.

Face to all these criminals, we need men and women ready∙s to defend our democracy and its principles in order to protect the members of society and serve the law. It is not not what the police force is used for today. And to refuse to open this debate is to run the risk of confrontation. Because, if nothing changes, tomorrow the police will shoot at of the demonstrators who are fed up with their impunity. With regard to history, this is a promise that has nothing to do with a fantasy.

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