The Racist History Of Policing In America
Politics and Activism

The Racist History Of Policing In America

Understanding the origin of the police.

4366
Google

Presently, in the United States of America, the police force serves as a necessary function to promote order and protect citizens. The police department is an institution that is integrated in the very fabric of American society. Unfortunately, not everyone in American society views the police as the beneficial establishment they are supposed to be. It's no secret that the police force has never had the best relationship with communities of color. In recent years, the American public has been reminded of the brutality that has been forced against people of color since the inception of this country. The question to ask should be, "Why is there such a difference in experience with police between White Americans and Black Americans?" In my opinion, the answer to that question is simple.

Black Americans have an overall different experience than White Americans because of another institution called racism. The truth is that the United States was founded on racism. Many times to understand how anything functions you have to go back to the beginning. According to The Rebel Press, "As an instrument of oppression and control, modern police departments are deeply rooted in some of the most racist and repressive colonial institutions in the United States". Policing dates back to colonial times in the United States. "As Southern colonies developed an agricultural economic system, slave trade became indispensable to keep the economy running." "African slaves soon outnumbered whites in some colonies and fear of insurrections and riots led to the establishment of organized groups of vigilantes to keep them under control".

According to Therebelpress.com , "All white men aged six to sixty, were required to enlist and conduct armed patrols every night which consisted of: searching slave residences, breaking up slave gatherings, and protecting communities by patrolling the road". So, as early as colonial times, an organized policing force was created to continue the oppression of the enslaved Africans. The policing force was just an extension of the brutality the enslaved Africans already faced in early America. So the institution of policing in colonial America revolved around racism. Think of America as a tree. Racism is integrated into the roots of this tree and trickles up into the trunk of the tree and the branches. The police force is a branch on this tree. It is simply an extension of the racist institution America is. Rebel Press states, "Rather than punishing, the primary purpose of this racially focused law enforcement was to prevent mischief before it happened". "Racial profiling became the fundamental principle of policing and the definition of law enforcement came to be white- and whitewashed- patrolmen watching, detaining, arresting, and beating up people of color".

So the function of the earliest policing forces in America was to control people of color. So for those people who argue communities of color are often filled with more crime than white communities, and therefore attract more cops, it's not that simple. The function of these first policing forces in America was to keep the enslaved African subservient and comply to the will of the state. Racism was the law of the land. Eventually, these slave patrols would evolve into what would become the modern day police departments. Rebel Press informs, "Establishing the exact date to mark the beginning of modern policing in the United States since the evolution of older systems like Night Watches, and slave patrol into "new police" were slow". "However, we can take the mid 1800s as the years in which the present system of law enforcement dependent on a permanent agency with full-time paid officers were first conceived."

Rebel Press says, "Among the first cities to create such agencies were Boston in 1838, New York in 1845, Chicago in 1851 and St Louis in 1855; and again the motive behind the creation of these "peacekeeping" forces was the need to control the "unruly" classes as the emerging industrial economy and new Victorian standards of "morals" demanded it". In short, a policing force was needed to control the economic inequality, as well as racial inequality faced in the United States". "Starting in the early 1830s, a chain of riots triggered by race, religious, and labor disputes, swept across various cities in the northern region of the country and authorities responded by assigning their Night Watch patrols, the riot control function, but they soon learned that a volunteer watch system was ineffective". "Day Watches also proved to be useless. "Full- time police officers were needed.

Organized policing forces were created to suppress riots from people of color, but also the working class population. Once the United States entered an era of industrialization, the economic gap deepened and authorities were concerned they wouldn't be able to control the dissatisfaction already brewing within the states. Rebel Press states, "The concept of a professional police force was copied from London's Metropolitan Police Department, which had been established in 1829". "These "peace" agents were called Peelers or Bobbies, after Sir Robert Peel, founder of the institution". The American version of these agents were known as coppers, because they wore copper stars as badges on their uniforms. "They were available 24/7, carried guns and were "trained to think of themselves as better than the working class they were recruited from".

Furthermore, this isn't an anti-cop article. To understand any institution, you have to go back to its roots. The modern-day police departments we see started with slave patrols in colonial America and evolved into the federally authorized organizations we see today. Many people ask, "Are the police racist?" and fail to understand that the function of the institution from the very beginning has been to harass people of color. So the next time a person of color is brutalized by the police department in America, do not say it is a coincidence. I'm not saying every cop out there has the worst intentions for a person of color. I am saying begin to doubt a institution that has a history of brutalizing certain people. Communities of color aren't crazy or misled for not trusting the police a lot of times. They understand that the police, from the very beginning, has not had their best interest at heart. Many times a person of color is killed and people say, "Well , what did they do wrong?" instead of asking was it absolutely necessary to take a person's life. Obviously, police brutality in communities of color isn't a new problem. In fact, it's a problem older than the United States of America. Reform is certainly necessary in police departments.



Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

This Survey Shows How Quarantine And Drinking Relate, And I Can't Say I'm Surprised

"5 o'clock somewhere" is more of a guideline now than ever.

As it stands, and my friends and I are finally 21. We're extremely excited to be able to go out to bars and "get lit" as the kids say, but due to the pandemic, all of our plans have been put on hold. We'd rather wait and go when it's safe than risk spreading the infection and hurting our loved ones. So, we've all been quarantining apart, getting on the occasional wine zoom call. This made me wonder if anyone else our age were doing the same thing.

Then, I discovered this survey: We Surveyed Millennials And Gen Z About Their Quarantine Drinking Habits — Cheers. Here are 3 things that I discovered through the survey results.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Easy Summer Mocktail Recipes You Can Make With Items You Probably Already Have On-Hand

Keep these drinks in mind next time you're visiting your local farmer's market — you might want to grab some extra mint and limes.

With Summer 2020 in full swing comes the addition of many fresh fruits and vegetables to brighten up your dinner plate, but also your glass! Farmers markets are my personal favorite place to look for produce that is in season to make fun mocktails with.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Ways To Celebrate The 4th of July — Without Fireworks Or Social Gatherings

We created a list of things to do since social distancing may create a dent in our typical, planned traditions.

With the Fourth of July on Saturday, the usual tradition of popping fireworks, grilling out, and being surrounded by family has been modified due to the pandemic. Whether you're a loner or surrounded by family, there will most likely be some changes to your celebrations.

For weeks on social media, people across the country have been complaining that they have been subjected to fireworks going off at all times of the night into the early morning. This has sparked concern and questions about why this is happening and how are people even obtaining the fireworks.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Carb And Cheese Lovers, Unite — These Are The Best Mac And Cheese Recipes On The Internet

Whether you need to get through the current pandemic or want to spice up your Fourth of July celebrations, these mac and cheese recipes will do just that.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxIKdnMHcGr/

My favorite food is mac and cheese, and it always has been. All it requires is noodles and cheese — it's so simple to make. Although it's my favorite, it can also get kind of mundane because it's such a simple recipe. This, of course, has led to many people all over the world experimenting with the American staple.

With our lives currently being turned upside down due to the pandemic, a lot of people are seeking comfort. These are scary times, and in order to make it day-to-day, we need to have our favorite foods as a standby. These recipes can also be used during your celebration of the Fourth of July.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

17 Things To Make You Feel GOOD This Week

Because some purchases are just necessary.

Y'all, we're struggling. You don't even have to tell me, I know. What a mess we're all in, right? This year is not going how we planned and the world has turned into one giant struggle bus. I guess you could be super philosophical about everything happening for a reason, but sometimes life is just hard.

There are plenty of ways to bring yourself out of whatever rut you're in. You could go for a run, have a snack, or read a book. Or, if you're really looking for an adrenaline rush, go shopping. This is obviously not going to solve the world's problems with one swift click of the "checkout" button, but hey, it may just give you the little boost you need today.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Wore A Butt Mask Every Day For A Month, And It's Officially Essential In My Daily Self-Love Routine Now

Thirty days later, my booty's as smooth as a baby's.

- Blissfully unaware that butt-care beyond squats was even something I should be considering in my self-care routine, I tried one of Bawdy Beauty's butt masks for the first time a month ago.

- I've never really given my butt a second though till I took a look at improvements that could be made with the mask — if one of the hydrating, firming, detoxifying, or brightening masks in the kit I received could either smooth out cellulite or tone my skin a bit more, I wasn't going to complain.

- Each Bawdy Beauty sheet mask comes in an individually-packaged sheet, soaked with a serum I massaged into my skin after removing said sheet. The clay butt mask comes in a convenient stick format I simply draw on to my skin and leave to set for about 10 minutes before hopping into the shower.

- I set a goal of committing myself to butt-care every day for one month. Between the regular use of sheet masks, clay masks, and their CBD Butt Balm in between, I didn't have many expectations.

- I thought the whole concept may just be a gimmick, but my butt has never looked so toned in my life, and the cellulite I had is almost completely gone. I wear one every single day when I get the chance.

I'm incredibly skeptical when it comes to marketing ploys and gimmicks in the beauty world. I'll be the first cynic to try out the latest serum on the market every influencer is raving about just to negate every grandiose claim it makes.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, you don't have to be quarantined to use a personal massager, you know? Because, sure, quarantine made for a lot of extra quality time with yourself, but no matter what phase of the reopening process you're in, it's normal and actually healthy to take care of your sexual needs on your own.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

5 Books I Didn't Realize Are About Gay Women

If you read primarily LGBTQ fiction, then this list might help to expand your TBR list.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Frequent readers of LGBTQ fiction might feel like they're reading the same book over and over again, with few exceptions.

Most of these books were on my TBR list for months and I didn't realize they were about gay women until I was reading them, hopefully, this list of books can interest you in expanding your reading material and seeking out different stories.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments