I am infuriated. Yesterday morning I woke up to the news that in my hometown of Louisville, KY Breonna Taylor was murdered by the police while she was sleeping. Because she was Black. She was shot 8 times. I do not need to list the names of every innocent and unarmed (or sleeping!) Black human being who has been murdered on the streets or in their own homes by the police in this country. You already know them. This has happened so many times before, from the lynchings in the 1800s to LA in 1992 to Louisville today.

Nationwide police department slogans of “protect and serve” have descended to a level of emptiness so devoid of meaning that it is pathetically laughable. Very few of these white officers involved in murders of innocent Black people ever face criminal charges, much less confront any consequences beyond a leave of absence. Who are they protecting and serving? If Breonna Taylor cannot safely sleep in her own home, none of us can. If Breonna Taylor and every Black family terrorized by police brutality do not get justice, none of us get justice. If our Black friends, Black families, Black loved ones, and Black community members are unsafe simply existing, all of us are unsafe simply existing.

This is why activists say “Fuck The Police” and “All Cops Are Bastards”, two phrases that are usually met with the retort that not all cops are bad cops. Of course, I am sure that there are cops who have never murdered an innocent Black person, and that there are cops who have never even fired their weapon outside of training. And I am confident that there exist kind, loving people who choose to put on that uniform every morning. But where are those good cops when we need them the most? Until police officers speak out against the murders of our innocent Black comrades and the destruction of Black communities through over-policing, they are only complacent cowards or apathetic accomplices. They would rather cower in fraternal loyalty than fight for the justice that they claim to enforce.

I anticipate this position will earn me the criticism of being “too extreme.” But is the murder of Breonna Taylor not too extreme? For what, was her life taken? A mistaken address? Poor judgement? Is the murder of our innocent Black friends, Black coworkers, and Black loved ones not too extreme? How else should we reasonably respond? We cannot tolerate intolerance. While the Louisville Metro Police Department pursues a cover-up because they had the wrong house and the wrong people, our Black communities are numb with grief. The systemic complacency and inaction of loyalist cops can only be met with outrage and disrespect.

It is incumbent upon cops themselves to reject the senseless and racist violence of their brethren. Until then, the institution that their uniforms and badges represent does not deserve our respect any more than the confederate flag. Which is to say, it deserves to be spit on and met with the hostility it symbolizes.

Maybe the punk band Anti-Flag captured it best:

State lies dressed up as evening news
We’re tired of lies we want the truth!
Broadcast by corpses courting you
We’re tired of lies we want the truth!
Most people they will never know
We’re tired of lies we want the truth!

With you or against you?
Then I am against you because you’re a…

Turncoat! Killer! Liar! Thief!
Criminal with protection of the law

* * *

For the other white folks in the room: cops are clearly the culprits, but they are not the only problem. White people have a responsibility to not be complicit. Outrage must be followed by action. We can start by listening to our Black friends, Black colleagues, and Black community members. We can educate ourselves on these issues. We can donate our time and money to organizations that are fighting against the injustices that afflict Black communities.

A few book recommendations:

And if you have the ability to donate, these are some great organizations: