violence and revolution

jwalker jwalker at email.unc.edu
Fri Jun 9 07:14:10 MDT 1995


Joe,

On Fri, 9 Jun 1995, Joseph F. Lockard wrote:

> Some police actions I've seen revolt me and I've a gut dislike of the kind
> of street authority a cop carries, given its potential (even likelihood)
> for abuse.  Even so, attitudes towards the police need to be based on
> differentiation and discrimination between good and bad uses of police
> authority.
>
> Two months ago I visited New Orleans and stayed a couple days with an old
> friend, a local sheriff's deputy (and for who, counter to one poster who
> would waste no sentimental tears on dead cops, I would be *very* upset if
> anything were to happen to him).  Leo is my idea of a good cop:  he's
> well-read in political theory, does solid class analysis (even while
> denying that he's a socialist), fulminates against the racism and municipal
> corruption he sees, backs his belief in education by teaching GED night
> classes a couple evenings weekly, continually publishes short stories, and
> all this while tracking down and sending away parole violators.  Leo is
> profoundly aware of and talks constantly about the intersections of race,
> class and poverty in New Orleans.  None of this excuses victimizing fellow
> citizens instead of fighting these power structures, and Leo is remorseless
> about sending street criminals to prison to do hard time.
>
> Leo is also about the only cop I know well, and I imagine that while there
> are relatively few like him, he's far from the only socially-aware cop.

Dear god, Leo sounds like the Saint of Tough-Love.

I felt the need to reply because New Orleans is my home town, and I know
quite a few of its cops, from both sides of their nightsticks. In my
experience the N.O. cops -- notorious for brutality and corruption, by
the way -- are mostly exactly the sort of person you *don't* want on your
streets, legally carrying a gun with the authority to use it.

This is because most are deeply infected with swaggering machismo and a
need to wield power, even if only to be a big fish in a small pond. I
don't know how many times I or my friends got pushed around, or worse,
by cops who were stupid and weak and needed some way to show they were
big men.

And hell, I don't know the half of it. I'm white.

That said, I think your comments about the attitude lefties should take
towards police are sober and well-considered.

To
> respond to that Pasolini quote, I'd take sides with decent, down-to-earth
> and caring cops like Leo in the blink of an eye over screaming student
> revolutionaries on their imaginary barricades,

So would I.  Hell, I'd want Leo to marry my sister.  But if I had to
choose between a *random* cop and the screaming student, give me the
student any day!


John D. Walker


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