Class Warfare Blog

June 19, 2020

Once Again The Brilliant Yves Smith . . . This Time on the Police

Over at the Naked Capitalism website, the wonderful Yves Smith unpacks the propaganda “To Protect and Serve.” The Police Weren’t Created to ‘Protect and Serve.’ They Were Created to ‘Maintain Order.’ A Brief Look at the History of Police in America

Here’s a taste:

To understand the true purpose of police, we have to ask, “What’s being protected?” and “Who’s being served?”

Urban police forces in America were created for one purpose — to “maintain order” after a waves of immigrants swept into northern U.S. cities, both from abroad and later from the South, immigrants who threatened to disturb that “order.” The threat wasn’t primarily from crime as we understand it, from violence inflicted by the working poor on the poor or middle class. The threat came from unions, from strikes, and from the suffering, the misery and the anger caused by the rise of rapacious capitalism.

What’s being protected? The social order that feeds the wealthy at the expense of the working poor. Who’s being served? Owners, their property, and the sources of their wealth, the orderly and uninterrupted running of their factories. The goal of police departments, as originally constituted, was to keep the workers in line, in their jobs, and off the streets.



  1. You’re right, of course. We also seem to be driven by an arrest first mentality that affects everyone to some degree but more so minorities and poorer people. In the Brooks case here in Atlanta the whole episode could have been avoided if the police had just let him walk to his sister’s house. Instead, they wanted to cuff him and haul him down to jail for falling asleep in his car. The whole justice system seems to operate with a “speed trap” mentality. Let’s see how many we can arrest for some minor infraction so we can build more jails, hire more police, and put more people into the system.

    On a side note, it seems almost every officer involved in some egregious behavior has had one or usually multiple complaints filed for bad behavior in the past. I wonder how much of the problem could be solved with a strict two strikes and you’re out policy that fires policemen for bad behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James Cross — June 20, 2020 @ 8:59 am | Reply

    • The Illinois Supreme Court just ruled that the police can no longer destroy records of police misconduct after five years! The system has been geared in support of bad actors for so long, I wonder how we even got this far. I understand why juvenile records are sealed but police records not just seal;ed but destroyed after five years? Who benefits from that … other than the bad apples?

      On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 8:59 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 20, 2020 @ 9:21 am | Reply

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