The police at the service of the rich and ecological destruction
Since its creation, the police have always served to enable, maintain and expand the cheap exploitation of what capitalism considers a resource. Faced with slaves on the plantations who tried to escape or revolt, striking workers who wanted to improve their conditions, women who demanded the right to abortion, members of the First Nations who opposed the exploitation of their territories, the police have always served to pacify the opposition and allow the rich to continue exploiting the human species and its environment.
At the turn of the 1980s, the state began to undergo profound neoliberal transformations. Numerous cuts to social programs were accompanied by a huge increase in the resources invested in its armed wing to impose order by force. In the name of "public safety," Western police forces have begun to add military equipment to their arsenal and adopt counter-insurgency strategies to supposedly fight crime. In the United States, the "War on Crime" and the "War on Drugs" allowed all police forces to experiment with these new strategies of profiling and repression. In retrospect, military strategies and equipment were used far more to counter social and environmental movements than anything else.
Repression and police violence have deepened with this militarization. Police violence against the most marginalized populations and communities has not stopped with this transformation, and social movements are experimenting with new forms of repression. As we saw at the G20 protests in Toronto in 2010, during the 2012 student strike and at the G7 in Quebec City in 2018, cops are no longer armed only with shields and batons. They have access to state-of-the-art equipment that turns them into real robocops and have developed public communication strategies to facilitate public consent to the use of military methods. They have developed increasingly effective crowd control strategies. It is possible to observe the use of drones to monitor events. The presence of snipers as well as police officers with assault weapons is more and more common. It is now regular to see canine units in demonstrations or large-scale events. When social movements are in a slump, cops don't hesitate to create straw men like "gun violence in Montreal" to justify further militarization and budget increases.
Similarly, when the RCMP took up arms and invaded Yintah, Wet'suwet'en territory, to dislodge Land Defenders who were opposing the Costal GasLink pipeline, we saw the extent of the Canadian police arsenal being deployed. The tactical intervention team that proceeded to the eviction of the land defenders had a lot of information on the territory in order to navigate it without any problem. The cops in the squad had all the equipment necessary to break down the checkpoint barricades, were armed with assault rifles and had sniper support.
South of the border, after more than two years of mobilization against the Cop City project by the people of Atlanta, the cops escalated the violence to an unprecedented level against the environmental movement. "Cop City is a project that involves razing the Welaunee urban forest to build a mini-city for cops to practice urban guerrilla warfare. To ensure that this new project of police militarization is carried out, the different police forces have not hesitated to use all the means at their disposal to intimidate the activists and break the mobilization. Police fear-mongering has been used to try to make it appear that anti-Cop City activists are outside the Atlanta community. Activists arrested during some interventions have been charged with "domestic terrorism" and others have been injured during police raids. On January 18, police went so far as to shoot Tortuguita, a 26-year-old environmental activist who was occupying the Weelaunee Forest. While he was alone in his tent, the police who raided the forest shot him dead.
Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that this kind of infrastructure is only unique to the United States or that these new urban guerrilla tactics will only have an impact south of the border. Just as in 2012, the SPVM has developed new crowd management tactics that are now being taught around the world. The tactics that will be developed if "Cop City" sees the light of day will be those that will be used against us north of the border. Tactics that will be increasingly violent and use increasingly powerful weapons.
This militarization of the police maintains and expands the economic exploitation of the majority of the population and the exploitation of ecosystems. The production of all these lighter and more powerful weapons and armor, all these gadgets that allow the cops to follow us at all times, ravages the territories and the populations here and elsewhere. The majority of surveillance systems, the databases in which cops accumulate our information in order to map our lives and networks, as well as the facial recognition algorithms, are usually hosted in the energy-consuming data centers of large companies like Google, Amazon or Microsoft. If the entire police infrastructure seems to be excluded from state plans for "ecological transition", it is because it is structurally indispensable to maintain the capitalist logic of infinite growth based on ecological destruction.
In this context, the police not only have a role as executors and protectors of capital's interests, they also have a role as resource exploiters in their own right, seeking to maintain, reproduce and increase their power. This propensity to exploit resources to control the population makes sense lately in Atlanta and Yintah. In addition to eliminating a natural haven frequented by local people, the police went so far as to kill an environmental activist to practice new strategies of repression. This is why no social and environmental liberation will be possible without the abolition of the police.