Police violence is the punchline
The only difference between the jokes cops tell us and the ones they tell each other is the set-up.
Hi all! I’ve been slammed at work and at play recently, so this week’s ACAP is going to be on the short side. I know, a short email—devastating!
I don’t think I’ll need an especially high word-count to get to the bottom of this week’s subject, which is cop “humor” and what the police and then sympathizers are laughing at when they laugh at a certain kind of joke.
Cops clearly relish the opportunity to make funny content—it’s why they can’t stay off TikTok, even if it gets them reassigned to Staten Island, like the NYPD officer who disrespected his sacred uniform by dancing on a counter in a 7/11 earlier this month. “Official” police department accounts also like to get a joke off online when they can, albeit in a slightly more brand-conscious way: ~2015 Denny’s if Denny’s regularly brutalized its customers, plus anyone who “looked like” a customer or who walked too close to a Denny’s location in a “threatening” way.
Not all of these state-sanctioned social media gags revolve around the implicit threat of violence, but a lot of them sure do—and that’s no coincidence. Exhibit A, a Valentine’s Day Facebook post from the Charlton, Massachusetts police department:
Look—it’s just a joke. It even got its own little write-ups in local news sources, like westernmassnews.com and MassLive (which aptly noted that not all jokes from police departments “are a hit”). It’s funny, this Valentine’s Day special, because incarceration is violent and horrible, and we want violent and horrible things to happen to the people we no longer love—right? Get it?
Of course, the Charlton Police Department was far from the only place where cop jokes about VDay were a flyin’ last weekend—take the image from the Texas Public Safety Department Facebook page at the top of the newsletter. Pretty clever to equate the fear one feels from interacting with a law enforcement officer during a traffic incident, a situation that has proven deadly in several high-profile cases (RIP Philando Castile, RIP Sandra Bland). I’m sure police departments across the country took the opportunity to wish a happy, implicitly violent holiday to all who observe.
Then there’s the offering from the illustrious Los Angeles Police Department that wasn’t actually meant for everyone’s consumption—just for other people in on the joke, people who get it. The joke in question: the murder by asphyxiation of George Floyd, apparently. As of February 13, officers in the department are currently under investigation after one of their own reported a Valentine’s card-style image with Floyd’s picture and the phrase “you take my breath away.” (Heads up: No image in the link, not about to go searching for it.)
Can’t make this shit up! Wouldn’t want to even if I could!
“This is beyond insult on top of injury—it's injury on top of death,” Ben Crump, an attorney representing Floyd’s family, told CNN. “The type of callousness and cruelty within a person's soul needed to do something like this evades comprehension—and is indicative of a much larger problem within the culture of the LAPD.”
Per Twitter, it appears the LAPD investigation is aimed at finding out whether an LAPD officer created the image, which is obviously pointless. It doesn’t matter what the literal origin point of the “joke” was, when the punchline is the core of policing and so many of the other “jokes” the profession dispenses. Cops don’t just know that people fear the police because of the consequence-free violence they inflict. They know, and it makes them laugh.
Blocked and Reported
This edition’s officers felled in the line of duty by their own insatiable need to post.
On February 12, a “veteran” King County Sheriff’s Office detective, Michael Brown, was fired after the sheriff’s office received “an unprecedented number of complaints” about his Facebook content from July 2020, including a car decal depicting people getting run over with a car with the caption: “All Lives Splatter.” Brown is also… Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s cousin. Huh. Small world!
Sadly not cops from the U.S. but too good to pass up: As of February 18, two police officers in Ontario are facing disciplinary action and a $600,000 lawsuit after they lied about being refused service at an Arby’s by kneeling cashiers and said “this Arby’s restaurant should not count on the off-duty police officer responding to their location should they need it.” Like any professional would kneel in a fucking Arby’s—think of the roast beef juice!
Questions, comments, corrections? (“You don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer” is not a correction.) Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, send “business” “inquiries” to email@example.com, or DM me on Twitter.