ACAB, 1312, All Cops are Bastards…probably one of the most notorious and widely used slogans in protests and in general around the world. The exact origins are unknown, but it probably originated sometime around 1940 when workers in Britain started to use the ACAB as abbreviation for “All Coppers are Bastards” (6). However, it became increasingly popular when the Daily Mirror magazine used the phrase as a headline. Since then, the acronym ACAB has spread all over the world and unites people under the banner of anti-authoritarian solidarity. Now, we often hear people claiming that it is not rightful to state that all police officers are bastards…surely there are some who are nice? While we would always advocate against generalizations, as they often lead to inconsiderate prejudice against people of certain groups, we are willing to make an exception for the police. The police is an oppressive and in most cases racist institution. Working willingly in such an institution makes you, in our eyes, a questionable person at best. Ask yourself, when you see a police officer, do you feel comfortable or do you feel tense and maybe scared? Imagine being a member of the black community in America, where the slightest action can lead to your death, as we have seen with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and thousands more. There is no justification for the oppressive and violent behaviour displayed by the police around the world. There might be some police officers who, when you meet them in person, seem to be nice but by working for such an institution they are making themselves guilty and worthy to be called Bastards. Check out this article (click here) by Amnesty International as it gives a good overview of what police brutality is and how it is displayed around the world.
The picture inspiring the ACAB Riot Police Design depicts a person carrying a former riot police shield that has been “redesigned” with an ACAB slogan. The fact that it is a former riot police shield makes it even more worth putting it in one of our designs. A big thump up for the creativity of that person!
Courtesy to Mauricio Alvarado (2020, June 15).
As already described in our Radical Tunes article, in 2019, Colombia as well as many other countries in Latin America, has seen a wave of demonstrations against neoliberal and oppressive economy and politics (2). The protests unfortunately came to a hold due to the Corona pandemic. However, they were taken up again. Inspired by the Black Life Matter Movement in the USA, thousands of people took the streets. Unfortunately, systematic racism (as we all should know) is not a problem solely found in the USA. In Colombia (as well as too many other countries), members of the black community experience racism on a daily basis (5). The protesters wanted to raise awareness of the systematic and selective murders of members of the black community. Black women specifically have to suffer under racism, extreme sexism and violence (5, 9). Therefore, it was no wonder that more than half of the protesters who took the streets were women. Even though, the protest was peaceful in the beginning, riot police forcefully tried to disperse the crowd, which let to fights between the protesters and the police. In September, the murder of Jorge Humberto Ordoñez, sparked a new wave of protests (3). The people of Colombia were and are fed up with their corrupt and incompetent government, the extremely violent police and daily racism. Again, the protests started peacefully but the police used extreme measures, including torture, shooting unarmed protesters and executing civilians to disperse the crowd. In the first night alone 7 people were killed and 140 injured.
To put it in the words of Ramiro Fúnez (because we could never have done it better), editor of Anticonquista.com (4): “Despite minor circumstantial differences, all of these uprisings are essential fighting the same things (he his talking about the wave of protests in Latin America, Ed.). They’re fighting for an end to Black and Indigenous people being murdered for defending their communities. They’re struggling to remove corrupt politicians who allow multinational companies to exploit their land, people and resources. They’re opposing the privatization of public resources and cuts to existing public healthcare, education and housing. They’re resisting police violence and violent death squads propped up by Western countries.
Most importantly, they’re fighting for freedom. Poor and oppressed people in these countries are battling to liberate themselves from the horrors and constraints of the global capitalist-imperialist system. They want a new system, a new way of life, in which they’re free to live in peace, prosperity and dignity.” (Fúnes, R. 20.09.2020)
The police are the tool of the ruling class, used to keep the people in bay. However, being a tool is not an excuse. We stand in solidarity with each and every one who has suffered under police oppression while fighting the good fight.
We will donate part of the money made with this design to the Red Condor Collective (click here for more information). The collective was founded this year and tries to give material and non-material support to Colombian socialist and communist fighting against capitalism and imperialism. They have, for example raised (at the time of writing) £2934 in order to support protestors with their legal fees (7, 8). Further, on their social media platforms, they post first-hand accounts and actual footage of crimes committed by the state. They are linked to Anticonquista.com, an independent media outlet that provides a non-western view of what is going on in Latin America and the Caribbean. We urge you to check them out (click here). They provide analysis of the region’s current events and history from a communist, anti-imperialist, Third Worldist, pro-Indigenous, pro-Black, pro-LGBTQ+, proletarian feminist and pan-Latin American and Caribbean perspective.
(We are aware that the slogan ACAB is also used by right-wing groups. However, since the origin is said to be in the workers movement as well as it was and is mainly used by left-wing activists, we still feel comfortable displaying it on our products).
Solidaridad Pa' Siempre!
- Amnesty International (n.d). Police Violence Around the World. Retrieved on September 30, 2020 from: https://www.amnestyusa.org/issues/deadly-force-police-accountability-police-violence/
- Castro, N. (2019). Mass protests in Latin America against the neoliberal model. Equaltimes. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://www.equaltimes.org/mass-protests-in-latin-america?lang=en#.XttY6cDgpPY
- Espinoza, R. (2020). The assassination of Jorge Ordoñez: police brutality and repression in Colombia. Marxist.com. Retrieved on October 10, 2020 from: https://www.marxist.com/the-assassination-of-jorge-ordonez-police-brutality-and-repression-in-colombia.htm
- Fúnez, R. (2020). If Haiti Isn’t Free, Latin America Isn’t Free. Anticonquista.com. Retrieved on October 10, 2020 from: https://anticonquista.com/2020/09/20/if-haiti-isnt-free-latin-america-isnt-free/
- Gonzales, A.L. (2020). How Afro-Colombians are Standing up Against Racial Violence. Remezcla. Retrieved on October 10, 2020 from: https://remezcla.com/features/culture/colombia-protests-black-lives-matter-racial-violence-in-country/
- Groundwater, C. (2020). A Brief History of ACAB. GQ Magazine. Retrieved on September 30, 2020 from: https://www.gq.com/story/history-of-acab
- Mosquera, C.C. (2020). Selectively Humanitarian: Why the West Focuses on Chinese Muslims over Colombian Massacres. Anticonquista.com. Retrieved on October 10, 2020 from: https://anticonquista.com/2020/09/30/selectively-humanitarian-why-the-west-focuses-on-chinese-muslims-over-colombian-massacres/