Why Police Exist

Susan Saxe
3 min readJun 13, 2020


It’s not what you’ve been told.

If you are uncomfortable with the demand to defund or abolish the police, if it makes you want to rewrite, reframe, rethink, reimagine or otherwise white-splain it for yourself or others, it may be because you have a mistaken notion about why the police exist.

So I’m just gonna just put it out there. The police do not exist to protect anyone but a tiny, predatory owning class. They are not there to reduce or solve crime or to keep anyone safe. If the undeniable truth that is now staring us all in the face doesn’t convince you, there is an abundant supply of scholarly historical data that also backs this up. Slave patrols and anti-labor goon squads are running our cities and charging us an arm and a leg (sometimes literally) for the privilege.

Let’s get this clear. The mission of the police is to protect the privilege, status, power, dominance and property of the owning class and to repress by any means necessary any attempt by working people to challenge it. That means keeping in place the racial caste system, suppressing labor unrest and extorting wealth from the bottom to the top. The mission is achieved through force and fear, thinly layered over with the pretense of “public service.”

That explains why, instead of addressing the causes of homelessness or even housing homeless people, we instead spend far more money terrorizing and torturing them (sleep deprivation is a form of torture), arresting them, driving them from one miserable situation to the next, destroying their few possessions and periodically beating or killing them. Their plight serves as an object lesson to other workers teetering on the edge that they had best pay up to the landlord for their substandard housing and not complain, knuckle under to the boss, take that second or third job and hang on with their fingernails to what they have lest they find themselves in a tattered tent under a highway with a knee in their back or on their neck.

That explains why instead of funding functional schools we put police in them, to impress upon working class children at the earliest stage that obedience to the system is required and will be enforced with as much violence as is necessary to insure their compliance.

That explains why, instead of treating mental illness, drug addiction and a whole host of other poverty and despair related afflictions we instead criminalize them and turn our fellow human beings into fodder for the prison-industrial complex.

That explains why we have an army of predators cruising neighborhoods of poor people, immigrants and POC to carry out life-ruining encounters that always traumatize and too often end in injury or death. It’s a game designed to teach them that they have to be submissive as hell and even that won’t save them.

That’s why we have scores of nit-picking laws on the books, laws I guarantee you have never even heard of, coupled with exorbitant fines desiged to target already impoverished people, wring their last dime out of them and then criminalize them when they can’t pay mounting fines, penalties and fees, until they are further wrung dry in the prison/probation machine. And lets not forget the abuse of civil forfeiture laws designed to go after high level organized crime rings but used to simply loot the homes, cars and property of people who don’t even have to be charged, much less convicted of any crime. And guess who gets to keep the money? And the list goes on, including Philadelphia’s citywide car theft ring run by cops and crooked towing companies, a whole other story.

We have unaccountable gangs of slave catchers and union busting goons running rampant through our streets. The system can’t be reformed because it shouldn’t exist. Something else has to take its place and it can only grow and flourish if at the same time we defund and dismantle the dysfunctional system we have.



Susan Saxe

I’m a lifelong radical activist, intersectional in outlook since back in the day when we just expressed it as the idea that “everything is connected.” It is.