This week, as a result of the murder of Michael Brown by cop occupiers, the suburb of Ferguson saw a confrontation between the citizens of and the police who claim the right of ruler over them. It wasn’t long before this breakdown in the police’s order led to looting and other acts of unfocused violence against community storefronts and individuals. In response, a state of effective martial law was enacted which banished journalists, further protests and even planes from flying over the city in order to establish a “safe environment for law enforcement”. As of last night, sniper rifles were aimed at citizens, peaceful protests were violently disbanded and journalists and nonviolent protesters were jailed.
In many ways, most major American population centers do not have police forces. If we are to go by the long-dead title of peace officer as representative of their profession, then there are agencies which operate under this guise, but are totally detached from community protection and exist to enforce only their own will in direct opposition to the communities they claim to represent. What we have across this country are occupying forces, who have no discernible rules of engagement except what they can get away with.
When a monopoly is held over the right to enforce and carry out laws with no regard to the interest or preference of local communities, once this enforcement apparatus has been successfully confronted and intimidated with the righteous anger of the citizenry, disorder ensues. As Wolfi Landstreicher puts it, order and disorder are not chaos. Rather, disorder exists as a result of systems of power breaking down, an inevitability to say the least. In his words, “Disorder is order fucking up.” Once order has been interrupted, disorder reigns. Preventing what it sees as disorder by, in this case, murdering an unarmed black male teenager, the police begin a chain of unintended consequences in an attempt to restore a semblance of order.
Chaos is not order, but it’s not disorder either. Chaos is allowing for the free and unhindered actions of individual parts to determine what order may emerge. It is temporary and it never ceases. It too influences the order we live under now. Chaos flourishes where it is permitted, or more often where it is forgotten.
All police order, all state order, is an intrusion on our lives. Whether it be the supposedly well-intentioned order of preventing murder and theft (by means of murder and theft) or the more malignant and often unintended order of institutional racism, by trying to route around the chaos of actual community control, police create insurmountable disorders. If the occupiers claim to represent peace, then they would do their part to cease aiding in its destruction by eliminating all non-state alternatives to enforcement of law and by disarming themselves when it is clear that their order is unworkable or undesirable.
Instead, once they have violated the communities they rule over one too many times, the communities themselves break down. The murder of Michael Brown is most certainly not the first murder of an unarmed, peaceful individual by the police in and around St. Louis – and it will definitely not be the last. When the community has had enough, what right does anyone have to expect peace, or mutual aid and protection? After relying on police officers as the sole protectors of their shops, what right do owners have to expect their protection by anyone but themselves? When we eliminate what we see as chaos and uncertainty in favor of order, stability, homogeneity, we can only expect this order to break down – as they all do.
What does opposing order in favor of chaos look like? The promised leaks by Anonymous give us a glimpse at what upsetting the police order in Ferguson looks like. Police are masters of control; so when faced with a threat like Anonymous, they fall apart. Anonymous and other hacktivists exist beyond the rule of laws and guns, and they have promised that officer information will be leaked and infrastructure will be targeted in order to disrupt the state’s order. What’s happening to the police now is the imposition of incentive, a force which police rarely have to face. Anonymous has done their part in aiding the deterioration of order in favor of chaos.
And now, as the natural results begin to backfire on police, as one of their own is exposed to the destruction he helped create in this world, the establishment is claiming there is a breakdown in civility. There is no breakdown in civility. There is only the environment these pigs have created. As Anonymous reveals the identity of Michael Brown’s murderer, people call their actions irresponsible and put on a show of concern for the officer. But of course he still has the guns of the state on his side, guns which continue to surveil and oppress the people of Ferguson.
We all know that if the tables had been turned, if a young black man killed a police officer in broad daylight, that there would be full knowledge of the individual’s identity. Local news stations would run their Two Minutes Hate segments against the assailant non-stop. By what logic do police call for slow, proportional, judicious behavior from those outraged by Brown’s death and seek some sort of justice, for once, to come to the hired guns of the state? In the event a confirmed identity of Brown’s shooter is leaked and action is taken against them, his fate will have been sealed because of the system he chose to uphold.
If Ferguson exists as anything but a political construct drawn up by elites with guns, then it must embrace community chaos over police order. Michael Brown died not because the world is an unpredictable and unfair place. On the contrary, his death and the deaths of many other black men, and all our disempowered comrades is horribly, sadly predictable. It is time we give up on systems of control in favor of decentralized, spontaneous protection against tangible threats to our lives and desires. Arm the citizens of Ferguson and the world until they are citizens no longer, but free men and women who determine and bare the responsibility of their own choices.