ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS?
Earlier this year, an artist decided to send a strong message to cops through art. A large graffiti painting with the words that stated, “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS” in large bubble letters were written on a wall overlooking the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. The painting received multiple reactions from the public and the police. “It’s very offensive to me as a police officer,” said LAPD officer Jack Richter. Richter also stated that whoever sprayed the words will face felony vandalism charges. “That’s awful! They should never have wrote that about cops,” said Chase Ahl, a motorist. It was expected that the clean up would take thousands of dollars. “All Cops Are Bastards,” often shortened to simply ACAB is a phrase you might see popping up a lot on the Internet, typically in response to the incidences involving police using excessive force in the wake of the Ferguson case. There are many aspects of this certain piece of work that make it an interesting subject. This use of graffiti is just one of the many ways to show your disdain with something and express it. N.W.A. performed their song “Fuck Tha Police.” Quentin Tarantino joined hundreds of demonstrators in New York City this October to protest against police brutality across the country. Other groups marched through the city with signs to express their emotion. In this particular instance, the artist chose to graffiti words on to a wall. This decision was obviously the most criminal. These people in disagreement with what they see as unjust are all trying to exercise their freedom of speech. Vandalism is the main act that will get you into trouble. The specific term “all cops are bastards” is something that is commonly spray painted on walls to express displeasure with the cops. What makes this phrase so powerful is that it is antagonistic. It captures your attention. Imagine if it had said something like “cops are bad.” Saying “all cops are bastards” evokes a definite response out of those driving on this Los Angeles freeway. The things that get a response are not vanilla. The artist obviously went all in by saying this. To get a message across, it makes sense that a person shouldn’t be somewhere in the gray by expressing a weak position. By saying “all,” the artist clumped the whole police force into it. The artist isn’t picking and choosing and wavering on a case-by-case basis. He or she is definite on their opinion of cops. To get a message across, the words chosen must shock the consciousness. Foul language surely does. A strong word like “bastard” effectively makes the audience understand the passion and strong dislike and even hatred for cops that the artist and many others feel. Because of the antagonistic nature of the work, I don’t feel as though the cops are going to change their behavior. Because the wording is so strong and antagonistic, police officers are more likely to just be offended or mad. A statement like this is all emotion. Although I feel the statement is strong, I feel like antagonistic graffiti like this is powerful to an extent. It evokes emotion but lacks facts and explanation to back it up. The message in this graffiti accusing all cops of being bastards doesn’t explain the reasoning behind this negative image. The artist doesn’t answer why they are bastards. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that it is necessary to explain why displeasure is expressed because people respond better to rational explanations than just pure emotion. Just because you are mad at someone and express your anger doesn’t mean they’re going to change. They need reasons and some recourse for improvement. Also, by saying “all cops” the artist is somewhat losing credibility. I fully understand that police brutality is a major problem in America today, but this statement sounds like an overreaction. It only makes sense to me that art used for a political purpose is better when it is constructive. This graffiti appears to be strong and effectively evokes emotion, but is destructive. I truly believe art can be antagonistic and constructive at the same time. In this way, art can reach its full potential and reach its greatest heights to improve society. Art is much more powerful when it is both emotional and logical. This artist was seen on a grand scale, however. The LAPD officer, Jack Richter stated that if you want to be an artist, then buy a canvas. The city is the canvas for these artists who want to have their voice, not just their drawing, be in the minds of everyone.