Our Enemies in Blue
by Kristian Williams
(Soft Skull)

For his debut effort, Our Enemies in Blue, an indictment of the police system in America, Kristian Williams did his homework. His analysis of our modern capitalist state's enforcement contingency is quite thorough, ranging back to colonial times and including historical influences such as those of London's varying constabulary. In the spirit of Howard Zinn's similarly leftist history critique A People's History of the United States, Williams zeroes in on the questionable behaviors of police officers, including their frightening approach to both the African American population and to a lesser degree, various labor movements.

According to Williams, the modern police legacy is one based on seizure of power, by an occupying force of armed assailants. These patrols, says Williams, are often given broad powers of judgment and control, which more often than not leads to extreme acts of violence and the erosion of the freedoms they claim to protect. Citing instances like Rudolf Giuliani's police-based rise to power in New York during the '90s, Williams examines the evolution of this paramilitary system as a whole and observes that police autonomy and seizure of civic and even governmental organizations presents to the common citizen a clear and present danger.

The contention that police forces preclude our civil rights and are entities of corruption and power-abuse begs the question, "What would you have us do to preserve the peace?" To this end, Williams examines various alternative methods to a police state that have sprouted up in history, including foiled experiments such as the Black Panthers and the Irish Republican Army; examples of entire communities of people getting abandoned, and even attacked by their respective police agencies.

Whether you share his ire or not, Williams does present an astute case for questioning our law enforcement system as a whole. We are a nation of inquisitive, basically honest citizens living amidst the visible occupation of legions of uniformed foot soldiers, and Enemies In Blue, if nothing else, will force you to consider its densely packed facts with the same degree of suspicion the agencies in question consider you.