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ACAB: An Explanation

What does ACAB stand for?

ACAB stands for “All Cops Are Bastards”. It doesn’t stand for “all cops are bad”. There is a very large difference between the two. But what is that difference? Read below.

What does it mean?

In this usage, the word “bastard” is not defined as the normal curse word. Here, the word is derived from the term “bastardize”, which is synonymous with “to corrupt”. The phrase “All Cops Are Bastards” does not mean that all cops are evil. It does not mean that individual cops are incapable of good deeds. Rather, it highlights the fact that the system is corrupt and beyond reform. There are no “good” cops, as they stand beside the unjust actions of the institution and continue to harm black people disproportionately.

"But I have a friend/relative who is a cop, and they’re good, so that isn’t true."

Your positive experiences with cops, no matter who they are, does not annul the fact that the institution they work for is violent and unjust. It is built on systemic racism and must be remade for the safety of our communities. They made the choice to become part of that system, and even on the off chance that they were unaware of the unjust laws and actions at first, they are now aware of these problems and still continue to be a part of it either as a bystander or as a culprit. The section “Blue Wall of Silence” includes more details.

"I still don’t understand how all cops are bad. Can you put it in simpler terms?"

Absolutely. Here is all you need to consider when asking the “good/bad” question:

  1. Every cop has taken the oath, as part of their job, to enforce all laws. Every single one of them without exception.

  2. Many of the laws in our nation are manifestly unjust. Some are just plain cruel.

    1. Examples of unjust laws can be found in the section “The Problem With the “13/50 & 13/90” Statistics

  3. Therefore, every cop has taken an oath to act as an enforcer of cruel and unjust laws.


Amelia Aversano


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