Two rather insidious moves by law enforcement recently have gone relatively unreported in the mainstream. Because the implications for attacking free speech associated with them are extremely important, we feel compelled to bring them to our readers. It appears that criticizing or speaking out against law enforcement is putting targets on the backs of police critics.
The first worrisome move by anti-free speech law enforcement has to do with the statement “All Cops Are Bastards” or ACAB. This phrase dates back over a century to 1920s England and has been used by those critical of police ever since, becoming the popular abbreviation ACAB in 1940s by striking workers who clashed with the police.
ACAB banners, shirts, posters, graffiti, and signs are frequent staples at police brutality protests worldwide. While the Free Thought Project doesn’t believe in blanket statements that insult vast swaths of people, we stand by everyone’s right to make them — and so does the constitution.
However, that constitutional right to say ACAB is under attack and could soon land people on watch lists or even years in jail. During a police brutality protest in Arizona in October, law enforcement made multiple arrests, which is quite common. However, after the arrests, prosecutors made an insidious move to criminalize the speech used by the protesters as felonious.
The protesters were hit with felony street gang charges because they used the abbreviation ACAB.