In the course of my life I have had several encounters with police. On some occasions it was to report a crime or suspicious behavior, but in other instances I have met the police as a force of oppression. The general belief is that a police force is established to enforce the law and protect the citizens. Certainly police do "serve and protect," but they are also a tool of the elite; used to maintain a society that protects and furthers the hegemony of the elite by punishing those with ideologies that threaten the position of the elites and rewarding those who support them with safety. To quote Chairman Omali Yashitela of the African People's Socialist Party "[...] the reality is the police become necessary in human society only at that junction in human society where it is split between those who have and those who ain't got."
The police are used to implement violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain the social order most advantageous to the existing elites.
The masses and counter elites, who might otherwise speak out against the unequal distribution of deference, safety, and income, are prevented from doing so out of fear of physical violence or imprisonment.
Police are also used to threaten the masses in an economic capacity. Through the utilization of fines and monetary penalties the criminal justice system can directly affect a person's financial status. In addition to this, through imprisonment and the consequences of a criminal record, it is possible to affect a person's eligibility for higher education and employability. To quote Chairman Omali Yashitela, of the African People's Socialist Party, "[...] the reality is the police become necessary in human society only at that junction in human society where it is split between those who have and those who...