In the north in 1636 there was something called voluntarily night watch, which was usually hired by the rich to do their dirty work. The night watch evolved into the first publicity funded police force of the north in Boston. The south was a different story because the main enforcement need was of slaves. Like the night watch, the slave patrols and state militia were hired to capture runaways and activist. Following the civil war and the freeing of the last slaves in Galveston, Texas on June 19,1865, the slave patrol and slavery of an innocent individual was deemed illegal by the 13th Amendment to the U.S Constitution. Even though slavery was deemed illegal, the 13th amendment enabled slavery of an individual if he or she was proven guilty for a crime.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” –https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/thirteenth-amendment#section_3
This left the night watch in the north, state militia for each state and the Ku Klux Klan (established in 1865) to continue to enforce law and order where hired throughout the nation. Since slavery was now illegal many states adapted Jim Crow laws which enforced racial segregation of colored and whites until the Civil rights movement of 1950.
The Civil War (1861-1865), 13th amendment (1865) and the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) ended the robust economic engine, the east atlantic slave trade, an economic engine that grew wealth for many white settlers for 246 years.
Between 1865 and 1950 Blacks (African Americans) were terrorized by those who still saw them not as humans but property. Even though blacks were able to go to school and open businesses, they were met by the Ku-Klux-Klan Or the Night Watch and even the State militias groups were hired to enforce racist law.
Unfortunately, the justice system is still biased today and the muse of slavery is still prevalent and we see that to this day with situations like George Floyd, whose death went unanswered by the judicial system until international protest burst out across the world. The evolution of technology to street cameras and hand held cameras allowing for immediate upload to the World Wide Web means we have proof that the racism that fed slavery and Jim Crow still takes precedent in the judicial system today.
The fight against law enforcements original muse may have evolved but it’s still prevalent today regardless of the successes and contribution people of color have given to the United States.
Platt, Tony, “Crime and Punishment in the United States: Immediate and Long-Term Reforms from a Marxist Perspective, Crime and Social Justice 18 (1982).
Reichel, Philip L., “The Misplaced Emphasis on Urbanization in Police Development,” Policing and Society 3 no. 1 (1992).
Now is the time to stand up for what’s right! There are many ways you can help and be apart of the good fight. Check out the links listed below:
Cameron Lamb (petition link): https://act.grassrootslaw.org/sign/investigate-cameron-murder
Various different positions and more information on ways to help: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/