After Point Break (1991), Kathryn Bigelow directed Strange Days (1995), an underrated cyberpunk thriller set in the final days of the second millennium. The core of the movie, which stars Ralph Fiennes as an end-times dandy and a dealer of a hot but illegal technology, is two murders committed by two white police officers. Their victims are a black rapper and a member of his crew. But the end of the film reveals that corruption in the LAPD is not widespread. It is isolated. The rapper and his friend were murdered by bad apples. This is a happy ending. The system can remain; the bad apples are gone. What a fantasy. Reality is much more like Ronald Brockmeyer, a white Ferguson, Missouri, judge who, the Guardian reports:
was singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson’s strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues. The policy has been blamed for a breakdown in relations between the city’s overwhelmingly white authorities and residents, two-thirds of whom are African American.The Guardian also discovered that while Brockmeyer was busy throwing people (mostly black and poor) behind bars for not paying fines from traffic violations and creating "a range of new court fees," he himself owed the IRS $170,000.
It's reported that Brockmeyer is to resign from his position on Ferguson's municipal court (he was paid $600 per session), but this is nowhere near the real solution. He is not a bad apple. Removing him and doing nothing about the conditions that he and his brand of creativity thrived in is almost worthless. And what are those conditions? Filling austerity-induced budget holes not with tax revenue from the rich but with fees and fines farmed from the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. Vulnerable all the more because many whites believe that racism is a thing of the past, that we're all now playing on a level field. But it is in part this belief in a post-racial America that provided a cover for a whole oppressive system of extortion and the unjustified criminalization of many black Americans.
All of this would never have been exposed by the press if a certain white officer had not shot a certain black youth. And only now with an investigation by the DOJ do we see that little is actually on the level. We also see how racism is expressed and aggravated by suburban values—which are anti-tax, anti-public-transportation, and, of course, pro-safety, which automatically translates into large police departments that need revenue from somewhere.