The “Goon Squad”: A Symptom of U.S. Policing

So far, six police officers have been given 10 to 40 year prison sentences for the racist torture and sexual assault of two Black men in Rankin County, Mississippi. In January 2023 both men were beaten, tasered and sexually abused, and one nearly died during a so-called mock execution. The officers were part of the self-proclaimed “Goon Squad” which routinely barged into homes without warrants and attacked residents in poor communities for nearly two decades.

While the police officers should be held responsible for their cruelty, them serving prison time will not fix the violence of the U.S. policing system. In an investigation by Mississippi Today and The New York Times Local Investigations Fellowship, 17 torture incidents spanning almost 20 years have been confirmed in Rankin County alone. In the U.S., 2023 set a record with 1,232 people killed by the police. Officers have killed 254 people so far in 2024. These horrendous statistics follow the national outrage over George Floyd’s murder, and despite the massive protests following his killing, the police consistently receive immunity even when their brutality is reported.

This is outrageous but not surprising! Law enforcement was made with the purpose of using force to intimidate the population and maintain a society based on deep inequality. To truly end police violence we must go beyond the courts. We must fight to end the system that enforces inequality, racism, and insecurity.