For the Enslaved (and also their today’s descendants), the police symbolized “White Power,” White Racism,” and “White Repression.” During and after slavery southern states relied on systems of police patrols. These police were not there to prevent disorder caused by European Satantists but rather to preserve that cause. For the Enslaved, there was no experience so terrible that the police would not make it worse. While intensifying misery for the Enslaved, police protected Whites’ property + the near barbaric slave owners and overseers’ “stay-in-your-place” dictates. The patrols, ranging in size from 2 or 3 to 12 and more, were organized in military fashion—with captains, sergeants, and patrollers [privates]. All of this was based on legislatures having passed laws granting local officials—including county judges—authority to do so in order to “control” the Enslaved. Patrols had legal authority to search virtually anywhere and on anyones property, for fugitives. In times of crises, they could hold appointment through “executive authority.” Virginia, in 1808, for example, had special patrols to put down a rumored Enslaved insurrection. One patroller said they were instructed to search “the negro cabins, & take every thing which we found in them, which bore a hostile aspect, such as power, shot…and were told to apprehend every negro whom we found from his home; & and if made any resistance, or ran from us, to fire on him immediately, unless he could be stopped by other means.” Note how this is exactly the same today. In South Carolina, patrollers could point to an early law giving them the legal right to kill any Enslaved who fled. Many thousands of White southerners served in these military style companies, some, despite being propertlyless, nevertheless joined merely for the pleasure of the hunt and the killings.
Indiscriminate killings of the Enslaved were defended by “Killer” police, using excuses like the “negroes were roaming over the country at night, to a great extent intoxicated, and were armed with swords Knives pistols guns and other deadly weapons”. Such a “tape-recorded” message, always successful, was parent to today’s “Killer” police “tape-recorded” message of: “this Black grabbed for my gun and I feared for my life—that’s why I killed him/her”. Some patrollers would invade plantations, rob the slave owners’ houses, and take to jail White overseers who refused to cooperate. At times, patrollers had their own problems—as by falling off their horses and being trampled to death or being accidently shot by members of their own units. Mostly, it came from “Runaway Slaves” turning and fighting their pursuers to their death. Of course, Whites deemed these “Runaway Slaves” as “lawless,” “desperate,” and “bold” while claiming they were doing “noble” deeds. Although the “Night Watchers” were replaced following slavery, their essence and practices were continued by the Ku Klux Klan (who existed in slavery but under different names). Although there were checkered rage displays of dissentions among the ex-Enslaved over police brutality, the courage to attack Whites had been beaten out of most of them—beatings which turned their minds “Inside-Out.” Meanwhile, the Vigilante Tradition had started in 1767 and consisted of organized, extralegal movements taking the law into their own hands. It continued until 1900, as an almost constant factor directed against Black People in such forms as flogging or killings.
Following slavery, the prejudgments of the police force being about dealing only with any escaped or problematic Slaves was their total focus. To these ends, post-slavery police forces were arranged to deal only with Black People. Perhaps the vicious acts of the police were what gave rise to the expression: “It was repressed sadists who become butchers or policemen.” Before, during, and following the Civil War there were various unusual Vigilante acts. One occurred when White outlaws made a concerted effort to raise a gigantic rebellion among Black People in the interest of an ‘underworld” dominion of the region. The excuses were anything the Vigilante could imagine—e.g. raping White women; being disorderly, destroying property, stealing, being “uppity,” or eroding the established Christian religion values. Such acts of violence were particularly prominent after the Civil War because White southerners were enraged that they had lost the war. Invariably, to police brutality, “the law” would turn a blind eye—as still occurs nation-wide today.