Driving along 35-North the other day, I ended up behind an SUV with a “blue lives matter” bumper sticker. I immediately thought, “Well, there’s no law against supporting police and Black Lives Matter at the same time,” but then I thought about the word choice. “Back the blue,” I can understand, and I support it. “Blue lives matter,” by its very phraseology, appears to be just one big “eff you” to BLM. What a world we live in when people can just parade around their hatred of Black people without fear of repercussion. It’s one thing to “back the blue” — I would like to think that we all do to some extent — but it’s quite another to be pro-blue to the point of negating a very real, very important movement in support of lives that have been torn apart by systemic racism dating back to 1619. Man, Nazis are just the worst.
Sub Sahara hates Nazis, too. And cops don’t fare much better in the eyes of the Dallas quartet, whose new single takes direct aim at blue lives. Recorded in Fort Worth at Cloudland with Robby Rux (Fungi Girls, The Fibs, Year of the Bear) and Joe Tacke (Mean Motor Scooter, I Happy AM), “13-12” — underground code for “All Cops Are Bastards” — is a jolt of electro-laced rock somewhere between New Wave and proto-punk. And it’s angry. Really angry.
“You act like a victim when you’re under fire,” bassist/frontperson Aarón Mireles spits. “A badge and a gun, you’re nothing but a coward / Why do you keep your head under water? / Because let me remind you that blue lives don’t matter.”
As the bass rattles off notes in one direction and a simple guitar figure zigzags in another above a snappy beat, Sub Sahara gets to the chorus and to the point: “There’s no good cops / Only bad cops / Choking you out / Taking your life.”
On the group’s Bandcamp page, they dedicate the song to “all the people who have lost their lives to police brutality and incompetence.”
All proceeds from the name-your-price sale of the track will go to Not My Son, a North Texas nonprofit dedicated to “bringing the community together through events, rallies, and organized discussions focused on reforming city policies that perpetuate systems of oppression.”
Oh, there’s more.
“How many lives will you take today?” sings guest Paulina Costilla of The Bralettes. “Don’t tell me / A lot / Nothing’s changed, anyway / You better watch, watch, watch, watch, watch your neck / And with all due respect, I hope y’all rot in hell.”
My hope is that “bad cops” end up unemployed or worse when cities finally get around to defunding the police, and while I shouldn’t have to explain this, I have to because of the poor word choice — “defund” does not mean “eliminate,” as so many right-wing pearl-clutchers claim. It means transferring some of those millions of dollars that police receive every year to health-care professionals who can help police on the beat. Look at all that the average cop has to deal with on a daily basis: domestic calls, mental health calls, the homeless, missing persons, traffic, for Pete’s sake. And this doesn’t even include big responsibilities like catching murderers, rapists, drug czars, and robbers and the little stuff like paperwork and court dates. And what about family? Blue lives have a lot to deal with 24/7. By directing some of their annual budgetary monies toward social workers, conflict-resolution specialists, and other trained health-care professionals, cops can focus on the big issues. That’s all “defund” the police really means. Stop focusing on the poor wording and start discussing the substance of the movement.
I somehow suspect Sub Sahara wants to take it a step further. I don’t believe that all cops are bad the same way I don’t believe all protestors are peaceful, but I applaud the band’s anger. “Defunding” the police will also allow for better training for our men and women in blue, and everyone can benefit from more training, especially Bumper Sticker Nation. Visit Sub-sahara.bandcamp.com. — Anthony Mariani
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