e-flux Conversations has been closed to new contributions and will remain online as an archive. Check out our new platform for short-form writing, e-flux Notes.

e-flux conversations

A Note on Seattle Police Department's Mourning Bands

At around 2 pm PST today, Seattle’s police chief, Carmen Best, announced that police officers will not be allowed to cover their badges with “morning bands.”

Seattle Mayor Caves in to Radical’s Lies: Promises to Ban Cops from Wearing Mourning Bands on Their Badges to Honor Fallen Officers https://t.co/ffaXoyfhEi pic.twitter.com/dBmuGAXidU

— National Police Association (@NatPoliceAssoc) June 4, 2020
These bands made a sudden appearance around the time the Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the city. The Seattle Police Department insisted they were only mourning the death of a retired police officer in Missouri. Looters, they claimed, killed this officer. The bands displayed their respect for the slain former cop.

Now, Seattle’s socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant correctly smelled a rat. This was not about mourning. It was about covering badge numbers during demonstrations. If a cop’s identity was hidden, he/she could open a can of ass whooping on protesters without fear.

I agreed with this interpretation, but I also felt it was not the point an intervention on mourning bands should start. We should, instead, start at the very beginning, which is: police should never ever cover their badge in the first place.


Because it’s public property. A cop can’t just do what ever he/she wants with a badge. They do not own it. The city does. What must be stressed again and again is that police officers are public servants. They are not soldiers or superheroes. They are the same as any other employee of the city or county. The transformation of police work must begin with the desacralization of that occupation.