In the midst of the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movement, more and more people are speaking out against injustice. And Sean Trainor, a writing professor at the University Of Florida, had a lot to say about this matter.

When Sean was “younger and dumber,” he spent a night shadowing a police officer classmate in what he called “one of the most chilling and radicalizing nights of my life.” He detailed everything that happened during the distressing ride-along in this now-viral Twitter thread. “His entire shift had been devoted to profiling, harassing, and intimidating people,” concluded Sean in a series of tweets that ripped many people’s hearts out of their chests.

Sean recalled his distressing ride-along with a police officer friend in this viral Twitter thread

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

In an interview with Bored Panda, Sean said that the whole experience of that ride-along shaped his personal belief that the problem of policing is systematic and institutional. “I haven’t talked to the person I did the ride-along with in years, but, at that time, we were close, and I remember him during those years as an incredibly kind person and caring friend.”

Unfortunately, according to Sean, his former friend “was embedded in this system that trained him and incentivized him to do harmful stuff.” It suggests that “even if police forces were staffed entirely with people like my classmate, they’d still be destructive because,” continued Sean, “cruelty is baked into their metrics, their goals, their history and institutional purpose.”

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Sean said that when he did the ride-along, he was a pretty ignorant kid. “If I had written up the experience the night after it happened, my report would have looked different than what I posted last Sunday.” But in the years that followed, the things he saw kept resonating with “scenes described by both scholars of racism and policing, especially people of color.” These perspectives have changed his understanding of the night’s events forever.

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Sean concluded that “I genuinely believe that policing in the US is a dangerous, dysfunctional institution; that it provides critical support to white supremacy and class domination; and that it needs to be radically reconceived.”

But it’s not only the police system that’s inherently flawed. Sean argues that “every institution in the US is intertwined with both white supremacy and class domination—including my own institution of academia. “If we’re serious about building a better world, we need to change a lot more than policing.” It comes down to changing both institutions and individual attitudes.

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Image credits: ess_trainor

Sean Trainor is a writer and historian currently teaching undergraduate and graduate classes on professional writing at the University of Florida’s Management Communication Center. As a writer and historian, Sean “uses the communication skills to teach students to translate historical scholarship into public insights.”

He also hosts the podcast Impolitic, which is dedicated to “friendly arguments between a libertarian and a socialist on politics, culture, and history.” Together with co-host Paul Matzko, Sean discusses hot social and political topics like the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.

In a recent episode titled “No Justice, No Peace,” Sean discussed the protests and urban rebellions sweeping the US after George Floyd’s murder, with detours on ’60s radicalism and reaction, social movement theory, and the rise of the Soviet bureaucracy.

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