Cops has been canceled after it’s 32nd season. The long-running reality television series was pulled from Paramount (formerly Spike TV) Network concluding its six-year stint. A network spokesperson said there are no plans to bring it back.
The cancelation comes the very day the series’ 33rd season was to premiere and in the wake of ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd in the US and across the globe. Online racial justice organization Color of Change took credit for the cancelation as well as the cancelation of LivePD from A&E Networks following conversations they claim to have had with both networks.
As Color of Change’s post indicates, this isn’t a spur of the moment decision and efforts to have Cops dropped from TV lineups have been going on for years. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that The New York Times pointed out the show’s racial bias during its premiere season back in 1989. In the intervening years, during the shows 25-year run on Fox, it was the subject of numerous studies that showed the series portrayed African-American men disproportionately as offenders, usually of violent crime (the same was true for Latin-Americans) while police were disproportionately white.
Obviously, many relationships with the police are being called into question right now, and reality portrayals of them on television are not the only relationships being terminated as protests and activism continue; school districts are ending their relationships with local police departments and removing police officers from their hallways, the military is scaling back its weapons and equipment deals with police departments, and entire municipalities are considering defunding their departments up to and including possible disbandment of their police forces.
A series glorifies predominantly white police chasing “bad boys,” overwhelmingly people of color, sometimes with the help of unleashed dogs, is the antithesis of what people are seeking in their world at this instant, and frankly its removal from the airwaves is long overdue. Police abuse of power and systemic racism are issues driving the movements that sprang up across the globe.
These are positive and necessary reactions to one of the most horrid and public crimes the world has ever collectively witnessed–a murder that is representative of a systemic disease that has been subjugating black people for hundreds of years. Racism must be confronted on all fronts and in all forms from the conspicuous to the subtle and subversive.