The last time we heard from Massachusetts quartet Kindling, it was back in July 2014 when they released their Spike & Wave 7″. The album featured four shimmery shoegazey pop tracks that soared right into our hearts. Kindling’s new cover of The Dicks’ “Hate the Police” brings their atmospheric sound to the 1980 punk track. Gretchen Williams’ gentle vocals turns the snarling sound of the original into a distorted and dreamy plea that – while perhaps lacking the original’s urgency – carries the same amount of passion.
The digital single benefits an unnamed organization dedicated to ending police abuse and creating accountability for police violations of the law, the constitution, and basic human rights. The group has chosen to remain anonymous due to the loaded song title, but Kindling asks that those who are curious or would like to donate directly to reach out to them. The band adds:
Kindling knows that not every officer of the law is an inherently bad person, but the structure of the job—and the systems of inequality in which it exists—often biases the recruitment of officers, precludes officers taking action against other officers who are abusing their position, and may function to replicate abusive behavior among officers. The fact that we see it as a rare and courageous act for former officers to speak out about injustices they witnessed serves to underline the nature of the situation: the “Blue Wall of Silence” and loyalty to coworkers too often weighs heavier than justice and accountability.
Official versions of events justify police violence on the basis of the actions of the citizens affected—a narrative is molded to fit the outcome. That people of color are disproportionately targeted—and killed—by police points to the racism that suffocates our justice system and our country. Witness video and audio recording serves as a rare and insufficient means of defense for those unjustly pursued by the law. Boston Police Commissioner William Evans recently called for legislation that would mandate distance between people filming on-duty police offers. He is also advocating for legislation that would hold citizens accountable for not coming to the aid of officers engaged in a struggle with a suspect. To expect—and perhaps even require—support and cooperation from people who, on another day, may be unfairly in police crosshairs underscores the deep imbalance in power between the police and those they are supposed to serve. Any attempt to legislate trust, rather than build it, profoundly misunderstands and underestimates the situation.
We don’t have the answers, and the situation is far more complicated and culturally entrenched than any band could hope to unravel, but we’re committed to listening and learning. We figured that this would be a good opportunity to offer some funds to people who actually may have the beginnings of an answer to these problems that have long been experienced and felt by the disenfranchised and chronically underserved, but are only recently becoming part of mainstream discourse.
Stream “Hate the Police” below and download the track on bandcamp: