Concept

ACAB

Summary
ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) is an acronym used as a political slogan associated with people who are opposed to the police. It is typically written as a catchphrase in graffiti, tattoos or other imagery in public spaces. It is sometimes numerically rendered as "1312", representing the position of the letters in the English alphabet. The phrase "All Coppers Are Bastards" first appeared in England in the 1920s, then was abbreviated to "ACAB" by workers on strike in the 1940s. The acronym is historically associated with criminals in the United Kingdom. First reported as a prison tattoo in the 1970s, it is commonly rendered as one letter per finger, or sometimes disguised as symbolic small dots across each knuckle. In 1970, the Daily Mirror ran the phrase as a headline, and wrote that it was borne by a Hells Angel on the street. British director Sidney Hayers also used a censored version as the title of his 1972 crime drama All Coppers Are.... In 1977, a Newcastle journalist saw it written on the walls of a prison cell. During the 1980s, ACAB became a symbol of anti-Establishment, especially within the punk and skinhead subcultures. It was popularized in particular by the 1982 song "A.C.A.B." by Oi! band The 4-Skins. In later years, ACAB turned into a popular slogan among European football hooligans and ultras, and among anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements across the world. In certain contexts, the Anti-Defamation League categorizes the phrase as a hate symbol and describes it as "a slogan of long standing in the skinhead culture", while noting the phrase is used both by racist and anti-racist skinheads. In the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, the use of the term ACAB became more frequently used by those who oppose the police. As protests in response to Floyd's murder and discussions about racially-motivated police violence spread through the United States, ACAB was more frequently referenced on social media and products bearing the acronym became available.
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