A.C.A.B. is an acronym that stands for “all cops are bastards,” a punk phrase that can be heard shouted at public demonstrations and protests throughout Germany and many counties in Europe. The formidable police presence at these events gets little notice in the United States, yet hundreds of videos on YouTube depict violent head-on clashes between armed police and unarmed protesters and passersby.
In prisons in the United Kingdom and United States, the letters A.C.A.B. can often be found tattooed on the front of a person’s four fingers in clenched fist. Alternately, in various other contexts, the acronym can mean, “always carry a Bible,” “anarcho-communists are beautiful,” and in the photograph below, “acht Cola, acht Bier” (eight colas, eight beer).
Banners and flags with A.C.A.B. appear at European football games, and in April 2010, police in Amsterdam arrested three men at a game for wearing T-shirts with the number 1312. In January 2011, the men were each fined 330 Euros.
A.C.A.B. stickers depict a range of sentiments from photographs of militant antifa hooligans clad in black standing face-to-face with armed riot police and uniformed Polizei snorting coke, to cartoons of young punks, musicians, and street artists. In one sticker, a vengeful Bart Simpson and clan are shown running from a calamitous scene of fire and smoke with bottle rocket, wrench, and wooden bat, chasing down dopey and bewildered cops.
The AJAK antifa sticker (Antifa jugendaktion Kreuzburg) shows a photograph of a young man being arrested. Dressed in green as a mischievous Peter Pan with arms bound in cord behind him, he is escorted into a police car. The interaction depicted here is not overtly violent, unlike some of the others.