Decisions made in the heat of passion aren’t always the best decisions. Some might even say they are usually the worst decisions, as there is a bone in our head that precludes thought when passions run high. While passion has generally become a social driver over the past few years, it’s overwhelmed many in the past ten days. And when I predicted that “Defund Police” will gain no traction, I may have been wrong because the idea is idiotic. I failed to take into account passion.
The Los Angeles city council has introduced a bill to reduce police funding by $150 million.
Council President Nury Martinez and councilmembers Herb Wesson, Curren Price and Monica Rodriguez introduced the legislation to reprioritize public safety funds, reinvesting them in other services, including those “to uplift disenfranchised communities.”
Whether that’s a wise reprioritization or not is unclear. It doesn’t say why the funding was needed, what the police would use it for or where the money will go. As a general precept, not feeding unlimited funds to the police probably won’t make anyone not on the police union payroll sad. On the other hand, if the department needed funding to pay for the replacement of old squad cars, or in the alternative, the funding of pensions obligations, it could present a problem. Also, is there an “uplift” store where the money gets spent?
Had this question been called a month ago, when cops were coronavirus heroes, maybe the council would have doubled the increase to show their love and appreciation. Weird how that works. I wonder where all those beloved and adored cops went when they were replaced on the front line of protests by those evil and sadistic cops? Most have been their RDO.
In one of the ever-popular “‘splainers,” Newsweek, the once-credible news magazine, does some of its best ‘splainin’.
Speaking with Newsweek on Thursday, Jamani Montague of Critical Resistance—a national, member-based grassroots organization working to dismantle the prison-industrial complex in the U.S.—said that the driving goal of defunding law enforcement is to abolish the current system of policing and justice as we know it and replace it with “transformative justice.”
“There is always going to be harm and we have to find transformative ways to think about how we’re addressing harm in a way that’s not promoting disposability and not promoting punishing people,” Montague said.
In a world without policing, Montague said, communities would have to find new ways of managing harm and “building a sense of collective care and interdependency.”
“Our conflicts have become property of the state. We don’t have even have a relationship to how we deal with our conflicts anymore,” Montague said. “That automatically gets directed to 911.”
Did that clear it up for you? Lisa Bender, president of the Minneapolis City Council, is a bit more concrete about what this really means.
If you are a comfortable white person asking to dismantle the police I invite you to reflect: are you willing to stick with it? Will you be calling in three months to ask about garage break-ins? Are you willing to dismantle white supremacy in all systems, including a new system?
Those comfortable white persons and their white supremacist concerns about garage break-ins. I’m literally shaking. I suspect that it might even extend further than the garage, like supermarkets and mom-and-pop stores (at least the ones not minority owned) and perhaps your kids for not handing over their Nike sneakers upon demand of the oppressed, or kneeling to apologize and beg forgiveness for slavery.
The irony here is that there is sound reason to divert funds from policing to schools, mental health services, funding for businesses and numerous other services that are starving while cops get new bullet proof vests every year to wear while cruising in their MRAP. Police are hugely expensive (thanks, unions!).
And there is likely an enormous public safety benefit and cost savings to be had by funding services that enable people to be productive, law-abiding and successful members of society. How much is unclear, but it’s clear that giving people a vested interest in society and the opportunity to succeed will substantially reduce the alternative, that they have no way to survive but for crime.
But there will still be crime, because people will still be people just as they’ve always been people. Not every garage will be broken into, but some will. Are you willing to let it slide? Don’t call the cops as they won’t come. Don’t complain that they aren’t on the streets, as the twelve cops left on the force are busy busting stare rapists who are traumatizing strong and fierce women survivors.
How exactly this theoretical scheme that aspires to be “transformative” is supposed to work is anybody’s guess at this point. It’s not as if anybody has thought of any of this through, and given the tendency to make word salad for dinner, it’s not as if their supporters demand specifics rather than meaningless vagaries about whiskers on kittens.
But Lisa Bender came the closest to spilling the beans when she told her constituents, flat out, that if they aren’t willing to take a garage break-in for the team, then they might as well wear Klan hoods. And if they break into your comfortable white privileged house after the garage has been emptied, who will you call?*
Don’t answer. It’s a trick question, for if you think calling is the right response, that’s just your privilege showing. Property isn’t worth a life, is it? Not even when it’s your property and somebody decides to make it his because you have it and he doesn’t. Bender tells us what the price of the future will be under her plan. Will you pay it?
*This is where someone cracks a joke about cops shooting your dog, if not your son, when they arrive or “When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.” It’s not that there isn’t some truth to the jokes.