[Breonna Taylor, rest in power, queen. This time around, there are more of us keeping the fight going…]
You want to know who I fight for? Fuck your flags, your ideologies, and your gods. I fight for my family of loved ones. Them folks that have pledged to take care of my family if I die early. The same pledge I carry in my heart every day. Now more than ever.
My loved ones and I are ready to walk the talk. Hell, we’ve been doing it for longer than we care to imagine. We are a pod of fighting families living right here in Southside. We are bonded at heart and soul through our children, they are the reason we do what we do. We have been marching, organizing, cleaning the streets, defending neighborhoods, protecting the most vulnerable, facing police brutality, and resisting the police state, all while raising our kids and animals. We are tired and stressed. But we’re now knuckling down for the long haul.
The real revolution.
This is our town, our ‘hood, and here are some changes we’d like to see – CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS to defund and dismantle the police with the following four points as a springboard and Precinct 3 as the pilot:
(1) Recruit peace officers solely from the neighborhoods they work in, and very crucially representing the racial makeup of the neighborhood. Essentially they will be uniformed social workers who live and work in the community. Right now, in Southside there are so many young and middle aged adults, many unemployed due to corona; highly experienced in public health, social services, education, community organizing and more. A section of these adults can easily brought up to the fitness level of a beat cop, and be uniformed, patrolling social workers for the neighborhood, building community and social relations while helping maintain public safety and health. You wouldn’t even need squad cars because beat cops buddy up and WALK the neighborhood, i.e. their beat (hence the need for practical lived fitness rather than bench pressing meatheads with guns). This is akin to a lot of countries who have made giant strides in reducing police brutality and impunity, such as those in Western and Northern Europe. Policing needs to be replaced by the city paying us to take care of our own communities instead of paying ridiculous salaries for suburban adrenalin-junkies to beat and brutalize us.
(2) Train peace officers rigorously in trauma-informed practice, de-escalation, community organizing, public health, community safety, intelligent self defense – while significantly decreasing enforcement training, arms training, punitive control, siege mentality nonsense, power & control bullshit. Again we have multiple experienced professionals in Southside who can examine the training curriculum and propose practical changes. Perhaps a new set of peace officers starting with Precinct 3 can also be the pioneering cadets to be trained as these uniformed social workers.
(3) Peace officers must be disarmed of all lethal weapons. Have you seen the beat cops in some of the wealthiest, safest countries on earth? They don’t walk around like our city cops, in full captain-america-wannabe tactical gear. They look like city volunteers at a local park with maybe a flashlight, a baton, or some mace. What about terrorists you say? What about situations where armed police are needed? Sure thing – have a small, tiny percentage of the police be tactically trained and ready to be called on for the rare, rare time when such armed intervention is necessary. You know who has better response times than the majority of US police when it comes to dealing with terrorists? European police. Because they don’t expect their beat cops to intervene in a tactical situation. The guns for beat cops just gives them this overwhelming sense of power and entitlement. I know what it’s like to wear a uniform and have a rifle over my shoulder. The power of a gun is very, very addictive and absolutely counter-productive for the overwhelming majority of reasons police are called to intervene in America.
(4) Finally, all peace officers must be subject to rigorous civilian oversight. Each precinct must have a paid civilian oversight panel with prosecutorial powers, with panel members being residents of the precinct jurisdiction. This is kind of a bare minimum for any democracy. It’s a crying shame we don’t have this in our cities.
This is JUST THE BEGINNING.All this and more ought to be coupled with TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONS on police brutality over the past many generations. Minneapolis can be the starting point. Open those police files and let the brutal healing process begin.
None of this is new of course. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Our families of Southside who, I repeat, have been organizing, protesting, marching, protecting neighborhoods, all while raising our children and animals, are here to help. And we have a lot of friends. What do you need to make this happen? More practical, concrete suggestions? Position papers on all of the above? Volunteers to step up and do the grunt work?We’re ready to walk the talk, if our elected leaders are ready to do the same.
More soon on dismantling the link between generational white supremacy and policing, connecting this movement with prison abolition, making a serious push for reparations, and why police unions need to be done away with (I say this as a union organizer myself because mercenaries of the state protecting elite interests don’t need unions).