I’ve been a little bit frustrated by the discussion around police action. Mainly, I’m frustrated because people seem to believe that there is no possible way that the police could learn not to do what they’ve been doing and also because we treat police brutality as if it’s not everyone’s problem.
So first, I want to talk about how they handle protests. Our cops are clearly poorly trained at dealing with crowd control. That’s not just because they are racist, the cops beat the whitest dude I know up at a college protest. France doesn’t seem to have this problem every time they protest or have a soccer match or drink in public and the French are not less racist than us. I mean, they are French. I’m not even going to bother to list the number of racial atrocities they’ve committed because its ridiculous. And also, I’ve met them and they are just super racist. The British are super racist (they invented racism!) AND super classist and they still manage to not have these kinds of problems when there are protests. So it’s obvious to me that there is either a training or recruitment or cultural problem (or all three) when it comes to our police. By cultural, I mean in the sense of what they believe their job is, they clearly see themselves in opposition to the community they serve and they are clearly militarized. They clearly don’t know how to control crowds and they clearly have a culture of violence that is unacceptable, as well as tools that are wildly inappropriate. We can’t magically ensure that all police are not bigoted, though we should try and continue to fight racism, but a more immediate solution is to talk about how we can train them better and create a less hostile culture with our police.
I’m also extremely angry at the mostly white young men who keep making excuses for the police to avoid talking about race. I don’t care what messed up beliefs you have in your head, why as a member of a supposedly free republic are you ok with our cops treating people the way we do? Why is it even remotely ok for them to habitually run around shooting people? Even if you are racist, you realize that half the police fatalities are poor white men (I know they are poor because if they were rich, we’d hear about it)? Even if you don’t believe it’s about race, why are you ok with this? Why are you ok with the fact that there is no accountability when these things happen? I mean, it’s just basically disgusting to me that the people who are supposed to protect and serve can shoot or choke or beat people without at least an investigation. Our soldiers have a higher threshold of standards for killing civilians in other countries in a time of war than our police do. Israeli soldiers have more restraint than our police do and more accountability. No matter what you believe none of us should be ok with this. But seriously, if you still don’t understand why racism is involved, please just email me so I can help you. You might be living in a color blind world, but the rest of us aren’t and if you are living in a color blind world or a world where no people of color have informed you about police brutality then you hang out with an extremely homogeneous group of friends. And for the love of god, stop arguing with black men over how they experience the world, you don’t know and they are trying to tell you.
On the other hand, I’ve also been annoyed with some of the “social justice” folks who have been posting stories about cops chocking college students and taking an early retirement as a result, who post it with the message that it should demonstrate that racism exists. Because the cop didn’t kill him when he choked him and the cop was given the option to retire. That’s still terrible, by any normal standard. It’s not somehow ok that the cop choked anyone just because you want to make a point. Because it’s not ok for our cops to act like this for any reason ever without accountability. If you want to prove racism is part of the motivation then you can just start quoting the statistics that show that for black men the number of police shootings is grossly disproportionate. That doesn’t mean that the half of the police fatalities that are white is any less important or real and it’s doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address that. It means that cops clearly exist in a world where black men are more likely to be policed and murdered without consequences. It’s not even necessarily the case that individual cops are systematically targeting black men, it can be largely influenced by the fact that racism results in a world where black people are disproportionately likely to be poor, because police tend to only police poor areas. The other people who were not black that were shot were living in poor areas that are heavily policed. And why are they policed? For three reasons: one is that we have a belief system that says that the poor are somehow deviant and therefore need to be watched, two is the war on drugs because even though nearly every rich person I know has done drugs they still seem to believe that they are somehow superior to the poor, and three is that poverty forces to you exist on the margins and people will do what they have to in order to feed their kids.
It’s not ok for the cops to do this to anyone and they do it because the people they really believe they are serving, like the folks in Atherton who don’t let BART go down to San Jose because they don’t want “that element” in their city or the folks in Palo Alto who criminalized homeless people forced to live in their cars, tell them to do it. When the master starts telling the overseers to treat the people they oversee like people, they will stop killing those people.
It’s not ok that the police keep doing this and I’m sick of sitting around and whining about it instead of talking about root causes and solutions. And I’m so sick of the infighting among marginalized groups; no one should ok with the police doing this to anyone for any reason. The problem is all of us and all of us are responsible.