It’s been difficult to know what to blog here, while police all over country continue committing acts of violence against Black and brown people. For 20-year-old Daunte Wright to be shot to death by a veteran cop at an unnecessary traffic stop in Brooklyn Park, Minn. — mere miles away from where Derek Chauvin is being tried for killing George Floyd last year — is one of the many outrages. (On March 29, the day the trial started, a cop in Chicago chased and then shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was standing with his hands in the air. That video was released today.) This kind of behavior can’t be “reformed,” because cops already know better. They just don’t care. They don’t feel shame — when people protest police violence, the police inflict more violence. They don’t respect the law: As far as cop culture is concerned, the police are judge, jury, and executioner.
A lot of white people bridle when they hear activists calling to “defund the police” and “abolish the police.” But police don’t spend the vast majority of their time keeping you safe from violent crimes and general mayhem. If you’re lucky, they’ll turn up and express concern after a violent crime; if you’re unlucky, they’ll re-victimize you. Cops spend a lot of time on petty traffic stops and mental health crises — two scenarios that frequently turn deadly for Black and brown people. Give the cops more money for training, and you’ll wind up seeing the NYPD spend $74,000 (that’s the starting price) on a dystopian robot “dog.” So, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the history of policing, what police actually accomplish now, what previous attempts at reform got us, and what our alternatives are.
- If you’re on Twitter, I urge you to follow activist Bree Newsome.
- Read Indivisible’s guide to defunding the police, which includes actions you can take, such as calling your elected officials with specific demands.
- Buy the book We Do This ’til They Free Us by Mariane Kaba.
- Buy the 2003 Angela David book Are Prisons Obsolete?
And stop freaking out every time a chain store winds up with a smashed window when the atrocities are too much for a community to bear. Seriously? There is this thing called business insurance. Windows can be replaced. Cheap clothes can be replaced. Even expensive jewelry can be replaced. Lives can never be replaced. People are more important than property. Period.