With each new video, police departments across the nation continue to prove that they can no longer be trusted to protect the American people.
By David Todd McCarty | Friday, June 5, 2020
In the middle of a global pandemic, Americans of all races and backgrounds found, in themselves, the fortitude to take to the streets in mass this week, to protest the extrajudicial killing of a black man in Minneapolis at the hands of the police, and were met with a response so violent and out of control, that the whole world stopped and watched in horror.
This was not a few, frightened officers who may have lost control of their emotions and made a momentary bad decision that they would later regret. This was an organized, collective attempt to silence, with overwhelming force, anyone who dared to question their authority and it was not just supported by, but blatantly called for, by the President of the United States himself.
Riot (n) 1. A violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd; an uproar; an outburst of uncontrolled feelings; uncontrolled or rowdy behavior.
As each new video would surface, most of us watching had a similar thought of, “Is this really happening here in America?” It is one thing to witness a single moment in a short clip from some hot spot in some distant city, but this was constant, unnerving, and from every corner of America, including your town or the one directly nearby. After the first few days, where looters did indeed take advantage of the civil unrest, as would be expected if not condoned, the protests were peaceful and organized. They were most often attacked, unprovoked, by police for no apparent reason, and captured in glaring detail by the millions of cameras carried by every citizen.
We watched as grown men in heavy black, riot gear, violently pushed old men to the ground, beat women with clubs, maced crowds as if they were spraying for bugs, fired rubber bullets the size of a child’s fist at the heads and faces of defenseless protestors, used flash-bang grenades and tear gas, struck bystanders with riot shields, trapped crowds of people for hours in a strategy known as “kettling,” broke car windows, pulled civilians from cars and tasered them, stole bicycles, attacked lawyers and journalists even though they were clearly identifiable, and arrested thousands, holding them in cramped jails despite risk of contagion from a global pandemic.
It is a shit show, and it will continue again tonight and on through the weekend.
It’s no wonder really, that community leaders have begun to seriously consider whether our current system is worth the cost, in need of serious overhaul, or even needed at all. There are calls by serious people to defund or dismantle the entire system of policing in America as it becomes more and more evident that it is not just a few bad apples, as they are fond of telling us, but an institution so corrupt and out of step, that it is itself, beyond repair.
Even a few weeks ago, had you suggested that we do away with the police entirely, you would have been considered a radical lunatic with anarchist ideas, but today, in light of where we find ourselves, it’s not such a crazy idea. Studies show that policing is rarely a deterrent for crime, and most crimes are related to the criminalization of activities that should be criminal such as drugs and sex work. Are we causing our own problems by adding more police?
In 2014, after the killing of Eric Garner in New York, the NYPD engaged in a work slowdown (they aren’t legally allowed to strike) where they simply stopped arresting people, and crime went down. Actual crime, not just arrests or reporting, but actual crime.
It just might be true that there are better ways to deal with our social issues than mass incarceration, and if you focused on the needs of our citizens and met them, we might be able to find better ways to the spend the $100 billion a year we spend on so-called public safety from policing, or the $200 billion we spend on prisons. We are spending trillions on a devastating war on drugs that has been mostly a war on communities of color, and we have nothing to show for it but the destruction of an entire race of people in America.
This is a complex subject with a need for educated analysis and thoughtful consideration, but everything should be on the table as they say, since what we currently doing is clearly not working and there has to be a better solution.
In the meantime, we need mayors and governors, Senators and Congressmen, police chiefs and city councilwomen, to call on these police departments to stand down. We need a Truth Commission in each municipality, city and township to examine the actions of these out of control officers and prosecute anyone who believes they can violate the civil rights of our citizens with impunity. People need to be arrested, prosecuted, and fired. We need everyone to know, police and communities alike, that this will no longer be tolerated in America.
This is America, but I wish it weren’t.