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Honored Social Butterfly

Bad Apples? Diseased Tree!

The problem of policing isn’t bad apples. It’s a diseased tree.

 

Every day — every night, to be more precise — more bad apples roll before our eyes. The video is horrifying; the camera unflinching. So, more Americans — white Americans, even Republican Americans, a majority of Americans except, it seems, those who work behind fortified barricades for President Trump — have come to understand: The problem of policing is not individual apples, but bushels full of them. It is a diseased tree.

 

A diseased tree with three infected and intertwined branches that each must be lopped off. The worst, by far, is systemic racism in police departments nationwide — and here perhaps the arboreal metaphor fails, and the disease is in the trunk itself, if not in the soil of our national history. The second is the embedded culture of brutality and tolerance of brutality among police officers. The third, connected to the second, is the militarization of police departments, with combat-style equipment designed for battlefields and heedlessly deployed in American streets, that reinforces this culture of violence and, as Trump would have it, “domination.”

 

Those who were inclined, who had the distance — and, yes, the privilege — to be inclined to give officers and departments the benefit of the doubt can no longer soothe themselves with the illusion that these are random, unrepresentative incidents. Technology in the form of omnipresent video cameras has conclusively ended that debate. Those who are white can no longer rest comfortably in the fiction that this is a problem confined to the other. The affected communities will no longer tolerate the murderous knee on the neck, nor should they; the ensuing outrage consumes us all. As it should. As it must.

 

And while there should be no doubt that police brutality has a racial cast, there is also no doubt that lighter skin offers no absolute immunity. Witness the violent assault Monday on peaceful protesters of every hue at Lafayette Square. Witness the unprovoked shoving Thursday of 75-year-old Martin Gugino by police officers during a demonstration in Buffalo: Officers push Gugino, shove a baton into him, his head hits the pavement, he is motionless and bleeding, and the officers march on. We are not all George Floyd now, because not all of us are at similar risk. But all of us are at some risk when police believe they can act like this.

 

The gratifying news is that the public gets it, more than ever before. A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds that three-fourths of those surveyed believe Floyd’s killing is not an isolated incident but part of a broader problem in the treatment of African Americans by police. This number includes more than a majority — 55 percent — of Republicans.

 

The shift is remarkable. Just six years ago, after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the death of Eric Garner after he was put in a chokehold by New York City police, just 43 percent thought the incidents signified a broader problem, compared with 74 percent today.

 

No single measure will suffice to fix the situation; many individual steps can help. Training to create a police culture of intervention against out-of-control colleagues, not a blue wall of silence. Swift — and, where appropriate, criminal — consequences, as in the charges against the former Minneapolis Police Department officers in Floyd’s killing, or the immediate suspension without pay of the officers in Buffalo. Revamping police union contracts to end unwarranted protections for violent officers, including shielding their disciplinary records from public view and making it difficult to remove them. Restoring the Justice Department’s role — abandoned by the Trump administration — in reshaping the behavior of rogue departments. Reconsidering the doctrine of qualified immunity that has shielded officers from civil liability for their abuses.

 

And demilitarizing police departments. Under a 1997 law, more than $7 billion in surplus military equipment, from grenade launchers to armored vehicles, has been transferred at no cost to local police departments. Boys with toys are too tempted to use them, and these toys are lethal. As researchers Ryan Welch and Jack Mewhirter explained in 2017, even controlling for household income, population characteristics and violent crime levels, “more-militarized law enforcement agencies were associated with more civilians killed each year by police.” In short, “Militarization makes every problem — even a car of teenagers driving away from a party — look like a nail that should be hit with an AR-15 hammer.” President Barack Obama issued an executive order in the aftermath of the Ferguson protests limiting what equipment could be transferred; Trump revoked it during his first year in office.

 

Which suggests another necessary element of the solution: a president who will help change the culture of brutal and racist policing, not reinforce it. Not send out his national security adviser to contend that the problem is limited to “a few bad apples that have given law enforcement a bad name.” Acknowledging the scope and nature of the disease is an essential precondition to curing it.

 

The problem of policing isn’t bad apples. It’s a diseased tree. 


"FAKE 45 #illegitimate" read a sign at the Woman's March in DC, 1/27/2017
Honored Social Butterfly

    It is quite impressive to see that many Americans have finally realized what they have been willfully ignoring for decades.   More than that, the process to cure is not impossible, but it will take courage to pass sensible laws to "defund" the police.    

    Taking money out of that line item budget and moving it to social service arena will be a great first step. 

    Removing the "get out of jail free" card will be another. 

    Demilitarizing the police is another.    The GOP will claim "War on Drugs" - donald has already done that  and most just laughed at him.   

 

   The change will come when "we the people" go the City Councils around the nation and make our demands heard.    None of the demands make Cities less safe! 

 

 

    Some changes can happen locall

PRO-LIFE is Affordable Healthcare for ALL .
Honored Social Butterfly

Police in the south were created as a group who caught and returned enslaved people to their owners. 

 

Police in the north were created to protect businesses. 

 

Their origins were never about keeping neighborhoods safe.   As they became part of municipal government, that began to change.  But they still, more often than not, held true to their roots.  How often do businesses call the police to shoo away the homeless because they are bad for business?  

 

Some forward thinking departments recognize the disconnect here, and have tried to truly partner with the communities.  It's not perfect.  More has to be done.   But I do think it's time to figure out the appropriate municipal dispatch to different types of community problems.  CAHOOTS in Oregon is a promising model to address non-violent crimes and other disturbances.  This should become the fourth prong of a 911 dispatch, alongside police, fire, and EMS.  

Honored Social Butterfly

A couple of years back someone asked, does anyone ever learn anything new on this forum or is it just passing time?  Several said, "absolutely" and there was the usual grumbling from who you might suspect. It depends on the openness of one's brain, soul, and heart.

 

Thank you, Manic for the daily mind flossing!


"FAKE 45 #illegitimate" read a sign at the Woman's March in DC, 1/27/2017
Honored Social Butterfly

"Just a few bad apples" they say....a few here, a few there, a few over here and a couple more over there...the result?  The whole LOT is diseased....

 

Good cops AREN'T good cops if they don't weed out the bad cops.  The BAD cops could get you shot and killed.... 


"FAKE 45 #illegitimate" read a sign at the Woman's March in DC, 1/27/2017
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