Defunding the police is a good start

President* Trump,

I wish Laura or I had thought of the “President*” salutation eons ago – it is so much more appropriate than the “Dear” one, which always made me wince when I typed it. Better late than never, though – eh?

So today we added another sign to our front windows today, jiggering things around to accommodate it. Now, the rainbow image that I made about a month and a half ago is in a smaller window by itself and the new sign, which says “DEFUND the police” is right underneath “end systematic racism now;” since they needed to be together. (I must have still been focused on you, because I accidentally wrote “DEPOSE the police.”) Just so you have the visual, the one about the police is printed in huge red letters and the one about ending racism is printed in huge black letters.

Since it sounded so all/none, I had to ask Laura what it would really mean if the police were defunded, as appears about to happen in Minneapolis now that the city council has a margin in favor of this that can’t be vetoed by the mayor. Her take, which seems logical to me, is that there would still be law enforcement to fulfill vital community protection roles, but it would be vastly scaled back and demilitarized while community-based programs, social work, and mental health and substance abuse resources would be vastly scaled up (see Dr. Christy Lopez’s WP editorial: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/07/defund-police-heres-what-that-really-means/ for more, entirely consistent, details). That sure seems like it would be a step in the right direction.

I still remember how shitty it felt when VA police started carrying guns and when University of Washington police started carrying guns and when we had to get an armed security guard at church, and, and, and…. Enough already of the uniformed people (mostly men) casually carrying around lethal means that way too many of them resorting to because that gun is right there waiting to be used when so many other options are really available to address the situations.

I know that you, your GOP props, and the NRA are all going to pitch “LAW and ORDER” conniption fits aimed at freaking white people out as much as you possibly can, but dude – we do not need occupying forces in our cities and towns and we do not need armed “warriors” constantly terrorizing black and brown people. There is no way that policing in this America can be “reformed,” there is no amount of tinkering or tweaking that can fix this broken institution – it needs to be completely recast. We do, though, need legislation to do away with qualified immunity and Graham v. Connor Supreme Court decision needs to be overturned (see Dr. Osagie Obasogie’s WP perspective: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/police-violence-pandemic/2020/06/05/e1a2a1b0-a669-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html) at the federal level now since it’s going to take time for local jurisdictions to get on board with reallocating funds away from police forces and towards necessary social services.

On Saturday, Patrick Garland, an African American teacher who attended the protest at Capitol Plaza told the crowd of students around him:

“Until laws and citations are changed across the U.S. this does not stop!….. But police reform is first. You can’t be productive if you don’t feel safe. To see a cop behind you and think: Am I going to pulled over and die? That’s what it’s like to be a black man.” (WP; Schmidt, Contrera, & Ruane)

May we all feel safe because we are safe.
May we remake our institutions so they actually serve all of us.
May we all believe and act as though black and brown lives matter.
May we all accept responsibility for our collective wellbeing.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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