Older folks will remember the Andy Griffith Show, where the Mayberry law enforcement team of Andy Griffith and Barney Fife maintained security through community policing. Okay it was TV, with a context of generally happy, middle class white folk living in small town America. But the idea was good.
It’s still good. And it’s an idea much needed at this time. We don’t really need to review the symptoms. Folks, especially of color, are being gunned down left and right. We need to find answers. We need systemic change.
There are elements within policing agencies and government at large that are ripe with corruption and ideology, neither of which contribute to a healthy community. The coding of empire is deepest within the law enforcement and military culture, the brainwashing most complete. And so it is here where we must focus to create peace.
Most of our police folk are good people, and most of us know a few police officers. But this element of racism and hate is killing us. We need and deserve a better way forward. It’s the only reasonable alternative. No one’s going to do it for us.
We have to see into the heart of the problem. Here’s what writer Simon Balto had to say last year: “As someone who has spent years researching a book on the CPD’s relationship to black Chicago, I can attest that the police department’s stultifying opacity on officer misconduct cases would be an almost impressive feat of obfuscation, were it not so maddening and socially harmful.“
The Chicago situation is not unique. An impressive amount of obfuscation is the rule when it comes to police wrong doing. The culture of never speaking out against another cop, regardless of his/her bad behavior, is a culture of bullshit. The culture that believes their uniform and guns give them power over others and above the law is bullshit. The culture that allows black folks to be killed wantonly by police is beyond despicable. Horrible.
The FOP is a central force in maintaining these wrong-headed cop-culture dynamics. ‘Lie and Deny’, the classic response of the guilty, is their main strategy to dissipate outrage at the bad behavior of some cops. As Trevor Noah pointed out on The Daily Show, why is video evidence incontrovertible in every case unless police are involved? Then we have ‘the wrong angle’ or ‘Don’t believe your lying eyes’ or the cameras fell off or some other form of obfuscation.
More on the FOP below.
The Dallas Sniper
On July 7th, 2016, a sniper in Dallas during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest killed five and wounded seven police officers. This sort of resistance to those sworn to ‘protect and serve’ isn’t surprising when the headlines from the two previous days were of black men murdered by police. Indeed, in 2016 there’s pretty much a murder of a black person every day.
We seem to be in this terrible nightmare where the veneer has come off, and haters – cops and whackos alike – are just going off on black folk. The current wave seems to have started with George Zimmerman killing teen Trayvon Martin back in 2012. How many murdered black folk since? Yeah. And how many before 2012? Countless.
Within this context, is it really that surprising the a former army soldier, Micah Xavier Johnson, would elect to start shooting cops? How much violence, trauma and pain can we expect our darker skinned sisters and brothers to take? How long do we imagine it will be until the wretched legacy of subjugation and slavery is truly a thing of the past?
What is certain is that Mr. Johnson’s actions have created a new dynamic. It’s an opportunity for police officers to think again, especially if they’ve been part of the problem. It’s a new form of pushback to a great injustice. And it’s potentially empowering for an ethnic group long disrespected and abused. It’s fighting back.
Does a World5 mindset condone this response? No. No more than we condone the murder of innocent black people. Our intent is always peace and love. Will we defend ourselves if attacked? That is for each of us to choose based on our inclinations and the situation. Our revolution is peace and love.
It’s Not a Matter of Time
There’s nothing implicit in the passage of time to suggest that these conditions will improve and that the police culture will change. “The arc of history may well be bending toward justice.” – Martin Luther King, but that’s one long arc, and we don’t have that kind of time. We need radical change, and we need it now. Funny how so many areas of our lives point to the need for revolution.
For police reform, let’s get back to the FOP. We need to transform the FOP from a bad cop protecting nightmare institution into a ‘how do we rebuild our communities’ leader. Because it’s never been subjected to union-busting like every other union, we sometimes forget it is a union – a place for folk to build stronger ties to each other and their communities.
What if the FOP had as it’s focus the strengthening and rebuilding of the communities they served? How much more engagement with their citizenry would there be? How many new initiatives might be generated? How many citizens, especially poor and dispossessed, would benefit? And finally, how much safer and richer would the lives of our police be under such FOP guidance.
Transforming the FOP, from within and without, will do much to restore the relationships between police and the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.
The Peace Revolution
Underneath the propaganda of mainstream media there’s actually a lot going on that points to a better day ahead. There are local community peace building programs cropping up in many cities. There are ‘interventions’ taking place in cities like Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. Citizen action groups, like Black Lives Matter, have created more than 1,000 protest actions since April of 2014.
Deeper still, there is an awakening in many of our hearts, leading to greater understanding and empathy for our sisters and brothers. This wellspring of love has been ignored and abused as well, but it’s finding its way into our culture, bit by bit.
Finally, let’s not forget that these killings are happening within a wider culture of violence. American Empire has 800 based around the world, sells more armaments, conducts more drone and air strikes, and starts more wars than any other country on Earth. Our media is riddled with violence, from TV shows to news ‘shows’. Is it surprising that a culture of violence engenders violence?
Standing here as we are, our best strategy for resistance is walk away – to let go. Turn off the TV and take a walk in your neighborhood, making eye contact and saying hi to neighbors. If you know of someone who’s on the edge, talk to them or get help. If you’re part of a policing agency, grow some balls and bust the deranged fuckers who are killing us needlessly. And above all, hold to Life, God, Allah, Eternal Awareness – the name’s not important – and to the understanding that we are in the throes of epochal change. And yes it is messy, and no we don’t have to be afraid.