• Tara Lundrigan

Fight The System

Where do I even begin?


POLICE BRUTALITY SPARKS GLOBAL PROTESTS


On March 13th in Louisville, Breonna Taylor an innocent EMT was murdered by the police in a no-knock raid on her house. She was shot over 8 times. On May 25th in Minneapolis, George Floyd was murdered by police who knelt on the back of his neck for almost 9 minutes, while he cried for his Mom and kept saying I can't breathe. The trend of fatal police shootings in the United States seems to only be increasing, with a total 228 civilians having been shot as of March 30, 2020. In 2018, there were 996 fatal police shootings, and in 2019 this figure increased to 1,004. With around 40 million unemployed Americans who are constantly ignored and increasingly angry this was a powder keg waiting to go off, and the deaths of Breonna and George were the match that lit it.


The protests started the day after Georges death in the streets of Minneapolis. and quickly spread throughout the entire country and even have reached other countries like Japan, Germany and Canada. People are fed up and how could you blame them? Well apparently some people can. I see too many people concentrating on the looting while completely waving away the core message of the protests. Ignoring that history has shown us not only that agent provocateurs show up to incite violence, but also that crowds of angry people inevitably do stupid things. Stop putting property above human rights. African Americans are being looted every day. Looted of their dignity, their futures, and their lives. Derek Chauvin looted a mans life. The 1% loots us all.

People have tried peacefully protesting and nothing changes. They take a knee at a football game and get mocked across the country. The original Black Lives Matter movement was opposed with "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter." So what, you want more peaceful protests that fall on deaf ears while members of your community are getting murdered? Do you honestly believe in your heart that singing kumbaya in a park is going to change anything? Quit clutching your pearls and pay attention.

  1. “Rioting never solves anything!”

This country was founded on rioting (and looting). The colonists didn’t politely ask to be independent — they started a war. Gays threw a brick. Black people have rioted all over this country. The Hong Kong protests were riots. The French riot almost annually. Please let go of that falsehood and pick up a history book. Looting and rioting is never the goal, it's what happens when protests escalate to violence.

2. “The rioters are criminals and they don’t even care about police brutality stuff.”


The reasons riots break out are varied and complicated. Some rioters are just criminals and assholes. But look at the pictures of Minneapolis before anyone ever threw a rock or started a fire or stole anything and you'll find the police firing rubber bullets and cans of tear gas into crowds of people peacefully protesting. What do you do when you’re frustrated and upset and no one is listening to you? What do you do when they’re not only refusing to listen but actively trying to cause you physical harm to shut you up?


3. “Being frustrated is no reason to be violent.”


Even in the middle of a pandemic when most of the country sat at home for weeks, civilians being murdered by police did not see a downward turn. All week, every day, a new video of Racism in America. From white women using the police as their personal security service to elderly women being tackled by cops with guns drawn, to another black man who can’t breathe; murdered by a cop who should’ve been fired a long time ago. Regardless of how you would react, how can you tell someone else how they should? People are ANGRY. They have a right to be angry.

Americans have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble. Peaceful protesters are being met with excessive force across this country. Multiple senators and congress members have been pepper sprayed. Members of the press and medics have been aggressively assaulted, hit with batons and gassed. We all agree to abide by certain rules in a society, including the police. Yet they have repeatedly broken the rules that we all agree to. We say that no one is above the law, yet time and again the police prove that to be false. We say it's wrong to kill people, yet cops still kill innocent people with zero repercussions. So when the state who should be most protective of this social contract, breaks it, why shouldn't we? When the police continue to perform acts of brutality during protests against police brutality, it's pretty clear they aren't getting the point.

SYSTEMIC RACISM


Systemic or institutionalized racism is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. It is reflected in disparities designed and ingrained in our system, and because of this it is less overt and far more subtle in nature than individual racism. It fucks with coloured peoples access to things like wealth, education or health care, creates income inequalities, high unemployment rates, and even difficulties getting approved for mortgages.

People of colour are disproportionately affected through every stage of the criminal justice system, despite the evidence that different racial and ethnic groups commit crimes at roughly the same rates. African Americans make up 13% of the population, they represent about 40% of the prison population. Why? Because their neighborhoods are more likely to be patrolled and they are more likely to get arrested. It’s also true that once arrested, black people are convicted more often, for much longer, harsher sentences, and 20% more likely to actually get convicted. On top of all of that? A felony conviction means in many states, that you lose your right to vote. Approximately 2.5 percent of the total U.S. voting age population – 1 of 40 adults – is disenfranchised due to a felony conviction but if we look at that in a little more detail we find - 1 of 13 - African Americans of voting age are disenfranchised, a rate more than four times greater than that of non-African Americans. Over 7.4 percent of the adult African American population is disenfranchised compared to 1.8 percent of the non-African American population.


So when the system is literally designed to keep people of colour down, what do you think happens when your throw something as unchecked and out of control as the Police Industrial Complex into the mix?



THE POLICE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX


This really isn't new, but something I feel a lot of people don't really grasp. For over 25 years, the Pentagon has been supplying surplus military equipment to police agencies across America in the name of fighting the drug war. As early as 1968 Congress passed a law authorizing the military to share gear with domestic police agencies. By 1987 they had a full blown catalog that these police agencies could shop from. Between 1997-1999 the office doled out $727 million worth of equipment and in 2011 alone the office celebrated that it had given away a record $500 million in military gear.


Around the late 80's is when the National Guards role started to expand because they were recruited to help with the "war on drugs" - getting annual funding of over $200 million by the 90's. We ramped things up once again after 9/11 by creating the Department of Homeland Security which got $2 billion in grants in 2011 alone. The overwhelming majority of cities, counties, and towns that get these task forces will never be subject to a terrorist attack, so the equipment bought with them inevitably gets used in the drug war to perform raids on people suspected of nonviolent drug crimes. So now, military contractors market directly to police departments with messages that encourage the mentality that the military and the police are fighting the same battle.


The only reason this is allowed and even pushed is because it's lucrative. It lines the pockets of former politicians, contractors, and companies that make weapons. This allows them to lobby in congress and the white house to ensure that these programs stay around and continue to grow in size. It has nothing to do with the safety of the people or protecting law and order. The US has 5% of the population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners. The system is set up to incarcerate, which has major ramifications for even those that get out. There has been a 500% increase in the prison population over the last 40 years, while US general pop has only risen 40%. All evidence shows that the bulk of this change is not due to any change in crime, but to changes in law. This is one of the many systemic issues we should all be trying to dismantle. When we live in a country that spends over $100 billion a year on policing and another $80 billion on incarceration but makes the wild claim that they couldn't possibly give their people universal health care - then maybe you need to ask yourself if your government has your best interest in mind.

We all need to stand together and fight for criminal justice reform, fight for income inequality, fight for universal healthcare, fight for affordable education, fight for higher taxes on the 1% — fight for all those things because a healthy society with good social safety nets makes rioting less likely. While you’re fighting the long, slow war toward Black people having a fair shot in this country, the same war we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, there will be times when some people directly affected by the war see your actions as futile and they just wanna break some stuff. Speed up the war if you’re so offended by property damage; contact your legislators, contact your mayors. Do your part. Here are some of my suggestions in regards to the police:

  1. Establish an independent inspector body that investigates misconduct or criminal allegations and controls evidence like body camera video. This body will be at the state level, have the ability to investigate and arrest other law enforcement officers and investigate law enforcement agencies.

  2. Create a requirement for states to establish board certification with minimum education and training requirements to provide licensing for police. In order to become a cop, you must possess that license. The inspector body in #1 can revoke the license.

  3. DEFUND/DISBAND THE POLICE - abolish police unions, demilitarize - shrink the force country wide and use Social Workers/mental health professionals for mental health crisis calls, Firefighters or EMTs respond to overdose calls, traffic police and extra cameras to enforce traffic laws. 


Democracy is so precious and so fragile. You have to care for it, you have to defend it, you have to stand up for it. You cannot treat it like it will always be there and nothing will ever threaten it or you're going to let it slip away. Once fascists get their hands on power, it can take a long time to get rid of them. They will use every single tool at their disposal to maintain it. That includes mass propaganda, giving weapons to 'supporters', torture, disappearances, mass killings. If you think that could never happen in your country you're being willfully ignorant. History can and does repeat itself.


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