Our community is a system where what happens in one area of our community affects what happens in other areas. What happened in other parts of the world also affects what happens in our community. The police are not embattled with our communities because a butterfly flapped their wings in China but because of a vicious cycle out of control.
That cycle is that the global elites have corrupted governments and global trade systems to extract wealth from communities to enrich themselves. The result is that the people in our communities that are not employed by the wealth extractors – i.e., the “knowledge economy” and capitalists – have been left behind to fight over a dwindling pool of resources. Earning a minimum wage in the United States is a starvation wage if you aren’t single living in a van. Many people are not able to access the the basic necessities for a humane life like health care, mental health care, proper nutrition and housing.
When people are fighting to survive they do not conform to societal standards of respecting property laws. Why would you respect property laws when society has denied you an opportunity to earn a tiny fraction of the available property? (Yes, there are exceptions: people of all kinds achieve financial success. In general tho, upward mobility is rare and rare for BIPoC.) The result is an increase in “crime”. Restrictive laws create market opportunities for people to do things like deal drugs illicitly. Human beings take those opportunities because they want economic security. Just like predatory capitalists take the opportunity to buy businesses, strip them of their value and put thousands out of work to make a few more million.
But we don’t put resources into policing the people gutting our economy at regional, national or global scale despite their immense impact because those people use their wealth and power to prevent the government from enforcing laws on them. I mean, the IRS is pretty clear on how this works: “IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor”. Then they used their influence to move resources from social services (think Reagan closing mental hospitals and Clinton ending welfare) to law enforcement (think Bill Clinton’s plan to add 100k cops).
Instead of taking all the opportunities presented to them to allow people to meet their needs and resolve conflicts, they send in more police which makes it worse. People fighting to survive don’t accept a slow painful death, they fight back. That’s what humans are programmed to do. So where policing increase, violence increases. That leads to everyone calling for more policing because the people of color living in these communities are desperate for a modicum of safety and rich people don’t want to be robbed.
The social justice community has been screaming out for the elites to address this dynamic and mercifully end the torture. This is all linked to when I was in the streets of Seattle twenty years ago working to block the WTOs acceleration of wealth extraction… the movement for universal healthcare, etc. The response by elites has been to gut the social safety net and militarize the police. This has only been possible by their ongoing campaign to corrupt our democracy with misinformation, disinformation and voter disenfranchisement.
Since the elites have destroyed the little bit of democracy we had, we must dismantle the public security army that enforces their corrupted laws: the local police. Bellingham funds and charters the local police that enforce a global regime that is failing us in every way. The police make real in our communities the fantasies of cable news commentators by bringing real violence to our communities in the pursuit of enforcing this systematized theft. We can end that without the president, the governor or even a political party.
Does the idea that economic oppression might not be fully enforced scare you? if it does, that is your problem and you better address it now. We’ll help you. I’m getting help myself. Your local community is not the cable news world of spin. People in your community have long memories and constructive relationships with truth. I would wager, though, that there is no sin that cannot be redeemed here in Bellingham. The payment maybe painful but the reward of inclusion in a thriving community is real wealth.
When we defund the police, we are going to take the newly freed resources to build that genuine wealth of an inclusive economy that meets the needs of each citizen despite their ability to produce goods or services. Then we are going to provide resources for everyone who is willing to take on the work of emotional and intellectual development to flourish.
Because that is what a just society would look like. That’s equal opportunity society we all believe in. Anything less than this is cannot be accepted because all our humanity is compromised as long as anyone’s humanity is compromised.