One of the things that I admired about the BLM protests was that they stayed on topic. The signs and the chants focused on the issue of over policing in minority communities and the particular case of George Floyd. With the video of his gruesome death — a snuff film, really — there was no debate that this poor guy was the victim of bad police practices. There is no grey area. It was a crazy, bad thing.
And then the police response to the protests seemed to confirm the protestor’s messages. Rubber bullets and smoke bombs outside the White House? Come on!
So, people stayed on that message and marched. I didn’t even see many anti-Trump signs when I was out there. It was all about policing and Floyd. Which is one of the reasons that the protests have been so effective.
But now poor Mr. Floyd, who probably had a more colorful life than his mourners admit, is in the ground next to his mother. And it’s time to move on to the obvious next step: what should be done to make sure that this doesn’t happen again? I’ve seen two responses.
One is to do lots of self reflection about white privilege and racism. So, I’ve seen various institutions and businesses hold self-reflection seminars and assign books for discussion. The second response, which is more my cup of tea, is to look at policies and make concrete, permanent changes to police forces.
I have always thought that cops do too much. Do we really need a guy with a gun to wave cars around the PSEG trucks working on light poles? Do we really need a cop to come to schools to give anti-drug talks or help the senile lady who is lost in the supermarket. When Steve fainted last year, because he took too much blood pressure medicine, why did a cop come to my house along with EMS?
And the police around here are protected by a powerful union. We have small little towns with less than a 5,000 residents. Each one has a police chief that can earn as much as $300K per year and retire at age 55.
The PBA asks for donations from local residents. If Steve gives them $25, they give him a sticker, which he puts on the window of his car. That sticker is widely known as the “get out of jail free card.” If you get pulled over for speeding, that sticker increases the chances that you’ll get a warning rather than a ticket. Ew.
Police departments should be broken up. It will mean that the cops with guns who do stop serious crimes can be trained better. Other police jobs can be outsourced to others. It will be better for the community AND save a ton of money. It makes total sense.
So, who is going to push back on this? Surprisingly, it is going to come from Democrats, because of their alliances with unions. If we take a look at protectionist policies of police unions, what’s to stop people from taking a close look at the teachers’ unions or the teamsters?
Anyway, I hope that our next step is practical, measured, and achievable. I think that even with complicated politics, restructuring policing is a much more achievable goal than ending all racism. I hope that we can stay on topic long enough to make some real changes.