Showing posts with label defunding the police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defunding the police. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Police union posts billboard message: "Enter [Baton Rouge] at your own risk." Is it safe to attend LSU?

Last month, the Baton Rouge Police Union posted two highway billboards warning drivers to enter the city at their own risk. As of July 12, the police advertisement announced, Baton Rouge had experienced 47 homicides, a substantial spike over the previous year.

Baton Rouge is a college town with three universities and a large community college.  Baton Rouge is the state capitol, with thousands of well-paid and generally well-behaved public servants. Baton Rouge is the city where the state legislature deliberates and where our governor resides.

And the Baton Rouge police are warning citizens to enter the city at their own risk?

The Minneapolis authorities issued a similar warning to the residents of the city's Third Precinct. Carjackings are up 46 percent for the year, officials said in an open letter. Robberies are up by 36 percent. Police advised people to be prepared to give up their cellphones and to "do as they say" if they are accosted by robbers.

Minneapolis is another college town. Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul has over 30 colleges and universities, and police are telling people to prepare for being a crime victim.

What's going on?

As students and parents make preparations for the upcoming fall semester, they should be aware that crime is up all over urban America. Moreover, many college campuses are being roiled by the defund-the-police movement. Faculty and students are making all sorts of demands, including disarming the police, cutting campus police budgets, and canceling agreements between colleges and the local police force.

Obviously, there is a political dimension to the policing debate. I don't have a dog in that fight, and neither should you when you are thinking about your own personal security.  Whether you are a defund-the-police advocate or a blue-lives-matter cop supporter, you want to be safe when you are on a college campus.

So if you plan to enroll at a university this fall, keep three things in mind:

First, has your college taken prudent precautions to protect you from contracting the coronavirus both in the classroom and in the residence halls?

Second, will your college survive the pandemic if enrollments decline as they are likely to do at many small liberal-arts colleges?

And finally, is your college committed to keeping you safe from crime, or will it bend to pressure from police critics and cut back on campus law enforcement?

That's a lot to think about.  And don't forget that you're probably taking out student loans to pay for your college education. You definitely don't want to borrow a lot of money to attend a university and wind up contracting the coronavirus, being a crime victim, or attending a school that will close before you get your degree.

Baton Rouge Police: Enter our city at your own risk.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Not all white people live in a "place of privilege": Minneapolis City Council wants to dismantle the police department

Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma.  Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum.
John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath 

Last month, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to dismantle the municipal police force and replace it with an agency that will address crime more holistically. I take it that means more social workers and fewer guns.

Although the city council wants to deny police protection to the citizens of Minneapolis, some officials still want it for themselves. The city hired a private security firm to protect three council members at the cost of $4,500 a day. In other words, security for me but not for thee.

A CNN reporter asked Lisa Bender, president of the Minneapolis City Council, what people are supposed to do if their homes are being burglarized. "What if in the middle of the night my home is broken into," the reporter asked. "Who do I call?" 

Bender basically said the police aren't necessary to deal with a home invasion because if you're calling 911 to report a burglary, you're coming from a "place of privilege."  By privilege, I think Bender meant white privilege. 

If I follow her reasoning aright, Bender is basically arguing that white people don't deserve police protection from theft because they (or perhaps their ancestors) benefited unfairly from our society's structural racism.

But of course, that's bullshit. 

As far as I know, my family hasn't exploited anybody. My great grandfather on my father's side worked in a brick factory in England. Sometime in the 1880s, he immigrated to Canada with his wife and children and finally wound up in Kansas. No slaves on that side of my family.

My mother's people emigrated from Germany before the American Revolution. They settled in Pennsylvania, and several of my ancestors fought in George Washington's army. No slaves or racial exploitation on the German side of my family.

Even if you buy the tortured argument that my ancestors engaged in racial exploitation simply because they were white beneficiaries of a racist society, they certainly paid for that sin. Both sets of my grandparents lived in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression and suffered greatly. 

Although my immediate ancestors did not migrate to California during the 1930s, many of their relatives and acquaintances did. Much like today's Mexican immigrants, Oklahomans uprooted themselves and headed to the Golden State in search of a better way of life.

And when they rolled up to the California border in their broken-down cars, the state police would not let them enter. These economic refugees were referred to as Okies--a term almost as derogatory as the N-word.

Think of that: Today's California politicians want to abolish all immigration laws and allow anyone to enter the country--even criminals. But in the 1930s, the Californians denied entrance to American citizens who just wanted to work and feed their families.

American history is tainted with systemic racism to be sure. Africans were enslaved in the South, Chinese workers were abused in the West, and the Irish were exploited in the East. And if you want to know how the Okies fared in 1930s California, view John Ford's great movie, The Grapes of Wrath

But today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we all deserve to be treated equally and with respect. And if someone breaks into our homes, don't we all deserve police protection?

Okies, keep out of California.