Saturday, September 12, 2015


There's nothing wrong with the police reform proposals from Campaign Zero. The problem I have with it is that it is a reform agenda, not a deconstruction/reconstruction one. It doesn't emphasize the key demand: "Stop killing us!"

Instead, it does a round about side step, like all of the politicians who have addressed the problem of violent policing do. Rather than deal with the immediate emergency of violent policing and killing, they look to the longer term to reach the goal of reduced killing by police through reform, and do it over time, however long it takes. Even if that means centuries.

On their feedback page, Campaign Zero lists a number of comments from the media and from the public regarding their ten point reform program. Public comment suggests some dissatisfaction with the 10 points, particularly in light of the fact that there is an emergency situation which doesn't seem to be the focus of these proposals for reform.

Reform is necessary if you want to maintain essentially the same police forces in place for the indefinite future. Reform modifies some of their policies, practices and protocols over time, but it does not fundamentally change the purpose of policing -- which is principally to suppress the lower orders and to protect the high and mighty.

This has been true from the outset of policing as we know it.

The only way I know of to deal with  the systemic problems of this kind of policing is to abolish it and start over.

That's a radical solution that Campaign Zero is not even close to accepting.

Another aspect of reform proposals is that they almost always focus on the beat cops rather than their supervisors an commanders.

It's an odd situation. True enough, the beat cops are the ones doing the majority of the killing and brutalizing, but they do it under authority granted to them by their departments and overseen by their chiefs, commanders and supervisors, all of whom must collude to permit -- indeed, allow and require -- police on the street to commit the atrocities they do.

It's not simply a matter of the "Blue Wall," though that, too, is a factor in what goes on. It's a matter of the high ranks of police forces allowing and sometimes requiring the lower ranks to commit certain acts of violence -- or be disciplined for failure to perform according to standards set by those same high ranking officers.

Police officers are conditioned through training to see existential threats -- to themselves and to those they serve -- and to respond to those threats with violence up to and including lethal force. Very often the existential threats police are conditioned to respond to are black men who are perceived to be armed and/or dangerous -- just because.

It's the same sort of conditioning that German Polizei went through during the Nazi period when they perceived Jews and other untermenschen to be existential threats to the Aryan Master Race and the German Volk. It is the same sort of conditioning military troops go through in order for them to kill without conscience or remorse in our nation's global battlespaces wherever and whenever they detect a "threat."

In each of these cases, however, despite conditioning and even laws favoring the use of force and protecting the use of lethal force, the killing stops when the command goes out to stop it.

In other words, it is up to those in charge of police forces to override the conditioning their officers have been subjected to and order them to stop the killing. Stop the brutality.

That order has gone out in a number of cities, but the killing continues. Violent policing continues.

In order for it to stop, there must be a general stand down order (even if it is masked) which allows police to do their jobs without responding to the civilian public as if they were an enemy.

But I doubt that general order will ever come.

Too many people are dependent on the status quo.

Too many police forces are commanded by men and women who disbelieve in nonviolent policing.

I see some progress but not enough and not fast enough.

Thus, I remain an abolitionist.

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