If you had asked me in January of this year what I thought would be happening by June, in my wildest dreams I never would have thought we would be having this discussion. As I write this, a police station in Seattle has been taken over by protesters and proclaimed a “sovereign land.” This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and whether you are on the left or the right in the past five years both sides of the political spectrum have tried this. Ammon Bundy, a cattle rancher who had a problem with the expansive powers of the federal government, along with a handful of anti-government sympathizers, took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest in 2016. The federal government didn’t storm the Refuge, instead choosing to sit back and wait for these people to leave for supplies. The other entertaining aspect of this standoff was the mailing of donations and supplies to the sanctuary by the US postal service. The internet wasn’t cut off, giving these rebels a live internet feed to display the dildos and gummy bear penises that had been mailed in response to their pleas for help. The standoff did not end well, one man shot dead after he exited the car he was riding and pulling a gun on federal officers. President Trump pardoned Ammon in 2018.
While this latest protest is happening in Seattle there is also the cry across the country to defund police departments or disband them all together. The scariest thing is that some public servants are actually considering this. Minneapolis voted to disband their police force saying they are beyond reform. The day after my home town of Kalamazoo talked about defunding the department of public safety, which consist of police and fire department, we had three shootings in a span of 24 hours. I have to wonder if any of these measures will actually happen but considering the language that is being used and how easily the politicians are quickly trying to appease these protesters, I would hate to admit this might actually happen. Looking ahead and considering what this would mean, I don’t think these people have full thought about what would happen to their own communities they claim to protect or care about.
We are looking at the start of the tribal state. Instead of having one police force that works for a city, county, or state entity and funded by taxes, there would have to be a local force paid by the community and accountable to whom? If you don’t pay your monthly dues to the local posse will they refuse to investigate the break in at your house? If someone from the northside of town commits a crime in the southside will that prevent the militia from apprehending the suspect because they don’t have jurisdiction? What about all the laws we already have on the books for law enforcement? Will those be thrown out as well. Instead of being read Miranda rights as you are arrested you might receive a baseball bat to the ribs because that’s how they do things on that side of town. But hey, at least they are policing their own, right?
When it comes to the question of protection an idea like this will only make the inequality of our society grow. A wealthy neighborhood with consistent six figure incomes would have little problem funding their own police force to protect their neighborhood. Meanwhile, across town the poor neighborhoods that already have a higher per capita crime problem would find themselves at the mercy of whoever stepped up to run things. In some cultures, this idea isn’t all bad. When the tsunami hit Fukushima in 2011 the local government did little to help the locals evacuate and find a place to stay. However, the Yakuza stepped in and supplied food and water to the survivors when no one else did. They don’t call them organized crime for nothing. This model doesn’t work everywhere and it rarely does overall. It is not uncommon to find areas of Africa under the control of warlords. In Somalia the government controls a few square blocks of the capital city while the rest of the country is controlled by warlords and pirates. The same goes for parts of southeast Asia and eastern Europe in the former soviet bloc.
During the Iraq war there came a time when people wanted our boys to come home and the federal government moved towards returning our troops home. In return they were replaced with private contractors who did not answer to the pentagon or the Iraqi government. They were completely independent and they made more money than the troops that were originally there. Most of these men were former military and went back to Iraq for a better paycheck and the ability to do the job they wanted to do before but were unable. This resulted in the Nisour Square Massacre in 2007 where 17 Iraqis were killed and 20 injured. According to the new Iraqi constitution that the US helped write for the Iraqis, contractors working in Iraq could not be tried in Iraqi courts or charged for any crimes committed in country. Later this was changed during the Obama Administration but the fact that these men were able to operate with full immunity was unthinkable.
Some will say that is where we are at now. Cops killing people without being held accountable. The officer who is accused of murdering George Floyd was charged. The three officers with him were also charged. The theory that this was a racist crime goes out the door with these other officers, one of them being Asian American and another of Hispanic descent. The fourth officer who helped with the arrest had been on the job for four days and allegedly asked questions during the arrest about turning Floyd over when he said he could not breathe. Does this one act mean that we completely tear apart a system that has worked relatively well over the years? We don’t complain when cops arrest serial killers or child molesters. When there is a mass shooting, we don’t call the local militia to come out and stop the gunman.
Instead of looking at erasing the police from our society why don’t we take a look at other communities that appear to have gotten things right. In Japan it is required for police officers to be members of Judo clubs. Constantly learning how to grapple and restrain people with little or no effort. I might also point out that the crime rate in Japan is almost nonexistent. That is why when things do happen there it is a shock to the society and it is usually perpetrated by someone that is not from there. In the 1990s there was a case of children being found dead in old refrigerators, boxes, and alleys. These kids had gone missing during their solo trips to school that is a Japanese tradition. The suspect was later caught and it was a man who had migrated to Japan from Portugal for work. who are you going to call when your child goes missing?
I don’t know what the future holds, if we will end up with privatized police forces or some bastardized version of community policing that will be impotent and unable to function. Emotions are high and when we make quick decisions on those emotions, they usually don’t have good results. As a nation we need a change. We are completely divided instead of thinking of ourselves as Americans. We are democrats or republicans, Christians or other, gay or straight, white or black, man or woman, but we never think of ourselves as Americans first. There was a time when people would say “stop trying to label me, man” but that has been replaced by every subculture we can think of. A person would rather say they are recovering catholic, straight, white male, with liberal tendencies except for some conservative ideas about fiscal responsibility. Or they say they are vegan and then it is best to just leave the conversation and save the next hour of your life from a lecture about animal cruelty. The point is, we are not one tribe. We don’t work towards making things better for everyone. Instead we talk about oppression and unfairness, and equality in a land where everyone has the chance to make a better life for themselves. In Kalamazoo this could not be truer. We have a program called the Promise, where any graduate from the public-school system is able to go to college for free. Most kids don’t take advantage of it and find themselves years later still working in $10 and hour jobs complaining about how unfair the world is. That is who is protesting these days. Going to school to make your life better is too hard, it is easier to complain and blame others for your lot in life. Being a victim doesn’t take any effort. Taking personal responsibility, that is hard.
Just like occupy wall street and the riots in Ferguson this will be a little footnote in history. People seem to think this is a huge historical life changing event but considering the lack of thought or the root of the cause itself this will be half assed like the lives of these ignorant people. A statue of Winston Churchill was vandalized during a protest with the word “Racist” spray painted across it. These people clearly have no idea who this man was. He stopped the spread of fascist around the world. He fought in the Great War and understood the idea of personal sacrifice for a greater cause. After the war he provided universal healthcare for all British citizens regardless of race or gender. Churchill was a great man but to these idiots he was nothing but a racist. Our sense of belonging is gone and no one seems to understand what came before to create the world we have now. People complain about police brutality during these protests, while forgetting that protesters were shot and killed by national guard troops at Ohio State during the Vietnam war. Things have gotten better. They have always gotten better through constant reform, new amendments to the constitution, and the turn over of laws that were morally wrong. Running out into the streets and crying about how you want change and you want it now is not how you get what you want, it is how you end up getting spanked by an adult.
I really hope nothing comes out of this. I hope this dies down and we have a trial and the system does its job, not the one that the protesters demand but the fair and speedy trial that finds these men guilty or not guilty. That is not up to us but the men and women of the jury. Catering to a mob is not justice, it’s a lynching. You would think that these protesters would know what that is.