How Eras End: A Call to Action
by Jordan Rock
You know it and I know it but let me make it clear and loud for those in the back: The police system in the United States needs to end. It needs to be replaced with a system that actually works in the interest of the people. Rest assured, in its’ current form, the police system of the United States is working as intended. It is largely a system of oppression designed to protect private property and capitalistic interests often at the expense of people’s lives.
As the largest mass protest in the history of the world continues, I feel it is important to reiterate just what is happening out there. The gist is this; millions of people are taking to the streets to protest an endless epidemic of police violence against black people, with a simple message: “Stop Killing Us! End Police Brutality!” Oh and “Black Lives Matter” too.
And as the whole world watches, across the nation, the police meet those cries with the same viciousness and vindictiveness that they have visited upon my people since the institution’s founding. The people demand an end to police brutality, and in typical form, the police react with that same police brutality.
How the hell did we get here? Why does it seem to be second nature for the police to escalate any situation involving black folk, seeking any excuse to kill us or book us?
Well, mostly it’s about money.
See, police officers aren’t public servants…not really. They’re salarymen, and whether or not they do their job well doesn’t really enter into the equation. For all intents and purposes, most police precincts across the country act as private institutions. Any complaints about officers are given directly to the sheriff, disciplinary action is carried out by the precinct, pay is decided there, etc. Everything is done in house, with little if any oversight.
According to Apexofficer.com, in the United States most police officers only train for about 21 weeks, some less. Police officers are seldom required to have a degree in relation to the laws that they enforce. They do their academy training for about 840 hours, they get their guns and their badges, and, at some point, there is some gentle mention that it’s not okay to racially profile people—if it gets mentioned at all.
Most law enforcement agencies receive federal grants based on how many arrests are made per fiscal quarter. So much of the focus is about meeting arrest quotas during the pay cycle. On paper, this brings to mind a pretty simple cycle; the agency gets more money for more arrests, so the brass tells officers to arrest as many people as possible.
Every testimonial I’ve heard from retired officers indicates an Us vs. Them culture on the force. Police officers view civilians as beneath them, and in areas that typically have low crime, they spend much of their shift wandering around in their patrol cars, hoping to find a situation they can escalate into an arrest.
What does this culture breed? Well for one, it attracts people that want to bully civilians and take advantage of their badge and gun. It offers a cash incentive to arrest people, which means escalating any potentially dangerous situation.
When people say “Defund the Police” they literally mean to take the money out of the equation, to introduce real oversight to their actions by an outside independent party, and if that doesn’t work, to rip the system out by its roots and start over.
There are many ways to go about this, but “How to Actually Stop Police Brutality, According to Science,” presents statistics that illustrate measures that have proven to reduce both arrests and the brutal measures taken during these events. Those action items present an excellent road map for widescale, systemic change. At the very least, it’s a start.
As I type away, the worldwide Black Lives Matter Movement continues, and protesters are not just marching against police brutality and killer cops but also for justice and equality. They’ve stepped up their game and they’re taking white supremacy symbols down here and abroad.
George Floyd was laid to rest, but protesters say they won’t quit until they see changes in the way black people are treated and an end to systemic racism. So, what we have here is a movement with protesters dug in for a marathon, not a sprint.
Hope springs eternal.
One thing is for certain; though, the voices of my people are being heard across the world and, one way or another, the structure of American policing is about to change. I look forward to a future where I can walk down the street without fear of police sirens behind me. Together, we can make it there. If it is to be, it’s up to we, the millennials. It’s our turn.