The variable progress we’ve made toward a color-blind society requires the astute observer and citizen to grapple with the causes of the breakdowns that focus attention on a grievous collection of problems, and, at the same time, may tend to crowd-out and push the sundry daily problems out of view.
The shocking events in Ferguson Missouri crowd out the following daily problems:
1. everyday racism
2. racial profiling
3. law enforcement presuming guilt
4. traffic stops for being black
5. killing innocent people, killing innocent people-of-color
6. police regarding themselves as enforcers of laws but not subject to laws
7. officer safety divorced from objective risk management
8. heavy-weaponization of police departments
9. the dangerous synergy, and daily transactions, between the military-industrial complex and the law enforcement complex
10. not applying social and psychological-scientific understanding to the consequences of militarizing police departments
Consider whether or not the police in a given year kill more innocent people than the number of police killed in the line of duty.
Psychologically, in a critical, larger, sense, our police are us.
This ghastly power is mostly explained as fear of the neighbouring nation, which is supposed to be possessed by a malevolent fiend. Since nobody is capable of recognizing just where and how much he himself is possessed and unconscious, he simply projects his own condition upon his neighbour, and thus it becomes a sacred duty to have the biggest guns and the most poisonous gas. The worst of it is that he is quite right. All one’s neighbours are in the grip of some uncontrollable fear, just like oneself. In lunatic asylums it is a well-known fact that patients are far more dangerous when suffering from fear than when moved by rage or hatred. (C.G. Jung pg 231 Civilization In Transition)
Some criminologists argue that there is a deep antagonism between cops and black and brown men that leads both to perceive the other as a constant threat, feeding a complicated intergroup conflict. For police, it may be fueled by a sense that they represent the last line of defense for the rest of us.
But the death accounts of unarmed black men often demonstrate something more basic at work in brutality cases: The victim was somehow perceived as less than fully human. (Less than human: Do some police take a step beyond simple prejudice? By David Dante Troutt, Reuters)
Police are not soldiers. Are democracy at its most local level is threatened if we allow our police departments to morph into combat teams.
Officer safety is a magical fear in a specific sense: advocates of risk management that approve re-arming police departments with technology that is designed to kill militarized enemies, and protect from the same, can only bridge the desire for safety with the need for the technology by entering irrational suppositions and fantasies about threat into the equation. It is a fact over the last decade that heavily armed SWAT teams have entered the wrong houses, have burst through the doors of innocent citizens, and for the sake of officer safety, killed innocent people.
Detroit SWAT officer murdered seven-year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010.
Our religions and political ideologies are methods of salvation and propitiation which can be compared with primitive ideas of magic, and where such “collective representations” are lacking their place is immediately taken by all sorts of private idiocies and idiosyncrasies, manias, phobias, and daemonisms whose primitivity leaves nothing to be desired, not to speak of the psychic epidemics of our time before which the witch-hunts of the sixteenth century pale by comparison. (C.G. Jung pg 155 Symbols In Transformation)
Comment: The nexus of racism and fear is obviously very deadly. Equipping law enforcement with inappropriate surplus military equipment is insanity. As Dr. Jung stated, “If you put enough bombs all in one place, they will go off by themselves.”
How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program By Taylor Wofford, Newsweek
|1033 procurements are not matters of public record. And the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which coordinates distribution of military surplus, refuses to reveal the names of agencies requesting “tactical” items, like assault rifles and MRAPs — for security reasons, a spokesperson for DLA told Newsweek via email.
Police in Watertown, Connecticut, (population 22,514) recently acquired a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle (sticker price: $733,000), designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, for $2,800. There has never been a landmine reported in Watertown, Connecticut.|
Comment: the police work for the citizenry except in police states.
| In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page report titled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing (pdf). Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that this police militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.” |
Comment: plus, follow the money.
| “Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it,” one police officer was caught on video telling protesters. In Ferguson and beyond, it seems that some police officers have shed the blue uniform and have put on the uniform and gear of the military, bringing the attitude along with it. Read more-businessinsider |
In Ferguson, the blurred line between law enforcement and combat By Adam Serwer, MSNBC
| These heavily armed men are part of a more recent tradition: the militarization of American police. They are, like domestic surveillance, weapons built to fight a faraway war turned homeward. Hands-up is how black people survive nonviolent protest in the era of what author Radley Balko calls the “warrior cop.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program, first enacted in 1996 at the height of the so-called War on Drugs. The Department of Justice, according to the ACLU, “plays an important role in the militarization of the police” through its grant programs. It’s not that individual police officers are bad people – it’s that shifts in the American culture of policing encourages officers to ”think of the people they serve as enemies.”
Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security has encouraged further militarization of police through federal funds for “terrorism prevention.” The armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor borne by the police in Ferguson are the fruit of turning police into soldiers. |
Police are not soldiers.