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Whose Streets? Their Streets

If people don’t believe that the police in America are the greatest threat to civil society then they’ve been asleep for years, and comatose just this week. Or they’re white, privileged and/or accepting of brutality against their own fellow citizens.

There are so many chants on the streets by demonstrators: ‘Black lives matter’, ‘This is what democracy looks like’, ‘2,4,6,8, Organize and smash the state’ (I like that one but don’t hear it very often anymore), etc. Although tedious to hear and to chant at times, they do reflect the times we’re living in. ‘Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, NLF is gonna win’ wouldn’t quite cut it today.

It seems one of the more expressive of today’s chants is “Whose streets? Our streets!” We are taking our democracy back from those who have usurped a more traditional role of simple capitalist exploitation to that of oppression and brutality by the 1%. What we are now hearing in the streets of St. Louis is this chant, but by the police themselves. Whether they were mocking the demonstrators or not, they were clearly showing that we are living in a police state that has, or desires, a near-complete control of a long lost democratic society ( for the privileged only). This is a horrifying development.

Just this week alone in Oklahoma a deaf man was killed by police after witnesses were yelling to the police that the guy couldn’t hear. We know the names of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Scout Schultz of Georgia Tech, and now Anthony Lamar Smith of St. Louis, among countless others killed by police with no consequences for these killers. Many cases in major cities have been contributed to Cop Block Facebook pages, highlighting police brutality and/or murders committed by the police with impunity on a very regular basis.

One argument often made to defend them is that there are bad apples or it’s a culture that’s out of hand. It is systemically out of hand, not isolated. There is no such thing as a good cop when they know damn well which of them are committing crimes that would put others behind bars and do nothing about it. That blue wall of silence is a license for them to kill, maim, brutalize, look away, and exploit the very weakest of our society.

There are answers to this overwhelming problem and ‘community policing’ isn’t one of them. That not only keeps them in control of the situation but gives the appearance that we the people have some say in what they do, much like voting. We can limit their excesses through community policing but that doesn’t impact hiring practices, political appointments, or hardware procurements.

We have to see the police for what they are, as an occupying enemy force and deal with that. Arguments are being made that they should operate like a fire department, not roaming the streets looking for fires but coming out when called. If there is a problem neighborhood then like a volunteer fire department has a local volunteer police department made up of citizens and elected members who are accountable. We need to have such individuals trained by professionals who work in mediation, not brute force and suppression of rights as so many police forces in the US are trained by the Israeli Defense Force. European police aren’t the panacea to model but at least they know how to diffuse a situation, not see every citizen as the enemy or an easy target.

When the police chant, “Whose streets? Our streets” you know we have gone over the edge and how far we fall can only be determined by our resolve to put an end to the idea that blue lives matter.