I write this in good spirits today. In my last post I expressed concerns over the lack of dissent and remorse being shown by police and National Guard. Turns out there is quite a bit. I have not done deep research or interviews, this is just me passing along a comforting realization. There is concern being expressed. By and large police and National Guard do not want to be in conflict with their communities. They are conflicted and in many cases see that fighting largely peaceful protests with violence is wrong.
I have always been shocked at the amount of people willing to stand the lines against their own. The images are always the same. Protesters on one side, with signs and chants. Some wearing masks, others not.
The other side will be a wall of tactical gear, shields, masks, and clubs. Firing tear gas and pepper spray. Sometimes using water cannons mounted on armored vehicles. Barely a century after police began using motorized vehicles departments across the nation all seem to have some pretty aggressive military equipment. Think about that for a moment. Every single piece of tactical gear, weaponry, and heavy equipment the police have is acquired with only one enemy in mind. This is not in preparation for an armed invasion. This is not in case a Terminator shows up at the precinct. The enemy that this equipment is in preparation for is us. The regular people walking up and down the street. We are the people the police are tasked with patrolling and keeping safe. We are the ones that this equipment, if ever needed, is intended to be deployed on. Every stick, taser and bullet the police have only has one possible target. Us.
Whenever the argument that “the police are not the enemy” gets introduced it is hard to not think about how heavily armed and armored they are. If you agree to talk peacefully with someone and they show up in full body armor armed to the teeth, their intentions are questionable at best. How can we avoid the perception that the police and the populace are not at war when they really really appear to be preparing for one? Let’s deconstruct this a bit. When the police are requesting these weapons and vehicles, what are they using to justify it? What has happened in recent history that has given police departments the nation over, and the tax payers that fund them, the perception that tanks and heavy firepower are needed to keep the rule of law in place?
It is not unreasonable that the police would be very well armed in the country that has the most heavily armed population in the world, but holy shit. The New York Police Department is armed as if they thought the Avengers movie was real. The have something like a 6 billion dollar annual budget and are armed better than a good portion of military in the world. Do they have a fighter jet or an Apache yet? Can’t be too far off. And for what? Name the last significant level of civil unrest that was not an attempt to achieve some form of justice or equality?
The endgame of a police force poised for battle against its citizens is civil war. With the recent pandemic happening alongside the largest civil rights protest in world history one thing has become painfully clear. We chose to stockpile weapons aimed at our own people instead of the resources to fight off a contagion.
Lets explore for a second a scenario where these protests were not incited, and the virus was more dangerous than it was. What then? How bad would it have to be for us to realize that we are not our own enemies, and that our resource allocation borders on psychopathy? What if this virus had been more robust? What if these protests had instead been movements of desperation because an inept government let its citizens down. What kind of videos would we be seeing then? Would we take the realization that our medical staffs were sacrificed so that cops would be able to roll heavy down the streets? Peaceful protesters were attacked and hospitalized! What if they had been groups of people desperate for medical supplies that had long been extinguished? From what we have seen recently it is not unthinkable that we would be seeing incidents of police and national guard, possible active military opening fire on its own citizens. If asking for equal rights brings physical violence, how low is the flashpoint for much much worse? How many people would the police be willing to kill if a civil rights movement turned violent?
I know I began this claiming to be in good spirits and hopeful and I still am. As concerning as it is that we have a large number of police that will obediently attack their own communities, there are still those who refuse. At the very least they are conflicted. This is the perfect moment to reward those who truly wish to serve their communities and remove those who feel that violence against their own is acceptable. To say we are a community and not opponents. I aware this is idealistic and easier said than done in some communities but we have to start somewhere and we have to start now.