Why is ending racism controversial? Because it’s systemic racism. We all have been taking part in it. Systems must be reformed.
Shortly into quarantine, attention focused around fragilities of our health care system and state budgets. As a whole, We The People had time to reflect on our crooked systems, as discussed through the internet and social media. But this was before multiple videos went viral. What might have not been shared or reposted before now spread like wildfire: Policemen killing non-violent black men and women. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Rayshard Brooks.
These are just a few of the names of unarmed black lives taken by police officers caught on camera.
More black people are killed than white people, at disproportionate rates.
Looking into each case, we see racism in the eyes of the police officers who’ve fired at unarmed black folx. What is there to debate?
The foundation of police officers originated from slave catching and catching freedmen in 1865 after the abolition of slavery. Black men notoriously receive longer sentences in jail while white passing folks receive a fraction of a sentence, if any at all. Mass incarceration is modern day slavery.
Police ensure that systematic racism. In 2015, police killed unarmed black folks five times more than white folks. Only 13 of 104 of the officers were charged with a crime, though four cases ended in mistrial. Of the four police officers convicted, none will serve more than four years.
As a country, what values are we upholding by funding our police departments with hundreds of millions?
Most city budgets over the decades have tripled, but crime rates have been lowering for decades.
And San Diego crime rate is at a 35 year low at 3.32 in 2019.
Let’s talk about police officer training. The police academy is about five months of training. Education required is a high school diploma. Some counties require additional credits like an associate’s degree.
The police are not trained to deal with the majority of emergency calls to 911.
Many calls to 911 are for homelessness, social work and mental illness issues. Maresa Talbert, a lawyer and co-chair of San Diegans for Justice, a local coalition working to increase police accountability explains, “allocating funds to eliminate (police) from those types of activities, and work to focus in on crimes and criminals and police work would go a long way.”
Specialists are needed. Trained officials who can de-escalate situations. Mental health workers or medics must show up–but not people with guns. Every single case does not require a firearm. Under-trained and over-equipped police departments must be abolished as we know it. It begins by defunding the police. Then integrate more thorough training. Develop departments that deal with non-violent calls.
For example, Eugene’s program Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets (CAHOOTS) began 31 years ago. In 2017, while responding to 17% Eugene’s Police Department cases, the street response team was funded by 1% of the police department’s budget: $2 million. Let’s follow their example.
Just this week, San Francisco announced they’ll be sending trained, unarmed officials to noncriminal calls handling mental health, the homeless, school disciplines and neighborhood disputes as a part of new police reform. This is a step in the right direction.
I urge you to look into your cities budget. Call your Attorney District General and email to defund. Some cities like Los Angeles cut their budget by up to $150 million just this month in response to protests and calls. To my shock, San Diego increased their budget by $27 million despite not only residents’ protests and complaints, but also that crime rates have fallen by nearly half in the past decade. With the increased budget, the fiscal year SDPD budget totals to $566 million — one-third of the city’s general fund budget. Despite hundreds of calls and 4000 emails, San Diegan council members remain “tone deaf.”
The police must be defunded and dismantled in order to reallocating funds to mental health crisis response teams, as well as education, parks, and libraries.
Abolish the police as we know it so we can create a community with trained officials saving lives rather than taking them.