The Single Most Important Question On Police:

If police didn’t exist, would you choose to create them again?

What Would You Do?

I’m gonna ask you to step outside of the present. Step outside of the details and the talking points and the headlines and imagine yourself at a council of concerned citizens trying to make a community safety plan for the very first time. We have a few problems to solve in our community, and we want your input. Let me throw some situations at you, councilman.

De-escalating teenage bullying

A teen in your community has been bullied, and is calling the council for help. She was followed home by two of her peers and is scared for her safety. You have sent a man out there to get eyes on the situation, and you have him on speakerphone as he arrives at the location she gave. As he comes up to them, the teens begin fighting. What advice do you give to your man over the phone? What’s your advice to your man? To the point, do you tell him to kill one of the teens? Would you be the person to stand up at that town hall and recommend that one of them needs to die?

The mystery of the fake 20

Imagine a hypothetical situation: a store employee calls you and says that he thinks a customer might have paid with a fake bill. The bill is small, it might have been an accident, but the bill was a fake nonetheless. There is no protocol for this. There is no handbook. This isn’t 9-1-1. You are just a respected adult in town, and he wants your advice on the situation. Do you know enough to intervene in this situation? Do you choose to intervene? Would you going to gather up four armed and hostile men to assault the fake-bill dude?

Competing cigarette sellers

A member of your community is selling cigarettes. Full stop. Another community member, who also sells cigarettes, has asked the council to make the first man stop. First, how do you respond to this request? Do you get involved? Second, if you choose to intervene, what consequences would you assign to each party?

If your answers differ from reality, why?

I hope that I’ve made the point clear – none of these situations needed to end with anybody dying. Honestly, I’m not sure you can justify an intervention in the last two situations at all. So… why did they go down the way that they did?

There’s a simple answer: police weren’t created for you. They weren’t designed for our benefit. Police were created for two purposes: protecting business interests with taxpayer money and catching/disciplining runaway slaves. And if you think they have deviated from that founding mission in the past century or two, you are terribly naive.

That’s why they are sent to defend one cigarette seller from another with such cartoonish violence. That’s why they are motivated to kill a man in the street over a $20 bill. And that goes a long way to explaining why, I shit you not, police are not legally required to protect you from fucking ANYTHING. But it gets even worse: police are legally protected from facing almost any consequences for their worst misdeeds.

Think about that pairing for a minute. The police are not accountable to you and me. They can do whatever they want TO us, but don’t have to do anything FOR us. Whatever aid they offer to you or me is incidental, non-essential, and can turn violent at the drop of a hat. Would you choose to build that system for yourself, for your friends, for your community?

Personally, I find that really fucking depressing. And I think we can do better. I think that if we actually came together in our communities, we could come up with a lot of solutions to keep each other safe, without needing to pay for a collection of unaccountable men and women to defend businesses FROM us. To defend white supremacy FROM us.