Hi Felicia,

I understand and it's a lot to feel and think. I have similarly found myself in awe of the behavior of the NYPD and officers across the country who are brutalizing our protestors. I just came back from a protest myself and we encountered very few officers, and the ones that did just blocked the street so we could march peacefully.

Similarly, the comments and behavior from the LAPD police chief as well as NY are horrid. My church is in one of the most high-crime areas of Baltimore and one time my churchgoers told me about a time he talked to a friend in the community 5 minutes before he was murdered. He agreed to be a witness and just moved to the community. He asked why the police officer had to be discreet and it was the obvious that he didn't understand at the time -- community trust in the police was horrible, and retaliation against witnesses was rampant.

I agree with you that officers need to be reprimanded and should be paid to do their jobs and be held accountable. I may have simply misunderstood the proposal behind defunding/abolishing, but I certainly see a lot of quotes and videos of a lot of politicians, Democrat and Republican, saying very nasty things about "superpredators," "thugs," "knuckleheads," and other extremely racist terms in the late 80s and early 90s.

Here's a clip of Joe Biden commenting that George H.W. Bush's 89 crime bill wasn't aggressive enough. Of course, I didn't grow up in the late 80s and early 90s. I wasn't even alive during this spike in violent crime, and would love to hear from you. I may just not know what the crime climate was like at the time -- but these comments made it clear how much politicians looked to officers and a police state to fight crime instead of more sustainable solutions, and it's clear that they looked the other way and allowed police to act with impunity. The tax dollars spent into funding riot gear, pensions, bonuses, and rubber bullets were all greenlighted at the time.

Now, we're having a correction the other way and realizing that our politicians and society have allowed them to act with impunity and no accountability for far too long. It's clear that they're not the solution or panacea, and the priorities of pursuing petty crimes like a $20 forgery or trying to bring "order" to peaceful protests over investigating murders and rapes is simply not right. I abhor policies of stop and frisk and the broken windows theory, but I wonder how much of that is a police problem as much as a societal problem, how mayors of many cities, including in Baltimore, can prioritize the predominantly white, gentrified, and commercial parts of their cities over its most vulnerable residents.

I would love to see more money diverted from an ineffective police force into solutions like housing to curb redlining and education. I think I'm wrong on my verdict on policing because they don't have control over societal ills, but do have a lot of control over their use of force and brutality. I honestly have see a lot of comparisons to teaching and how a lot of teachers have prison-guard-like perspectives on how to treat kids and manage a classroom in inner-city schools. Even the term "classroom management" means we have to 'manage' the kids, which has a lot of problematic implications...

Anyways, the police have been allowed and even incentivized to act in a brutal manner, in my perspective, because we have greenlighted it as a society until recently. I'm glad that with BLM and mass protests against brutality, the pendulum is swinging the other way. I'm grateful I was able to protest peacefully today but I still fear for myself and my students' lives every time we're on lockdown in the classroom and lament the gun violence they still face every day. I don't think there are many easy solutions at all and I do think I've been shortsighted here but I just intended this piece as a forewarning that once demands are met and the protests are succeeded, societal safeguards and corrections are needed to address a lot of the things we relied on police for in the first place like preventing homicides instead of harassing citizens and arresting them for petty crimes that don't bother anybody.

I would love to talk with you more about the environment and dialogue in the late 80s and 90s about crime and policing and how it came to be this way in the first place, with such a lack of accountability and impunity. But, to me, the police are an arm/extension of politicians/society that has advocated for the police state in the past. I'm extremely grateful that the pendulum is swinging more towards reform on police brutality but also a move away from the use of force, prisons, and an emphasis on rehabilitation. The danger is if we stop talking about these things and stop putting pressure on our legislators to decriminalize nonviolent drug use and policies that allow the police to act with impunity in the first place.

Hope this makes sense,

Ryan

Written by

Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire,” God’s gift to the Earth. E-mail: ryanfan17@gmail.com

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