2016 is FINALLY over (thank God!) and it’s time for those super awesome New Year’s Resolutions that everyone totally sticks to every year – right? Well, this year it’s more important than EVER to carry that fire from the year before into the present. People’s lives are literally depending on it.
This year I’ve got a few resolutions on my mind, but the ONE big one I’m committing to is:
not calling the police.
Now hear me out because I know exactly how that sounds. You’re thinking, “This girl is OBVIOUSLY a troll,” and “What is she on!?”
It sounds crazy because you benefit from a privilege that allows you feel protected from the police. Don’t stop reading. Join me outside the box for a second.
People of color are already deeply aware of the feeling that police do more harm than good.
Michael Brown, Black, 18-years-old, unarmed: shot in the back.
Tamir Rice, Black, 12-years-old, armed with a toy gun: shot and killed.
Eric Garner, Black, choked to death by police for selling cigarettes.
Their names and deaths have become chants – slogans even – in the fight for equal rights and equal protection under the law.
“Hands up don’t shoot!”
“I can’t breathe!”
Even more recently a Black woman called the police to arrest a White male adult for choking her 7-year-old. When the mom explained to the office that the man had choked her son for littering, he asked, “Why don’t you teach your son not to litter,” and then arrested the mom and her 16-year-old daughter instead.
Just today video surfaced showing an officer body slamming a Black 13-year-old girl at school, concussing her and then dragging her by the arm.
Have I convinced you that police aren’t doing a good job of protecting everyone equally yet? Well here’s a personal story:
I called the police on my dad for abusing my grandpa – who suffered from dementia. Not only did they tell my dad he could continue abusing his own father – but they threatened me with physical harm. The story in full is at the bottom of this article for anyone who feels like reading a novel.
A study by a University of California, Davis professor found that “the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.”
The Washington Post keeps a running total of people killed by police – and it consistently shows how disproportionately affected the Black community is.
Though the police may do it to us – I’m not grouping the police into a big ole’ pot of “bad cops.” Police are individuals, and they all act individually – corrupt or not. But I’m not placing all of the blame on corrupt cops either. Our system is flawed. Our system employs police to uphold flawed laws that take advantage of disenfranchised peoples.
When celebs get caught with drugs they go to rehab – when poor people do it, they’re sent to jail.
How fair is that?
But asking someone (who hasn’t already considered doing so) not to call the police is like asking someone to stop drinking water. You know you need water to survive, and you’ve got lots of water, so why would you stop drinking it? Well, there are people out there that don’t have access to that water, and they’re surviving – you’ve just never thought of getting it from a different source.
Here’s where I win some of you guys back: if your life is in danger and you need to call 911, CALL 911! This idea is supposed to generate discussion, not create a hard fast rule. As the writer of the article who inspired me to write this said so eloquently:
“Rules are for the cops, not for us.”
There are people out there (like me) who already think twice before calling the police for help, if they can consider calling the police at all. If your neighbors are blasting music at 1am, go have an adult conversation about boundaries. If you overhear your neighbors having what seems to be a domestic dispute, go check on them, offer to take the victim to a shelter yourself. The the next time you find yourself in a situation where you think,”Maybe I should call the cops,” take a moment and ask yourself if there’s anything you can do first.
Take a second to quickly scan over these options to policing. You’ll be surprised at how many choices you really have (a few being: 1. unarmed mediation 2. intervention teams 3. community patrols 4. direct democracy at the community level 5. local crisis centers).
Being protected by cops has become a privilege in America – and I am choosing not to take part in it, will you?
I am a White woman – therefore my gender, but not my race, falls into a group of people who have been historically disenfranchised. Before I moved to California I had to make sure that my grandpa Tony was put into a retirement home. He was living with my mom and dad and myself and his dementia was getting worse by the day.
We took away his car after he drove to west Phoenix and got lost at 4am, so I’d take him grocery shopping with me to get him out of the house. What he wasn’t was a danger to himself or anyone else. Even in his confused state he was a kind, gentle man.
He’d get bored, though, just sitting in his room, and he’d wander out and ask us strange questions and mumble to himself a few times an hour. I would answer his questions and then slowly bear hug, penguin waddle him back to his room and flip on the TV.
Well, my dad has – what he calls – a hot Italian temper. A few times I caught him being rough with Tony, grabbing him by the neck or ear and shoving him back into his room. I verbally disapproved of his actions and warned him if I ever saw him being outright abusive I would call the cops – and one day I did.
I was sitting in the upstairs loft when I heard my grandpa’s door creak open for the third time that hour. My dad yelled at him again and then I heard a sharp SMACK. I immediately looked over the wall and saw my dad pulling Tony (his dad) into his room by the ear – grandpa crying “OW OW OW,” all the while. I went downstairs and tried to ask my grandpa what had happened. Let me remind you he had dementia and rarely put real sentences together. I asked him if my dad hit him, and he responded, “Oh, he got me good.”
I dialed 911.
The officers that arrived on scene noticed that my grandpa’s ear had swollen to the size of a golf ball. In my naivety (and theirs) I thought he had been stung by something. The paramedics were called and that’s when things went downhill.
My middle-aged, White, male father looked us all in the eyes and joked,
“Oh no, that swelling is from me. I have to physically restrain him from hurting himself. He plays with the stove, knives, you know, naughty stuff.”
Then a paramedic looked me in the eyes and said:
“Don’t you be naughty or you’re next.”
All I could muster was a “Oh yeah, let’s joke about domestic violence, funny!”
They left without so much as a slap on the wrist for my dad. I did end up writing a formal complaint about the incident – and that paramedic had to go through some extra sensitivity training or whatever – but the important message here, to me, was:
“We’re not here to protect you.”
The Mesa PD had two people telling two stories, and not only did they side with story of the man, but they threatened the woman – me.
Do you have a story to share? Leave a message in the comments!