Roughly 48 hours ago I predicted with confidence that police would emerge from the George Floyd backlash empowered, due to the dismal optics of protestors-as-thieves-and-arsonists. However, I did not account for the post-traumatic collage of excessive force that they have since gifted to the media. A male-on-female groping, resulting in her recoiling, which provokes a beating; shooting out the eye of a homeless wheelchair-bound man with a rubber bullet; shoving the frail Martin Gugino to concrete for daring to stand in their presence, & then quitting to show solidarity with those officers disciplined for said action.
I have since watched the latter clip in slow motion several times, transfixed by the body language and telegraphed motion of an officer who appears to want to beat Gugino with his club after he has fallen, only to be casually dissuaded by another. Not only is Gugino in no danger of getting up; blood is clearly flowing from his ears. Nonetheless the instinct is to ‘finish the job,’ like a rule from Zombieland.
How could anyone want to show solidarity with that? The answer is, I fear, quite simple. The officer is genuinely ‘just doing his job.’ He is an outsourced violence specialist, salaried with the tax dollars of American citizens who would rather not do their own dirty work. It is not we who should be mystified by his actions. It is he who should be surprised that we have so suddenly resolved that we no longer require his sanguine services.
Or so we like to tell ourselves. In truth, the average American citizen has never been further removed, logistically or mentally, from the actual monstrosities that we have (up to May 25th, 2020) tasked our law enforcement with facing. Some of it, certainly, can be remedied in a more intelligent fashion (drug legalization would evaporate drug cartels, for example). But the fact remains that there is a massive ‘out of sight, out of mind’ at play here. Having police be little more than glorified customer service representatives may work in homogeneous and/or unarmed populations. But to defang and declaw law enforcement in a country as contentious and heavily-armed as this is, at best, a way to make sure only robots are crazy enough to take a policing job. At worst, consider what happened in Little Village, a predominantly Hispanic portion of Chicago, but on a much larger scale. Seeing no particular reason why their stores should be emptied and burned, or their Abuela terrified in her own home, just because George Floyd was killed, the Village quickly became a No-Go zone ala Europe–except those who were being ‘told’ No were African Americans and white Antifa instead of police.
I would like to humbly suggest that causing heavily-armed white areas to ‘police themselves’ by dint of defunding actual police, is probably not the best way to reduce racial violence.