A News Talk Florida Investigative Report: How we learn to Demilitarize the police and not Defund them

By Avneet Singh and Randy Shrewsberry

A News Talk Florida EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

Why Are There Ongoing Riots In America

Police move through an area during demonstrations Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 

Black Americans have been excluded economically, harassed by the police, and treated like second class citizens. “Many of the uprisings that white Americans and Europeans have termed ‘riots’ were concentrated efforts to overturn systems of oppression”. “A riot is the language of the unheard”: Dr Martin Luther King. The unheard, oppressed, and excluded rebel against the oppression but don’t know what to do next.

There is always money to buy military grade equipment and surveillance drones but never any taxpayer money to help people. Use of military tactics and military equipment alienates people. As per Human Rights Watch, even non-military equipment such as helicopters with Red Cross signs have been used to intimidate protestors. “Under these circumstances it was excessive use of force prohibited by international human rights law. One former US military combat pilot told Human Rights Watch he used a similar tactic to suppress and detain suspected insurgents in Afghanistan”.

Why Is There Oppression, Follow The Money

Florida

 

Root cause of oppression is economics. Root cause for suppression of Black Americans is to keep them economically enslaved, subservient, demoralized, and afraid. This ensures better quality of life for the privileged oppressors.

Police brutality is only one tool of oppression. Denying healthcare is the other. “Forget politics or money. Racism explains why the country lacks the safety net its citizens deserve”: Eduardo Porter, NYTimes.

Every minority is oppressed differently.

Black Americans are oppressed using the police. Asians are oppressed using immigration laws.

Native Americans are oppressed by taking their lands away for oil drilling and transport. Historically, they did not only endure the loss of land – but a mass genocide. Further, Native American’s are today more likely to be killed by the police than any other ethnic group and face tougher sentencing in the judicial system.

Suppressing its own citizens has been going on in all communities throughout history, and is still going on globally. White Afrikaners are persecuted in Africa in a reverse apartheid. China puts its own people in concentration camps in Xinjiang, suppresses human rights in Tibet, and suppresses democracy in Hong Kong. Indian government committed genocide of the Sikhs using military tanks, army and police. No particular group of people has a monopoly on oppression. Given the opportunity, we all do it to each other.

Looting

Baltimore

 

Protesters were protesting, looters were looting. There are always opportunists. It does not reduce the legitimacy of protests.

There are corrupt politicians and businessmen. We say only some policemen are bad, not all. Why hold poor oppressed frustrated protesters to a different and higher standard than we use for professional policemen, businessmen and politicians?

It is not the protesters fault or their responsibility that they were joined by opportunistic looters in a public protest. The leaderless decentralized protesters cannot verify the intentions of every individual before allowing them to join a public protest against government oppression.

Racism In The Police

 

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley says “As societies skimp on social investment, they turn to social controls to contain the anger and desperation of people who are marginalized and excluded”, and “those in power viewed social controls as cheaper than social investment, which would require additional taxes and massive redistribution”.

Police are the instrument to enforce oppression and social control. Racism is the mindset induced in Policemen so they willingly oppress their fellow citizens. This is learned behavior. Policemen are not born this way; they are made this way by “those in power”. Not all cops are racist, but cops are hired to do racist things.

“You create this world where you’re not just militarizing the police—you equip the police like soldiers, you train the police like soldiers. Why are you surprised when they act like soldiers?” Rizer, a former police officer and soldier, said. “If you train cops like soldiers, dress them like soldiers, equip them like soldiers, how can we be surprised that they act like soldiers?” “The mission of the police is to protect and serve. But the premise of the soldier is to engage the enemy in close combat and destroy them. When you blur those lines together with statements like that … It’s an absolute breakdown of civil society.”

Listen to “My guests are Avneet Singh and Randy Shrewsberry who tell us how to Demilitarize the police and not Defund them” on Spreaker.

Demilitarize The Police And Lower Taxes

In this Sunday, May 31, 2020 photo, Athens-Clark County police officers in riot gear and backed up by a military vehicle move in on the protesters to remove them from Broad Street in downtown Athens, Ga. The protest was organized to demonstrate the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, sparking demonstrations and riots around the country. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

 

One part of the solution is to demilitarize the police. This involves 2 things. First, replace military tactics with other less aggressive forms of policing. Police have to be trained differently. Second, police should not be allowed to use military grade hardware and surveillance drones.

The militarization of the police (or demilitarization) isn’t much about costs because local governments are provided this equipment at no cost from the Federal Government through the 1033 program. President Obama began winding this program down, Trump increased it’s availability. Because the military grade equipment is “surplus”, the needed change is to end the 1033 program and reduce Pentagon spending. Without doing the latter, there will be little net savings as the money is already spent and the equipment will just sit to rot or be abandoned in other countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

Second part of the solution is to put the money saved by demilitarizing the police directly into people’s pockets. The money saved should not be used to fund government development programs. Government programs can be inefficient, expensive, and achieve the opposite effects of what they intend.

A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Federal Student Aid Programs lead to an increase in Credit Supply and raise the cost of education. The students end up paying more in the long run. The report finds that “even when universities price-discriminate, a credit expansion will raise tuition paid by all students”.

A report by the prestigious Think Tank Brookings Institute says that “While rent control appears to help current tenants in the short run, in the long run it decreases affordability, fuels gentrification, and creates negative spillovers on the surrounding neighborhood”. Another report says that “Economists are virtually unanimous in concluding that rent controls are destructive” and “a ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available”.

Anne Case and Angus Deaton, winners of 2015 Nobel Prize for Economics, in their book ‘Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism’: “reject an increase in progressive taxation or a more generous “band-aid” welfare state” and “The problem is not that we live in an unequal society but that we live in an unfair society”.

Giving money saved from demilitarizing the police to the people directly might not be politically acceptable and there is like to be intense opposition from the government.

Investment in social services and training police differently is a more politically acceptable solution.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley says “What Defund the Police really means: replacing social control with investment”.

What’s In A Name?

 

Just as Global Warming failed to capture the urgency in the Climate Crisis, ‘defund the police’ does the same.

Demilitarizing police is not about completely defunding the police or eliminating the police. It is about reducing access to military hardware and military mindset as “officers with military hardware and mindsets will resort to violence more quickly and often”.

Beyond Morality

 

Root cause for suppression of Black Americans is to keep them economically enslaved, subservient, demoralized, and afraid.

It is not just the Black Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans that suffer from this oppression. It is also the White Americans especially of lower socio-economic status who suffer from an epidemic of loneliness, opioid crisis, and stagnating wages brought about by our economic model.

Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Economics, highlighted this in their influential book ‘Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism’.

All Americans pay social, economic, and health costs. We are all victims. We are in this together.

Opposition To Change

 

The strongest opposition to change usually is from the privileged who benefit the most from the status quo without recognizing it. It is willful ignorance.

Political and police careers have been built on raising as much money as possible for militarizing the police. There will be intense opposition from them as well.

“At the federal level, police officers and their unions have spent at least $47.3M on campaign contributions and lobbying in recent election cycles, according to Maplight data and US Senate and US House records. The power of their money runs very deep,” said Hamid Khan, director of Stop LAPD Spying, a grassroots anti-surveillance watchdog group. “[Local governments] have become rubber-stamp bodies in which police power is never challenged.” 80million in NYC and LA Alone.

The opposition will take the form of delegitimizing the protesters and their demands; intentionally misstate and miscommunication of what ‘demilitarize the police’ is about; amplify minor differences in proposed solutions; and labeling supporters of police reform as ‘soft on crime’ and ‘irresponsible’ etc.

Who Will Bell The Cat?

 

Change in policing will only come from legislation at the highest level. It won’t come from internal police reform or local action as Police and local government will resist calls for change and have vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

“More than 4,400 San Diego residents flooded City Hall with phone calls and emails Monday demanding the city reduce police funding and redirect the money toward rent relief, mental health and boosting the local minority community. After 12 hours of speakers and debate, the City Council declined to reduce police funding.”

The Justice in Policing Act “would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds”. It will also “revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in “reckless” misconduct”, and “ban racial profiling, boost requirements for police body cameras and limit the transfer of military equipment to local jurisdictions”.

Call To Action

 

Demilitarizing the police, and lowering taxes on the poor and/or investing in social programs will achieve our goal of reducing injustice.

Training police officers differently is key to this.

Successful outcome requires Federal laws instead of patchy local activism, or local laws, or internal police reform.

There are other larger problems to solve such as inequality. We should not be distracted from the opportunity we have to solve a specific problem of reducing Police brutality.

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better”: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Follow Avneet Singh at the Voice of Mankind is a non-profit Think Tank working to influence public opinion on issues that affect us all. We are here to make sense of this changing world.

Follow Randy Shrewsberry at the Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform exists to save lives and reduce injury among the public and the police by reforming the deeply-flawed, inadequate, and antiquated training models, policies, procedures, and legislative standards for employees in the United States’ Criminal Justice System, particularly for those with the power to arrest, detain, commit, and kill.

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News Talk Florida Staff