Fewer Police, More Peace

Less Police, More PeaceThis will sound ridiculous. This will sound a little funny, sort of strange, not quite right. Like one of those “Modest Proposal” type satires we’ve been publishing lately.

But this time we’re not kidding, not inverting meanings and uncovering absurdities. We’re serious.

Here in Los Angeles – and probably in most major cities – there’s a political push for a new sales tax, some of which, the electorate has been assured, will be used to hire more police officers. More public safety. More security for our precious children.

We will be voting NO on this tax, listed on the ballot as Proposition A.

Why? We don’t need more police officers. We need fewer police officers.

We need fewer protectors of the status quo. We need fewer guards for the property of the privileged classes. We need fewer dollars spent on crime symptoms and more on crime causes.

We need fewer bullies carrying a deadly weapon. We need fewer fingers poised to open-fire on suspicious looking vehicles. We need fewer intimidators of people of color.People being served and protected

Sure, we need some police, just like we need a defense-minded military. As with the military, we need fewer trained killers in uniform. We need more educators. We need more ambassadors.

We need fewer thugs with self-esteem issues and more heroes eager “to protect and to serve,” as the almost comically ingenuous motto goes. We need fewer symbols of our society’s inequality and injustice and more symbols of healing and reconciliation.

Maybe our intrinsically violent nation would be less so if everyday life wasn’t constantly framed as a battle between (allegedly) good guys and bad guys. Maybe playing on the citizenry’s fears is merely a cynical (but proven) business strategy. It’s certainly worked wonders since 9/11.

If the proposed new Los Angeles sales tax promised fewer police officers and more resources applied toward the systemic injustices that breed crime we might feel our money was well spent. But merely to enlarge the landed gentry’s private security force? That would be a kind of institutional crime.

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