I hope to keep an open mind and to listen to reason before making conclusions about issues. I hope that any who read this would extend the same courtesy to me as well. I hope this letter encourages more to research this issue.
Regarding the “Defend, Don’t Defund” signs I have seen all over Culver City, I hope to point out a few things as to why I disagree with this statement and all the ideas surrounding it.
In order to get an idea of what the police truly represent and how they have shaped society better, it’s important to look at the history of law enforcers.
Modern police forces started in the 1900s, but the origins come from the colonies. In those times, the law didn’t condemn slavery. In fact, the law enforced slavery. These law enforcers were tasked with catching black people and returning them to their owners or to be sold back into slavery. It was the colonies’ way of ensuring that they had complete control over black people. If you’re looking for more information on the origin of law enforcement, read “Protests against police have broken out across the country. Here’s how policing has evolved in the US since its beginnings in the 1600s” by Frank Olito (EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article on insider.com).
After the emancipation, America needed a way to ensure that they could still control and profit off of black people. (An Alabama planter once said, “We have the powers to pass stringent police laws to govern the negroes — this is a blessing — for they must be controlled in some way or white people cannot live among them”).
Now, I know that this was a long time ago, but the truth that the inception of law enforcement came from the need to cling to slavery is unsettling at the very least. Everyone knows that this mindset continued for hundreds of years. Everyone knows of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. In a country that started on slavery, is it so hard to believe that there might still be remnants of the oppression of black people in today’s society? It is hard to argue that racism, police brutality and hate crimes don’t exist.
There are many examples of the police not only failing to protect and serve, but being the source of fear and danger to many American citizens. The names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have been shouted across the nation and the globe. The injustice of their deaths have spurred many into action. Yet I wonder how many know about the Talk that has been given each generation in black households. A very important discussion that parents give to their children. (I suggest watching a video on YouTube titled “Black Parents Explain How to Deal with the Police” if you have no idea what ‘The Talk’ is). Parents are forced to teach their children how to interactwith cops should their child be cuffed, frisked, or pulled over. If every black household considers ‘The Talk’ to be imperative to their survival and the survival of their children, then what does this say about our police system?
However, many point out that a strong stance on crime paid off and succeeded in lowering crime. I disagree. The case that many cite as evidence is New York’s use of Zimbardo’s “Broken Window” theory (“How a Theory of Crime and Policing was Born, and Went Terribly Wrong” by Boyle, Cohen et. al). The idea that minor crimes will eventually lead to larger, more violent crimes. This theory was put to the test in the 1990s. Crime rates dropped, and many took this as proof that the theory worked.
What is often failed to be mentioned is that while crime dropped in New York, crime dropped in many cities. Even with police departments like Los Angeles that had problems with corruption scandals.
Yet, what the signs I have seen addressed was the defunding of the police. I wish to clarify this.
Many people calling to defund the police want the money to be put to other social services. This is best said by former Dallas Chief of Police David Brown: “…every societal failure, we put it off the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding—let the cops handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops.” Not only is this counterproductive, it is dumping too much responsibility on the police. They do not have the training nor the equipment for those situations. We expect too much from them.
According to John Kent, CCPD’s budget is over $46 million. The fire department’s budget is little over a fifth of the police department. Services like public works and community development get little over half of CCPD’s budget. The city council plans to cut that budget by $7.5 million. The police will have about $38.5 million in their budget.
It’s also important to note that Culver City, while its school is known for its diversity, is not racist free. In fact, there is a lot of racism in Culver City. Just look at our history. I suggest reading an article titled “Continuing to Reckon with Culver City’s Racist Past” by John Kent.
I encourage everyone to do their research and to find information instead of joining a cause because it sounds good. All the information can be found with a simple google search.
John Oliver’s video on police (Police: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) is very informative and heavily researched. Ava DuVernay’s documentary on Netflix called “13th” shows the continued slavery of blacks. (Warning: there are disturbing images in this documentary.) Finally, there are many articles on the debunking of the “Broken Window” theory. Research, please.
— Erin Akamine
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