” Vandalism: An action causing deliberate destruction of or damage to private or public property. “
The mayor’s newest order executed the First of July called for the immediate clearing out of the CHOP, both residents and artwork. For the first time since early June, you’d have no clue of what once laid here. Caution tape surrounds all entrances of what was once known as an autonomous zone is now littered with pigs (pig, litter pun).
When asking one of the numerous police dealing with guns, or pigs, when the streets would open back up, they said the emergency order had been issued for 48 hours and would extend as long as it took to clear all the vandalism. Vandalism? We both have a set of eyes, but we must see the world very differently.
An occupied protest region, in the middle of a high traffic commercial / residential area, would at least have some naysayers. Whether privately or publicly it can safely be assumed business owners could look to protesters as a detriment to business. They depend on the police for protection, and generally feel a sense of comfort and security with the police as a resource in times of conflict. So from their perspective, CHOP had to be removed to bring back a sense of security. This is America after all, where security comes with a price for those who can pay.
I miss the days when the United States founding fathers kool-aid was digestible. Freely drinking emotionally moving quotes such as, Franklin’s “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” The mayor ensures these orders are for the betterment of the community. Her story doesn’t match up to what history teaches us.
Boston, a historically racist city, first began using a police force in the 1850’s. As a large shipping commercial center, Boston argued that a paid law enforcement group, comprised of Boston’s residents, was paramount to continued economic development. The police were constructed to protect money not people. The southeast in the 1800’s created police forces with years of Boston’s innovation. Their primary industry of course being slave labor. Slaves were considered by slave owners, as well as policymakers of the south as property and assets to protect. The police were used to track escaped slaves and to deliberately destroy and hopes of their freedom by controlling slave rebellions. By force. Violent force.
If the foundation of the police force is to control, condemn and corral black people, even when black people are apart of their ranks, how safe can black people possibly trust them.The Los Angeles Police appointed Willie L. Williams as the first black U.S. police chief following the 1992 riots in response to Rodney King’s attack(Rodney King survived his police encounter). Two decades later, Officer Christopher Donner, a black cop of the L.A.P.D, declared war against police for the internal racial injustices he faced(he did not survive this and was killed by police less then two weeks later).
Donner will only be remembered as a domestic terrorist, who saw violence against his adverservies, and more troubling the families of those, as his only path to retribution. Violent retribution, for the purpose of corrosion and control is the polices tradition. A Bastardization of America’s history to circulate a lie, that blacks are property not people.
I’m proud to identify as Cascadian. Our bioregion was the last area to be taken by colonialism and while entrenched racism was abjectly enforced, slavery wasn’t a staple of the formerly Oregon Territory history. Black people didn’t come to this region in sizeable numbers until addition labor was needed for in the 1940’s for the World War II effort, bringing jazz and culture along with them. The police already existed and were still functioning as an institution to enforce segregation from white people.
Crafting a framework for an inclusive society, with a respect for the land and waters we use, and ethical business practices, bordered by natural (in lieu of political) boundaries is the hope of Cascadia. There needs to be a safety protocol in place for functionality, but it can’t be a police force. Corrupt cop has to be considered a misnomer, as cops purpose is to profit from racial injustice.
Private armed security guards have been hired at an assortment of businesses in Seattle’s high traffic areas. Security guards only act as protection for property, something the police already do. The demands of the protestors were for the police budget to be reduced by 50 percent. The mayor’s office reports a reduction of 5 percent has already occured, and despite the ask for those resources to be re-allocated to black communities, or massive police headquarters to be re-purposed as community centers, it doesn’t seem like the demands have been close to being meant. Not to mention rumors indicating the minor budget cuts come as a result Covid-19.
In the year 2000, Seattle’s police department had a budget on par with U.S. cities with a similarly sized metro area, 109 million dollars. Since we became the fastest growing American city of the 21st century, Seattle Police department’s annual budget is 412 million dollars. The 100th largest military budget in the world! That’s outrageous even when inflation is taken into account, and a portion of that budget comes from tax dollars. Since the start of COVID, the city of Seattle allocated $2.5 million dollars to help aid small and independent businesses in our city affected by the harsh economic reality of the pandemic. In June alone, the city approved $6.5 million in additional overtime pay for police officers. Ultimately, you don’t get a vote in whether your tax dollars go to organizations rooted in indifference.
It would be unwise to assume crime is avoidable. Change by policymakers tends to be slow, and families have real concerns when it comes to the care in our communities for our children, or any vulnerable person(s). The villain cast for those groups tends to be black and poor people (please don’t be both), and the police at time are heroes to those who fear the people in their own communities.
Seattle University is conducting a two-year mixed method process evaluation of the Seattle Police Department’s Micro Community Policing Plans. These evaluations involve collection of quantitative and qualitative data including the development of the Seattle Public Safety Survey. Most recently published, the 2018 Public Safety Survey illustrates vehicular theft and burglary are the largest issues for Seattle. Homelessness can’t be ignored either. When CHOP was cleared out, a majority of the protestors apprehended where vagrants without income. Vehicular theft and home invasions outpace any other concerns on the survey. Meaning people with no resources acting in desperation to gain resources.
Why can’t 200 million dollars, half of the current civil paramilitary budget, go to the people? A remarkable zero percent of citizens, those who received funds from this year’s CARES act, complained receiving money from the government. Why can’t we create social and community outreach teams, made up of mental health workers and social workers integrated into our tiered emergency response system and stop treating police like a catchall for every problem, violent or non-violent, plaguing our city. Why not tax our super rich to ensure safety for our countrymen.
There are fifty Americans with a net worth of at least 10 billion dollars, with the richest man in the world living in Washington State. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in Washington is worth 150 billion all the way down to SAS Institute’s James Goodknight in North Carolina at 10.1 billion. How much money could be gained for communities if each “Super Billionaire” contributed half their annual gross revenue after their net worth reached 10 billion. Allocate funding based on state GDP, population and where they live. Enforcing these income restrictions would provide billions of dollars for mental health counseling, potentially eradicate homelessness, and provide a simple means that each adult would at least be able to pay for housing and to nourish themselves and families.
This could never happen as things are currently constructed. The police’s tradition of revealing in turmoil and the super rich’s drastic wealth increase, even in light of a pandemic that’s hit America harder then anywhere else, has become a nightmare for those who believed in the American Dream. America’s economic policy and white people in fear of racial equity forces us to reconsider what our cities would look like without police at all. How would disagreements be settled?
In a fully realized Cascadian nation-state, governed by direct democracy as opposed to a elective republic, you maybe would be more likely to know your neighbors regardless of their background, because they would be your policymakers, they would suggest bills, they would be your law enforcement departments. Each neighborhood could elect residents of their neighborhood to monitor and investigate crimes at a significantly reduced capacity. And more importantly, if we the people first addressed socio-economic conflicts with LGBTQ2A+ persons, with non-binary persons, with the children of immigrants of Spanish speaking nations, with black persons… If we created policy catering to inclusion and social growth and not lean on hope and fear…. Ultimately using fear as a tool for control cannot be a tenant of the tools for security for large cities. Society requires accountability. The police are not that.
Questioning authority is always a power the people should wield.
About the Author
Uriah is a Diplomat with the Cascadia Department of Bioregion. With nothing but ideas and passion, he moved to Cascadia after attending the University of Central Florida. He works to craft a society better suited for the physical earth today and its inhabitants. He is a long distance runner, plays basketball and soccer, and enjoys math rock.
Featured Image Credit: Stock Snap