I was thinking of a message for my sign that would encompass both the immediate need for disarming America’s militarized police forces as well as a paradigm shift in which the word “force” would never be ingrained in our collective vernacular to describe an entity tasked with resolving conflict and keeping communities safe.
As someone with a natural inclination for peacemaking but for whom the idea of becoming a police officer has always felt anathema to my modus operandi, it was not surprising but still shocking to see fully armed cops doing what amounted to directing traffic at our local little march. It takes a certain mindset to sign up for roaming the streets with big guns and batons in the name of keeping peace.
And while there are certainly a lot of well meaning human beings who choose to be cops, once you put on that armor, you’ve automatically transformed yourself into an entity of power, intimidation, and supremacy. Which, of course, within the American “peacekeeping” mindset, is the whole point.
And yet, in addition to all the much needed legal and policy reforms that are being discussed in cities and towns across the country, it makes me hopeful to see so many people waking up from the centuries long nightmare of the colonial mindset that has used fear, oppression, and discrimination to advance and sustain white supremacy, both in the most raw and explicit terms as we witnessed in the murder of George Floyd and so many other black and brown citizens before him, but also in more subtle yet structurally enshrined economic, social, and psychological ways.
I wish this kind of reckoning could have been done without all the lives needlessly lost, but seeing how deeply the denial of this country’s historic violent sins from the eradication of Indigenous peoples to slavery to Jim Crow runs through its Euro-dominated institutions, it makes good sense that the only way to bring meaningful justice and reconciliation is through a serious and sustained shaking up of all comfort and status quo.
And that shake up, just like the dismantling of the police state of mind, will ultimately benefit us all.