Guilty
April 20, 2021 10:19 PM   Subscribe

 
Guardian: Will the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict change policing in America?
Now there's some Betteridge's Law bait if I've ever seen any..
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:34 PM on April 20 [41 favorites]


well one cop down, just ~799,999 to go...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:38 PM on April 20 [27 favorites]


Yeah, we finally pushed back so hard that the system backed down. This wasn't "the system working as intended" this was the system finally being backed into a fucking corner and it had to make concessions to keep civil war from breaking out where its citizens versus cops.

This is a victory, but it is not cause for celebration. Until work is done to change the system that allows this kind of tragedy to happen daily, continuing apace, unabated, there is no cause for celebration because it will not change the system overnight.

There is much work to be done, this is just the beginning. Talking heads are frustrated and flummoxed because organized protest is finally getting results. Don't stop, the pushback is working.

Don't let anyone tell you that screaming at the top of your lungs about injustice is pointless and we just need to wait for incrementalism. They didn't bring out the National Guard for shits and giggles, they brought it out to put down a potential massive citizen rebellion against injustice. Thankfully, they didn't do that.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:47 PM on April 20 [152 favorites]


All it took was video from multiple angles, a dozen eyewitnesses, a personal history of misconduct, denunciation by senior police, and millions of people marching in the streets worldwide.

What have we learnt? If you see it, film it. Darnella Frazier, the 17yo who took the infamous video, says she feels she didn't do enough to save George at the time. I wish her peace today. She's a hero.
posted by adept256 at 10:48 PM on April 20 [243 favorites]


And now of course the question will be what will be the sentencing based on the most serious charge and what are they going to do during the appeal process. Dude should have a long way back to atonement, but what will it do for all the other agencies?
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:50 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


As said in the trial thread, and many other places, the fact that so many of us, so many Americans and other around the world felt anxious about the verdict, that a guilty verdict was not only such a moment of relief, but also so much of a surprise is a sign of just how much needs to change. It took a digital recording, eye witnesses, and police testimony condemning the actions of Chauvin to secure a conviction. It took millions of people taking to the streets to even get charges brought, again, a surprise that never should have needed to be one. And even then, no charges against the other officers at the scene.

As Cori Bush (among others) said, it’s accountability, not justice. And unless this becomes something that happens, until we no longer feel nervous about the outcome, until it’s not a surprise that a murderer in a uniform is held accountable, we have no business claiming that America is any kind of just country.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:20 PM on April 20 [55 favorites]


we have no business claiming that America is any kind of just country.
I tremble for my country when i reflect that god is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. - Jefferson
I'm not content to wait for cosmic justice, but Jefferson at least understood that if that day ever came, America bears a heavy guilt.
posted by adept256 at 11:49 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


Justice occasionally works. Today was a good day.
posted by bendy at 12:22 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Good.
posted by zardoz at 12:57 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


If this is a moment where people are looking to learn more, Robert Evans’ podcast Behind the Police was very helpful to me.
posted by FallibleHuman at 1:35 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


The original statement from the police has been circulating after the judgement, it is quite something

"Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction"

May 25, 2020 (MINNEAPOLIS) On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.

No officers were injured in the incident.

Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.
posted by xdvesper at 1:50 AM on April 21 [86 favorites]


And, fuck yeah.
posted by bendy at 1:50 AM on April 21


report of a forgery in progress.

The irony.
posted by adept256 at 2:12 AM on April 21 [34 favorites]


At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.

Jesus Christ that is one raging hell of a lie by omission; funny how it almost sounds like they made fake reports like this all the time & were real used to getting away with them, hmmmm
posted by taquito sunrise at 2:49 AM on April 21 [51 favorites]


I've read the NYT article linked above, but I don't quite understand why he was charged with three different crimes for the same offence - second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Why not just second-degree murder? Is it a kind of covering-all-bases idea so that if he appeals and it acquitted of, say, second degree murder, the other two convictions are still there?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:59 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Yes, they're called lesser included offenses.
posted by The Tensor at 3:19 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


And although in most places simultaneous convictions of “lesser included offenses” are not allowed, Minnesota does not have that rule. Complicating matters, a pending appeal in another case may determine that the Murder 3 charge isn’t appropriate, because Chauvin’s acts only threatened one person’s life.
posted by nicwolff at 3:38 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]




I feel sorry for the West African teenager who called the police on George Floyd and is apparently devastated and wishes to go back to Africa. CUP Foods sounds like a solid community establishment who is given a hard time because the teenage employee called cops for a non-violent crime which they should reasonably be expected to do. They were also victim of police harassment for not calling the police enough apparently.

If this was "one bad apple" the community wouldn't feel the need to have unspoken rules about when it is acceptable to involve the police.

The conservative press is oddly rallying around this verdict as a good thing and I was a bit shocked watching Fox News not to hear some conspiracy theory, but then I realized this fills their narrative that it is just a bad cop or two out there. If it was just a bad cop or two out there people wouldn't feel the need to video tape. If there was no video tape it would have been a completely different narrative.
posted by geoff. at 3:45 AM on April 21 [57 favorites]


The conservative press is oddly rallying around this verdict as a good thing and I was a bit shocked watching Fox News not to hear some conspiracy theory, but then I realized this fills their narrative that it is just a bad cop or two out there.

On Twitter it also lets them pivot to "there, you antifa jerks, you got your justice, now you won't riot tonight, right?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:57 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


I hope this comment is appropriate, but, can anyone explain to me how the defense attorney ummm, continues to have a career going forward? Or are we that broken that I'm asking a dumb question. I need a smarter person than me to explain. I'll be totally quiet and listen before I blow a gasket, and the gasket will just be me screaming into a pillow.
posted by lextex at 4:13 AM on April 21


I hope this comment is appropriate, but, can anyone explain to me how the defense attorney ummm, continues to have a career going forward?

As part of our democracy everyone has a right to a defense. The defense attorney did what any good defense attorney would do and threw shit against the wall to see what would stick. It would have been more worrisome if he didn't do any anything.
posted by geoff. at 4:25 AM on April 21 [83 favorites]


I don’t know that I can point to an incident like this where America didn’t do the racist thing in my life. The system is still so tilted, and there’s so much work to be done, but I can’t help feeling like this is a crack to get a handhold and really start doing more work to keep making changes.

The piece about Fox News supporting the verdict is mind blowing, though now the conservative media has shifted the shit shoveling to ONAN-ism News, NewsMax and the filth circulating on social media. There was plenty on /r/conservative yesterday screeching about how this is all Maxine Waters fault, somehow.

But again, is this a signal of a change? What comparable right decision has been made in America prior to this? Genuinely curious.
posted by glaucon at 4:25 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


I hope this comment is appropriate, but, can anyone explain to me how the defense attorney ummm, continues to have a career going forward?

Because if the job description of a defense lawyer were “defend only nice people who definitely are innocent,” do you think it would be only actual guilty people who were thrown to the wolves with no legal defense? You are basically saying “trials are unnecessary if the accused is OBVIOUSLY guilty.”

Not to mention the fact that even guilty people have legal rights, something that this country does its best to ignore, and basically the only thing protecting those rights for the incarcerated is defense lawyers.

If you don’t like it then advocate for a fundamental change to the adversarial system of law, don’t just say “well in every case where it seems like the guy is bad, let’s strip him of all his rights before the trial even begins.” Can’t see THAT turning out poorly in America!
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:26 AM on April 21 [53 favorites]


On Twitter it also lets them pivot to "there, you antifa jerks, you got your justice, now you won't riot tonight, right?"

Which is, as is usual of conservative arguments, stupid; it admits, however unintentionally, that the Black Lives Matter protests really were and are about justice denied.
posted by Gelatin at 4:27 AM on April 21 [20 favorites]


That police report is infuriating. You could use it in an 8th grade class on how to recognize propaganda, it's so blatant. (Do they still teach recognizing propaganda in 8th grade? That and the law of diminishing marginal utility is about all I remember from civics class that year.) And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.

All humor aside, PBS Newshour last night showed the reading of the verdict, with the camera square on Chauvin's face the whole time. Masked, but still a masterclass in facial expression. He goes from being calm and smug when the jury enters, and then you see the first little hint of brow furrowing when the judge reads out the first "guilty," and then his eyes start darting around and they just. don't. stop. By the time the judge gets to asking each member of the jury if this is their true and correct verdict, and every one of them replies "Yes," his eyebrows are bouncing up and down in absolute terror. You can almost see the wheels spinning in his brain and failing to get purchase -- he seems to have literally never considered that he would be found guilty.

Actually, scratch what I said above, it's not so much a masterclass in facial expression, as a masterclass in (white) (male) (police) privilege.
posted by basalganglia at 4:32 AM on April 21 [77 favorites]


Not to mention the fact that even guilty people have legal rights, something that this country does its best to ignore, and basically the only thing protecting those rights for the incarcerated is defense lawyers.

See: the legion of racist Facebook comments that insist that it's okay for $VICTIM to have been murdered by police because they may have been breaking the law.

I still reflect on the defense's decision not to have Chauvin testify in his own defense. They declined to play the "I was afraid for my life" card that so often leads to acquittal, which means they saw the risk of Chauvin testifying as not worth that benefit. Although one should never prejudge a defendant choosing not to take the stand -- they are under no obligation to prove themselves innocent; the prosecution has to prove them guilty -- one could definitely draw conclusions from the defense deciding having Chauvin on the stand was an unacceptable risk.

(On the other hand, there's also the fact that the defense attorney repeatedly lied to the jury, which the prosecution implied in closing argument to the point of a sustained objection by the defense. It seems clear that the "story" the defense told didn't sell to the jury.)
posted by Gelatin at 4:34 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


If you don’t like it then advocate for a fundamental change to the adversarial system of law

UK and US use what is known as Common Law, while nations such as France and Italy use Civil Law, which has inquisitorial elements to it. In the adversarial system, both the defence and prosecution lay out their case, and the judge acts as a referee.

In the inquisitorial system, the judge questions witnesses, interrogates suspects, and orders searches for other investigations. Their role is not to prosecute the accused, but to gather facts, and as such their duty is to look for any and all evidence, whether incriminating or exculpatory. It's not a two sided fight: in fact, even if the defendant pleads guilty, it's meaningless: the judge's role is to search for the truth, an admission of guilt is just one piece of evidence, but it's not the sum total of process: while in the adversarial system, an admission of guilt ends the process immediately. (cases in France and Italy do later proceed to trial in an adversarial fashion)
posted by xdvesper at 4:40 AM on April 21 [26 favorites]


The relief I feel is that the powers that be have finally acknowledged there’s something a police officer can do that’s so far over the line it has to be punished. Right now that line requires a murder to be in broad daylight, with a clear video recording, a dozen witnesses some of whom are children, some of whom are pleading with the officer to stop killing the man he’s asphyxiating, a national uprising to call attention to the incident, and enough public media exposure to give other officers in the force the room to have an inkling that you know, maybe this did go too far and I shouldn’t support this bastard like I did unconditionally for every murderer in uniform every other time.

There’s still a lot of struggle ahead to move the line to a place where all the other murders by police are addressed and punished, to the point where maybe they wont murder persons in minority groups as a matter of course anymore because they know they can’t get away with it like they used to. But at least now there is a line.
posted by purple_frogs at 4:44 AM on April 21 [24 favorites]




As part of our democracy everyone has a right to a defense. The defense attorney did what any good defense attorney would do and threw shit against the wall to see what would stick. It would have been more worrisome if he didn't do any anything.

And to Nelson's credit, I couldn't have done his job. The moment the prosecution called a 9 year old girl to testify, I would have left at the next break, found the nearest place with a bar, started drinking, and never gone back to practicing law.
posted by mikelieman at 4:48 AM on April 21 [27 favorites]


There's a podcast called Getting Off that is two defense attorneys talking about their work, usually through the lens of examining a real case. I learned a lot from it, though I still felt the same way about the woman who defended Larry Nassar that lextex had about the defense team in this case. There's what I know about the system, and about a good defense being not only necessary to protect a defendant's rights but also to preserve a guilty verdict during the appeals process. And then there's what I feel.
posted by Orlop at 5:04 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Not to mention the fact that even guilty people have legal rights, something that this country does its best to ignore, and basically the only thing protecting those rights for the incarcerated is defense lawyers.

Also, IIRC -- though anyone more educated about this please chime in -- if the accused's attorney makes anything less than a full-throated defence of their client, it can possibly result in the conviction being overturned because the defendant did not get a fair trial. (Cursory googling brought up this, though for CA not MN.) Just as the job of the prosecution is to put forth as much evidence as possible to demonstrate guilt, the job of the defence is to put forth every possible argument in their client's favour, and to present alternatives to the evidence against their client.

Under an ideal adversarial system things work best when both sides put forth as much evidence as possible, the judge keeps them in line wrt following the law, and the jury weighs everything presented and makes a decision.

I've known a few lawyers in the US, one of whom was a public defender, and it does require that you look at these things in a different way from the average person. Much like mikelieman, I'm not cut out for it, and for me doing that job would almost certainly lead to death from alcoholism.
posted by myotahapea at 5:10 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


No violent demonstrations, no police stations getting burned down tonight. People asking not to be murdered with impunity got a small measure of justice today.

Cops need to remember this lesson and make amends for the thin blue line. Rotten apples have been festering in the barrel for decades now and it's time to wash the worms out.

This is your regularly scheduled reminder to begin filming any altercation you witness as soon as possible, using an app like the ACLU's Mobile Justice app. Do not trust a police report to reflect what you experienced or witnessed in any way. If someone involved in an altercation is a cop or an ex-cop there will be extreme pressure brought to bear to make it go away.
posted by benzenedream at 5:11 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]




The fact that Chauvin was convicted is a statistical near miracle. Police shoot about a thousand people a year and from 2005-2019 only 139 officers were even *arrested*, and of those only 35 were convicted of a crime relating to the shooting, and of those only *4* were actually convicted of murder.

Police killed 3 people a day just during the Chauvin trial.

No justice here. The police still need to be abolished, even if we got the one in 20000 chance murder conviction this time.
posted by JDHarper at 5:27 AM on April 21 [53 favorites]


I hope this comment is appropriate, but, can anyone explain to me how the defense attorney ummm, continues to have a career going forward? Or are we that broken that I'm asking a dumb question. I need a smarter person than me to explain. I'll be totally quiet and listen before I blow a gasket, and the gasket will just be me screaming into a pillow.

I read a bit differently than others upthread. Others seem to answering a question like; how could Nelson defend this scum. I read it; as how could Nelson do such a shitty job. I think Nelson did an OK job. Typically all a defense attorney for a cop has to do to get a cop off is to present a few fig leaves to a jury that they can use to cover their racism. Nelson threw out the carbon monoxide really killed him theory, tried to throw in a he didn't die cause my client has his knee on his back for nine minutes theory, and also he's big and black and used drugs defenses. Given the video and especially given the amount of attention that this case has attracted it was the best he could do.
posted by rdr at 5:30 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]




Justice, I Guess. (via The Root)
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:33 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


And even then, no charges against the other officers at the scene.

Charges were brought on all 4 officers at the scene by June 4, 2020. The trial for the other 3 starts August 23. I was at George Floyd Square when the verdict was read, we chanted together "1 down 3 to go!" as the literal clouds parted for the first time all day and the sun warmed our faces. There was relief, and there was power, and there was a call for continued action. This is far far far from over, but we are getting a taste what hope might feel like. 1 down, 3 to go. 1 down, 300 to go. And so on...
posted by deadcrow at 5:34 AM on April 21 [59 favorites]


People asking not to be murdered with impunity got a small measure of justice today.

It's amazing to me that no politician has come along and used this seemingly simple, obvious and transparently beneficial platform to win office. "Vote for me and I'll see to it that you are safe from the Police!" Wait... maybe work on the language a bit... "Vote for me and I'll make sure the Police don't just haul off and shoot you or your neighbors!"... harder to do then I thought "Vote for me and we'll work together to keep the police from terrorizing us because holy shit! they're just fucking killing people for no reason at all!"

This whole issue - that the police are killing people for no reason other than the color of their skin - is tragic. Some asshole designed the training programs, and no one bothered to check if they weren't secretly being designed by racist psychos.

It is good this murderer was convicted in the same way its good when you suddenly realize you've been gas-lit like crazy and the police hauling off and killing people all the time is not normal...
posted by From Bklyn at 5:34 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Would it have turned out differently if Chauvin had shot George Floyd?
posted by lon_star at 5:35 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


An adversarial system is a good thing if you can't trust those in power to really look for the truth. (Of course, it still requires a judge an jury willing to be impartial between both sides.) But an adversarial system also encourages those in power to be adversarial, and to not worry about the truth so much as beating the other guy. So many parts of the criminal justice system are so broken in multiple ways that it's hard to have hope of fixing. But let's remember that a lot of work has been done in terms of what the future could look like. We just have to keep pushing and pushing.
posted by rikschell at 5:37 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Absolutely. It would have been "a split second decison" that the cop "had to make." It's happening in multiple recent shootings by police right now.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:39 AM on April 21 [29 favorites]


What have we learnt? If you see it, film it. Darnella Frazier, the 17yo who took the infamous video, says she feels she didn't do enough to save George at the time. I wish her peace today. She's a hero.

This is the part that really guts me. If she (or any of the other bystanders/video-takers/witnesses) had done anything more to intervene, they would have been arrested and/or harmed themselves. There is a 100% chance that the cops involved here believed themselves to be above the law, and being called on it would have resulted in them lashing out violently. Frazier did exactly the right thing, resulting in the best possible outcome in the situation... and that outcome still involved a Black man dying at the hands of a subhuman monster.

There will come a day when an altercation between the police and the community end up with the community weighing their options, and realizing that the only way to avoid the loss of innocent life is for them to band together and neutralize the responding officer. It will probably end up causing severe injury or death to both the cop and to the bystanders. I don't relish the prospect of more civilians getting hurt as collateral damage in the fight against white supremacy, but nothing about American policing will change until these assholes actually fear for their own safety when they flaunt the law they're supposed to be upholding.
posted by Mayor West at 5:50 AM on April 21 [48 favorites]


Indeed, Mayor West. It reminds me of how we've changed our thoughts and actions on plane hijackers. We may all die but we know the only option is to fight. I fear that's become ever so much more clear regarding the police. And yet most police murders are split second gunshots that bystanders definitely cannot do anything about.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:04 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


There will come a day when an altercation between the police and the community end up with the community weighing their options, and realizing that the only way to avoid the loss of innocent life is for them to band together and neutralize the responding officer.

This really does feel like where it's heading without some reasonable intervention. The situation is so patently, horribly aberrant that unless they (police and local governments) take it upon themselves, they are going to be displaced by the people. I wonder if you could make a RICO case out of Police officers abusing their office - probably not but... hmm...
posted by From Bklyn at 6:10 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


> It's amazing to me that no politician has come along and used this seemingly simple, obvious and transparently beneficial platform to win office.

Fear. Fear is the reason.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:26 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


In the city where I live, qualified immunity has been done away with. A small step that I hope ultimately leads to national change.

Concurrently, I like this idea a lot: “Every police killing, like every plane crash, warrants careful review by a federal agency.”
posted by Silvery Fish at 6:27 AM on April 21 [53 favorites]


I still reflect on the defense's decision not to have Chauvin testify in his own defense. They declined to play the "I was afraid for my life" card that so often leads to acquittal, which means they saw the risk of Chauvin testifying as not worth that benefit. Although one should never prejudge a defendant choosing not to take the stand -- they are under no obligation to prove themselves innocent; the prosecution has to prove them guilty -- one could definitely draw conclusions from the defense deciding having Chauvin on the stand was an unacceptable risk.

In the era before widespread cameras they certainly would have. You'd have his recollections against that of other witnesses, sure but the credibility of witness testimony is easily impugned. (Are you sure what you saw? Are you an expert? How do you know the knee was actually *on* the neck? Are you a doctor?)

With video, none of that can happen. So if you have him testify, you point to each moment in the video and you ask, "here, where he isn't resisting and you have him cuffed and three other officers for backup, did you fear for your life? What about here where he stops moving? Where you then afraid for your life?" There is no way that him testifying helps if there is video evidence of exactly what happened.
posted by atrazine at 6:33 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


The expert witness pulmonologist at the trial was terrific. "Here is the moment when George Floyd stopped breathing" and then the video continues for three more minutes.

Via tumblr, some resources about how to safely film police in a way that won't escalate the situation further:

Twin Cities Worker’s Defense Alliance - How to Copwatch manual and Know Your Rights zine.

United Against Police Terror San Diego - Copwatching Manual.

ACLU - Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual

WeCopwatch has a lot of further resouces.
posted by subdee at 6:38 AM on April 21 [38 favorites]


What worries me is the very strong likelihood that now the white moderates of America will heave a sigh of relief that racism has been defeated and is no more then go back to sleep and ignore the next several hundred police murders.

And, of course, we're now in the problem where we haven't actually fixed the underlying issue (police are set up as a brutal, repressive, white supremacist organization) but instead the onus is on activists to challenge every single instance of police brutality as a unique and novel event fighting the same uphill battle every time the police murder someone until exhaustion sets in and there's more riots.

Because the simple fact is: American policing is broken.

Worse, it's been broken for basically forever, we've had literally decades of people promising reform and the result has been police brutality getting worse not better.

I'm pretty sure it's not possible to fix policing in America, I think it's so broken the only hope is to abandon it entirely and replace it with an entirely new system.

Do you really need an armed response team made up of paranoids with itchy trigger fingers showing up when two kids are having a scuffle? Or when granny forgot her meds and is having an episode? Or when someone shoplifted? Or hanging around a construction site? Or directing traffic after a church lets out? Or issuing traffic tickets? Or being the ref when two neighbors argue over who's tree it is?

Of course not.

There is almost certainly a need for a small number of professional practitioners of coercive violence. But mostly we need adjuticators, traffic monitors, mental health helpers, not police.

So yay. I'm glad that finally, after all this time, we got a single murderous cop found guilty.

But we can't keep on like this, and this isn't even really a baby step in the right direction. It's good, but it's tangential to actually solving the problem.
posted by sotonohito at 6:38 AM on April 21 [36 favorites]


Adam Serwer: There Will Be More Derek Chauvins
There will be more Derek Chauvins, because his conviction alters nothing about this system. It does not change the fact that police who engage in such behavior can expect to rely on the silence of their colleagues, the elaborate protections established by legal doctrine and collective bargaining, or the quiet expectation that hurting the “right” people is an admirable part of the job. To the contrary: Powerful political actors are committed to ensuring that this system remains unchanged, some of whom are praising Chauvin’s conviction as justice being served.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:44 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Fox News et al are celebrating the verdict precisely because it validates their "one bad apple" theory and provides them with a handy reason to deny systematic racism exists and reject calls for structural change. Literally five days ago Jeanine Pirro called Adam Toledo (a 13 year-old boy) a "criminal" and said "This is a war! This is not the time to feel sorry for anybody.” If millionaire talking heads are using this sort of language in public, on TV, you can imagine how cops talk about it privately.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:50 AM on April 21 [14 favorites]


Re: a few of the questions about defense attorneys upthread-

Correct as to a full throated defense. Criminal defendants have a constitutional right (6A) to effective assistance of counsel, which can be a basis for appeal (but usually it's habeas rather than appeal).

And as far as public defenders defending folks who might be classically unsavory, it helps to keep in mind that (1) it's almost always the case that life circumstances are more at fault than the individual; and (2) even if your guy is a bad person and guilty as sin, prison isn't helping anybody, ever.

Now, that's for folks who can't afford a lawyer and for whom you are the last and only line of defense. Choosing to defend Chauvin (whose defense was necessary but so orthogonal to all the stuff you support politically as a public defender) was a question that left my partner and I pretty conflicted (we're both about to be newly-minted PDs in July)
posted by TheProfessor at 6:51 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


With video, none of that can happen. So if you have him testify, you point to each moment in the video and you ask, "here, where he isn't resisting and you have him cuffed and three other officers for backup, did you fear for your life? What about here where he stops moving? Where you then afraid for your life?" There is no way that him testifying helps if there is video evidence of exactly what happened.

Counterpoint: Rodney King, in which the police defendants interpreted the video of their own assault on King to persuade the jury that they were innocent.

But yes, the defense clearly didn't want to give the prosecution the opportunity to cross-examine Chauvin, and while it isn't for the jury to draw conclusions of guilt or innocence from that fact, we observers get to.
posted by Gelatin at 6:55 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


With video, none of that can happen.

There was video of Eric Garner. A grand jury watched it. They still decided not to even indict the cops involved.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 AM on April 21 [32 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: On Twitter it also lets them pivot to "there, you antifa jerks, you got your justice, now you won't riot tonight, right?"

Gelatin: Which is, as is usual of conservative arguments, stupid; it admits, however unintentionally, that the Black Lives Matter protests really were and are about justice denied.

Sadly, no. It's consistent with them understanding that to be the declared purpose of the protests. The subtext of all the "now you won't riot?" stuff is "but of course you will anyway because that's what ~you people~ are like."

In any event I would grant a molecule or two of credibility to the conservatives treating this as a good outcome if they'd been doing so from the start. It wouldn't be difficult at all to have said a week ago "You anti-cop people refuse to accept that the system works — for instance, this obvious case of murder by a cop will be punished." As others have said, the very fact that the outcome was so uncertain is itself evidence of mass injustice to draw our inferences from; the least conservatives could have done is pretend none of that was true and thus that Chauvin was toast.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:02 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


While I'm glad the verdict came out the way it did, I am skeptical of it surviving the appeals process, especially if it makes it to the current Supreme Court.
posted by TedW at 7:08 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Fox News et al are celebrating the verdict precisely because it validates their "one bad apple" theory and provides them with a handy reason to deny systematic racism exists and reject calls for structural change.

Counterpoint: There's an epidemic of crime where police officers -- having probable cause to believe another officer is committing, or is about to commit a crime -- fail to effect an arrest. (Official Misconduct)

Like the 4 other cops on scene who failed to stop Derek Chauvin from murdering George Floyd.
posted by mikelieman at 7:14 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I've seen the idea that police who have used serious violence should have their blood tested for drugs and alcohol. This seems reasonable to me. Thoughts?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:15 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


It's amazing to me that no politician has come along and used this seemingly simple, obvious and transparently beneficial platform to win office. "Vote for me and I'll see to it that you are safe from the Police!"

Some are. Maryland just passed a major police reform bill, for instance.

There's been a major shift in public opinion. For example, the share of people who say that the police are doing a good/excellent job in using the right amount of force dropped from 45 percent to 35 percent from 2016 to 2020. (Among Black respondents, it's 11 percent, but even among whites, it's a minority.)

Whether the politicians are responding to public pressure or are responding to the increased evidence of police abuses, I don't know - probably some of both.

Still, I - like most Americans - think that policing is not a problem: Bad policing (which is depressingly pervasive) is. (Most people oppose "the “defund the police” movement or “defunding police departments."") And abusive policing is not the cost we need to pay for keeping safe; clearly, abusive policing puts people in danger of both direct police actions and by preventing police from working with the community to prevent crime.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:24 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


In other qualifiedly good news, there's going to be a DOJ investigation of the Minneapolis police. Obviously one does not particularly trust the Feds to implement reforms, but it's going to be a huge shame thing for the city and the state and may result in at least some changes.

Frey is such a bad mayor. Admittedly, this has been a challenging couple of years and would have been tough for anyone, but it's revealed him to be a complete hollow man who just takes position after position based on what he thinks looks good and will get people off his back, then pivots to the next when it doesn't work. He was the one who really pressed to be in charge of the huge police/National Guard response, too. People blame Walz, who deserves some of the blame, but the person who wanted to own the whole thing was Frey. Walz has weak, inconsistent, generically liberal ideas that have proved totally inadequate, but he has ideas, at least - Frey is a pure opportunist and I hope his political career is done.
posted by Frowner at 7:26 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


But yes, the defense clearly didn't want to give the prosecution the opportunity to cross-examine Chauvin, and while it isn't for the jury to draw conclusions of guilt or innocence from that fact, we observers get to.

Except that just like people should never talk to the police without your lawyer present, defendants - barring extraordinary circumstances - should never testify, because there's no upside and lots of ways doing so can go horribly wrong. So no, we really can't draw any conclusions from Chauvin not taking the stand.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:31 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


It's hard to be cheerful when the path ahead promises to be long and painful like the trail of tears behind us, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.
posted by dmh at 7:37 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I am skeptical of it surviving the appeals process, especially if it makes it to the current Supreme Court

State court conviction. Direct appeal only goes to the highest state court. The standards for collateral appeal ("habeas") are absurdly high.
posted by praemunire at 7:41 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Still, I - like most Americans - think that policing is not a problem: Bad policing (which is depressingly pervasive) is.

Brooklyn Center was held up as a model of "police reform" for years, and that didn't save Daunte Wright from being murdered. Of course, the saying about a bad apple is explicit in telling us that it spoils the bunch.

(Most people oppose "the “defund the police” movement or “defunding police departments."")

31% of people is roughly the same amount of support that gay marriage had in the 80s and early 90s. At any rate, I don't think 4 polls is really indicative of anything just yet, and the critical mechanisms involved in actually defunding the police are likely to be presented in an incomplete or inaccurate fashion. And that's assuming the polls bother to go beyond asking a simple yes/no/maybe on the question itself.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 7:42 AM on April 21 [23 favorites]


While I'm glad the verdict came out the way it did, I am skeptical of it surviving the appeals process, especially if it makes it to the current Supreme Court.

The SC isn’t going to touch this any further than a simple “certiorari denied” unless some strong evidence of prosecutorial misconduct shows up. This isn’t a can of worms they want to open, even with this batch of justices.
posted by azpenguin at 7:49 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


As long as a majority of white people think policing is fundamentally sound and the problem is individual police behaving badly the problem will never be fixed. It really is that simple.

White people can delude themselves into imagining that in general policing is OK and that we need to keep the current system but get rid of a few bad actors and then things will be fine.

Things will never be fine as long as policing exists in its current form. White supremacy is the whole of our current system, it can't be patched around, it can't be reformed, it can't be fixed on an individual basis.

Abolition is the goal. Defunding is the method.
posted by sotonohito at 8:09 AM on April 21 [36 favorites]


Hollaback is giving free online seminars on bystander intervention to stop police sponsored violence:
In response to continued police violence against black communities and the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Hollaback! Is offering this free, one-hour, interactive training to train people on how to safely intervene in the face of police violence and anti-black racism using Hollaback!’s 5D’s of bystander intervention.
I recently attended one of their bystander seminars (aimed at stopping anti-AAPI violence). They're good, clear, and give everyone a chance to look at how they, themselves, are able to help.
posted by hanov3r at 8:10 AM on April 21 [20 favorites]


Some of "defund the police" is "abolish the police" but a lot of it is "return to the level of funding we had just 20 years ago and stop giving them military hardware."
posted by subdee at 8:10 AM on April 21 [23 favorites]


The End of Policing makes a good case for the eventual abolition of the police though.

We're policed a lot more now than we ever were in the past, the more unequal society becomes the more police are required to maintain this level of inequality.
posted by subdee at 8:14 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


"with the camera square on Chauvin's face the whole time"

Yeah, that guy looked FUCKING. SHOCKED.

Regarding defending terrible people, there are enough lawyers in America, usually including enough public defenders, that nobody has to personally take a case that they find impossibly morally abhorrent, except under very strange circumstances. My husband has done some criminal defense work, and he's very shruggo about defending drug dealers, which is a lot of it. But he was generally a hard pass on defending child abusers or sexual assaulters, and other attorneys in his office would pick up those cases. Have a friend who's a federal public defender who does a lot of high profile cases, and has defended many multiple murderers and mafiosi. She does not defend cops or prosecutors or corrupt politicians; other PDs in her office take those cases and leave her with the grisly murders.

I think most attorneys, if it came down to it, and the only option someone horrible had for defense was you personally, would take the defense and do it, and do their best job of it, because that is a fundamental tenet of how the justice system works in the United States. But fortunately, that is almost never the problem, so even defense attorneys can pick and choose a little bit to deal with cases that they feel like they can do a good job for the defendant and not need to go home and drink every night.

Whether Nelson did a good or a bad job defending this guy ... Well, it's a little hard to say, because this guy had literally no defense. But I also did feel Nelson made some very questionable courtroom decisions and some bad choices when he was talking directly to the jury in his closing. WHY Nelson took this defense ... Well, somebody did have to, and Chauvin did pay his bills (I'm pretty sure via the generosity of right-wing pundits, actually, and so someone should go see how many of those people donated to his defense who are on Fox News today saying it was good he was convicted). And Nelson is not a top-tier Minneapolis defense attorney by any stretch. I heard that top tier defense attorneys were staying away from this case like it was poison, because it was a morally offensive human rights violation to start with, but the case itself had no real defense, the defendant came across like a remorseless psychopath, and the national attention meant that it would be radioactive for a lot of high profile attorneys. (And also the kind of case that, if you're with a large prestigious law firm, your big corporate clients who actually pay the big bills are going to be asking "why are you defending this asshole? We don't want to be affiliated with this in any way, not even through our law firm.") So it was always kind of going to be a mid-tier one to five person office that was defending him. And sometimes those attorneys are really great and talented, and sometimes they're just doing the minimum that qualifies them as an attorney. I don't want to pass judgment on Nelson as an attorney based on one case, but I didn't think he did great in this one case. I think any defence attorney who picked up this case realized they were going to be shoveling an irredeemable pile of shit, but I think Nelson made some unforced errors in his shit-shoveling.

(One unforced error I really can't get over is that clearly, clearly nobody coached Chauvin on what to do with his facial expressions while on trial for murder. You can sit there looking stoic, that's fine. But during video or distressing testimony, you've gotta look concerned or sad or slightly distressed. A bad thing happened, and even if it were an accident, or you were claiming somebody else did it, a human being is dead, and you've got to look like that matters to you. Chauvin just sat there like an expressionless, remorseless sociopath. And I understand that "think about what your face is doing while on trial for murder" is a big lift. But duuuuuuuude, especially when you're not going on the stand, all the jury has to judge you on is what your face is doing while you're sitting there listening to testimony.)

Anyway, apologies for this sort of dispassionate analysis. Analyzing how the lawyers are doing their jobs has been a defense mechanism for me throughout the trial that let me hold it at the dispassionate distance they instill in you in law school. Because I feel like if I think too hard about the underlying murder, I will fall apart. And it's a measure of extreme privilege that I can hold it at that emotional distance, and have the specific training to do so. I'm trying to be very responsible about using those professional skills to support Black Lives Matter and police reform and abolition, so that my emotional distance isn't just letting me get through the day, but is actually helping people who need help who don't have the privilege of emotionally distancing themselves or the law degree that gives them access to certain arenas in the justice system. I still feel really fucking guilty about it though.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:34 AM on April 21 [51 favorites]


The insane thing about the Floyd murder is that all of those bystanders did their best. Their best, in the face of evil, was to document a man being slowly killed while keeping their distance. Had any one of them closed in on Chauvin, not only would they be dead, but Chauvin would have been released because "the crowd was dangerous". The best outcome was to watch a man die slowly, have millions protest, and then wait a year for a trial of the murderer. That is a really fucked up system when that is your optimal outcome.
posted by benzenedream at 8:36 AM on April 21 [97 favorites]


Some of "defund the police" is "abolish the police" but a lot of it is "return to the level of funding we had just 20 years ago and stop giving them military hardware."

Which is why I think it's a bad slogan. Not because it's radical or bad for campaigning on or anything, but because people mean two different things when they say it. ACAB may be radical, but it's also very simple: when someone goes "but such and such cop did a good thing/is a good person" the answer is "indeed, some cops may do individual good things and try to be good cops, but they will either turn a blind eye to bad cops or they will be driven out of the job", with plenty of cases to demonstrate the accuracy of this. While with "defund the police" when people go "well, actually I don't want to have a restorative justice colloquy with the guy who is currently shooting people in the street" half the people will go "you bad person, you are deliberately misunderstanding, of course by defund the police we mean redirecting most of the funding and work into mental health intervention teams, etc etc, not abolish police entirely" while if you assume that meaning and use it another group says "no, we mean abolish the police, you bad person supporting the carceral state".
posted by tavella at 8:42 AM on April 21 [20 favorites]


Trevor Noah had a really good video about the "one bad apple" argument - "Where are the good apples?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


> The conservative press is oddly rallying around this verdict as a good thing

Well, as it turns out, not all conservatives...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:48 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've always thought the slogan "defund the police" was a real own goal. Defenders of the status quo were always going to represent it as meaning "abolish the police", a bad faith tactic they knew would ensure most voters opposed it.

Also, as Trevor Noah says here, the real question is not one of bad apples but of why the tree produces them.
posted by Paul Slade at 8:57 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


I'd argue that defund the police is a singularly effective slogan because it's actually created movement and talk while all the previous milquetoast reform talk produced exactly nothing but soothing muffled trombone noises like a Charlie Brown adult talking.

I'd also argue that functionally the two groups you describe on the defund side are identical. Once you've stripped away all the powers and pared the police down to a rarely invoked armed response team then we've effectively abolished them as they currently exist.

Obviously some people, me for example, are also deeply opposed to the carceral state, think we need to legalize every single drug that exists (along with gambling, sex work, and all the other "vice" crimes), and have a lot more welfare to keep property crime from being an issue.

But in general you'll find more agreement than disagreement among the more radical defund types like me and the people who are arguing for moving funding to other places while keeping a tiny remnant thing called "police".

Either way, anyone on the defund side is in complete agreement that the problem is systemic, not individual, and that it requires a systemic approach to resolution.

While on the other side you've got the people arguing that policing as it currently exists is more or less OK and they'd just like to stop hearing about so many murders.

subdee 20 years ago was 2021 and the only real difference between then and now is that back then not very many people carried video cameras in their pocket so you didn't see so much evidence of systemic police violence. It was just as bad then.

Do you really think that the police in the 1990's were particularly less murderous than today? According to Black people they weren't, it's just back then since there was no video lying reports like the one initially released about the murder of George Floyd were uncritically accepted by almost all white people.
posted by sotonohito at 8:58 AM on April 21 [25 favorites]


Well, as it turns out, not all conservatives...

Basically, conservative response is divided into tossing Chauvin under the bus to avoid further scrutiny into structural issues, and performative anger over being held accountable.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:58 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


value your insight into defense, Eyebrows McGee; thanks. i thought nelson was horrible. struggled the whole time with whether he was a bad lawyer and stupid or was merely competent and doing the best he could with an untenable case. think, on balance, i came down on the bad lawyer/stupid end of merely competent, but that is giving imho a fairly generous benefit of doubt.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:18 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


subdee 20 years ago was 2021 and the only real difference between then and now is that back then not very many people carried video cameras in their pocket so you didn't see so much evidence of systemic police violence. It was just as bad then.

Yes, I actually went back to edit that line but the window had closed. "We" in my sentence is doing a lot of work, it really means people who weren't aware before but are more aware now.

To expand more on what I was thinking, there's a chapter in Conflict Is Not Abuse about policing in domestic abuse situations. It talks about how community centers, for instance anti-rape centers for supporting victims of domestic abuse founded in the 1960s and 1970s, became bureaucratized and folded into government; and then the massive defunding under Regan that shifted the work from community support centers to police.

And then the author talks about "I'm going to call the police" as escalation, police are not equipped to handle these situations of domestic abuse, many of them have histories of domestic violence themselves, and they make the situation worse. And you can replace dealing with the mentally ill, with drug users, and with racial minorities there too especially because of all of the documented links between police and white supremacy.

But what I really meant by my comment, is that policing is not as inevitable as people think. Police presence has been increasing. It's entered into spheres - like domestic conflicts between partners - that it didn't enter into before. Police budgets have been increasing. So pointing this out is one way of saying, yes we should defund the police. The police had less funding in the US within recent memory. If they had less before, they can have less again.

In The End of Policing there's a section on how the London Metropolitan Police was founded using ideas of crowd control that came from managing the colonial enterprise in Ireland. Then that system moved to the US where it was used to suppress workers' rights movements and uphold vice laws, and discipline and control the immigrant populations. So TL;DR I agree with you the police have always had this goal of occupation and control. Going back to those 90s tough on crime laws, or the US before 2001 and the PATRIOT act, and starting the record there is another way of saying that we don't need the level of policing that we have now.
posted by subdee at 9:39 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


I keep seeing people posting about this and celebrating the verdict and I can’t. I’m just too sad. I’ve had the lyrics from Candide ringing in my ears since yesterday.

Once one dismisses
The rest of all possible worlds
One finds that this is
The best of all possible worlds!

This is what we get? Because it still fucking sucks.

I try not to despair.
posted by bq at 9:56 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I've seen the idea that police who have used serious violence should have their blood tested for drugs and alcohol. This seems reasonable to me. Thoughts?

I did needle exchange in another city. We had a number of people who were exchanging needles on behalf of cops who were shooting steroids so they could meet the strength requirements (tho I wonder if it wasn’t just cultural inclusion).

The system cannot be redeemed. Tear it down; build again based on different requirements and values.
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:19 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


For some reason I get targeted online by all sorts of ads for "doctor managed strength training" programs. Which means they find a way to diagnose you with low testosterone, prescribe TRT, juice you up, and charge a monthly fee for it and a gym membership. Every single one of them has prominently displayed discounts for police.
posted by Jobst at 10:51 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


The original statement from the police has been circulating after the judgement, it is quite something

Agreed. I've found myself reading the little Police Blotter in our local newspaper in a whole new light recently ( I mean when its not "man reports loud racoon keeping him awake" type entries). Like this recent one "On Wednesday, April 7 at 8 p.m., a man was reported to be “highly” intoxicated on Main Street. Public police logs did not provide details." Why? Now I want the details to be fully available and know what happened. Big old shining light....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:51 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Everyone's favorite faux-liberal Bill Maher has been on the rampage again against defunding the police (Fox news link), saying it's going to be The Purge every night if we don't have cops.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:54 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


The conservative takes are predictably bad, but even folks with a (D) in front of their name need to sit tf down it seems:

Speaker Pelosi: "Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice ... Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice."

Emphasis added. Floyd did not "sacrifice his life". He was fucking murdered.

Nor was there "justice" meted out yesterday, but accountability at best.

Tonedeaf establishment liberals really need to sit this one out.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:00 AM on April 21 [63 favorites]


not all conservatives

If anybody is ever in any doubt at all that Australia's own Andrew Bolt occupies a place in the muck at least as deep as that of any of his colleagues in the Murdoch hog pens, here he is complaining that the Chauvin trial "looked too much like a lynching."

Yes, he went there. That's an actual quote of his actual words.

He's quite popular in this country.
posted by flabdablet at 11:02 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Abolition is the only way forward.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:07 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Feel like it's worth noting that a bunch of the defense's closing statement was basically a great argument for convicting a hell of a lot more cops.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:15 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


HOW IT STARTED:

Earlier today, someone on Twitter tried starting a pro-police hashtag, "#BackTheBlue".

HOW IT'S GOING:

Other people have quickly taken over and started flooding it with Tweets that support postal workers, nurses in blue scrubs (with reminders to get vaccinated), and blue whales.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 AM on April 21 [71 favorites]


Does Vitale address how to deal with violent crime that’s not a product of an illicit commercial venture or mental illness without police in ‘The End of Policing’?
posted by Selena777 at 12:00 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


If you have ever lived as part of an over policed society, you find out that very little of what the police do is related to the actual catching of criminals as they are often defined.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:29 PM on April 21 [32 favorites]


Defenders of the status quo were always going to represent it as meaning "abolish the police", a bad faith tactic they knew would ensure most voters opposed it.

But that's part of my point -- you can't really call it a bad faith tactic when that is in fact exactly what a substantial segment of people using the slogan mean, and in fact will be offended by people saying they mean reduce numbers and budget instead.
posted by tavella at 12:46 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


If you have ever lived as part of an over policed society, you find out that very little of what the police do is related to the actual catching of criminals as they are often defined.

Absolutely. In any sort of criminal act I've survived or been involved with the survivors of, the police have been useless if not downright hostile and obstructionist. Their whole raison d'etre is defending property and wealth.

The past five years have taken me from "defund" to "abolish".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:52 PM on April 21 [27 favorites]


Does Vitale address how to deal with violent crime that’s not a product of an illicit commercial venture or mental illness without police in ‘The End of Policing’?

Send someone out with a notepad after the event to take a report, same as they do now?

Seriously, television notwithstanding, police are in a position to intervene in ongoing violent events extremely infrequently. Calling them is generally an encouragement for a violent party to finish what they're doing and leave, not hang around and get into a tussle with cops.
posted by jackbishop at 1:10 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


So I'm trying to decide whether this is either a STAGGERINGLY tone-deaf sense of timing, or an intentional reaction to events, but - I got a telemarketer robocall today asking me to support a local policeman's defense fund. The robocall was voice-responsive, and after its initial spiel, asked me if I was interested in contributing.

I hope they recorded the call, since my exact words were: "On behalf of George Floyd, my answer is no."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on April 21 [26 favorites]


I will note, even for people who disagree with the abolish the police interpretation I think anyone who is in favor of real change should keep in mind that having people take a position even you view as extreme can be beneficial in getting more concessions from the opposition.

I've been long convinced that MLK's more peaceful movement wouldn't have gotten as much traction without the threat of other, less peaceful, movements if the whites didn't give at least part of what was being demanded.

If you're a person who wants significant and real reform but thinks us abolish the police types are beyond the pale I strongly urge you to use our existence as a rhetorical club when dealing with people who oppose true reform.

"Deal with us and we can keep the abolish people off your back, refuse to deal with us and they'll win" might be an effective tactic.
posted by sotonohito at 1:31 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


Oh yes. The classic examples are MLK and Malcolm X, and Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
posted by bq at 1:37 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


My perception is that "abolish the police" means shatter the police, reducing what they do now into separate functions:

accident response & damage verification
mental health intervention
crowd control & public event security (unarmed, maybe some horses)
traffic enforcement (unarmed)
peace officers (domestic abuse, dangerous persons)
animal control / rangers

Having separate departments do all of these things would make a place safer. But it won't fit on a sign. "Fire Them All and Maybe Rehire Some of Them If They Aren't Literal Nazis and Can Do a Different Job" -- maybe a big sign, I dunno. It also lacks the catharsis of "abolish the police."
posted by Countess Elena at 1:43 PM on April 21 [28 favorites]


The Enduring Urgency of Black Breath, By Omotayo T. Jolaosho, April 16, 2021

Understanding breath as a force connecting the material and the ineffable highlights how Black people experience the convergences of racial violence, health and environmental hazards, socioeconomic precarity, and natural disaster through time and space. “I can’t breathe,” these immortal dying words are provocation not only toward grief and mourning but also to analytical rigor as part of anthropology’s contributions to the movement for Black life.
posted by Rumple at 1:54 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


The conservative takes are predictably bad, but even folks with a (D) in front of their name need to sit tf down it seems

I literally blurted out "oh my goooddd??" when I read what Pelosi said. Christ on a fucking sidecar.

All this time, I've never been able to bring myself to watch the video. Even just hearing about it in the aftermath, in all the discussions, in the trial, is more than I can handle. I've seen people die, including one person from violence, and I just can't do it again, but it's privilege that allows me to avoid such instances. Yet I simply don't know how a person's brain can go from "this man was violently murdered and in an extremely rare case in our 'justice' system, his murderer was found guilty" to "this man sacrificed his life so we would have a figurehead for justice." What the actual hell.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:20 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


Salient detail: Congresswoman Pelosi made the statement while standing with the Congressional Black Caucus. (C-Span, around 8:12.) For fuck's sake, Nance:

"Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice," Pelosi said at a press conference with the Congressional Black Caucus, adding that "because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous for justice." (The Week)

"Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, 'I can't breathe,'" Pelosi said. Floyd's name "will always be synonymous with justice," she said. However, many people took issue with Pelosi's phrasing, noting that Floyd did not willingly "sacrifice" his life, but rather was murdered. [...] After being criticized for her remarks about George Floyd "sacrificing" his life "for justice," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried again on Twitter.

"George Floyd should be alive today," Pelosi tweeted on Tuesday evening. "His family's calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don't suffer the same racism, violence, and pain, and we must enact the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act."
(Yahoo News)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:39 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Before #AbolishthePolice will ever gain traction, the American public must come to understand the reality that police are largely unaccountable for their actions. If they do nothing, they are protected because they have “no special duty” to protect the citizenry and, paradoxically, they are empowered to kill if they feel their own life is in danger. It is literally a “heads we win, tails you lose” situation.

Take a moment for that to sink in.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:46 PM on April 21 [21 favorites]


It is literally a “heads we win, tails you lose” situation.

Some people feel the police are on their side, up until the last moment of their lives like we saw at the Capitol. In their view, the police are hurting the right people.

Abolition is the goal. At one point the public thought it was inconceivable to abolish slavery and for gay couples to marry. I feel like we barely avoided civil war this time. The more instances I see, the more sure I am that abolition is less radical than giving the police power to kill.
posted by ichomp at 2:53 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


"Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, 'I can't breathe,'" Pelosi said.

Didn't think it was possible, but this is actually worse than the pullquote upthread.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 2:53 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


Some people feel the police are on their side, up until the last moment of their lives

The 13yr old girl who was killed yesterday after calling the police for help is yet another example of this
posted by mbo at 3:02 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Ma’Khia Bryant was 16. ["Though police declined to release her name, the teen’s mother identified her as Ma’Khia Bryant. Franklin County Children Services also confirmed Ma’Khia as the teen who was fatally shot. According to Children Services, Ma’Khia was a foster child under their care. Paula and another family member said Ma’Khia called the police for help because girls were fighting outside her house." (10-WBNS News, Ohio)]
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:21 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Defenders of the status quo were always going to represent it as meaning "abolish the police", a bad faith tactic they knew would ensure most voters opposed it.

That's a feature, not a bug. I don't care if people oppose it. It's becoming a credible threat, and if they oppose it they better come up with a satisfactory alternative that isn't the status quo. Everyone knows what "reform the police" means; it means nothing and that isn't going to cut it any more.

It's a "ball's in your court now" slogan. Do something or else.
posted by ctmf at 3:51 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


It's a "ball's in your court now" slogan.

And by that I mean it's a nice rhetorical shift of the responsibility to come up with a plan. For..ever it's been reformers' job to think up a solution and then beg everyone to accept it through endless nitpicking and handwringing over details.

Nope, here's our plan: abolish the police. What's your counter-offer? Your turn.
posted by ctmf at 3:59 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


And arguing about whether it means literally abolish, or reduce budget, or splinter into groups, etc. is playing back into "lets argue about your plan, reformers."

No. You tell me what YOUR plan is to solve the problem, or else we are literally going to abolish the police, all of it. Maybe we can argue about YOUR plan when you think of one.
posted by ctmf at 4:04 PM on April 21 [18 favorites]


That would probably be more effective if there was any sign of a critical mass of voters who want to entirely abolish the police, otherwise it's empty posturing.
posted by tavella at 4:09 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Cops are giving us more converts daily.
posted by ctmf at 4:15 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Warning - This article vividly recounts previous instances of Chauvin assaulting people by cutting off their air supply:

Chauvin was the subject of at least 17 complaints during his career, according to police records, but only one led to discipline. Prosecutors sought permission to introduce eight prior use-of-force incidents, but the judge would only allow two. In the end the jury heard none. -- 'No sympathy' for Chauvin, say those who had run-ins before Floyd, Reuters, April 21, 2021

19 years with the MPD; concurrent history of violence and targeting Black people while working a nightclub security job for 17 years; the Minneapolis police/Hennepin County Medical Center 'patient study' ketamine abuse link; and that "second" home in Florida where Chauvin's registered to vote? Man, paging CODIS.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:34 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Again, that doesn't mean a lot, unless you get numbers that are enough to sway elections and lawmakers, and right now that isn't happening, even among Black voters, from every poll I've seen asking the question. I mean -- "it's been reformers' job to think up a solution and then beg everyone to accept it through endless nitpicking and handwringing over details" -- that's how politics works, and pretending you can just Green Lantern your way to disbanding all police departments by asserting your will isn't. And thus it is not a credible threat to move anyone on the other side into action, a la Malcolm X and MLK.

I'm frustrated and angry at how little movement there has been to any kind of reform too, but retreat into fantasy isn't the answer either.
posted by tavella at 4:35 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I can only hope that a) this sets a solid legal precedent and b) puts the absolute fear of god into every single cop in America and beyond.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:43 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Trevor Noah had a really good video about the "one bad apple" argument - "Where are the good apples?"

Yeah, the whole point of that saying is that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.
posted by basalganglia at 4:50 PM on April 21 [22 favorites]


Speaker Pelosi: "Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice ... Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice."

I'll just be as charitable as possible and assume she meant well.
posted by Pouteria at 5:13 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Didn't think it was possible, but this is actually worse than the pullquote upthread.

Establishment Democrat pablum for white liberals. Sanitized repeatedly to not engage any sort of value based judgement of the status quo.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:19 PM on April 21


And thus it is not a credible threat

I'm still not hearing your plan.
posted by ctmf at 5:23 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


I think “End the War on Drugs,” “Abolish For-Profit Prisons” and “De-Militarize Policing” are all pretty good slogans and achievable policy goals, and arguably less polarizing than “Abolish the Police.”
posted by ducky l'orange at 5:30 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


If you are asking me how I'd sell abolition, then I'd consider the laboratory of democracy idea. There are thousands and thousands of municipalities in the United State with police departments. They range across the entire political spectrum and include plenty with majority Black populations. I know of a few that have dissolved police departments due to financial issues, letting LE fall to the county or state, and I can think of one where they dismissed the entire department and rebuilt it from the ground up, but I can't think of any that dissolved it on abolition principles. Which isn't a great sign for the popularity of the idea, but it also gives a place to start.

So if you want to sell abolition, start local. Find the most politically promising places, convince the voters, elect candidates on the platform, and get them to permanently dissolve their police department and establish non-violent replacement functions. Demonstrate how to do it, how it can be worked out with the state, demonstrate it works and then you have something to sell that won't look like a fantasy to a wider swathe of voters.
posted by tavella at 5:51 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


James Clyburn says he and John Lewis feared "defund the police" would undermine Black Lives Matter movement (cbs)

I will defer to the wisdom of John Lewis here.

I think a big part of the problem is that you have 400 million guns in your country and basically anyone could have one. So you have to have armed police too. What if the person with the air-freshener also has an ak-47? And that's how you end up with this shit:

Senate rejects strict limits on military gear to civilian police (politico)

The amendment would have barred the transfer of certain offensive equipment to law enforcement agencies, including tear gas, grenades and grenade launchers, bayonets, armor-piercing firearms and ammunition, weaponized drones and tracked combat vehicles. It also would require the Pentagon to take back equipment if found to be used against protesters in violation of their First Amendment rights, and would require certain certifications and reports on equipment transfers.

Bayonets? Fucking bayonets? It's better to have it and not need it than ... you know the rest. JFC.

Get rid of all the guns. Throw them in a volcano.

And hey, here's an idea you should put around: drug cartels make Central America a dangerous place to live, and their power derives from the war on drugs. If you want to stop refugees coming from Central America, end the war on drugs.

STOP THE REFUGEES
END THE WAR ON DRUGS
posted by adept256 at 6:16 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Some recent polling:

Only 18% of respondents supported the movement known as "defund the police," and 58% said they opposed it. Though white Americans (67%) and Republicans (84%) were much more likely to oppose the movement, only 28% of Black Americans and 34% of Democrats were in favor of it. Ipsos/USA Today

Data for Progress poll showing broad majorities across all demographics think that "regular police patrols in your neighborhood would make you feel ... more safe", including 65% of Black respondents, 70% of Hispanic/Latino, 71% Democrat, 76% Independent, 85% Republican.
posted by factory123 at 6:25 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, the major part of incarceration is excessive sentences for non-drug crimes. Ending private prisons (a good idea) won't solve it because the vast majority of prisons are run by the government. Neither will ending the war on drugs (also a good idea).

I'm not even sure if there's any specific thing which is best for dealing with the incredible negligence the court system shows in its treatment of whether people are guilty or innocent. Possibly keep hammering on all the reasonable issues. Radley Balko is a reporter who covers a lot about justice system atrocities.

As for police, maybe complaints against police should be public. Or maybe not-- it could be ineffective and put the complainants at risk.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:32 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Some recent polling:

And you'll likewise find similarly low polling in the early stages of other progressive causes, from civil rights to gay marriage and on and on. It takes time.

Alex Vitale's superb text, The End of Policing is currently free from the publisher, Verso. Worth a read if one is interested in the means of moving towards abolition.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:08 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


Something I overheard I'll paraphrase:

If you call 911 and say there's a fire people show up with hoses.

If you call 911 and say you're having a heart attack, an ambulance with EMTs come.

If you call 911 and say you got separated from your daughter in a crowd and you can't find her, people with guns show up.

So there's already a number you can call when you need help, but 911 operators need more options than 'send fire, ambulance or death squad'.
posted by adept256 at 7:29 PM on April 21 [35 favorites]


you'll likewise find similarly low polling

You'll find low polling for a number of issues which never gained traction, either, and defund is losing support pretty quickly. The 18% support figure represents a drop from last year.

Beyond popularity, there's a significant literature showing the value of policing in terms of saved lives. That literature seems to be confirmed by, for example, the failure of the defunding effort in Oakland, which cut 30m from its police budget, saw crime soar, and then had to re-fund the police.

There is a sharp disconnect on defund between activists and the general population. Police have historically been held in high esteem as a public institution, and the DFP poll reflects that: most people feel more comfortable with a visible police presence.

In that context, defund seems like a distraction from other solutions which should be considered, and it seems to have had negative electoral consequences in 2020.
posted by factory123 at 8:05 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


That literature seems to be confirmed by, for example, the failure of the defunding effort in Oakland, which cut 30m from its police budget, saw crime soar, and then had to re-fund the police.

I am actually not a full-scale abolitionist, but this is pure copaganda. Oakland's PD budget is almost $300 million. Under 5% of that was cut in June. Another ~5% was proposed to be cut in December. If you can sit here and argue with a straight face that "soaring crime" in 2020 was caused even in substantial part by a 5% cut to the budget and a 5% FUTURE cut...well, even in a year that didn't see a societal crisis that disrupted virtually every life, cut a swath of slaughter through poorer communities, and plunged millions into or deeper into poverty, I'd be embarrassed to make that argument.

You'll find many people on the right armed with such contempt for their audiences that they expect them to believe that planned (or even just discussed) cuts are so powerful that they are reaching back in time to cause spikes in crime even before they're implemented.

Police have historically been held in high esteem as a public institution, and the DFP poll reflects that: most people feel more comfortable with a visible police presence.

I'd say those sentences are missing some mighty important qualifiers, e.g., who it is that's doing the holding.
posted by praemunire at 9:19 PM on April 21 [36 favorites]



Beyond popularity, there's a significant literature showing the value of policing in terms of saved lives.


Being killed by police is one of the leading causes of death for Black men.

But go on, enlighten us, in a thread about police murdering another Black man.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 9:24 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


who it is that's doing the holding

Well, it includes the 65% of the Black respondents who said they feel more safe with an increased police presence in their neighborhoods.

You know, I agree that there is a problem, but you just can't ignore what large chunks of the population, including the Black population, think and want.
posted by factory123 at 9:32 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Well, it includes the 65% of the Black respondents who said they feel more safe with an increased police presence in their neighborhoods.

I’ve had conservatives throw that stat at me before — my immediate response is always to point out the nature and quality of said presence is just as important (if not more so) than the number.

The truth is that any organized society will need people to enforce laws and regulations. The question is what will those laws look like and how will we ask them to do it? Simply saying Abolish/Defund the Police doesn’t convey the scope of the project. Within the current paradigm, police are necessary because they paste over the rot in the cultural firmament. Too many people see the cracks in the underlying structure and panic because the abolition movement wants to remove the bandage, even though that is just one part of how to really attack the infection.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:19 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Big Al 8000, I gave a favorite to your comment, because I think we're basically in agreement about what we want - 1. some kind of cop, under reformed rules, 2. lots of attention paid to decreasing the shitty aspects of society. Our goals are basically the same, and I think the goals are actually really commonly shared among people as a whole. The "defund" language gets in the way of making that clear sometimes.
posted by factory123 at 10:47 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


When You Add More Police to a City, What Happens?-- this is about a study I haven't checked. What it found was that in general, adding more police to American cities causes a drop in the homicide rate, and more so for black people-- but not in the cities with the highest proportion of black people.

At this point, I'm wondering what proportion of the black people who are at least somewhat pro-police aren't living in the cities with the highest proportion of black people.

Also, more police means more arrests for low-level offences, which can have live-wrecking effects for black people.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:52 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Here's the study about adding police.

https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28202/w28202.pdf
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:57 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


There's two parallel questions:

1) Should we abolish/defund the police and what does that mean in practice?

It has the advantage of being very definitive and powerful, unlike "reform" the policy which we've heard so many times and never seems to help. The problem is that a lot of what many "defund the police" people seem to want when pushed actually is a lot more like complete restructuring than abolition.

To the question of what this might look like in practice, we currently have police forces that do a lot of different stuff. The "police" as currently constituted doesn't need to keep doing it all in the same way. They do a mix of things which need to be done (but not by people with special legal powers and weapons), things which as a society we might decide we don't want *anybody* to do, and things which we do want done by armed and armored paramilitary forces (aka the current police).

Today, we train and equip the police to be ready for low grade war at all times and then send them to deal with mental health crises. Is that a good idea?

One might want to split "the police" into:
-Traffic police / pulling people over: a lot of this work probably isn't necessary or desirable to begin with. Note that in some places within and without the US, vehicles must pass regular inspections so there is no need to patrol looking for busted brake lights.

-Investigating crimes and preparing evidence for prosecutors: Guess what? This is already not done by the regular police! We've just decided that detectives need to come up from patrol officers despite having a completely different skill-set and job.

-Patrolling streets: England mostly does this using people who are not actually police officers and have much more limited powers (obviously being England, these people are not armed). It's not 100% clear to me whether this is even an essential police task at all but people seem to like it. I guess in the US they would have to be armed which would come with full training but it is an open question as to what they are actually patrolling for. How likely are to they spot a crime in progress? You're never going to have enough to do that.

-Arresting people who are not dangerous: In many case people are arrested, then immediately bailed (n.b. they certainly should be). Many of these people should just be arrested by appointment, a courtesy which is very often given to white-collar criminals, why not shoplifters? Why are we spending a fortune on armed and trained police officers to drive around looking for people who haven't paid their court fines? Ridiculous. Send them a letter / seize their tax refund / garnish their wages if you absolutely have to get your money. If they haven't got a fixed address to send a letter to or wages to garnish they probably don't have any money and should never have been fined in the first place.

-Responding to nuisance issues and to deal with people having mental health crises in public: Whoever is doing these needs conflict resolution and psychiatric intensive care training. Some people want to make sure that "the police" get this training but arguably the people who do this job do not need to be "the police". Do they need the legal right to detain members of the public? Do they need guns? Maybe they do but I think we take that for granted rather than really thinking about it.

-Responding to violent armed crimes in progress / arresting dangerous violent criminals: Ok, these guys need to be armed and trained but we already recognise that this is specialist work by creating SWAT teams. Ideally the people doing this work would *only* do this work and would spend the rest of their time training. At the moment, we train and socialise all cops to be on a hair-trigger then send them out to do low-level policing and act surprised when they pull their guns instead of their tasers. Compare to English police who if they are authorised to carry weapons at all which most are not, draw their weapons from stores for a particular task, get a briefing, carry out the task, and then sign them back-in. Obviously that doesn't prevent them killing people they shouldn't but it's comparatively rare.

One might well end up with *more* people and *more* funding but you would not end up with one monolithic group of people who have an effective local monopoly on state violence, and on investigating such violence. What we currently have are people who are partially and poorly trained to do a lot of different tasks rather than specialists. Changing this is really not that radical when you consider that police departments already have large numbers of non-police employees, forensic investigators, administrators, etc.

2) Is "abolish / defund the police" an effective rallying cry"?

If this motivates only a small group of activists but de-motivates a larger group, then maybe don't use it. This is hard to work out though since polling only reflects the here and now and not what could be possible. Maybe this is more motivating than it is de-motivating. "Reform the police" sounds so milquetoast and an awful lot like stuff that's already been tried and clearly hasn't worked.
posted by atrazine at 2:20 AM on April 22 [22 favorites]


Yeah, the whole point of that saying is that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.

I'm aware of that saying, thanks. Trevor Noah's video is an examination of why using that particular saying when it comes to the police is fucking stupid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


I say "defund the police" because I want to make it clear that I'm not satisfied with any reforms that just end up giving more money to the police and reinforcing the carceral state. And because I think that any meaningful change would result in police departments having a lot less money.

But honestly, I have no idea whether it's a bad slogan from a PR point of view. If so, I'll keep waiting for a better one. I will say that I am optimistic about defunding the police because if I can get this radicalized in the direction of abolition over the last two or three years, there have to be a lot of folks in the same position as me, or who don't need much of a shove to get there.

But I also know that it won't work to defund the police and not do anything else that's useful with that money. When I say "defund the police," there's a whole package of policy positions that I mean, that includes

-decriminalize everything that doesn't actually need to be a crime

-have a better social safety net - make public transportation free instead of having thousands of police officers watching out for turnstile jumpers!

-invest in crisis response that is trauma-informed, unarmed, and doesn't have the power to put people in jail

-invest in drug treatment, mental health treatment, employment for people who need jobs, interesting things for bored young people to do after school, improving a foster care system that is failing a lot of people (an astounding percentage of people in prison were formerly in the foster system) - support people who need support.

-get rid of financial incentives for police departments to ticket and fine people. If you read the Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department, they were really focused on ticketing people in order to "fill the revenue pipeline." That provides a huge incentive to ticket people for petty nonsense - like $302 for "Manner of Walking"! - and then when they can't pay, because they're poor, they wind up in the court system. Or they get arrest warrants issued because they failed to make a court date that they weren't properly informed of and that didn't need to be a court appearance for any reason but being able to tack on extra fines if they don't appear in court.

There isn't an easy slogan for that. I don't think there's going to be one. I think that a real, comprehensive solution requires dismantling a lot of automatic assumptions people have about what is crime and who is a criminal. It requires dismantling the wildly wrong impressions - fueled by local news and police propaganda - many people have about how much crime there is and how dangerous cities are.

And I'm sure this sounds unrealistic and utopian and pie-in-the-sky, and maybe it is, but - we could afford to do some of it if we weren't spending so much money on police departments.
posted by Jeanne at 5:10 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


I've seen the idea that police who have used serious violence should have their blood tested for drugs and alcohol. This seems reasonable to me. Thoughts?

I believe this should be the baseline.

Some perspective: I'm an electrician working mostly heavy industrial construction. All my work sites are serious about safety to varying amounts (cynically because it affects their workplace injury insurance rates).

All the sites I've worked have had pre employment D&A testing. All will test everyone involved anytime there is a "loss time" incident [details vary but generally a lost time incident means someone(s) gets injured bad enough they can't return to work the same day. That's actually a pretty high bar. A broken arm for example won't be considered time loss if it happens early enough in your shift to be set and immobilized before the end of your work day. And I've seen entire crews that the injured party is working with be given hours of overtime to extend the window for propaganda purposes.] Most will test operators if there is serious property damage. Some will test anytime paint is swapped IE: contact hard enough that paint would transfer from one object to another even if neither is painted. One place I worked they tested any witness or involved party [eg: someone bumps into the office trailer you are working in with a truck you get tested.] And I haven't worked these places but pretty famously there are sites that test people randomly or will use a serious incident as an excuse to test an entire crew even if some of those people were not working at the time of the event.

Many of the sites house workers in camps and some of those camps (the ones where logistics allow) will be "dry" and enforce that with bag searches on entry.

Pee in a cup tests are quick and cheap to administer though problematic because pee shy individuals can take hours to provide a sample. Saliva and blood tests are harder and slower but still not something that would be bank or schedule breaking.

Cops can demand breath or blood samples from anyone they even suspect of driving while impaired; I see no reason not to expect the same if they actually kill someone or there is an "officer involved shooting" or even if they draw their gun.
posted by Mitheral at 6:01 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Arresting people who are not dangerous: In many case people are arrested, then immediately bailed (n.b. they certainly should be). Many of these people should just be arrested by appointment, a courtesy which is very often given to white-collar criminals, why not shoplifters? Why are we spending a fortune on armed and trained police officers to drive around looking for people who haven't paid their court fines?

I'm reminded of my reaction years ago to no-knock service of a warrant (including flashbang grenades) for selling refreshements without a license. An great deal of the work the police do is (a) not very urgent, and (b) capable of being carried out with almost no risk of violence.
posted by jackbishop at 7:34 AM on April 22


Well, it includes the 65% of the Black respondents who said they feel more safe with an increased police presence in their neighborhoods.

Wanting to have an effective and fair public safety presence in one's neighborhood is not at all the same as holding present or past U.S. police forces in high regard, and I'm not sure why you're conflating the two.
posted by praemunire at 7:44 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


I think they’re being conflated because neither could be interpreted as demand for abolition.
posted by Selena777 at 8:06 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Yes, and because the question being asked isn't whether you'd need significant reforms to feel safer, but whether more of the present US police force in your neighborhood would make you feel safer.
posted by factory123 at 8:21 AM on April 22


"Hold in high esteem" is thus your interpolation, and insisting that to say otherwise is "ignoring" what large chunks of the Black population want is weird, particularly in light of the other answers to the survey:

(4) "Generally speaking, would you say that most police officers can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with police officers?" Blacks: 32% (can)/64% (can't)/4% (don't know)

(6) "Do you agree or disagree with the claim that police officers are more likely to use deadly force on Black Americans compared to white Americans?" Blacks: 58% (strongly agree)/22%/10%/6% (strongly disagree)

That is hardly high esteem.

Looking at a book like Forman's Locking Up Our Own, you can see the history of Black support for (or opposition to) increased public safety efforts in their neighborhoods, reflecting very legitimate safety and stability concerns in disadvantaged places, but you really have to decouple that from respect for the cops themselves as presently constituted. I appreciate Selena777's valid point that the distinction implicates the effectiveness of a "defund" slogan, but when you declare in this connection that most people hold the cops in high esteem, you are reflecting a deep pro-carceral state prejudice.

I note that you don't seem to have anything further to say about the Oakland issue?
posted by praemunire at 8:38 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


The "more or less police in your neighborhood" gets to a really fundamental point, though, when you're talking about abolition: do the shitty aspects of police outweigh the positive things? For most people, the answer is no. And that's further reflected in the overall opposition to "defund."
posted by factory123 at 8:51 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


when you're talking about abolition: do the shitty aspects of police outweigh the positive things? For most people, the answer is no. And that's further reflected in the overall opposition to "defund."

When you're talking about slavery: do the shitty aspects of slavery outweigh the positive things? For most people, the answer is no.

Power and privilege concede nothing without demand.
posted by ichomp at 9:18 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


I've seen the idea that police who have used serious violence should have their blood tested for drugs and alcohol. This seems reasonable to me. Thoughts?

I can get on board with that, but it'd also be great if an independent body investigated just how many of these cops are also members of far-right groups and those so found were immediately stripped of their badges. Because that's an endemic problem. And it's not likely to be initiated by top brass, many of whom are likely themselves complicit.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:20 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


Would "Replace the police" be a more effective slogan?
posted by automatronic at 9:22 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


It'd also be great if an independent body investigated just how many of these cops are also members of far-right groups and those so found were immediately stripped of their badges.

The police unions have too much power. I bet that in the vast majority of places, there is no hope of firing police officers who are also members of far-right groups.

The U.S. military Uniform Code of Military Justice includes article about "conduct unbecoming an officer" and "all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces".

Something similar should apply to police officers.
posted by NotLost at 9:29 AM on April 22 [11 favorites]


Would "Replace the police" be a more effective slogan?

I think it would more clearly indicate a goal other than anarchy and lawlessness.
posted by NotLost at 9:29 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


From my perspective, the best slogan would be "End qualified immunity", because 1-it's achievable. There are many voices on the right and left who agree that it's garbage jurisprudence that leads directly to police abuse, and 2-once it's easier to sue the police, you have a whole new oversight mechanism to force policies that will reduce tangible harm.
posted by factory123 at 9:38 AM on April 22 [15 favorites]


Firefighters do also have to be EMTs. Part of the job description includes giving first aid and CPR to injured or ill people. Plus, most of the calls firefighters go on are for medical emergencies rather than fires. As many as 70 percent of calls that came into fire departments as of 2012 involved medical issues.[...] Most calls firefighters respond to are actually medical emergencies. (Houston Chronicle)

Expand Fire Departments. Increase the funding of the non-armed emergency response options which currently serve the community, and add social work/street response divisions to improve the social safety net. Hire people trained to de-escalate situations, and provide follow-up services post-crisis. Maintain vigilance in weeding out employees who abuse their authority.

These resources, these monies, exist; they will need to be reallocated.

(What do you mean? Don't you support firefighters?)
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:38 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


When you're talking about slavery: do the shitty aspects of slavery outweigh the positive things? For most people, the answer is no.

Power and privilege concede nothing without demand.


Stop with the posturing; the poll we are discussing has the question:

"Data for Progress poll showing broad majorities across all demographics think that "regular police patrols in your neighborhood would make you feel ... more safe", including 65% of Black respondents"

If you ignore that even Black Americans, who bear the worst burden of bad policing, don't much believe that fewer police are better, much less abolition, it starts to look a lot like a "simpler to dissolve the people and elect another" reaction. Persuade *people*, adjust your goals to what people actually want and what you can convince them of, rather than deciding only your pure and perfect outcome is right.
posted by tavella at 9:41 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


I've seen the idea that police who have used serious violence should have their blood tested for drugs and alcohol. This seems reasonable to me. Thoughts?

Short story. I used to live in Yakima, WA and worked in the local news. Around 2007 or so we got a new police chief. Right after he was instated, two cops got caught doing drugs on duty in their police cruisers. One was smoking marijuana, the other was smoking meth. The new police chief lost it and demanded all his officers undergo regular drug screening. His reasoning was if they were arresting people for these offenses, they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it themselves.

The police union was having none of it and within a year the union had run the police chief out of town and replaced him. They claimed it violated their rights to be faced with random drug screening.

One of our reporters was actually pretty chummy with the chief, and so we got to hear a lot that didn't go on the news about how the chief was basically stalked and harassed by his own officers because he actually wanted accountability in his department.

No officers ever had to submit to drug testing.

We have to dissolve police unions first, and that involves making people understand there is a massive difference between a union for workers and a union for agents of the state with a monopoly on violence.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:11 AM on April 22 [39 favorites]


If you ignore that even Black Americans, who bear the worst burden of bad policing, don't much believe that fewer police are better, much less abolition, it starts to look a lot like a "simpler to dissolve the people and elect another" reaction. Persuade *people*, adjust your goals to what people actually want and what you can convince them of, rather than deciding only your pure and perfect outcome is right.
This is a really important point because there’s a huge amount of propaganda with lavish funding dating back to New Deal opposition pushing the claim that government comes in one flavor: oppressive. We should be reforming the police, ending their culture of lawlessness and expanding other services, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have, say, the expectation that we’d have police the way they do in Scandinavia or Canada rather than the status quo.

Making government work well isn’t something which only happens on other countries. Every time we take the opposite as a given, we’re supporting a right-wing propaganda claim over reality.
posted by adamsc at 10:15 AM on April 22 [15 favorites]


adjust your goals to what people actually want and what you can convince them of, rather than deciding only your pure and perfect outcome is right.

Just want to point out how polls at the time showed most people viewed MLK unfavorably and opposed the civil rights movement, so I'm sorry if I don't put much stock in a poll frozen in time being used to utterly dismiss what is admittedly a radical idea like police abolition.

Also bearing in mind that most if not all the simple rights and privileges people enjoy today were once radical, wildly unpopular ideas at first. I sincerely believe we're capable of both enacting reforms and having abolition as an end goal. I think even police abolitionists recognise that ending policehood is not something that is going to happen overnight.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:14 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


The NRA's 'good man with a gun' in this scenario would have been obligated to shoot Chauvin to save George Floyd's life. None of the other cops on the scene were good men with guns even though that is what cops are presented as.
posted by srboisvert at 11:15 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


A poll by its very nature is a public opinion snapshot, “frozen in time.” What alternatives do we have to gauge widespread public sentiment?
posted by Selena777 at 11:35 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Stop with the posturing; the poll we are discussing has the question:

"Data for Progress poll showing broad majorities across all demographics think that "regular police patrols in your neighborhood would make you feel ... more safe", including 65% of Black respondents"


Yeah, but that's not what defunding or abolishing the police actually means. As I said upthread, polling is completely useless on the question unless it accurately and completely represents what they are, and a single question is incapable of doing that. If your problem with defunding or abolishing the police is just "the polling is against it," you're not only using flawed data, you're just opposing something just because most other people oppose it. That isn't an actual position, it's just a binary "majority rules" mindset, and one that has and still is used to justify positions like opposing basic civil and human rights.

Now, if you think the problem is that it's unclear what defunding and abolishing the police is, that's more understandable, but instead of badgering leftists on the Blue about it, why not just take a few minutes to do the research yourselves? As it just so happens, NYC mayoral candidate Dianne Morales released this statement today:
Today, we are rolling out our plan for the Community First Responders Department (CFRD), part of our strategy to radically transform health and safety in NYC. This plan is part of a larger framework to defund the NYPD and invest in our communities.
It includes a link to her website, which has additional links for statistics and more information. I also hope that it addresses the "well why isn't anyone trying to explain it to voters" concerns, but at the very least don't just assume that because no one's been able to compress it all into a comment on Metafilter that no one is trying.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 11:43 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


The USA Today/Ipsos and the Data for Progress polls, both linked upthread, are each:

- a survey of fewer than 1,300 people

Check the deets:
USA Today: The poll was conducted March 1-2 from an online sample of 1,165 Americans. Rather than a margin of error, Ipsos measured its "credibility interval," which it put at plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Data for Progress: From April 2 to April 5, 2021, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 1209 likely voters nationally using web panel respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The margin of error is ±3 percentage point.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:43 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Found a relevant link:

Chief says ruling on random drug testing doesn't make sense Dec 6, 2007
"But the arbitrator said in his ruling yesterday that there was no need for it at the Yakima Police Department.

"He didn't seem to understand that we had three substance abuse issues in this department since I had been here," says Granato, "And he (the arbitrator) completely disregards, and says it clearly, the will of the people should not be considered."

This was binding arbitration so the city doesn't plan to appeal, but its already looking into lobbying state lawmakers in this next legislative session.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:45 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Not sure if it's coincidence or meant to address issues people keep bring up in this thread, but here's another source that someone posted here:

Defund the Police? An Abolition Curriculum from the Mennonite Church USA
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 11:46 AM on April 22


What Police Impunity Looks Like: “There Was No Discipline as No Wrongdoing Was Found” (ProPublica, April 20, 2021) To understand why police are so rarely held accountable for killings, you should know about Kawaski Trawick, and what didn’t happen to the officer who shot him.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:24 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Diane Morales is also running well behind the pack in the NYC mayoral race.
posted by factory123 at 12:34 PM on April 22


We have to dissolve police unions first, and that involves making people understand there is a massive difference between a union for workers and a union for agents of the state with a monopoly on violence.

Which is why I'm kind of annoyed that a lot of blue states or even blue cities haven't drawn up methods of local accountability bypassing police unions. I hesitate to say for each town and state there needs to be an elected board accountable only to voters as a circuit breaker for bad cops. Any of their decisions re: dismissing an LEO after a complaint bypass all contracts and disciplinary procedures and is unappealable.

If we do have to keep any sort of police around they shouldn't be obliged to be perfect in every single one of their actions but they should at least be unimpeachable in their characters. Local citizen boards should have the right to tell a cop who's actions they don't like or are uneasy about to piss off and not give them a monopoly on legitimate violence in their community.

Either way, break the blue wall of silence.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:45 PM on April 22 [14 favorites]


Diane Morales is also running well behind the pack in the NYC mayoral race.

1) She detailed her plan like 4 hours ago

2) The link shows that the NYC electorate is far from progressive

3) It's impossible to have a good-faith discussion if you're just going to sit here and shit on people for trying the exact same things you lectured them on doing to get people to agree with them in the first place.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:47 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Like if I wanted to make the biggest dent in the system, it would be getting elected local police accountability boards on every state's ballot in the next four years. It's not exactly "abolish the police" but we can weed out bad apples who constantly escape accountability.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:53 PM on April 22 [8 favorites]


Like if I wanted to make the biggest dent in the system, it would be getting elected local police accountability boards on every state's ballot in the next four years. It's not exactly "abolish the police" but we can weed out bad apples who constantly escape accountability.

I can get on board with this, too. There's a lot of tools that can be used, and having a continuous conversation about these tools and abolition is paramount. Wherever public opinion may be on individual policy ideas, we can't just toss up our hands and say "oh well, people aren't on board with this right now, guess we should shut up about it". We absolutely can and should continue to talk about reform, defunding and abolition. Hard to imagine where society would be if majority opinions were never challenged.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:44 PM on April 22


The first questions in the Data for Progress pol involved whether or not people thought crime had increased in the country (~70%), the state (~50%)and then the community (~30%). It was intersting to see how those figures decreased as the areas became more specific, and in some ways may demonstrate how, in fact, overall crime rates have actually reduced over the past few decades (with the exception of murders during the pandemic, apparently).

Bearing that in mind, the idea that regular police patrols would increase safety seems almost reasonable if you beleive that crime is up across the nation, even though that generally isn't the case - a fact that is more noticeable the more locally respondants focussed, and probably says more about the emphasis of the various news agencies than the true state affairs.

I'd also note that regular patrols isn't quite the same thing as regular armed patrols, which seems implicit owing to standard policing in the US but isn't the only way to do it. Yes, people like to feel that they are safe and protected, and accessible state agents can increase that feeling, but you might get that same uplift from the 'local bobby on the beat' model, rather than quasi-military SUVs thundering around at all hours. There's a lot of ways to cut that particular cake - and the poll only gives a sense of inclination, rather than a recipe for specific improvements.
posted by Sparx at 3:07 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but that's not what defunding or abolishing the police actually means.

If you have to explain what your slogan means, you've got a really shitty slogan. And you've probably already lost the debate.

As I said upthread, polling is completely useless on the question unless it accurately and completely represents what they are, and a single question is incapable of doing that. If your problem with defunding or abolishing the police is just "the polling is against it," you're not only using flawed data, you're just opposing something just because most other people oppose it. That isn't an actual position, it's just a binary "majority rules" mindset, and one that has and still is used to justify positions like opposing basic civil and human rights.

Wave away polling at your own risk. The binary "majority rules" mindset doesn't only justify positions like opposing basic civil and human rights. More critically, it makes such positions the law of the land.

Changing anything without a majority is a very steep hill to climb. And without majorities, such victories easy to roll back. I think we're all now painfully aware that you simply cannot appeal to reason and humanitarian authority and presume everyone will climb onboard because it just makes sense. These concepts need to be sold.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:45 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Is it a thing that just makes sense, though? Even countries that have much lower rates of violent crime, more politically liberal populations and more generous social safety nets/social services haven’t seen fit to do away with police and the carceral system entirely even though it costs money to retain.
posted by Selena777 at 5:42 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


I would argue that the history of policing in the US is unique enough that even if we all know we'll replace the police with something that still looks a lot like the police, there is HUGE symbolic power in actually abolishing the police.

"The Police" as you knew them have been ABOLISHED. The old way is dead and buried. Yes, we're still going to have situations where we summon an armed response but they're different and we're going call them something different.

It probably isn't a realistic goal right now but maybe we'll start to defund police departments and stand up other services to take over some of the "armed response does NOT help" situations and then some day police departments will want to be "abolished" as a rebranding effort or something. I do think it's the most-right solution and while it might not be in reach today, it's still worth talking about.
posted by VTX at 7:00 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]


I am pro-police abolition, but I'm going to quote myself from June 2020. I still hold these thoughts when it comes to abolishing the police. I think it needs to happen, but unless you're willing to have a violent police force ready to violently put down the former police force who now are armed insurrectionists because they're angry they're out of a job and don't get to kill with impunity anymore you might be in for a bad time.
How often do you think that is likely to be?

So currently there is this huge unaccountable group known as cops, who are effectively above the law and are white supremacists.

When they are out of jobs, they are going to be angry. There is not going to be a force to "police" them and they are used to being able to violently put people down.

Worse, most of them own personal weapons. I mean, they're white supremacists and right wing nutjobs and all.

Meaning it could happen a great deal initially, and would be the very same people currently causing the current riot: cops.

When they lose their jobs, mark my words, this isn't over, and them and the people who support them are heavily armed and regular citizens and the new citizen policing organizations will potentially not be well armed enough to deal with them.

Unless the new President is willing to label them terrorists and enemies of the state and mobilize the military against them... well, I mean, I just don't know how long the violence will last but it will be a long time.

This isn't over by a long shot, these people will not go silent into that good night. Which is fucking horrifying. All I want is for them to go silently into that good night. They will not relinquish their power without a long, bloody fight.

I mean, this article is all about how lawless they are. You don't think they're going to just steal all the weapons and body armor and ammo from each precinct and take them home and act like they have no idea what happened to them all? Who is going to march in and arrest them and enforce it?

I mean, there's actually a whole shitload of these dudes, even though there's more of us. We were already having regular incidents of white supremacist terrorism long before any of this.

Does anyone think that is going to stop because we disbanded the police? If anything, they'll use it as opportunity.


I say this as someone who is 100% on the side of police abolition. But yeah, I think this guy is right that a specialized force of some kind might still be necessary to contain psychotic assholes with high powered weaponry and a history of being lawless pricks.
posted by deadaluspark at 7:18 PM on April 22 [10 favorites]


I keep thinking about the pieces from last summer comparing abolishing the police to having police that act like cops in wealthy, predominantly-white suburbs do -- even AOC has used this metaphor. And while it obviously comes with some major problems (neither suburbia nor policing can be disentangled from racism and the history of racism in the US, for one), it's been on my mind a lot, especially since we moved from a majority-minority, high-poverty rust belt city in Illinois (Peoria), to a fairly wealthy, fairly white Chicago suburb. Even OUR experience of policing -- as two white lawyers -- is radically different in suburbia. My husband, who has never lived in the suburbs before, absolutely cannot get over how chill the cops are, and how they just like randomly act like friendly municipal customer service rather than GUYS with GUNS enforcing the LAW at their total discretion. Our local department has three social workers on staff (non-armed) and more on call, so they can always respond to a 911 call with a social worker as a first responder. We can enter our own household information in the E911 database, so when they're dispatched to a household, they see notes like, "Has two dogs" or "Elderly woman with mobility problem" or "Deaf child," so the fire department knows to go find grandma and the cops know the child can't hear them and they need an ASL translator.

Anyway, I keep thinking about WHY it's so different. And a huge part of it is the money. A huge part of it is the local Democratic party which is ridonkulously progressive and is run by a dynamo of a woman who gets. shit. done. (This was her first election as local party chair and she swept a GOP majority that's been in place for like 40 years COMPLETELY out of office; we have NO local elected officials with GOP affiliations now, it's amazing!)

But I think the biggest piece, by far, is the power relationship between the cops and the community. Now, the community has committed to paying full-time civil servants enough that they can live in the community, which does mean they have their pick of highly-qualified cops and fire fighters, 'cause that is a pretty sweet salary. But EVEN SO, most people in the town are financially secure and earn more than our local civil servants. Most people in the town have college degrees. And most people are super-comfortable negotiating bureaucracy. In Peoria, a cop ticketed my husband for "passing a police vehicle" (that was parked in a parallel parking spot and did not have its lights on or anything; the kid was like 21, freshly on the force, and showing off that he was a big man). We contested the ticket in court and the local PD was shocked -- shocked! -- that someone would call them on a completely imaginary law they invented and wrote an imaginary ILCS citation for. (The kid-cop cried in the courtroom, which I felt kind-of bad about, but he's a cop making up imaginary laws, so not that bad.) (The judge refused to hand down consequences for the arguably fraudulent ticket, but oh well.)

Where I live now? People feel totally entitled to call the chief of police to complain about a totally legitimate ticket -- "I was only going 15 over and it was 3 a.m.! I understand you have a job to do, but this could have been let off with a warning!" -- and TOTALLY comfortable taking that complaint to the town council if they don't get satisfaction from the chief of police. This is frequently typical suburban rich-people entitlement in action, and it can be bad. But it also means, when our local high school students had complaints about the new school liaison officer targeting AAPI students, and one of them said, "We should complain to the police chief," they literally organized themselves into a committee and called the police department and said they wanted to meet with the chief about the liaison officer's racial attitudes and they had a meeting that week. And the chief of police investigated and produced a memo that was provided to the students, the school, and the town council. And the police proactively decided to create a task force dealing with policing students, composed of a town council member, several parents, school administrators, and a bunch of the students who'd approached them. Because he knew that otherwise, he was going to have a very unpleasant year, so it paid to be proactive and responsive. (Obviously it'd be better if they weren't policing in the school at all; this is not a utopian outcome b/c there's still a cop in a school, but it's a pretty okay outcome for the present reality of the world.)

Because fundamentally, if those kids organized? And they convinced their parents they had a good cause? That cop is getting fired. The power differential is so radically and fundamentally different between living in Peoria and in suburbia when it comes to cops. Cops in Peoria were largely insulated from citizen complaints, because the city was impoverished, few citizens knew their rights or how to file official complaints, or could take the time off work to do so, and we had a largely white police force policing a majority-minority city with a local court system that was painfully, overpoweringly white. So they felt like they had impunity. But cops here in this little suburb? They know that if they piss off a local resident with behavior that can be criticized on almost any reasonable grounds, they're going to be in a fight to keep their jobs. Your school liaison officer is disproportionately targeting AAPI students and families? You are about to have 47 well-educated parents, many with multiple degrees, all spend Tuesday evening at the town council meeting to complain about it, and they will bring GRAPHS and PowerPoints. It will literally be two hours of one parent after another standing up to speak for three minutes about the injustice of it and your incompetence, and they will have organized to get around the three-minute limit by each passing the baton to the next so they manage to get in a 30-minute presentation 3 minutes at a time. And then there will be 15 local high school students, half of whom are on the national-champion HS debate team and volunteered to help, get up to make THEIR points, and they will be less-organized but every single one of them will be allowed to overrun the time limit because everyone wants to encourage kids to be involved in local government. Plus those debate kids talk INSANELY FAST. (this really happened)

I think the most fundamental difference is that where I live now, the community is more powerful than the police, and when the community speaks, the police are forced to listen. There are a lot of things urban police departments could do to be more like wealthy suburban police departments -- having a shit-ton of unarmed social workers on staff would be an amazing start and help with a lot of problems! But I think the key and crucial thing that has to happen is that the police have to answer to the community in concrete ways, and the local community has to have power over the police. So that the community is consenting to being policed, because they have control over how the police are policing. That is totally absent from most police departments in the United States today; cops operate with impunity, and have basically nothing to fear from the communities they ostensibly serve. They act like an occupying army. If they have to face consequences, they start acting a lot more like customer service, real fast.

Criminal convictions is a great step towards consequences, and a really important one. But I think fundamentally the community/cops equation has to be tilted towards communities holding the lion's share of the power, and the court system alone isn't nearly enough for that -- or nearly immediate enough.

I think there are probably a lot of ways to do this, and using different methods in different contexts is not only fine but probably a really good idea. But I think the fundamental, underlying issue of ALL of this is that the balance of power has to shift, and police absolutely have to be the weaker, less powerful actor in every situation. (I also think it's a pretty powerful metaphor to get "nice white suburbanites" on board with abolishing the police, when you say you basically want their experience of chillaxed cops to be everyone's experience of them, and explain about how in a lot of places the community has no power to fire bad cops. They get incensed.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:28 PM on April 22 [35 favorites]


“Abolition 101 in 1 Minute”@mistercapehart, 25 November 2020
posted by ob1quixote at 6:16 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


“Abolition 101 in 1 Minute”—@mistercapehart, 25 November 2020
Yes.
QFT: (and echoing Eyebrows' comment above) "It's not the most policed places that are the safest, it's the ones with the most resources."
posted by From Bklyn at 6:25 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Beyond popularity, there's a significant literature showing the value of policing in terms of saved lives.

Being killed by police is one of the leading causes of death for Black men.

But go on, enlighten us, in a thread about police murdering another Black man.


According to the first link, black men in their black men in their mid-to-late 20s have a 3.4/100,000 mortality rate from police use of force. They have a 94.2/100,000 mortality rate from assault.

Both numbers are horrifying, but no one should ignore the second.

No one should fear the police, but they also should fear dying for lack of good policing. And this discussion absolutely belongs here, because abusive policing and the natural responses to it also increase crime in huge, fucked-up, reinforcing cycle.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:48 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I think we're all now painfully aware that you simply cannot appeal to reason and humanitarian authority and presume everyone will climb onboard because it just makes sense. These concepts need to be sold.

I don't understand why "Defund the police" isn't easy to understand, though.

I mean, look: this is a vehicle that the police department in my home town now has. My home town is a largely rural town in Eastern Connecticut, with a population of less than 20,000 and which had a grand and glorious total of 85 crimes of any kind last year, most of which were thefts; there were zero murders and nine assaults.

There is absolutely no earthly reason why a town with that kind of crime rate needs a fucking tank.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:16 AM on April 23 [15 favorites]


There is absolutely no earthly reason why a town with that kind of crime rate needs a fucking tank.

It's beyond parody.

I also feel this is an underdiscussed backdoor military-industrial subsidy. Given how much military vehicles are hangar queens I doubt that the maintenance contract is cheap.
posted by jaduncan at 10:27 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


"a town with that kind of crime rate" doesn't need a SWAT team -- no town does. It's overkill, literally.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:30 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why "Defund the police" isn't easy to understand, though.

Because conservatives don't argue in good faith, but are very good at using emotional manipulation as a substitute, and the so-called "liberal media" isn't but rather is all to eager to embrace Republican framing.

So on the one hand, there's no point in eschewing progressive programs because the Republicans will lie about them because they always will -- see New Deal, Green and otherwise -- but it means Democrats should pay careful attention to how they market their proposals.

(It also means Democrats should take a page from the Republicans and implement their own agenda when they can, no matter what they call it.)
posted by Gelatin at 10:39 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


(It also means Democrats should take a page from the Republicans and implement their own agenda when they can, no matter what they call it.)

Alright, well then if anyone wants to share my post above about the tank in my little pokey town, you have my permission.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


There are more photos (and info) to be had in articles like Small-Town Cops Pile Up on Useless Military Gear (Wired, June 26, 2012) Small police departments across America are using a little-known Pentagon program to amass battlefield-grade arsenals. Which means billions of dollars' worth of U.S. military gear are in the hands of small-town cops who neither need the equipment nor are properly trained to use it, critics charge. At best, it's a waste of resources (since the gear still has to be maintained). At worst, it could cost lives; Why the small town of Snoqualmie has a mine-resistant armored vehicle (Seattle Weekly, June 23, 2020), and, particularly, The deadly consequences of militarizing Mayberry (Salon, Oct. 21, 2017) which recounts several episodes of SWAT-induced tragedy, excerpted from David T. Hardy's "I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Kill You."

The domestic SWAT team is a relic of '60s racism and violence against civil-rights demonstrators; Riots of the 1960s led to today's militarized police (StarTribune, opinion piece, June 15, 2020) Anyone hoping to change how officers do their work must reckon with this history.

"The Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) is a division of DLA Disposition Services, a subordinate command of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) in the United States. LESO is responsible for operating the 1033 Program or LESO Program, which transfers excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies. [...] The program legally requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to make various items of equipment available to local law enforcement." Wikipedia page with a brief history of the program, which traces to the postwar Surplus Property Act & expanded under the George H.W. Bush administration with the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990 and 1991.

How America's Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program (Newsweek, August 13, 2014)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:39 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


The 1033 program takes center stage again, as militarized police make headlines (TechCrunch, June 8, 2020) The killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that resulted have been a major wake-up call for many with regards to the role of policing in the United States. Yesterday, Floyd’s hometown of Minneapolis announced plans to dismantle the city’s police department via a veto-proof majority in the city council. Among the factors that have left segments of the population increasingly wary about police activity is a seemingly constant stream of images showing a military-style presence in cities across the U.S. MRAPs have become a mainstay in cities like Minneapolis and Seattle during protests.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:42 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why "Defund the police" isn't easy to understand, though.
Because conservatives don't argue in good faith, but are very good at using emotional manipulation as a substitute, and the so-called "liberal media" isn't but rather is all to eager to embrace Republican framing.
This is true but it doesn’t change the fact that “defund the police” is at least as effective at motivating opponents as it is supporters, as we saw in 2020. When Fox News can just run your slogan without having to twist it, you have a problem even if your motives are pure and you have a lengthy Slate piece explaining the true meaning. This goes double when you don’t have perfect messaging consistency: the person saying “actually, we do mean completely abolishing the police” will be portrayed as the only one being honest about the meaning.

Consider how many races narrowly went to Republicans: if the slogan had been “demilitarize the police” or “no one is above the law”, isn’t it likely that this could have been significant enough to shift a few votes in key places?
posted by adamsc at 6:42 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


David Fowler, the former chief medical examiner from Maryland who testified for Chauvin's defense, is having is entire career scrutinized, so putrid is taint of this case.
Top Maryland officials are launching an investigation of all deaths in police custody that were overseen by the state’s former chief medical examiner who testified in Derek Chauvin’s defense, the Maryland attorney general and governor’s offices announced Friday.
...
The attorney general’s push for a review was expedited this week after he became aware of an open letter penned by D.C.’s former chief medical examiner Roger Mitchell, which said Fowler’s testimony was “baseless” and “revealed obvious bias.”

WaPo
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:48 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


I can't hep but notice that we had 50ish years of Democratic controlled places running horrible, abusive, murderous, police departments through numerous slogans that were nicey nicey and focus group tested not to annoy the FOX News crowd.

And nothing happened except the Democratic city councils kept voting to make their police departments more evil.

But the instant people said "Defund the Police" suddenly there was a flury of action and some real reform being talked about. Suddenly the moderates who were content to let their police become utterly evil as long as it was Black people being brutalized decided they needed to make changes.

So yes. It terrifies the moderates and enrages the scumbag MAGA cultists. I think that's why it's worked while decades of milquetoast nicey nicey not too confrontational or too "radical" talk hasn't.

And I'll be honest. If something really pisses off the Trump cultists I'm inclined to think it's a good thing, and if a proposed plan isn't enraging them it's probably too wimpy to do any good.
posted by sotonohito at 10:07 AM on April 24 [13 favorites]


And nothing happened

This is an erasure of fifty years of activism.
posted by factory123 at 1:55 PM on April 24 [10 favorites]


DOJ Considers Charging Derek Chauvin in 2017 Incident Where he Allegedly Beat Black 14-Year-Old and Knelt on Him for 17 Minutes (The Root, April 24, 2021) ABC News reports that when prosecutors were preparing for the case that would bring Chauvin to justice, they received several videos of the incident with the Black teen and said they were shocked by what they saw. Of course, this evidence wasn’t allowed at trial because the defense successfully argued that jurors should be barred from hearing about Chauvin’s history of neck and body restraints on suspects.

After Chauvin's conviction for Floyd murder, DOJ weighs charging him for 2017 incident involving Black teen: Source (ABC News, April 23, 2021) The videos, from Sept. 4, 2017, allegedly showed Chauvin striking a Black teenager in the head so hard that the boy needed stitches, then allegedly holding the boy down with his knee for nearly 17 minutes, and allegedly ignoring complaints from the boy that he couldn't breathe.

"Those videos show a far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report [of the incident]," Matthew Frank, one of the state prosecutors, wrote in a court filing at the time.

posted by Iris Gambol at 2:15 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


I can't hep but notice that we had 50ish years of Democratic controlled places running horrible, abusive, murderous, police departments through numerous slogans that were nicey nicey and focus group tested not to annoy the FOX News crowd.

And nothing happened except the Democratic city councils kept voting to make their police departments more evil.

But the instant people said "Defund the Police" suddenly there was a flury of action and some real reform being talked about. Suddenly the moderates who were content to let their police become utterly evil as long as it was Black people being brutalized decided they needed to make changes.
I think you've oversimplified this to the point where it's actively obscuring history rather than illuminating it. The Democratic and Republican parties of half a century ago were a long ways from today and the Republican ideological purges only got rolling in the last 20 years so there's a lot less crossover than there used to be, which lead to more Democratic or Republican candidates who now would be solidly in the other party but weren't due to local politics (this also applies to things like who the police unions backed). It's also not like there've been many places which had uninterrupted Democratic control for half a century — talking like cities are ultra-liberal ignores the fact that people's actual votes tend to be more 55:45 (I must note that NYC has in this century been represented by a Democrat for exactly 7 years) than 90:10, and it especially ignores very real differences in the number of other elected officials and the actual mechanics of control over police departments (the Mayor could be a BLM activist and it won't matter if the council, AG, judges, etc. oppose reform).

Secondly, and more importantly, most of that awareness and reform happened before “Defund the police” became a catchphrase. I don't think it's fair to erase those decades of hard activism or to ignore the frequency with which “defund the police” was cited as weakening support for police reforms and exciting opposition voters in 2020. From my perspective it sure seemed like most of the reform we've seen came from the general Black Lives Matter movement, not to mention everyone carrying an internet-connected camera to show just how often police abuse people and flagrantly lie about it. I do not think we would have seen any less actual reform had that particular slogan not become common last year because it was riding a groundswell which had been building for much longer.

My point again was not to say that the American police isn't toxic but simply that the pro-police don't care if you have a slogan which gets a few more people to vote for the opposition when it also gets at least as many people to vote for them. When you have a substantial majority — even among Black voters — saying they want better policing, it sure seems like that's the angle to run with rather than something which requires a lengthy personal discussion to separate it from a position opposed by roughly 80% of Americans.
posted by adamsc at 2:57 PM on April 24 [9 favorites]


https://www.nj.com/news/2021/01/newark-cops-with-reform-didnt-fire-a-single-shot-in-2020-moran.html

"Newark Police officers did not fire a single shot during the calendar year 2020, and the city didn’t pay a single dime to settle police brutality cases. That’s never happened, at least in the city’s modern history.

At the same time, crime is dropping, and police recovered almost 500 illegal guns from the street during the year.

“This is significant,” says Aqeela Sherills, head of the Newark Community Street Team, a group of mostly former offenders who work to defuse violence in the city’s most violent wards. “It speaks to how reform has really taken hold in the city.”"

So maybe reform is possible, though I'd feel better about the article if it had some quotes from Newark residents.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:00 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


The Irish police are shite, and are often going on about how they need guns. But then the few we let have guns always go and do something stupid or horrible with them and we collectively agree that giving them all deadly weapons would be a terrible idea.

I can't imagine the discussion being about an all terrain assault vehicle that even our army doesn't possess. But I feel confident that if our lot got one they would sink it in a bog the first day out. I hope the same is true for some of the US police operations.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:15 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


(They once had some mad gun fly out the boot of a car, not notice it for a bit, and then had it handed in by some woman in a car who had kindly picked it up.

Another time one of them shot himself in the leg getting out of a car.

The list goes on)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:17 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Following Jeanne's advice above I went back and spent the morning here reading the Justice Department's Ferguson report - here is a PDF and here is the website containing the press release from the DOJ.

The report is, as you can imagine, a damning indictment of a kind of policing that looks a lot like what Eyebrows McGee talks about happening in Peoria, and perhaps the kind of policing that Derek Chauvin believed was normal or appropriate. Here are some stories, among so, so many, that stuck out to me. (Note: You may want to skip reading these if descriptions of violence and discrimination at the hands of police and court systems aren't something you want to read.)

page 3:

"Even relatively routine misconduct by Ferguson police officers can have significant consequences for the people whose rights are violated. For example, in the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. An officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also asked to search the man’s car. The man objected, citing his constitutional rights. In response, the officer arrested the man, reportedly at gunpoint, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code. One charge, Making a False Declaration, was for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”), and an address which, although legitimate, was different from the one on his driver’s license. Another charge was for not wearing a seat belt, even though he was seated in a parked car. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in his possession. The man told us that, because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years."

page 17:

"Many of the unlawful stops we found appear to have been driven, in part, by an officer’s desire to check whether the subject had a municipal arrest warrant pending. Several incidents suggest that officers are more concerned with issuing citations and generating charges than with addressing community needs. In October 2012, police officers pulled over an African-American man who had lived in Ferguson for 16 years, claiming that his passenger-side brake light was broken. The driver happened to have replaced the light recently and knew it to be functioning properly. Nonetheless, according to the man’s written complaint, one officer stated, “let’s see how many tickets you’re going to get,” while a second officer tapped his Electronic Control Weapon (“ECW”) on the roof of the man’s car. The officers wrote the man a citation for “tail light/reflector/license plate light out.” They refused to let the man show them that his car’s equipment was in order, warning him, “don’t you get out of that car until you get to your house.” The man, who believed he had been racially profiled, was so upset that he went to the police station that night to show a sergeant that his brakes and license plate light worked."

page 54:

"Another defendant who owed $1,002 in fines and fees stemming from a Driving with a Revoked License charge wrote to a City official that he would be unable to make his required monthly payment but hoped to avoid having a warrant issued. He explained that he was unemployed,that the court had put him on a payment plan only a week before his first payment was due, and that he did not have enough time to gather enough money. He implored the City to provide“some kind of community service to work off the fines/fees,” stating that “I want to pay you guys what I owe” and “I have been trying to scrape up what I can,” but that “with warrants it’s hard to get a job.” The City official forwarded the request to a court clerk, who noted that the underlying charge dated back to 2007, that five Failure to Appear charges had been levied, and that no payments had yet been made. The clerk responded: “In this certain case [the defendant] will go to warrant.” Records show that, only a week earlier, this same clerk asked a court clerk from another municipality to clear a ticket for former Ferguson Police Chief Moonier as a “courtesy.” And, only a month later, that same clerk also helped the Ferguson Collector of Revenue clear two citations issued by neighboring municipalities."

page 78:

"During our investigation, FPD officials told us that their police tactics are responsive to the scenario at hand. But records suggest that, where a suspect or group of suspects is white, FPD applies a different calculus, typically resulting in a more measured law enforcement response. In one 2012 incident, for example, officers reported responding to a fight in progress at a local bar that involved white suspects. Officers reported encountering “40-50 people actively fighting, throwing bottles and glasses, as well as chairs.” The report noted that “one subject had his ear bitten off.” While the responding officers reported using force, they only used “minimal baton and flashlight strikes as well as fists, muscling techniques and knee strikes.” While the report states that “due to the amount of subjects fighting, no physical arrests were possible,” it notes also that four subjects were brought to the station for “safekeeping.”While we have found other evidence that FPD later issued a wanted for two individuals as a result of the incident, FPD’s response stands in stark contrast to the actions officers describe taking in many incidents involving black suspects, some of which we earlier described."

page 85:

"In another case, an officer investigating a report of a theft at a dollar store interrogated a minister pumping gas into his church van about the theft. The man alleged that he provided his identification to the officer and offered to return to the store to prove he was not the thief. The officer instead handcuffed the man and drove him to the store. The store clerk reported that the detained man was not the thief, but the officer continued to keep the man cuffed, allegedly calling him “f*****g stupid” for asking to be released from the cuffs. The man went directly to FPD to file a complaint upon being released by the officer. FPD conducted an investigation but, because the complainant did not respond to a cell phone message left by the investigator within 13 days, reclassified the complaint as “withdrawn,” even as the investigator noted that the complaint of improper detention would otherwise have been sustained, and noted that the “[e]mployee has been counseled and retraining is forthcoming.”
posted by mdonley at 9:18 PM on April 26 [9 favorites]


The jury was shown the video of George Floyd's murder five to six times a day during the trial. Odd headline: First Chauvin juror speaks out and says hours were spent convincing only jury member uncertain of guilt (The Independent, April 27, 2021; also reprint at Yahoo News) “The deliberation room was straight forward. There [were] a few hiccups with terminology ... there wasn’t too much back and forth,” [juror 52, 31-year-old basketball coach Brandon Mitchell] told ABC’s Good Morning America. He said one juror wanted further clarifications to understand the terminology in relation to the charges. “We deliberated for four hours. We were going over the terminology so we understood exactly what was being asked. The one juror that was, I wouldn’t say slowing us down, was being delicate with the process more so ... hung up on a few words.”
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:23 PM on April 28




A motion for new trial is a motion that is filed as a matter of course in almost every criminal trial. His defense attorney is doing his job. The media though is full of breathless reporting about normal court procedure.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:20 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


There are federal charges: A federal grand jury has indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest (NBC via AP, May 7, 2021) and [murder], accusing them of violating the Black man’s constitutional rights as he was restrained face-down on the pavement and gasping for air, according to indictments unsealed Friday. The three-count indictment names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. Specifically, Chauvin, Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care.

Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the arrest and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017. Court documents allege that Chauvin kneeled on the teen's neck and back even though he was handcuffed and not resisting, and struck him in the head multiple times with a flashlight.


The filings are embedded at the link.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:29 PM on May 7


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