What do you call it when a community is under-served and over-policed?
What do you call it when the larger society responds to the cries and suffering created by generational poverty and structural racism by policing that community even more harshly? What do you call that? An open-air prison? Michelle Alexander called it the New Jim Crow.
Overpolicing poverty-stricken areas represents one of the greatest moral failures of our society today.
That's like seeing a desperate, hungry person crying out for their humanity to be recognized and responding by punishing them for acting out of line.
A moral society would help that person, not punish them.
That is why police, wielded as a weapon against the poor, should be considered a criminal policy in a civilized culture.
A civilized culture would be wise enough to see see how systemic poverty produces crime and antisocial behavior.
A civilized culture would recognize it has a sacred responsibility to the current and next generations.
A civilized, wise culture says, "we're responsible." Because a wise culture respects both the I and the We, it is not enough to care only for one's own children - we must see every child in the village as our child.
A civilized, wise culture would not invest more money every year into policing, punishing, and incarcerating its most oppressed and marginalized citizens - it would invest those funds into helping them.
Instead of violently policing the symptoms of poverty, it would nonviolently and compassionately address the roots of poverty.
It's simple really: Invest in people. Not guns, cops and prisons.
Spend city funds on helping people, not keeping desperate people under control.
Don't wait for a new generation of kids to be traumatized by growing up in an unjust society, ensuring there will be more crime in 25 years. Invest in the lives of all children now.
Abolish extreme poverty tomorrow with a Universal Basic Income.
Support parents with Universal Childcare and Universal Maternity and Paternity Leave.
Support families with Universal Healthcare and a ban on Food Deserts, ensuring there is healthy, organic, fresh food available in every neighborhood.
Support community by offering vacant city land to any local group willing to turn it into a food garden.
Support people with addictions by offering them public health services rather than putting them in jail.
Support the homeless by giving them homes - it's cheaper than putting them in jail.
Support struggling people who commit nonviolent crimes by assessing their needs and offering them help, not by locking them up.
Support struggling, traumatized people who commit violent crimes by forming new processes of restorative justice, rather than punishment.
Support children with non-coercive, compassion-led schools.
Every neighborhood should have more school counselors than cops, who are trained in nonviolent communication. Every student should have mentors they can talk to.
The ideas we could imagine for helping people rather than policing and punishing people is endless.
It all starts by moving from a violent control mindset to a nonviolent liberation/restorative justice mindset.
This post was inspired by Tears In the Bayou (2017), directed by Rico King.