I come at this a little differently than Eclectablog, who wrote about how white progressives responded to the disruption of regularly scheduled candidate questioning at the Netroots Nation 2015 conference in Phoenix, Arizona this week.
I’ve been listening and trying to learn and amplify the pieces I’ve found useful over the past many months where #blacklivesmatter organizers have worked to mobilize people. (Not asking for cookies so no need for any; this is ongoing work I do for myself. And I am not a white person responding in the way that Eclectablog noted of those around him, I’m an allied poc who was also there at the Netroots Town Hall.)
The difference is that I affirm the movement’s need to assert itself at #nn15 during the Candidate Q&A Town Hall. I don’t think we need to get into establishing a “respectability threshold” for protest to ratify the incident. That’s beside the point. Everybody’s pent up rage and pain needed to be unleashed and demands for justice shouted to the rooftops; Bernie Sanders could’ve been a better, more empathetic, and receptive human being in the moment. I wish he had; perhaps he wishes he had too, who knows. I can only speak for myself.
That said, what I’m interested in are solutions. I’ve been listening for a while, now I have some questions about possible solutions.
- Community policing — is this, as I’ve heard criticized, a form of spying? Where are the examples of where it works? Can it work if the racial demographic of the community differs greatly from that of the police chief, or even if it’s the same?
- Public trust policing — is this workable?
- Citizens oversight commission — as Kelly Wickham posted recently about Chicago, even when these exist, are good people kept from doing their work? Does this need to be permanent, funded, and attached to the City and/or State Attorney General’s office to give the civilian oversight of the police department some bite?
- When are police unions going to step up and admit they have work to do? What is ongoing racial/cultural literacy training for them? Does this even happen? Where are their solutions to the problem — is a social justice unionism for officers even possible?
- Do African American, Latino, and Asian Police Officers’ organizations have a perspective on the problem of extrajudicial killing? Do they dare take a stand, and if so, what is it?
- What is the effectiveness of Police Department Internal Affairs in tracking and prosecuting police abuse cases? Is graft/corruption given higher priority than human rights abuses?
- Do we need mental health/social worker specialists within officer foot patrol work to deal humanely with specific poc (and others) who are in crisis and for whom jailing/police abuse is ongoing?
- Where is the leadership of Mayors on this? Why is it they can create a national organization of mayors to privatize schools but not a national organization of mayors to address the need to rethink policing inside and out? (Ok, that’s clearly a rhetorical question but you get my drift.) Apparently the U.S. Conference of Mayors hasn’t had much of substance to add to criminal justice issues since 2011, according to their website.