Editorial Note: This is much longer than usual (1900 words), and so in broken into two parts. Part 2 will be online tomorrow. If you want a complete copy (Word or PDF), please ask in the comments, and I will send it to you as a single document.
The conservatives have been frothing at the mouth over this recent publication by a bunch of leftist, social justice warrior, snowflakes who are demanding abolition of, and defunding of, the police.
But when we look at this list of a dozen items, some of them make sense. So here is TPOL’s ideas and review of their efforts:
“12 Things to do Instead of Calling the Cops” is a new zine produced jointly by the May Day Collective and Solidarity & Defense. The entire text is reprinted below… TPOL’s comments are in italics. Their agenda shines through pretty clearly, which is one reason for the kneejerk reaction by conservatives and others.
Calling the police often escalates situations, puts people at risk, and leads to violence. No doubt about this. Anytime you seek help from the police, you’re inviting them into your community (except they are ALREADY there – so this is a strawman) and often putting people who may already be vulnerable into dangerous situations. Sometimes people feel that calling the police is the only way to deal with problems. True, people do that, and a serious problem. But we can build trusted networks of mutual aid that could often, not always, allow us to better handle conflicts ourselves and move toward forms of transformative justice, while keeping police away from our neighborhoods. (Dream on, about that.)
1 Don’t feel obligated to defend property—especially corporate “private” property. Before confronting someone or contacting the police, ask yourself if anyone is being hurt or endangered by property “theft” or damage. If the answer is “no,” then let it be.
A lover of liberty should be VERY concerned about this – private property SHOULD be protected, and it should be an obligation of all lovers of liberty to do so. Even “corporate” property – for corporations are in turn, ultimately owned by real live humans. So someone IS being harmed – and often endangered – by property theft or damage. At the same time, it may not be the wisest course of action to call the police. Notify the property owner; tell the perpetrators to STOP (keeping in mind your own safety, of course), and get others to help identify and stop the crime.
2 If something of yours is stolen and you need to file a report for insurance or other purposes, consider going to the police station instead of bringing cops into your community. You may inadvertently be putting someone in your neighborhood at risk.
Of course, if you are REALLY against the police and a true socialist, why would you have insurance? Seriously, it makes sense to go to the station (or file on-line) since the police are often unwilling/unable to investigate directly. And it is wrong to think that police are not already going to be in your area – certainly AFTER you file a report they will be, sooner or later. And if you personally are wanted on a warrant, WHERE you file isn’t going to matter: they now know where you are (or were).
3 If you observe someone exhibiting behavior that seems “odd” to you, don’t assume that they are publicly intoxicated. A traumatic brain injury or a similar medical episode may be occurring. Ask if they are OK, if they have a medical condition, and if they need assistance.
This is clearly a good point to understand, even though such situations (brain injury, other medical episodes, etc.) are rare in cities and even towns, as compared to drunk and high people roaming the streets or “occupying” the parks. Asking if they are okay (with due concern for your own safety) is a good (and nice) thing to do, before calling for aid. And helps determine what aid you should help them get.
4 If you see someone pulled over with car trouble, stop and ask if they need help or if you can call a tow truck for them. If the police are introduced to such a situation, they may give punitive and unnecessary tickets to people with car issues, target those without papers, or worse.
Again, pretty good advice, and something that I, being a westerner and living in rural and frontier areas take for granted. Again with due concern for your own safety, it is the right thing to do to help. I and my family have stopped and helped people of all ages, both sexes, all races, and in various vehicles, at all times of day and night, from the middle of roaring blizzards and hail storms, to urban streets. Keep in mind, however, that tow-truck operators may be required by their licenses (and franchises in many locations) to report certain matters. So this isn’t necessary ALL good advice.
5 Keep a contact list of community resources like suicide hotlines. When police are contacted to “manage” such situations, people with mental illness are sixteen times more likely to be killed by cops than those without mental health challenges.
Absolutely true: and include things like Veteran’s hotlines. The same thing applies to poison hotlines and other problems that can be solved without police (or even “first responder”) involvement.
6 Check your impulse to call the police on someone you believe looks or is acting “suspicious.” Is their race, gender, ethnicity, class, or housing situation influencing your choice? Such calls can be death sentences for many people.
Clearly this is a direct (and valid) challenge to the DHS-promoted “See something, say something.” (Implying of course, saying something to government – not to other people or to the person you are worried about.) Of course, we have to figure out “what is suspicious” and what is not. I’ve personally been jumped on, and reported to cops by, people for taking pictures of houses or property as part of my work. Better to say “make sure of what you are seeing and notify people appropriately.” This business about “influencing your choice” is just attempted to lay a liberal guilt trip on people who care about their community and liberty, freedom, private property, and peace. And despite this claim of “death sentences for many people,” the likelihood is very low. Still, consider 9-1-1 to be fairly low down on the list of who to call for a problem.