LESS VIOLENCE

May 27, 2022 by

Stephen Janis & Taya Graham contact@therealnews.com

11:35 AM (14 minutes ago)

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As the gut-wrenching story of the massacre of innocent children in Uvalde, Texas, continues to take shape, there is one lesson from this horrible loss of 21 innocent lives that cannot be argued: more police do not ensure more safety; more armed law enforcement officers does not translate to less violence. In fact, we would argue just the opposite, and we think the most recent school shooting proves it.

It’s worth noting that the small city of Uvalde had invested heavily in police. According to budget documents, police spending rose from $3.4 million to $4.1 million between 2015 and 2020, outpacing all other city services. The school system had its own police force and just added a school resource officer in the past year. And multiple law enforcement agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, Uvalde city police, and even federal marshals, arrived at the active scene on Tuesday—and yet, for roughly an hour, the gunman was left free to massacre the schoolchildren and their teachers.

It gets worse. Even after Salvador Ramos’s grandmother called the police (after Ramos himself shot her in the face), roughly 40 minutes elapsed before the mass murderer walked into Robb Elementary School unimpeded. He even stood outside the school shooting his weapon for roughly 12 minutes. Cops didn’t stop him.

In fact, one of the few images to emerge of law enforcement actually responding aggressively to the situation depicts cops confronting and restraining parents frantically trying to enter the building to do what their supposed protectors wouldn’t: confront the gunman and try to save their children. According to reporting from various media outlets, one parent was arrested and another was pepper sprayed. While Ramos slaughtered innocent children and teachers just yards away, the heavily armed officers, shielded with body armor, focused primarily on subduing their distraught relatives.

We think this confrontation embodies the hard truth that our addiction and absolute fealty to law enforcement allows our inadequate response to horrifying violence to fester, if not flourish.

It’s important to remember, as our reporting for The Police Accountability Report has revealed, that law enforcement’s primary focus is preserving and even increasing its power, not protecting public safety. It achieves this through enforcing social boundaries, sustaining our ever-expanding system of economic inequality, and creating a self-sustaining political economy that shields it from scrutiny or accountability.

Just consider the officers standing firmly between the parents and their children. No evidence of empathy, compassion, or sense of communal suffering. Instead, they turned to handcuffs, pepper spray, and arrests. How could police officers be trusted to ensure community safety when they demonstrably have so little concern or empathy for the community that they will corral (with force) grieving, frantic parents experiencing the kind of pain and desperation no human should know?

This is the chasm of compassion policing endengenders. As our editor Maximillian Alverez once described it to us, it is an opiate of sorts, allowing us to mitigate the pain and neutralize the “symptoms” of our failures to build a more equitable and safe society by upping police budgets and backing the blue, without ever addressing the underlying causes of said failures. Or, as noted anthropologist David Graber argued, the police-industrial complex is just another bureaucracy that creates a “Dead Zone” of imagination, a void where the communal psyche is dulled by the arbitrary nature of government-sponsored violence.

Either way, dispelling the myth that police somehow prevent violence is one of the reasons we work so hard to produce the Police Accountability Report.  Every week we delve into often-unexamined aspects of police power to illustrate the point that more policing does not produce more safety. Our show is not just about bad policing but, as we say often, it’s about the system that makes bad policing possible. That system was on full, despicable display this week.

Now more than ever, that system has to change.

—Stephen Janis and Taya Graham, hosts of The Police Accountability Report

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