You know something about all of this doesn’t seem quite right. There’s a war on cops. The police are under attack. That’s the refrain from the media, but you keep grasping at something that makes better sense of it all. You know the protesters aren’t the Clockwork Orange hoodlums they’re cartoonized as, and that your uncle, brother, sister or neighbor who has been a policeman all those years isn’t a closet racist carving notches on their gun barrel for all the Black youth they’ve taken down.
After dozens and dozens of conversations with friends, relatives, listeners and others, one narrative seems to predominate; there’s something wrong, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. You are not ready to paint ALL cops as racist would-be executioners, but then explaining why of the estimated 1000 Americans killed by police in 2014(Legitimate and disputed combined) 238 were Black, accounting for almost 24% of police shootings despite that Blacks represent, according to the 2013 census, just 13.2% of the US population isn’t easy. Crime has gone down precipitously over the past decade. While still tragically high, the murder rate in Chicago will likely top out this year lower than last year’s 410, according to the medical examiner’s office. That is less than half of where it was a decade ago.
A bit of perspective helps bring those nagging questions into focus. First, the people decrying the war on police, all of whom belong to public sector unions, are the same people attempting to dismantle public sector unions. They pander to police, because the police become their enforcement mechanism, while attempting to undercut them in the board room. Hard to concentrate on the guy picking your pocket when you feel someone else is spitting in your face. These are the same people invading every classroom to monitor or attack anything and everything teachers say and teach. They are the same people “outing” the salaries of every public sector worker- teachers, clerks, secretaries, those prestigious toll booth workers- but telling us that criticism of police is absolutely out of bounds. You must be on the side of the criminal if you criticize police, right? They are the only ones standing between us and a Mad Max world.
Take this from another angle. There were investigations and congressional hearings over 7 deaths caused by automobile airbags. Honda and Toyota recalled millions of cars. Ford and GM were forced to pay out more than half a billion dollars in claims after an inquiry revealed they knew of more than 80 deaths and 148 injuries linked to faulty ignition switches. No one bellowed that there was a war on the car industry. Tens of millions safely traverse the nation’s roadways daily. Of nearly 18,000 crashes each day almost 100 people will lose their lives. That is a far lower percentage than the number of Blacks killed by police in recent years, but we focus on the problems, because the problems are what need fixing and correction.
Something happened in this country from the late 1970s that began a space shuttle like increase in crime and incarceration of Blacks. For one, that period began in earnest the trickle to a flood of manufacturing and garment industries fleeing overseas in search of cheaper and cheaper labor amid a revolution in consumerism that became orgiastic in nature. Gun availability and proliferation increased sharply as the industry changed its pro-profit character from manufacturing to politics. In the early and mid 80s Crack cocaine invaded the Black community, a cheaper form of a drug previously mostly affordable by wealthy whites. Over the last 3 decades Blacks routinely receive greater sentences that their white counterparts for the same crimes. All of these fell upon impoverished and neglected communities like a plague. Racism has always been an invisible fence in America.
Sure the majority of police are valuable and respectable people. They rush into burning buildings, stop truly bad people, pet puppies and help old ladies across the street. But something changed in the last decade. Count the number of times you saw the police pull weapons, let alone fire one in those old television dramas ADAM 12 or Dragnet or even the more recent NYPD Blue. Now it is common, even predominant to see police dressed in combat style gear, with assault weapons and tanks ceded to them by the defense department. Townsend Wisconsin recently acquired, according to a FOX affiliate, with only 2 officers, nearly a million dollars worth of military equipment, including Humvees and semi trucks. It is unconstitutional to use the military against American civilians, but there is nothing saying that the police can’t be militarized as an end around. In 2010 a Florida SWAT team, with guns drawn raided barbershops for “Barbering without a license.”
Clearly there is an issue. Something changed. We pay the police with our tax dollars as we do teachers and bus drivers and congress people. None of them should be above criticism and oversight. They are public servants, not shepherds to seething masses who cannot adhere to civilization without the punch of an abusive parent. This isn’t something new. Black folks have complained about a growing heavy-handedness for decades. No one had a camera then. We all do now. So you are not wrong that something isn’t quite right here. There is a breakdown. It needs to be fixed and addressed. That’s not a war on police, that’s what happens in a FUNCTIONAL society.
Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. .