In this Day, civil rights is poised to make a leap, through the tremendous energy and involvement of activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. We are and have been in the middle of the greatest grassroots movement in history, under many banners, climate change, womens’ march, million man march, ending mass incarceration, the fight against unsafe gmos in our food supply, LGBQTI rights, labor rights, livable wage, healthcare, housing, and so much more. Sounds complicated, but make the policies that address the well-being of the Black single mom, and you will have addressed the issues that correct the larger umbrella of social justice issues.
So for me, there is absolute solidarity in moving towards a more just, compassionate, and thriving, world, even as we work out our best strategies and individual differences.
For a while, there was a #BLM encampment in my town (Stamford, CT), and I am a strong supporter, actually I feel #BLM is supporting me in my life long mission! However, ‘disband the police’, is not a slogan that I align with, even though the demands behind that slogan are ones I support.
I support helping police departments rid themselves of their dysfunctions, some self-imposed, and some that we impose upon them. We have placed issues like under-age drinking, that had all along been handled in the domain of the ‘family’, or acting out in school historically handled in the family and educational domains, into the criminal justice domain; domestic violence, suicide threats, and mental health crises that belong in the mental health domain, addiction that belongs in the substance abuse domains, homelessness that belongs in the housing domain, have all been put in the criminal domain, having the police to respond to as first responders. In so doing we have made of Americans 25% of the world prison population when we only comprise 4% of the world population. We need to relieve our police of having to handle issues that are beyond their expertise, and have mental health and social workers be the first responders to these situations, with police when needed as escort, but not as the primary interventionist.
As I walked away from the encampment, I saw a lone man, carrying a sign, walking on mission towards the encampment. The sign read ‘End Violence, Fund The Police’. It hurt my heart. Was he a police officer? Was he the father of a police officer? Was he the brother of a police officer who has cancer now from coming to the rescue in 9/11? Or who was part of the call to a school shooting? Or of any of the so many calls to police to come to the rescue? I am so grateful for our police, I have no wish to be hurting the dignity of so many of our police officers.
However, I see that it is the police culture itself, that insists that we identify our massive number of police officers with the sadistic and racist murderers among them. I am a psychotherapist, when it makes the papers that a psychotherapist, or a doctor, or a teacher, has sexually assaulted a child, our associations don’t stand united behind that person; indeed we are as horrified as the general public of the perversion of trust. But when a video shows a police officer in pathological cruelty murdering a Black person, the union and the department itself, stands up in defense of the sick act and perpetrator.
I think forcing your good police officers to have to stand behind an obviously sadistic murderer among them, is a disservice to the good officer’s integrity, and to the integrity of the department. I imagine many police officers are in therapy trying to extricate themselves psychologically from what their department is insisting they stand behind.
So police officers, take a knee, join the movement, to make the changes in the police culture, that would free you of having to identify with the pathological sadists among you, and allow you to join in the effort to leave in your hands what belongs in the criminal domain, and relieve you of what is best served in other domains. Let’s work together on figuring that out.
I was born in the fifties. I was a child in a time when police were community police, not militia. A police officer would take a drunk teenager to his home and talk to his parents, not arrest him and threaten the parents with arrest even though they weren’t aware of his drinking, as is the practice now (we the public are responsible for having made the current laws). Police uniforms were something of pride, not the militarization that today makes police appear as an enemy rather than protector of the community. We as community members need our friendly, committed to community well-being, police back. And I believe our police need that ‘we’re all on the same side’ serving the community feeling back as well.
The moment of devastating crises calls for us to generate a more compassionate, just, and thriving world. Are you in?? I hope so. I hope we are ALL IN.