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The New York Times reports that Minneapolis City Council has voted, with a veto-proof majority, to dismantle the city's police department. The article says, "Nine members a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged on Sunday to dismantle the city's Police Department, promising to create a new system of public safety in a city where law enforcement has long been accused of racism."
This is the first domino that could set off massive change throughout the country. The model of policing in most places in the United States has evolved into something dangerous and out of control. What we need to see now is an explosion of conversations about how to approach the role of policing-- keeping peace, protecting the public, preventing crime-- from different perspectives.
This is a massive assault on law and order politics. It will cause the politicians, both Republican and Democrat, who advocate for law-and-order politics to have their heads spin, and maybe apoplexy. But this decision by the Minneapolis City council is a miracle, a protester's dream come true. And it will motivate protesters throughout the United States and the world to start demanding really big changes. It should also make the brutal, violent, assaultive police attacking peaceful protesters to think twice. It should make police unions that protect the worst cops to think twice. And it should make Mayors, City councils, District Attorneys, State Attorneys General and governors to re-assess what is possible.
There are already articles out there that envision different ways to approach law enforcement. Just do a search for alternatives for police. For example, Rolling Stone published this article: Six Ideas for a Cop-Free World - Rolling Stone
We can do this. District attorneys can tell police to stop arresting people who engage in victimless crimes, like drug possession-- any kind of drug possession-- like Portugal successfully did.
Traffic law advocates can patrol the streets and deal with violators. They don't have to be police, just like parking ticket people are not necessarily police.
There will be scores of different ways to whittle down the role of the police. The approaches should be bottom-up, community based and local.
Now that Minneapolis has done it, the protesters can focus more tightly on demands and expect results. The police had better stop their violence.
Bottom-line, the protests-- the huge, massive protests, have worked and once the first success happens, the rest will come more easily. I keep thinking this movement is, in some ways, similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement. There are lessons from then that could be applied now. Maybe it's time for Occupy Police.