EP44: Defund the Police!?!?

DEFUND THE POLICE!?!? Unc and Phew have one of the more serious, timely and interesting conversations they have ever had. Check it out!

Show Notes

Today’s topic: defunding the police

  • Total powder keg of a topic
  • Phew skipped out of the City of Chicago to escape the madness
  • Chicago STILL protesting, after eight days
  • After day three or four, protest became much less violent
  • Was VERY scary the first few days
  • Got to within a block or two of where Phew lives

Major cities now resemble Main Street America

  • Chicago looks like main street America now: boarded up windows and closed down stores
  • Phew is a 2X refugee
  • The most extraordinary time of Unc’s life
  • Reaction to George Floyd is now global
  • Super high-end boutiques boarded up on Michigan Avenue on the Miracle Mile in Chicago

Minneapolis voted to disband the police

  • New York Times: “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” Jeremiah Ellison, a member of the City Council, said on Twitter this week. “And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together,” he added. “We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response.”
  • CNN: ”We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe,” Council President Lisa Bender told CNN.
  • New York Times: “That’s not the answer,” said Gwen Gunter, a retired lieutenant of the Minneapolis Police Department who is also a member of a black police officers’ association. “There’s a part of me that hopes they do succeed,” she said, “because I want to see how long it takes before they say, ‘Oh, no we do need a Police Department.’”

The difference between defending and disbanding

  • John Oliver on Last Week Tonight: Defunding the police? Are you fucking crazy?
  • How many people understand this critical distinction?
  • Dan Bongino, former Secret Service in the Obama administration: Former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino warned on Monday that defunding the police would be “the single most catastrophic deadly public policy decision we have seen in the modern history of the United States.”
  • On Monday, Bongino called defunding the police an “abomination,” asking, “What kind of a message do you think this sends to a murderer or a terrorist or a gang member or a drug dealer slinging crack on the corner of a neighborhood?”

Whole cloth elimination of the police IS ridiculous and pure insanity

  • Thomas Hobbs wrote the Leviathan: All of us together through the social contract have inherently given the state a monopoly on the use of violence
  • It’s ridiculous to move away from that; this approach has been highly successful
  • Will this lead to an exodus from major cities
  • Would look a lot like South Africa
  • Private security solutions are only available to the elite
  • Without a state that ensures certain stability, and create a space within which people can create lives for themselves, life would be “nasty, brutish and short”
  • Contrasts with Rousseau’s view of things, which has – in retrospect – highly misguided

Phew: There IS a problem with policing in America

  • Everyone calls the police, for EVERYTHING
  • We have only ONE police force to respond to an incredibly wide range of issues
  • From the New York Post: “The lie that social spending has taken a hit interlocks with the media-created myth that it’s open season on unarmed black men in the US. Fifteen unarmed black people were killed by police last year, as opposed to 25 white people, according to the Washington Post’s database, but black people are much more likely to have police encounters than white people. In an average year, about 49 people are killed by lightning in the US, according to the National Weather Service.”
  • Those numbers are CRAZY low

Unc: As long as people are involved, we will NEVER have a perfect system

  • We CAN make incremental improvements, but human beings are not infallible
  • What’s more relevant: the overall trend in such unjust killings
  • These things ARE happening less frequently
  • Why is no one pointing this out?
  • If things were getting worse and worse, that would be one thing – but the exact opposite has happened

Phew: The direction of the trend doesn’t matter

  • What does matter: everyone feeling part of a community that has their best interests in mind
  • Black friends: You NEVER call the police; you do that ONLY as a last resort
  • Phew never fully believed the extent to which that may actually be true

Bad experiences personally

  • Unc has had some very unpleasant experience with the police
  • Was attacked – on his birthday, no less – in Times Square in NYC by a cop, in the immediate aftermath of the “hanging chad” election of 2000
  • Nearly had a cop pull a gun on him about 10 years ago
  • Phew had an M-16 pointed at him at the Rally to Restore Sanity in October of 2010
  • Phew’s dad was arrested, handcuffed and shackled for fishing without a license

Hard to wear the badge

  • Police are under a ton of stress, forced to deal with an insanely wide array of issues
  • Two kinds of psychological profiles of cops: those who truly want to protect and serve, and those who do it for less honorable reasons
  • Have also had very good experiences with the police
  • Don’t hear very many positive stories from black friends

Blacks actually want MORE police, not less

  • From the New York Post: “By a more than two to one margin, black Americans support the police and 60 percent of black Americans want more police hired, according to a Civis poll published by Vox this week. (Other groups support the police even more strongly).”
  • Discrimination within the “Stop and Frisk” program in NYC

Defunding ideas

  • Politicians doing things purely for political expediency: I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ll figure it out
  • Some of the ideas for defunding are pretty good
  • Having two sets of police, ala the models used in France and England

The looting

  • The organized crews during the looting
  • Phew: was terrified about how Unc was going to react within this topic
  • Unc’s biggest takeaway: Just what an asshole Phew thinks Unc really is

Other factors

  • A major problem: the power of police unions
  • Unc: So tired of the overt, explicit, over the top disrespect being shown to the police
  • Police are actually among the most trusted professions
  • Unc: The minute you actively resist a copy, all bets are off
  • People SHOULD be respectful to the police
  • Too many examples of excessive use of violence on the part of the police in terms of dealing with the protests

It’s complicated

  • Police have a heavy responsibility to not abuse the power they have been given
  • Phew: Best excuse for use of violence is that, for those committing the violence, the social contract has already broken down
  • Unc: We can never get around the nature of human nature
  • The new people may not be that much better than the old people

Another exodus coming?

  • People will leave major metro areas, exactly as happened with “white flight” in the late 60s in Detroit
  • Final thought, from TheHill.com: “If Democrats persist with this rhetoric about disbanding law enforcement in the midst of the pandemic and the protests, which have at times been violent or involved looting, then they will be playing right into the hands of President Trump and will increase his chances to win the election this year. Ultimately, calling to reduce the police will simply make people feel unsafe, insecure, and in my view less likely to vote for Democrats.
  • “Indeed, most Americans do not really want to cut funding for the police. A recent poll on race and justice found less than a fifth of Americans favor a reduction of police departments and more than half of them are opposed.”
  • There are really two different Americas at this point: major cities, and everything else
  • Social justice and looting are entirely separate and distinct from looting
  • People of color trying to prevent their businesses being burned down