Friday, January 06, 2017

Why working to rein in the SFPD still matters in the Trump era

In fact, I'd say this matters EVEN more in the Trump era. We must continue to struggle to constrain and prosecute rogue police departments at the local level.

Yes, we must also shine light on the cruelty and racism that will emanate from Washington Republicans and the con man who has eaten them for an appetizer. We must be alert; how far will this go? Will Trump succeed in making lunch of whatever he can grab of the wealth that workers hands and brains have made in this country? Will he gorge on using the state power to crush our imperfect democracy? Struggles at all levels will decide. Some thoughts:
  • The rule of law, however fragile, is what makes this a democracy. We assert that everyone must play by the rules. Police impunity, their escape from accountability for acts what would be criminal if done by anyone else, is a clear assault on the rule of law. That's worth screaming bloody murder about. Equality before the law is the baseline condition for any rights we may have.
  • The easy option in this time would be to wallow in cynicism. The U.S. people -- Trump voters, Republicans, most of our fellow citizens -- are just lazy, dumb suckers. All that stuff about democracy and equality and rule of law is just window dressing for exploitation; the system is rigged. Well, maybe. Skepticism is sensible. But unrelenting cynicism, now and perhaps always, is suicidal. There's always more than our most horrible imaginings hidden somewhere in reality or the species wouldn't have made it this far.
  • The struggle for justice matters because innocent people are dead. Amilcar, Alex, Mario, Luis, Jessica are dead and the SFPD shot them. They had lives. Not perhaps lives that were easy to empathize with for comfortable people in this society, but lives that were their own. They had families who loved them. And they were snuffed out, without apparently defensible reason or accountability for their killers. There is such a thing as wrong and these killings fit the definition. They cannot be allowed to pass without a ripple.
When activist Benjamin Bac Sierra speaks about the SFPD murder of his friend Alex Nieto, he always leads the audience in a chant: "Amor por Alex!" We respond "Amor por Alex!" That's what this struggle for accountability is about. It's about LOVE, love for particular people and for a way of being in society together. Let's try not to forget it.

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