He came home weary once again. Tired, sad, defeated, overwhelmed, stressed, and drained. I have not seen him smile in days. Some will argue that he deserves this. It is his fault, by default for what happened to George Floyd. Some will say he is part of the system. He is part of the problem. He should have spoken up. He should have said something sooner. Here is the thing, how do you know that he has not spoken up before. How do you know he is part of the so called system? Is it just because he wears the uniform? I will not be able to convince some of the people who read this otherwise. There will be those people who continue to buy into the narrative that the system is broken and that there is inherent racism and bias rampant in this organization. I challenge you to look at the bigger picture in front of you. I challenge you to listen to the story.
I sat on the deck the other morning with our youngest and two of his friends, one who happens to be a person of color. Matt had just grabbed a cup of coffee and came out to sit with us. He was tired, but had not seen us for any real conversation in days. As he took a seat, he asked how everyone was doing. The two girls sitting on my deck just shook their heads and said quiet okays. The conversation that ensued was one of the most powerful moments in all of this to date. The discussion that came from this was one I wish everyone could have been witness to.
One of the girls asked Matt how he was doing. He replied ok. She said, “Really??”. He replied, “Well, ok…”. He began to share the details from the night before. He shared how he has been displaced from working in the neighborhood that his precinct is located in. He has been reassigned to a team of officers who are responding to major events. This is how many of the officers are now conducting their jobs. He said that he can no longer envision going back to what he did before this all happened. Before, he was a beat officer on Central Avenue in Northeast. He was responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with the business owners along this avenue. He prided himself on those relationships and worked very hard to maintain them. He is saddened that these will go away. He is weary because what is being proposed is a new reality.
He shared with me in the early hours of the morning, when he came through the back door of our home, standing in our kitchen, that he can no longer get a sandwich. I laughed at that and then realized that he was serious and very sad that I laughed. I apologized and asked him what he meant. He told me that the police are no longer welcome in most places. He is not certain that it is all places, but at this point, they have stopped trying. He shared how he went into a business with his partner yesterday to grab a beverage and a sandwich. He said that the owner asked him to leave. He said that this is a business that he frequented many times before. He has a relationship with this person. This, he told me, caused him to step back, drop his things on the counter, and quietly leave.
Some may say that it was just a sandwich. I argue no way. I argue that what we are moving towards is a dismantling of the police department in Minneapolis and maybe even where you live. This is not my theory. Yesterday at 12 noon the Minneapolis City Council called an emergency meeting to propose just this. If this does not send chills down your spine, it should. If this happens, this will be the beginning of the end for the City of Minneapolis. The City Council will propose to replace with many different things, but this will be a bandaid and the inequity will further divide. Poor neighborhoods will not be able to afford private security to supplement the new solutions of social workers, community member officers and untrained personnel. These neighborhoods, which have already suffered enough, will be burnt to the ground and left to the wayside.
You may argue, well there needs to be more of these things to replace the police. I will argue that these two things can and should co-exist. If you replace then who, may I ask will respond to violent crime? Are we working under the assumption that violent crime just goes away? Really? Are you listening to yourself? This is unicorns and rainbows people. You are being fed a line of crap. Push it back.
Matt shared with me that ironically, there are people still calling the police. Of course they are people!!! Criminals are still breaking into homes, stealing things, hurting others, and disrupting their lives. I asked him, how are these calls going? He said with all seriousness, that people are basically expecting a concierge. For real? A concierge? I asked him to explain. Here it goes: People are calling, because they cannot handle an issue themselves, and once arrived, the police are expected to talk “nice the bad person” and then ask them to go away. Ok. Rainbows and unicorns it is. Better pack a sandwich.