Why Would Black People Pay For Their Own Security When MAGA Cops Are Free?
Let's assume, just for the moment, that Republicans are dishonest people. This would explain their many disingenuous claims that Democrats are a bunch of phonies and hypocrites. Rep. Elise Stefanik, GOP conference chair and human soul donor, said with her own word noises that Barack Obama's planned 60th birthday bash was "typical liberal 'do as I say, not as I do," although he'd never suggested anyone not have birthday parties prior to the COVID-19 Delta variant spreading, thanks to dullards who refuse to get vaccinated.
Republicans were also offended that Rep. Cori Bush from Missouri supports defunding the police while also paying for private security. (Discussing Bush doesn't mean I agree with everything she says nor is it an invitation to hear about any other Democratic women of color you find more polite, non-threatening, and presentable. It's like when I couldn't mention Public Enemy as a kid without someone's parents bringing up Whitney Houston. Relax. I can enjoy them both.)
Bush is apparently a “messaging problem" for Democrats, which is strange, because Marjorie Taylor Greene exists. The GOP has literal insurrectionist members who support the violent mob that stormed the Capitol and beat the crap out of cops. If Republicans can still win swing districts in 2022 with a full-blown coup wing of the party, maybe Democrats have messaging problems beyond one single Black congresswoman.
But Bush says the words “defund the police," which apparently makes voters almost a thousand miles away confuse Rep. Abigail Spanberger with Angela Davis. It seems Spanberger has no one on her staff who can remind her constituents that she's not a liberal Black activist. Have they considered photographs? Democrats now adore Republican House Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, despite their garbage politics, because they obviously aren't Lauren Boebert or Paul Gosar. They benefit from the contrast. Without the sedition caucus, Kinzinger and Cheney are just standard, awful Republicans who voted against the For the People Act and the Equality Act.
Bush could provide a similar benefit for moderates such as Spanberger. She could jump and wave while shouting, “Who cares that I'm pro-choice and pro-science? I promise not to defund the police!" It's such an easy promise to keep, as well. You'd think any competent Democratic candidate could point out that the party's most powerful senator is currently Joe Manchin, who parties ... er gathers with Republicans and won't let Democrats pass anything without Mitch McConnell's approval. If Manchin and open mic star Kyrsten Sinema won't nuke the filibuster to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, there's zero chance they'll do so for the Cori Bush Fuck The Police Act.
I'm finished with the defunding of the police conversation. It's not going to happen. It's not a credible concern for anyone who was ever legitimately going to vote for a Democrat. Bush might as well talk about replacing all cops with Sasquatch social workers.
Republicans and many Democrats slammed Bush about the apparent hypocrisy of her having private security. As we've covered already, Republicans are dishonest assholes, but the Democrats who joined them in piling on Bush must still trust cops on some fundamental level. That's adorable.
Let me remind anyone reading who might suffer from the same condition as the guy from Memento: A violent mob tried to kill Bush and other Democratic congress members just seven months ago. An alarming number of off-duty cops were members of that mob. In an interview with Time Magazine, Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone, who barely survived the Capitol attack, expressed his alarm over how many cops at the scene he saw "standing around, kibitzing with the rioters."
[Fanone] thought of his MPD colleagues: out of more than 3,000 on duty, about 850 had responded to the Capitol. What about all the others?
Fanone, who'd voted for Trump, now wonders if "the vast majority of police officers" would have been on the wrong side of the insurrection on January 6. This shouldn't inspire any Democratic congress member of color to entrust their safety with the police. Bush works with deranged people. She had to move her office away from Greene, and Boebert demanded the right to bring her Glock onto the House floor literally days before the insurrection. I wouldn't feel comfortable that the average responding police officer would take my side in an altercation with either Greene or Boebert.
The common rightwing talking point is that you can't criticize the police if you also want to feel safe in your home or workplace. But there's no compelling evidence that the police serve an effective security function. There are way too many stories of Black people calling the police for help and getting shot in return. 911 isn't simply a joke for some of us. It's a death sentence.
Bush can at least conduct a background check for her private security and weed out obvious white supremacists. The police won't do this, because they'd effectively defund themselves. She can also ensure that her security personnel isn't breathing Delta variant on her. Police across the country are threatening to walk off the job if forced to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19.
I assume my own private security would never press their knees into my neck until I died painfully. I'd double check the fine print but it would seem like the people I'm directly paying would actually protect me and not people who are afraid of me. White liberals might advise waiting for all those forthcoming police reform measures, but I'm 47 and already pushing the Black life expectancy in America. Joe Biden might outlive me.
But, oh no, if people start having their own private security like Prince in the 1980s, wouldn't that lead to chaos and vigilante justice? Not really, since you could actually sue me if my security did something crazy like shoot a small child carrying a toy gun in a public park. My good guys with guns can't hide behind qualified immunity. Besides, Black families already have to hire their own lawyers when a cop kills a loved one because they can't trust the police or even local prosecutors, who don't want to piss off the police.
Look, Bush didn't like the truly critical racist theory being taught at police academies and went with the private option. I might do the same and demand vouchers for my charter security firm that will come out of the police budget.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."