In the wake of the recent death of George Floyd during an arrest by four Minneapolis police officers, the United States has seen some of the worst civil unrest in decades. As these events were just beginning to heat up, activists from various corners began a synchronized campaign to defund police departments, seemingly out of nowhere. Much of the public was undoubtedly bewildered by this blitzkrieg against policing, which most normal people regard as the last line of defense between law and order and law of the jungle.
The abruptness of the defunding campaign has had many liberals (though not Leftists) denying that it means anything beyond some sort of reform, despite the abundant early evidence from Minneapolis, New York, and elsewhere that “defund the police” does indeed mean defund the police. Given how extremely unpopular abolition or reduction in policing is with the public, backers are probably content with those misconceptions – for now.
To the rest of us, it was pretty obvious that this unidirectional “national dialogue,” as the Left likes to portray their finger-wagging diatribes and tantrums, was never really about George Floyd or “systemic racism” in police departments. Nor was it ever intended to be an intelligent discussion that considered the risks police officers face every day. It was all about causing chaos on President Trump’s watch and setting the stage for a Leftist revolution. We certainly get that the insurrectionists in the streets are demanding something, but we aren’t dumb enough to believe dragging a statue of Columbus into Baltimore harbor has anything to do with police tactics at this point. The proper interpretation of the current crusade is the same one that applies to every crusade of the Left, whether it be eliminating police, abolishing the suburbs, gay marriage, or climate change. It is about radicalization, retribution, and redistribution.
In the old days, liberals sought to push the idea of “root causes” of crime, but it fell out of fashion when their theories were debunked, or the things they uncovered were matters of embarrassment and shame, so they did what Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously called “defining deviancy down,” which is the theme of the modern Left. Instead of having to apologize for or explain away the dysfunction, much less refuse to accept it or confront it, they simply lower the standards of acceptable behavior and raise the threshold of criminal behavior. Proven methods of fighting crime like erasing graffiti, fixing broken windows, and practicing proactive policing are now under renewed attack.
The assault against law and order has been slowly evolving for a long time. One of the best examples is that of sanctuary cities, which provide criminal aliens special protection from federal immigration enforcement, and came into realization at least as far back as 1979 under Special Order 40 in Los Angeles. Today, most major cities are sanctuaries for criminal aliens – some would call them little confederacies – that openly defy federal law by harboring aliens who are clearly a threat to public safety. Despite many shocking examples of how ill-conceived the sanctuary policies are, public safety was always trumped by political correctness. The intent of these policies is to remake our society, to increase the number of warm bodies for census purposes (increasing blue state electoral power), to supply cheap labor and new customers to business, and to provide additional clients in need of public services, growing government in the process.
To this we've come.
The anti-law enforcement agenda of the Left has only gotten more extreme in the decades since Special Order 40 was enacted: demands to abolish ICE, open the borders, expand refugee resettlement to people who might be a poor fit for America, and give asylum to all who ask for it. There have been successful parallel efforts to end incarceration for many offenses, decriminalize drug use, raise monetary thresholds for property crimes, accelerate early release from prison, and end bail. The role of outside pressure and activism in the coddling of criminality is not the whole story, however.
Across the country, radical candidates for district attorney (DA) who have pledged not to prosecute many serious crimes are being recruited and well-funded by Leftist donors. Once humdrum DA races have turned into high-stakes dramas with eye-popping amounts of money being spent by George Soros and aligned ultra-Left organizations like the Tides Foundation and the Open Society Foundation. Almost $2 million of Soros-connected money was spent on the 2017 Philadelphia DA race, and another $800,000 on the 2019 Monroe County, NY, DA race. Chesa Boudin, son of Weather Underground parents and a red-diaper baby if there ever were one, was elected as San Francisco DA in 2019 with assistance from these same pots of hard-Left money. As current Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey faces a challenge in November from Soros-backed opponent George Gascon, the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys is sounding alarm bells over the far-Left’s attempt to buy DA races.
In many cases, the locals are more than happy to save the ultra-Left political donors the cost and trouble of installing their preferred choices by voting them in without any prompting. During an interview with CNN, Minneapolis City Councilwoman Lisa Bender went on CNN to suggest that having police protection when your house is being robbed is white privilege. Similarly, socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Tammy Morales offered a revolutionary’s blessing for lawlessness and looting:
What I don’t want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told that looting doesn’t solve anything.
Apparently, “peaceful protests” are not always what they’re cracked up to be.
The Left’s antipathy toward the police is, of course, nothing new. We are familiar with their usual "terms of endearment", like bastards, pigs, and parasites, and the "love notes" they leave behind, but the venom they spew isn’t just for the police; it’s for you too.
In a recent interview in Mother Jones, Brooklyn College Sociology Professor Alex Vitale, who has made his academic career out of attacking the police, reveals the malice of his anti-police policy prescriptions with one jaw-dropping answer to a question:
Question: “How would things change for the white people who reflexively rely on and trust the police—the Amy Coopers of the world?”
Vitale: “They won’t have this resource that they can weaponize against people. They’ll have to figure out other ways of resolving their problems.”
Vitale is essentially charging whites with using the police like Mafia dons use hitmen against their enemies. Absent this "blue army" (which he probably imagines are at their beck and call) whites will have to figure out how to solve their problems. If they are victims of crime, well, gee, that’s too bad – they’re on their own.
In the old days, community leaders and the business community would have had the influence to put an end to this kind of madness, but now they are either coerced into support, or they pick up and leave.
Finally, one cannot fully understand the defund-the-police movement without recognizing the Left’s police-envy. According to the Urban Institute,
From 1977 to 2017, state and local government spending on police increased from $42 billion to $115 billion (in 2017 inflation-adjusted dollars). However, as a percentage of direct general (state and local) expenditures, police spending has remained consistently at just under 4 percent for the past 40 years.
The special interests on the Left have been drooling over law enforcement money for years, ready to pounce on any opportunity to take it for themselves. Just a small fraction of $115 billion can keep a lot of community organizers, social workers, and bureaucracies administering “programs related to mental health, housing and education” and green climate policies quite happy.
Even if there is an eventual drop-off in attention toward and follow-through for "Defunding the Police" and Black Live Matter (BLM), the intersectional Left has made it clear that they have their fellow social justice warriors' backs and that reinforcements from the red brigades and the green brigades are on the way and here to stay. Climate activists and their organizations have joined in support of BLM to insure the two causes are inextricably linked, and that an attack on either is an attack on both. Their intersectional cry is, “Climate justice is racial justice!”
Whether there is any justice remaining for the law-abiding citizenry of America after law enforcement is dismantled is another matter.