Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To Protect And Serve

Hopefully, Capt. Johnson's new strategy of engaging the protesters as people rather than as a problem to be dispersed will lead to the first night of real peace in Ferguson.

This is what policing should look like.  It should be about a relationship between the police and the community.  What should be clear is that this relationship doesn't exist in communities where you have a mostly white police force in a mostly black community.  It's not impossible for this relationship to work, but it requires real effort to make sure that the officers don't become outsiders.

I mean, when even Kurds in the middle of a war zone feel bad for the people of Ferguson, you have to question what the fuck is wrong in this country.

And it's not just a simple matter of Johnson being black himself, though that undoubtedly helps.  In the instant we meet someone, we take in cultural signifiers that include race.  It's not an accident that Gov. Nixon selected Capt. Johnson.

But it's also something that could have been done on Sunday by white officers.  Certainly the actions of the police in Ferguson made a tricky situation into an explosive one.

Police don't have to separate themselves from the communities they serve.  They don't have to retreat behind the Blue Wall of Silence.  But it requires work, especially empathetic work.  And the cowboys who want to "dress up" and play soldier and pretend their beats are Fallujah or Gaza aren't very likely to do that hard work.

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