SERENDIPITY (POLICING YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW ) Revisited

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This post was originally published on July 3, 2020. After this past week of events and the convection of Derek Chauvin for the Murder of George Floyd, necessity dictates that we give this a second look.

Some researchers claim that serendipity arises in moments of misfortune and failure and that these are necessary before luck, happenstance, and fortunate discovery occur. By Tom Gamble, Editor February 15, 2018 · by The Council on Business & Society.

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is now considering replacing the currently standardized police Department model with something new. Some would ask, “have the so-called radical voices of the Left” prevailed in one of America’s major cities?” Many have echoed the need for C-change to break the never-ending cycle of police violence against the public, people of color, and, most specifically, African Americans. 

George Floyd’s Death stood for so much, and his last breath was taken from him and transformed into tears and anguished cries for help from millions. Once again, the signs, chants, and wailing of Black Lives Matter had to be a reminder of where we stand. Amidst those cries, real imaginations of hope and innovation also begin to rise.

Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” is the proposed name of what Minneapolis City Council has chosen for this Idea. Their plan calls for a charter change to disband the Police Department and replace it with the new department. The citizens of Minneapolis must ultimately vote on the amendment.

“Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved By The City Council of The City of Minneapolis: That the City Council will commence a year-long process of community engagement, research, and structural change to create a transformative new model for cultivating safety in our city.

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 Be It Further Resolved that the City Council will engage with every willing community member in Minneapolis, centering the voices of Black people, American Indian people, people of color, immigrants, victims of harm, and other stakeholders who have been historically marginalized or under-served by our present system. Together, we will identify what safety looks like for everyone. 

Be It Further Resolved that the process will center the role of healing and reconciliation. The process will require healers, elders, youth, artists, and organizers to lead deep community engagement on race and public safety. We will work with local and national leaders on transformative justice in partnerships informed by the needs of every block in our city.

 Be It Further Resolved that decades of police reform efforts have not created equitable public safety in our community, and our efforts to achieve transformative public safety will not be deterred by the inertia of existing institutions, contracts, and legislation. 

Be It Further Resolved that these efforts heed the words of Angela Davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”

Once upon a time, in a faraway place was Antebellum. Dixie Land was more than a type of Jazz or a name of a highway. From the characters of Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, to Uncle Tom, that place of darkness has never left the etched in memories of the children of the sun. One may ask, who are the children of the sun? Scripture echoes the answer through the voice of a woman.

“I am weathered but still elegant, oh, dear sisters in Jerusalem, Weather-darkened like Kedar desert tents, time-softened like Solomon’s Temple hangings. Don’t look down on me because I’m dark, darkened by the sun’s harsh rays. My brothers ridiculed me and sent me to work in the fields. They made me care for the face of the earth, but I had no time to care for my own face.”

Song of Solomon 1:5-6 The Message (MSG)

The sun-drenched workers of the field were the ancestors of the 42 million African Americans today.

A novel idea came about when constables were appointed by the British to keep the colonists safe from so-called savages (indigenous People). The colonist reinvented patrols to protect white folk from a growing population of slaves. In some areas, the slaves outnumbered the colonist by as much as 3 to 1. Rebellions happened in increasing numbers.

Many slave statutes were for the safety of the frightened perpetrators of slavery. The need for a law enforcement body, i.e., Slave Patrols, would keep Antebellum safe and prosperous.

“According to historian Gary Potter, slave patrols served three main functions. “(1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside the law.” Slave Patrols: An Early Form of American Policing July 10, 2019 | Authored by Chelsea Hansen

The south was not the only benefactor of this novel idea of maintaining the slave population under control. Many of the northern colonies, such as New York and Connecticut, enacted numerous slave ordinances of their own. The predecessors of modern Policing were in place in differing degrees of Slave Patrols. Traditions, practices, unwritten rules, along with a general warrior mentality, have traveled through the generations to develop our present state.

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of the status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

The Late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The future is unclear for those who want to change our policing system. Will this change represent the status quo, the Minneapolis model, or something else? We must maintain openness and flexibility vs. fragility. It’s time to get it right through dedication to “Building the Bridge Together.” 

By Kevin Robinson Executive Director of Accord1

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