by George Martin
Have you seen Trump’s campaign tv ad that is intended to strike fear in your heart about ‘defunding’ the police?
The tv ad states that, “You have reached the 911 police emergency number. If you called to report a rape, a murderer, a home invasion and all other crimes; due to ‘defunding’ of the police, your estimated wait time is five days.”
During the ad, these horrendous crimes are deceptively depicted as videos of property damage and violence by outsider groups who have sought cover in the Black Lives Matters (BLM) demonstrations. By deduction, this wrongfully links BLM to lawlessness and horrendous crimes.
These isolated outsider instances are minute in relation to the 27 million, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, de-centralized BLM marchers across the country, the largest social movement in US history.
Knowing what I and many of us know, ‘defunding’ is ‘re-allocating our tax dollars’, instead of striking fear in our hearts. The phrase generally means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities to public safety and changing the tactics used by police officers. This will allow more security for us all by allowing the police to better focus on criminal activities and be better guardians of all our communities.
In reality, a policeman’s job entails dealing with criminals — enough in itself — but also domestic violence, schools, minor drug violations, the mentally ill and the homeless. In restructuring policing duties, much of them can be reassigned to social workers, counselors, psychologists and mental health workers, allowing the police to focus on crime.
Hence, defunding is really re-allocating part of the police budget to other professionals in human services such as mental health, education, drug abuse and other social services such as housing. This allows for better community services, crime prevention and better policing.
In 1,267 days, President Trump has made 20,055 false or misleading claims, per the Washington Post, as of July 9, 2020. That is an average of 15.8 lies per day. Regarding crime, Trump has repeated the following false claim eight times: “We need security, we can’t defund our police and we can’t abolish the police. They want to abolish our police.”
Through lies, Trump has set up an Us against Them or an Either/Or scenario: Us – the people who believe in law and order and support the police versus Them – supposed lawbreakers who seek to tear down the system and harm its citizens. Actually, the “Them” are citizens marching to end systemic racism and police brutality.
Beyond a doubt, the president’s campaign ads are intended to create a divide between those who consider themselves law abiding citizens who are in support of the police and the misrepresented ‘defund the police’ BLM people and citizens who seek justice in policing, rather than violence.
Decades ago, The Project for the New American Century — a neoconservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. — established the principle that “it is OK to lie to the American public as long as the end justifies the means.”
This principle has been a staple of political campaign ads since then, along with unchecked campaign financing, especially by powerful special interest groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police support foundations. As a former advertising executive, I well understand the power of advertising, its huge cost and effectiveness in perpetrating how a repeated lie, especially on tv, becomes the truth to the unaware or closed minded.
Let’s speak truth to power.
Trump has unabashedly driven the spike of racism to divide the country, prior to and since his election.
In 2016 after his inauguration, Trump dismantled the Federal Justice Department’s responsibility to monitor and regulate police injustices in the US’s 1,800 law enforcement jurisdictions. This was a real set-back for us in Milwaukee as we had worked for many years to get a Federal ‘Patterns and Practices’ Investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department.
Congressional efforts to establish a National Police Commission composed of community and law enforcement representatives were changed by a Trump Executive Order to include only law enforcement representatives appointed by him.
The arrest/death of George Floyd was the catalyst to grow the BLM to the largest social movement in US history. Importantly, it has affected some cities, large and small, to “Change Police Department Policies” such as use of force, tear gas, rubber bullets, body cameras, no-knock warrants, officer’s responsibility to stop police brutality and “defund” or re-allocate budgets to effectively serve their community.
Nationally, the Congressional Black Caucus developed the ‘H.R. 7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020’ which addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes increased accountability for law enforcement misconduct, enhanced transparency and data collection, and elimination of discriminatory policing practices.
The bill facilitates federal enforcement of constitutional violations (e.g., excessive use of force) by state and local law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:
-lowers the criminal intent standard — from willful to knowing or reckless — to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution
-limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer
-authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination
-creates a national registry — the National Police Misconduct Registry — to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct
-establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels.
The bill establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including the reporting of data on use-of-force incidents; obtaining training on implicit bias and racial profiling; and wearing body cameras.
H.R. 7120 was adopted by the Democratic Party, passed by the House of Representatives, and forwarded to the Senate. This is why putting pressure on our Wisconsin Senators is so important and worth two toll-free phone calls. Let’s take action!
Call To Action: ‘H.R. 7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020’
Call your Senators in Washington DC: 1-800-872-0234 (toll-free)
(From Wisconsin: Sen. Tammy Baldwin and especially Sen. Ron Johnson)
Tell them, “As the Senator’s constituent, I want the Senator to vote for ‘H.R. 7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020’ which addresses policing practices and law enforcement accountability.
Tell them, “This is important to me and I will be aware of the Senator’s vote. If their vote is against H.R. 7120, I will vote against the Senator in future elections. Thank you.”
Change the World!
George Martin, , is an activist, trainer and lecturer, serving the MLK Justice Coalition, Peace Action, Pace Bene Campaign Nonviolence, Liberty Tree Foundation and is a former Fellow of the MU Center for Peacemaking