This is a continuation of the discussion of the speech my friend Ronnie James gave at a Des Moines BLM teach-in, August 22. The Police State and Why We Must Resist.
There are a number of reasons why I’m so impressed with Ronnie’s speech. Perhaps the most being he is, and has been doing what he is advocating. He has the moral authority to say these things. He has, and is, modeling how to build the Beloved communities Martin Luther King, Jr, and John Lewis worked to build.
I began to make some comments but his words speak for themselves. You can learn more about, and support the work of Des Moines Mutual Aid here.
What we have is each other. We can and need to take care of each other. We may have limited power on the political stage, a stage they built, but we have the power of numbers.
Those numbers represent unlimited amounts of talents and skills each community can utilize to replace the systems that fail us. The recent past shows us that mutual aid is not only a tool of survival, but also a tool of revolution. The more we take care of each other, the less they can fracture a community with their ways of war. Organized groups like The American Indian Movement and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense showed that we can build not only aggressive security forces for our communities, but they also built many programs that directly responded to the general wellbeing of their communities. This tradition began long before them and continues to this day. Look into the Zapatistas in Southern so-called Mexico for a current and effective example.
These people’s security forces, or the “policing of the police” not only helps to minimize the abuse and trauma they can inflict on us, but it begins to shift the power balance from them to us.
Mutual Aid programs that help our most marginalized or other events that work to maintain our spirits result in stronger communities. A strong community is less vulnerable to police intrusion. 99% of our conflicts can be solved by those affected by them, but only with the support of those around them. Anytime we call on the police to mediate our problems, we are risking ourselves or a loved one from being hurt or worse.
The more we replace the police with organized community response to conflict, the safer we will be. Another powerful benefit is the removal of power from those that take their orders from those that have no interest in your well being, at least past it being useful to amass and increase wealth.
Of course, part of this fight of police abolition will be fought on the political stage, but let’s not fool ourselves that the state and the wealthy will ever give up tight control on all resources. We can lobby and vote to have police resources diverted to less dangerous organizations, but they will still be working for the same state and same class that have dispossessed and repressed us for centuries. Every election has the possibility of reversing any policy gain we may won.
Some of the fight will be in the government offices, but the majority of it will be us, in the street.
Many communities work to train amongst themselves mental and physical health workers, conflict mediators, and anything else we need, despite the state and it’s soldiers insistence that they are the sole “authority” of these skills, and always with the implied threat of violence.
As we work toward this, and this summer has proven des moines has the heart, desire, and skills to do so, we still have to deal with what’s in front of us.
We each have skills and resources we can utilize towards the abolition project. Some of us can use the halls of the system to make short term change there, others have skills that produce food, provide medical care, or care for our precious youth, some are skilled in the more confrontational tactics needed. Once we envision that world our ancestors want for us, finding our role is natural.
If we are to survive, and more importantly, thrive, we know what we will have to do.
All Power To The People.Ronnie James, The Police State and Why We Must Resist