“Go ahead and call the police,” came the taunting voice, “they won’t come!”
Such was the response to an individual living in the minority neighborhoods of Minneapolis in the chaotic days following George Floyd’s death. That individual had entreated several hoodlums engaged in destruction and thievery to stop what they were doing, but to no avail, for, unfortunately, the hoodlums were right. The police wouldn’t come. They were too preoccupied with getting other, greater violence under control.
Sadly, things didn’t get much better once the initial chaos died down. While checking in on a family we both know in that neighborhood, a friend of mine felt suspicious that all was not well at their home and called the police to see if they could do a routine check. He was told that it would be hours before the police would arrive, as the department was swamped with other, more pressing business in the unsettled community.
What was Minneapolis city leadership doing during all of this? They were advocating for the defunding of the police, of course.
But the quest for defunding didn’t work out as anticipated. As The New York Times reported over the weekend, the defund the police movement, although initially met with great fanfare nationwide, fizzled as summer slipped into autumn.
According to the NYT, this fizzling was due in part to the confusion of Minneapolis City Council members, who were unclear over the meaning of the pledge to “defund the police”:
Though some activists said the pledge was to be taken literally — a commitment to working toward complete police abolition — elected officials said there was widespread disagreement about its meaning. Some believed that ‘defund the police’ meant redirecting some money in the police budget to social programs. Others thought it was a vague endorsement of a police-free future.
Unfortunately, this is the problem with politics today. Culture applauds those who support high-minded terms and phrases such as social justice, diversity, multiculturalism – even Black Lives Matter and “defund the police.”
But these same phrases are often elusive and are capable of being interpreted however one wants. Sounding good on the surface and appealing to our better natures, their true meanings remain hidden. As such, it’s easy for individuals like those on the Minneapolis City Council to give whatever meaning they choose to “defund the police,” and then backtrack when they realize it’s not what they thought.
Of course, such a situation is also politically expedient. Swept up in the passion of the moment, likely fearing cancel culture if they didn’t act, City Council members caved and chose the woke photo op of defunding the police rather than waiting to consider the facts or the needs of the community. As the NYT explains:
Cathy Spann, a community activist who works in North Minneapolis, which is home to many of the city’s Black residents, said those paying the price for the city’s political paralysis were the exact communities that leaders had pledged to help. She is in favor of more police officers.
‘They didn’t engage Black and brown people,’ Ms. Spann said, referring to the City Council members. ‘And something about that does not sit right with me. Something about saying to the community, “We need to make change together,” but instead you leave this community and me unsafe.’
In the end, it seems members of the City Council thought they had a win-win situation, but instead found that their hasty, go-with-the-flow-of-woke-culture mentality turned around to bite them.
Perhaps they would have avoided such a scenario if they had considered the words of Thomas Jefferson. Although increasingly making the list of politically incorrect historical characters, Jefferson was once an esteemed writer and thinker, a reputation established by the treatise he wrote to King George III shortly before the Revolutionary War. Jefferson noted:
It behoves you, therefore, to think and to act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail. No longer persevere in sacrificing the rights of one part of the empire to the inordinate desires of another; but deal out to all equal and impartial right. Let no act be passed by any one legislature which may infringe on the rights and liberties of another.
Perhaps it’s time for the leaders of American towns, cities, and states to stop fearing woke culture and begin considering what is best for their citizens. Perhaps it’s time that they stop giving into the desires of small, special interest groups and bypassing the average American who just wants to live a quiet, orderly life, unbothered by the chaos that is quickly overwhelming home, business, and community. Perhaps it’s time for our leaders, small and great, to simply start being honest and doing their duty.
When Americans both humble and great begin doing this once again, then perhaps we won’t even have to consider such disastrous policies like defunding the police.
Flickr-Tony Webster, CC BY-NC 2.0