In the hours following the police department’s use of escalatory violence, Mayor Nan Whaley praised its work for keeping the community safe. By the following Wednesday — conveniently just hours after this newspaper reported community-police relations coordinator Jared Grandy’s resignation in protest over the police department’s inability to reform — city leadership announced five policy measures purportedly intended to improve the dynamic between the police and the community.
When evaluating the city’s actions and any future policy measures, we ought to ask: Do these initiatives re-balance the power and influence of the police department through budgeting that prioritizes the health and wellness of the community?
Do they change the actual impact of policing on those who are policed?
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Do they develop non-police solutions to the problems our communities face?
Do they recognize that police interactions with black people are dangerous for black people because the system was historically designed to be that way?
The mayor and the city government used curfews, chemicals and militarized police to quiet the voices of the city’s people over the weekend, but they did not stem the violence at the center of activists’ righteous discontent.
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During tumultuous times, there is the impulse among some to say that we are “better than this.” The truth they haven’t yet digested is that the police and carceral systems are working as originally intended.
That’s why we’re seeing the urgency with which people have risked their lives to take to the streets even as COVID-19 continues to silently kill.
They’re not seeking reform.
They’re seeking transformation.
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Jason Harrison co-owns Present Tense Fitness, a gym in Dayton’s historic Oregon District neighborhood.