The City of Cleveland has received a $50 million grant from the federal government for “security” during the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC). The money will be used to militarize the police force.
We the People are NOT the enemy.
There is a difference between a police force and a military force. Yes, it’s appropriate for the City of Cleveland to make sure it’s police force is prepared for all circumstances at the RNC – including worst case scenarios.
But what message is sent when a police force is transformed into a de facto military army? When does militarizing domestic police forces create or reinforce tensions rather than reduce them? And where’s the commitment (both human and financial) to work with the community to defend the First Amendment rights of people to speak out, assemble and protest without the fear of being brutalized?
There is no question there will be people coming to Cleveland to have their voices heard – to speak out – to vigil – to demonstrate. And why not.
Our current political system has increasingly drowned out the political voices of people without money by the super rich and mega corporations whose needs are met and interests served at our expense. The public airwaves have been sold off to mega media corporations. Public spaces have been increasingly enclosed via private commercial malls. And individuals at major public events have increasingly been cordoned off into fenced pens like cattle or sheep. With diminished legitimate access to backroom suites where political decisions are made, the only physical arenas left for people to voice our views for justice, peace, sustainability and democracy are on public streets.
Individuals with these views and commitments will represent the vast majority of those in Cleveland in July. Only a small minority of people may have other intentions. Shouldn’t the city’s priorities reflect these proportions? Shouldn’t the vast majority of the time, energy and resources of the city and federal government be devoted to working with us to maximize the rights of the vast majority wishing to exercise our First Amendment rights? And by doing so delegitimize and maybe even deter those intending to cause violence?
I think so. I suspect we here think so. And I think the City of Cleveland and the federal government should think so.