Of Goals And Means

Two incumbent Minneapolis city councilbots, and five challengers with decent chances of winning, said they can see a future without a Minneapolis Police Department:

Asked, “Do you believe that we could ever have a city without police?” two incumbents and five serious challengers running for City Council answered “yes.”…Those who did and said they believe “we could ever have a city without police” were Bender, Ninth Ward Council Member Alondra Cano; Phillipe Cunningham, who’s running for council in the Fourth Ward; Jeremiah Ellison, who’s running in the Fifth Ward; Janne Flisrand, who’s running in the Seventh Ward; Ginger Jentzen, who’s running in the Third Ward and Jeremy Schroeder, who’s running in the 11th Ward.

Let’s be clear; even the candidates (mostly) say this is in the realm of imagination, if not fantasy:

“It’s aspirational, but it’s way aspirational,” said Council Member Lisa Bender, who said yes to the question. “We have a very long way to go before we would approach public safety without police.”…”The question wasn’t, ‘Do you promise to eliminate MPD by the end of your first term,’ it was ‘Can you imagine a city without police,’ ” said [long-shot candidate Phillippe] Cunningham, who’s running against Council President Barb Johnson…

Now, let’s be frank; a society without the need for police would be a good thing, from a conservative perspective.  And it can, and has, worked; in the old west, before the idea of “police” had migrated out from places like New York and Boston, communities did in fact police themselves.   Of course, they also governed themselves – without the need for Minneapolis-style city councils and bureaucracies…

…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Here’s the problem; part of it is that it’s a spitballing fantasy.

Part of it is that, being not merely DFLers but DFLers to the left of Betsy Hodges, they’re putting their faith in the wrong institution to bring this utopian vision about:

[Several of the respondents said] they were describing an ideal future in which inequality and racism are eliminated and government policy has solved many of the social problems now handled by police arresting and imprisoning people.

Uh oh.

For starters, government policy is behind most of the social problems facing Minneapolis, especially the North Side; from the warehousing of the poor in places like North Minneapolis, to the inertia of the police reform process, to the artificial hikes in the minimum wage and immigration policies that have made entry level work impossible to get for too many poor youth, most of the problems trace back to City Hall, the State Capitol, or DC.

But here’s a more troubling part:

Prosperity without order is impossible (even if it’s enough “prosperity” to pay taxes to support a leech-like bureaucracy like Minneapolis’s); freedom without prosperity is meaningless.  If you think that’s an idle bromide, look at Detroit, Camden or Stockton.

So something has got to keep order.  Sometimes – like in small towns out west, or in the Old West example above, or in areas where natural disaster has swept away government at least temporarily, that order is kept by the people agreeing on some basic rules to live by, and some simple means to enforce them.

In this day and age, in the big city, it’s a police department, a prosecutor’s office, a judicial system, a corrections system, and a parole and probation system, and the bureaucracies that recruit, train, advise, pay, and take care of all the above after they retire, and the bureaucracies that do the same for those bureaucracies.

What could be worse?

One of the study’s designers answers:

“Police reform doesn’t actually work,” [survey organizer, designer and artist Ashley] Fairbanks said. “We need to radically re-imagine what policing will look like in our community.”

And all those roads seem to lead, according to any of the councilpeople, to policing attitudes, not behavior.  To eliminating badthink.

In other words, they’d get rid of the guys in cars patrolling for speeding tickets, and replace them with thought police.

Bonus Sign of the Apocalypse:  And in this survey, one of the voices of practicality, of feet-on-the-ground common practical sense, of dealing with the “now” rather than fantasizing about the indeterminate future, is…

…Alondra Cano?

Cano said right now she actually wants a greater police presence in the Ninth Ward, which includes several neighborhoods along East Lake Street.

“The solution is not really no cops, but it’s more how do we get rid of homelessness, how do we get rid of commercial sex exploitation, how do we get rid of chemical dependency?” she said. “Then you start alleviating the pressure that a lot of police officers feel to address these very deeply rooted challenges in our community, which they themselves know they’re not going to be able to solve.”

Given Minneapolis’ electorate’s state of mind these days, that might come back to haunt her.



10 thoughts on “Of Goals And Means

  1. Police are an early-modern invention (c. 18th century). For most of human history, there were no police. People took care of things themselves, and if that didn’t work out, they went through the laborious process of seeking the assistance of a magistrate (Libertarians are generally well informed on this topic). Soldiers and part time deputies, hired for a specific task, were used when necessary. However, IIRC, the murder rate in Elizabethan England was many multiples of the murder rate in present-day England.
    Anyways, these would-be Stalinists don’t want to eliminate the police, they want a different kind of police. “Bleedin’ ‘elf an’ safety”, anyone?

  2. Going back 1000 years, the English monarch would appoint a Shire Reeve who was responsible for keeping the King’s/Queen’s peace. That’s where our modern term “sheriff” comes from. Central to keeping the peace was seeing that justice could be done (no justice, no peace) so the public didn’t take matters into their own hands. No justice = Hatfields & McCoys.

    If there are no police in Minneapolis, the ones making “justice” will be the armed factions. As dim (or opportunistic) as Cano is, she’s in the 9th Ward, and she knows what that will look like.

    I also found it worth a chuckle that Lisa Bender, who was one of those “envisioning” a city without police, now feels she is being victimized by those who would “politicize” her remarks.

  3. Anyone who thinks people in bad neighborhoods don’t want police present in their neighborhoods has either 1. Never lived in a bad neighborhood; or 2. Never listened to a police scanner.

  4. Hey, I know how we can eliminate the police department. We could deploy a bunch of automated machines that could take over. We could call them Robocops!

  5. No coppers?

    These stinking leftists should rethink that….speaking for myself, of course.

  6. And, we’d be remiss not to take note that these are the mob that mocked Bush for a village idiot, and Trump for an incompetent.

    If we cannot prevail against such as these, we deserve the consequences.

  7. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 10.06.17 : The Other McCain

  8. A college Poli Sci course asked “Is Mankind fundamentally good, or fundamentally bad?” That’s critical, because it determines your answer to “How much government is the right amount?”

    If humans are fundamentally bad, then strict rules vigorously enforced are essential to protect the vulnerable from the predatory.

    If humans are fundamentally good, then perhaps they become bad only when pressured and distorted by government itself; therefore, eliminate government and people will act in accord with their kindly nature. This seems to be the Minneapolis line of reasoning.

    I say “go for it.” Thousands of Poli Sci majors are looking for research project topics.

  9. So why exactly does Minneapolis need a city council? In theory, the purpose of a council is to provide the wise deliberation of multiple voices who represent various constituencies…

    Well…..obviously that is not happening.

    On the other hand, the council provides alternative voices of authority to the mayor….. obviously something like that is sorely needed.

    Perhaps the city could outsource its governance to Wanamingo or Windom, it would be cheaper in oh so many ways.

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