CSUSB Conversations on Policing Continues
By Dianne Anderson
Conversations broke wide open since the Black revolution was televised, spurring change and raising the debate a few notches on something that has resonated worldwide – police brutality.
“In Germany, Thailand, Rome, Vietnam, they are chanting Black Lives Matter in the streets. It’s pretty remarkable,” said Dr. Mary Texeira, a professor of sociology at California State University San Bernardino.
She said part of the beauty of the Black Lives Matter movement is that it has created global awareness.
“They’re seeing that cops don’t stop crime,” she said. “You have police officers quitting because they can’t do a chokehold anymore. That speaks volumes about who they are and what they want.”
The recent CSUSB series panel discussions were organized by Texeira, along with faculty members Marc Robinson, Jeremy Murray and Robie Madrigal.
Overall, the blinders are coming off illusions of police as super-heroes, she said. Only a small fraction of police time is spent addressing violent crimes, and police seldom, if ever, stop a murder or a robbery in progress.
“Usually, they clean up the mess afterward,” she said. “Some are making $500,000 a year in overtime. I don’t need a police officer to take a report on a burglary.”
Another false impression that Black communities need more police to stop crime.
She recalls one of her white students sharing in class about how when they were a teen, white kids stealing from the stores would send the Black kid in as diversion because everyone watches the Black kid.
Black on Black crime is another strawman argument. Crime is typically intraracial, and white victims often involve a white perpetrator, she said. Under historical crime data, whites should be as heavily policed because they are more likely to commit serial and mass killings.
“We are surveilled all of the time,” she said.
Conversations are opening many areas of impact, including efforts to defund the police, and are disrupting the approach to how the community is policed.
Today, as a result, there is a national trend to elect progressive District Attorneys, which may pull down more money for public defenders.
“Poor George Floyd had to sacrifice his life so people could wake up. How can you not begin to question policing when you see this man [police] clearly in the act of committing murder, and the look in his eyes. He was feeling absolutely nothing.”
School districts are beginning to disband police in their schools, which she adds is statistically safest places to send kids, but not because of police.
“[They had] armed guards at these school shootings, that didn’t stop the shooter – just like cops don’t stop crime on the streets,” she said.
As cliche as it sounds, she believes that civic engagement is the next big part of the future. Stopping police brutality must continue through the ballot, through the vote and through civic duty.
“It’s going to boring city council meetings, to school board meetings, and running for office,” she said. “We have to be civically engaged. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I see cops getting flipped on their heads publicly because people are now questioning them.”
The Cal State “Conversations on Race and Policing” series began after the officer-involved killing of George Floyd. Zoom meetings are weekly, and planned to continue indefinitely held Wednesdays at 4:00 pm.
At one recent Zoom discussion, guest panelist Dr. Annika Anderson, CSUSB assistant professor of sociology, talked about individual and collective solutions.
She is also exploring issues of stratification and race, and how it plays out locally.
“This is important given that the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has recently declared racism to be a public health crisis and passed the resolution that recognizes that racism creates disparate outcomes in many areas of life,” she said.
She said racial identity, and mental and health stressors keep the African American community existing in a near-constant state of fight or flight.
To adequately address racism, change must take place at the institutional level, she said, which could trickle down to other important changes throughout society.
“We’re talking about the economy, the state, and of course, policing, prisons but we also have to think about institutions of cultural production like the media and artistic institutions and how that might play a role in media and negative kinds of representations of people of color,” she said.
To join in CSUSB Zoom, see https://csusb.zoom.us/j/97960458784