On June 20, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Jeff Sessions, announced a new “Public Safety Partnership” with the stated intent of curbing violent crime across the U.S. Lansing was chosen as one of 12 partnering cities who will receive additional police support from the federal government. The DOJ will assign a “Law Enforcement Champion” to both provide training and resources for Lansing’s police force and increase coordination between city, state and federal law enforcement officials.
At surface level this may seem like a step towards making our community safer. The thought of a ‘Champion’ of public safety may help lull some of us to sleep. However, policies such as this reflect the disturbing priorities of the Trump administration: gutting federal programs such as healthcare and education to pump more money into putting more uniformed bullies on the street, more bodies in the prison system, and more surveillance programs watching over us.
If we rely on this “solution” to crime, their solution to crime, it will merely result in more friends and family members locked up. It will not get to the root causes of the crimes themselves. The truth is this: violent crime thrives in a system where people are kept unemployed and constantly insecure. In our economic system of racial capitalism, millions of people are forbidden access to healthcare, good education, and other fundamentals for survival.
Proposals like this “Public Safety Partnership” are merely bandaids for a festering, open wound. In capitalism, some people are able to be safe and secure while millions go to sleep with empty stomachs and go bankrupt when they get sick. This is the world that makes violent crime possible. If the federal government seriously cared about making Lansing safer, then it would direct funds towards social programs instead of more police.
Trump and Sessions, like so many politicians before, are using fear as a means to manipulate us, to make us believe we are incapable of addressing the needs of our communities on our own. The empty rhetoric of ‘cracking down on violence’ has been instrumental in garnering public support for sprawling police forces and racist laws since the beginning of the ‘war on crime’, and is continually reinforced when police are not held accountable for their rampant violence against communities of color.
Increased collusion between Lansing and federal forces also implies increased cooperation with immigration police, which directly goes against Lansing’s professed sanctuary city status. Though our community has not yet suffered from mass deportations, this program presents a very real threat to immigrants and other marginalized people. Sessions’ “solution” is not a real solution. More police will not implement the change we need. We can fight back against this. Through assessing our own needs, through mutual-aid, and through community accountability, we can build a safer and more supportive community without police and nazi-ass jeff sessions.
This article originally appeared in Lansing’s Solidarity & Defense newsletter, No More Illusions. You can read more about this journal here.