But it seems to me that the first thing we need to do is get the mindset out of our police departments that they are conducting counterterror operations in hostile, foreign territory. Ferguson, Missouri is not Fallujah, The whole thing, the training, the surplus military gear given to police departments, the us vs them mentality where cops think the people they are sworn to protect and serve are The Enemy, that needs to be ripped out from these departments.
The barriers between the “good” neighborhoods and the “bad” ones are high where I live. I mean, they might as well be, ten feet high and four feet thick and topped with barbed wire. We march on either side of it and act like it means something, and we talk about it as if the people on the other side aren’t human.
As if they don’t want to go to school or work or to the park or take their kids to the zoo, as if they have ways that are strange to us. We allow ourselves to be separate, and we don’t think that anybody else lives how we live. We don’t go over there, and if they come over here, well, we give them the side-eye pretty hard when we’re not arresting or shooting them.
That distance makes it easy to make them the enemy. I don’t know how you get around that with the police, when even residency rules just lead to cop and firefighter ‘hoods where racial segregation is still strictly if unofficially enforced. I don’t know how you get around it with anybody, when you can just keep moving westward and westward, away from the city, because anywhere farther in you run the risk of seeing a black dude on a train.
All I know for sure is that we’re not getting any less scared, on either side of the dividing lines. We’re not getting any stronger or smarter or better, and we’re certainly not getting any safer no matter how many tanks we buy to patrol that wall.