J.D. Moyer

beat maker, sci-fi writer, self-experimenter

Why I Support Campaign Zero and #BlackLivesMatter

CampaignZero

In the wake of the recent killings of black U.S. citizens Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by their own police (and the dozens of other similar cases we’ve seen in recent years), I’ve been struggling with what to say in this space. Saying nothing isn’t an option — the injustice is too great.

I’m going to keep it simple and endorse Campaign Zero, a systematic approach to improving policing. The platform doesn’t make villains out of the men and women who risk their lives to protect us (most of them good people, with the public interest at heart), but it does make concrete recommendations that can save lives (of all races, both civilians and public servants), reduce strife, and reduce civil injustice.

A few comments/caveats:

  • I’m actually a fan of the broken windows policy in theory, but too often it’s used as a weapon against minorities, mentally ill people, and the homeless. So yes, either end or modify “clean up the streets” campaigns so that they thwart antisocial behavior without threatening lives or imposing disproportionate punishments.
  • Training — yes! Listening to the voice of the cop that killed Castile, he’s clearly freaking out, aware of the magnitude of his colossal fuck-up, not a cold-blooded killer. Yes, he’s responsible, but so is the department that failed to train him in making non-lethal traffic stops. Train cops to give fix-it tickets and traffic violations to black men (and all people), without shooting them. Even if that person has a gun on them, or freaks out and runs away.
  • Demilitarization. Yes. Armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, drones, Stingray surveillance equipment, camouflage uniforms, and grenade launchers? That’s not policing, that’s going to war with the people you are paid to serve. It’s overkill, and war-corporation profiteering.

Lastly, if the phrase “Black Lives Matter” offends you, think about why. If you aren’t African American, nobody is saying your life doesn’t matter, or matters less. There aren’t any limited resources in terms of whose lives we can care about. “Black Lives Matter” means expand the circle of empathy to include us. It means stop killing us with impunity. It’s not a radical demand — it’s a perfectly reasonable statement.

Update: good interview with an ex-cop in regards to institutional racism

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14 Comments

  1. Black lives do matter: of course. Goes without saying. ALL lives matter, regardless of race or colour.

  2. I’ve always said…..if we don’t all learn to live together, we will surely all die together. Given the degrading state of humanity’s social structure, this may seem like like a colossal undertaking but in reality it’s an individual effort. Or, otherwise stated: be the change you want to see in the world. It’s that simple.

    • Yes, and also remember to vote!

      • Justin

        This is key in my opinion. I believe most americans are in the middle of the road politically and a lot of issues would be solved if as a country we turned out to vote. On another note, JD have you kept up the scalp massages and how is your progress going? Very interesting and thanks for your interest in experimentation.

  3. Harry

    Yes, our police are being equipped with military-style weapons. This is an ominous sign. We jail more people per capita than any country in the world. Police state? You betcha. It’s already here now! They killed that Dallas perpetrator with 1 pound of C-4 explosive attached to a robot. He was hidden well but it didn’t matter. The concussion just squashed his insides! I know he killed 5 officers but that revelation is just chilling to me. Jamie certainly offers some concrete steps to take but personally I believe our social fabric, our democracy (hard to call it that anymore) as a whole here in the USA is in deep decline and is an unstoppable run-away train.

  4. Justin

    Hey JD,
    Love your blog. I wholeheartedly agree, all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On another note, have you kept up the hair massages and what does your progress look like?

    Cheers

    • Hi Justin. I do keep up the scalp massage a few minutes a day, but no major changes since my last progress pictures.

  5. agree, agree, agree, agree w/ all you wrote, JD. More training and higher pay when the training and action warrants. Not to be punitive, and deny increased income, but be ready to raise the salaries! and when it is appropriate, move those who can not act in intelligent and supportive ways or are battle worn .., out of the job they are in,.., like the nypd chief who was recorded as demanding of his officer that more blacks and fewer whites be arrested!
    It seems a natural and normal process to meet and go over and over how officers could better handle a situation when a bad event happens. i would be encouraged if i heard this was being done. I have not heard it stated, though perhaps it is par for the course. I know i was thinking a lot what i would say to my 11 yo wh grandson who lives in a small MA town…, htough i will leave that to his parents. and what i would have done had i been the officer in one of those bad events: “Please keep your hands on the dash,” and ask questions, one at a time. If it is revealed there is a gun, ask that hands be kept up and have them leave the car. State no harm is meant, but you are following the rules for this situation. Apologize for the inconvenience and time.., but that this is what is required. State this it not personal, but the rules. Call for back up w/ out alarm. Locate the gun and then proceed to ask further questions. Return the gun once the permit is shown, and give the appropriate warning to fix the rear light etc. apologize and wish them a good night. Courtesy, courtesy, courtesy!

  6. Anonymous

    What do you think of the recent studies that seem to show that no, blacks aren’t actually killed in a greater number, but yes, they are physically accosted at a much higher rate?

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w22399

    I think that seems to show there is a serious problem, but not the problem most perceive. Mistaking what the problem is makes a solution that much more difficult.

    I agree with all 10 points in the graphic you have at the beginning of the post. They all appear to excellent tactics to correct police tactics and improve the relationship with the public since they are OUR servants to protect ALL of us. I wouldn’t want the simple measurement of reducing the number of deaths of Black or Whites at the hands of police to allow some to kick back with a satisfied smile! The problem with police agencies being overly armed and disproportionally forceful (but not homicidal) is a failure of society to fairly, effectively, and efficiently use our resources to enable a large portion of society to live safely and peacefully as is our right.

    Police should not over militarize and think out gunning the opposition is the road to peace. They should be better trained and be more involved with the community so that peaceful citizens can have a societal institution they aren’t afraid of that can actually be effective in the local communities and make some progress with homicidal citizenry in places like Chicago. Black on Black homicide isn’t occurring because cops shoot blacks more than whites. Black on Black homicides occur because police are more involved in arming themselves instead of involving themselves in the community as a relevant and effective peace keeping agency.

    The current concept of heavily armed police needs to be changed to heavily involved police. Not disarmed police or adversarial police.

    Chief Brown is so right and it’s applicable to both sides. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Sadly, it seems the most extreme and polarizing perspectives are promoted by Politicians for Votes, and Media Corporations for Ad Profit$. I almost wish I could vote Chief Brown in to lead a team of Law Enforcement Officers, Politicians, Community Leaders, and citizens to address this issue. Only “almost”, because I fear it would be a frustrating exercise in futility until the population can take a deep breath and look at this tremendously serious problem without the adversarial fear mongers from the opposite extremes.

  7. Thank you for the post JD

  8. I like the article too.

  9. I don’t trust ANYBODY with too much power…. police, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, doctors, politicians. Cops need to be wearing body cams, and no BS of how footage is always lost or never recorded right when something bad happens. Stuff disappears like Clinton’s emails.

    • #1 People abuse power. #2 People will do whatever they can get away with. It’s that simple. Cop now fired after years and dozens of complaints. They finally caught him on film in the jail slapping people, punching them, kicking them, being verbally abusive.

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