Thursday, May 02, 2013

People don't like to be policed

This is shocking news to some, I realize.

Part of the theory behind a heavy police presence in high-crime neighborhoods -- the zero-tolerance-for-crime approach, the focus on cleaning up graffiti and fixing broken windows -- was to give the law-abiding citizens of those neighborhoods confidence in the police and a willingness to engage with the government in ways that might even help them break out of the cycle of poverty.

But Weaver’s interviews with residents of some of those neighborhoods suggest the policy is backfiring, that residents – especially in neighborhoods where police engage in a high-level of stops and searches of young men and especially in neighborhoods where a high portion of those searches do not find any contraband and do not result in arrests – create a mistrust of the police and an unwillingness to engage with the government.
It has become a matter of course that we subject people to  "Broken windows" strategies,  crime cameras on every corner, and draconian behavioral rules like these.
Under current regulations, public housing residents or Section 8 voucher holders can face eviction or voucher termination if, for example: a family member visiting them uses “abusive language” towards a HANO employee; a visiting family member “abuses alcohol and disturbs the peace”; or if they are judged guilty of “poor housekeeping.”
The cumulative effect is to tell people they're always under suspicion. Living under a constant threat is no way to live.  It's no way to live a free and productive life, anyway. 
“The stability of democracy depends on the losers, or least powerful, to still believe they can enter the contest, to still abide by the same system rather than seek to subvert it,” Weaver said. 
But we're not really interested in democracy anymore. Just stability. And that's going to mean keeping an increasing number of isolated "losers" in line. 

MinnPost link via The Lens daily summary which I probably don't need to tell you you should be checking out regularly.

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