Some of the events of the last few days are truly unbelievable. The Minneapolis City Council votes, with a veto-proof supermajority (!!), to fully disband the city's police department and establish alternative forms of community-led public safety. Meanwhile in New York City hundreds of cops are handing in their badges and retiring in protest over perceived mistreatment.
As exciting as the Minneapolis decision is, I think there are two unanswered problems that need to be addressed. First, a move to defund/abolish police departments will inevitably lead to the growth of privatized police and security forces. The model here is the University of Chicago, which privately finances its own campus police. There is a lot of tension between those private forces and the Hyde Park community. As we know, privatization leads to a lack of democratic oversight and control, which is really frightening in this case. Of course these private financiers are not going to be able to militarize their police forces in the same way as the United States government due to the normal budgetary constraints of non-State entities, so that is something to celebrate. Still, I worry about how a city like Los Angeles is going to look in the near-future. It is probably going to start to resemble Latin American cities, where the extreme levels of inequality are maintained and reinforced through violent repression of all forms of social unrest. It isn't unreasonable to think that private police forces will become the norm in places like Calabasas and Beverly Hills. The urban planning of are cities are already designed to maintain a form of class/racial apartheid, including the city of Chicago.
And second, it is almost inevitable that we are going to see an increasing presence of well-trained ex-cops in the right wing militia movements in this country. Social scientists have already shown that the networks of far right militarism in this country are primarily led by networks of aggrieved Vietnam veterans and they are a direct consequence of American imperial policy. It seems really dramatic to use the example of de-Baathification in post-Saddam Iraq, but that is the danger here. These cops are well organized, they possess strong labor organizations and solidarity, they have access to insane amounts of weapons, and have a base of operations that effectively extends the entire country. All of that is really, really scary. I still shudder when I think about how the NYPD turned their back on Bill De Blasio when he came to express his condolences over the killing of a police officer in 2017. We don't talk nearly enough about the implications of this stuff in the United States because it is too threatening and we always prefer to not address our problems.
All of this to say, I am so encouraged by the progress that is being made by protestors and organizers throughout the United States. They have truly exceeded even my wildest of expectations and have totally transformed my conception of what is politically feasible. It literally feels like new horizons for real emancipatory change are opening up everyday in this country. But it obviously is not a moment for triumphalism and I think there are really frightening conditions being created for Fascistic counter-movements that seek to violently reassert "social control."