Something I’ve been thinking about for some time that’s been troubling me:
Ya’s remember the George Floyd uprising? These days it feels like it never even happened with how quickly support for police reform snapped back to overall opposition, and both parties regressed to 90s-style “tough on crime” rhetoric. Until about a week ago discussion or media stories about it and/or police brutality have been non-existent. I’m struggling to find much in the way of lasting material changes for the better that came from it.
Most reforms were killed off in Congress and state legislatures, and what few did get through are toothless and cops can easily ignore them by way of the Blue Wall of Silence. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has increased the flow of federal funds to law enforcement by an unprecedented amount, and “fund the police” is the strategy of most Democratic Parties on the state level.
More recently, mainstream media in the lead-up to the midterms breathlessly reported lurid headlines about a “crime wave” citing preexisting levels of violent crime, driving up public perception that violent crime is out of control and we need more cops. Local media continues to uncritically parrot every statement made by police about the people they kill as the Gospel truth. (A side note on that, the number of people killed by police year over year has steadily increased since 2020.)
Worst of all, it seems the most tangible changes have been in Republican states, where bills were introduced or even passed that give civil immunity to people who run protesters over, and that greatly broaden the criteria for declaring a protest a riot. On the federal level, the Department of Justice’s release on its campaign against domestic terror specifically defines any group opposed to capitalism as a domestic terror organization.
It just boggles my mind just how thoroughly the country forgot everything, especially that megathread First Amendment lawyer T. Greg Doucette made counting over 700 instances nationwide of unprovoked police violence against BLM protesters. And all we have to show for it are a few streets named after BLM and/or George Floyd, a few brand names changed, Mississippi’s new flag, and a few more Confederate statues dismantled.
I dunno, it just feels like Americans completely lost all interest in making a change as soon as Biden was in office and abandoned any reform once Senate Republicans said “no.” Like liberals all went “Oh well! We tried,” then stopped tuning in. With how muted the response to Keenan Anderson’s murder was, it feels like any chance of real change is outside my lifetime. REALLY hope I’m wrong on that.
Hopefully the broader coverage of Tyre Nichols’ murder tips the needle again, and in a more permanent way. Not sure if I should hold my breath yet.