Trump’s “law and order” has turned into a war against the American people. He’s been at war with the United States for some time. His claim to be against “immigrants” to save American jobs, like most of his claims, was just a ruse to galvanize white supremacists as his “civilian” army. But he also has a real “army” to call on.
These past days, the Department of Homeland Security, created following the terrorist acts of 9/11, mobilized militarized personnel to Portland, Oregon. These federal agents, including from U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, are supposed to “safeguard” American lives.
Now they teargas and abduct U.S. citizens—including a “wall of moms.”
According to the July 23, 2020 Los Angeles Times’ article “Border Patrol’s brute power spreads to cities,” the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has more than 60,000 agents, the federal government’s largest law enforcement agency. In 1953, the U.S. Justice Department extended the border area, which has been militarized and abusive of migrants for decades, to 100 miles into the interior as well as 100 miles beyond US maritime borders. The article states that around two-thirds of Americans—some 200 million people, including 9 of the country’s 10 largest cities—are within these bounds.
Social justice leaders and organizers were right in protesting the caging of Central American children and others along the border. They were right in protesting for years the pattern of police killings of Black people. They were right in demanding defunding of local police departments—now with combined budgets of more than $115 billion—while putting tax dollars into community-driven treatment, education, mental facilities, health care, crime prevention and intervention, and re-building poor urban and rural communities.
Now with an uptake in crime in cities like Chicago, New York City, Albuquerque, and others, Trump says we need police more than ever. We’ve been here before. This was Nixon’s rant after the 1960s rebellions, many sparked by police abuse. Also Reagan’s after drugs and guns permeated most urban core communities in the 1980s during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression at the time. And Clinton used “crime” to enact draconian mass incarceration policies following 1992’s Los Angeles Uprising around the acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King.
Yes, we need to do more to address crime, gun violence, gang and drug warfare. But the most effective way is to address the root causes—poverty and an increasing divide between those who have and those who don’t. This is not a law enforcement problem. It’s a societal problem. It’s the problem of cities, states, and, yes, the federal government. “Law & Order” means we extend dealing with crime to attacking and jailing protestors. Trump by executive order has “criminalized” what is constitutionally protected rights—exaggerating the destruction of property to justify such a decree. He also uses actual crime to bring in more “law & order.”
We don’t need “Law & Order.” That’s the demand of a fatigued and dying capitalist social order. We need to re-imagine everything and renew what has worked before: compassionate and comprehensive systemic change. This is only “un-American” because it’s never fully been tried in this country. It’s American in that it flows from the minds of the indigenous peoples of the land and the progressive freedom-loving minds of Americans from Tom Paine to John Lewis.
When Trump began his presidential bid in 2016, he targeted Mexican migrants. Now his “guns” have been turned on the rest of us.