Protests Work: Minneapolis Police Defunding Begins and More

Democracy happens in the streets.

Every single person who has supported the Black Lives Matter movement, or has shown support for social justice in a direct way, has helped make change happen in America. The conversation about racist police and blatant police brutality is getting more attention now than ever before; subsequently the idea of defunding the police has reached more people.

This week Minneapolis has started the process of defunding their police. It’ll years, but it’s started. Other successes from the past couple of weeks can be found in corporate America with IBM no longer offering general purpose facial recognition or analysis software to track people (they realized it entrenches bias and racism).

The current pressure on government and racists is working in the USA keep it up!

Go out there and protest, support the protesters, and have conversations with your friends! Just remember to be safe, wear a mask, and stay physically part to not spread COVID.

“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” tweeted Council Member Jeremiah Ellison on June 4, pledging to “dramatically rethink” the city’s approach to emergency response. In a TIME op-ed published the next day, Council Member Steve Fletcher cited the MPD’s lengthy track record of misconduct and “decades-long history of violence and discrimination”—all of which are subjects of an ongoing Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation—as compelling justifications for the department’s disbandment. “We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs,” Fletcher wrote.

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Unsure of what defunding is about? Read on:

Is dismantling different from defunding?

Dismantling implies abolition of the current structure. Defunding refers to shaving the budget.

Behind both is the idea of shifting resources from a paramilitary police force to education and social services with the aim of reducing socioeconomic disparities.

What would replace the police?

The idea generally would be to have a social services-based approach, possibly using the fire department to handle drug overdose calls, health care and social services professionals to tend to mental health matters instead of militaristic, uniformed officers with guns.

But even the council members who want to dismantle the police aren’t yet articulating detailed agreement on a new approach.

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Protesting Works

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Democracy is messy and in order for it to function many voices need to be heard, when some groups can’t be heard they peacefully take to the streets. Despite a history of protesting for a good cause resulting in beneficial societal change there are people who doubt the efficacy of such movements. There is a long history of groups getting together and rallying behind a common cause which we take for granted today, like weekends and liberty. Given what is happening this week in the USA it’s high time we all show our support (in a non COVID-19 spreading way) for those fighting for human rights and eradicating racism.

In 1911, 146 workers were killed by a fire in an unsafe factory. At the time, workers often dealt with extremely hazardous working conditions. The tragedy prompted a march on New York’s Fifth Avenue of nearly 80,000 people. This march helped to pass new laws to ensure workplace safety and helped the growing union movement. This eventually led to laws that we still use today, like the minimum wage requirement and the right to collectively bargain as a union.

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Ways to Reduce Police Violence

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This past week saw Americans out on the streets en masse to protest police violence, in particular race-based discrimination practiced by police throughout the nation. Non-white individuals get harassed more, suffer more violence, and are treated worse by the judicial system than white people. This has been proven time and time again, with people getting increasingly sick of it with every passing year. 2020 has seen many needless deaths due to racist and untrained officers – Americans have had enough. We can show solidarity (and many already have with rallies) while calling for systemic change in the USA and in our own countries. A few years ago Scientific American looked into ways we can change American policing.

If implicit bias workshops may not be the answer, what can police departments do?
We don’t know how to de-bias people because the culture is so saturated with those stereotypes. My general recommendation is—and I think it’s consistent with what the Center for Policing Equity is generally proposing—that departments find ways to reduce the rates at which these interactions are occurring.

Meaning what?
Police have a lot of discretion on who they can engage with and who they detain, and that can result in wild variation in discretionary stops. You can reduce the amount of contacts without compromising public safety and then the chance for biased outcomes gets reduced dramatically. We have seen that in NYC: The number of stops are way down and the racial disparities are mathematically necessarily reduced because there is less room for disparity.

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Does Everyone Have a Victory Garden?

Since at least 2008 we’ve been championing that people with land should plant a food garden. The best time to start your garden is today, the second best time is tomorrow. Being stuck at home to slow the spread of COVID-19 has inspired people to start growing their own gardens – great! Interest in gardening has grown this year and this means (very) local produce for more people. Gardening is fun and a great way to better understand food you eat, give it a shot!

For a city boy like me, born and raised in Brooklyn, where I had spent most of my adult life, this was all very new. Once you get your hands in soil—really get dirty with it, feel it under your fingernails—there’s a change in perspective, and you’re someone different. You’ve opened the tiniest of windows onto the ecological reality of the forces that sustain human existence, the biogeophysical relationships of water, sunlight, air, earth. Quite suddenly, what seemed mysterious quotients—say, the balance of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and potassium—become commonalities of understanding and, eventually, of wisdom. The plants that depend on all those factors in harmony rise up, or they don’t.

It’s hard to express the pride and lovingness and delight in seeing a plant germinate, and grow tall and hardy, and then flower and put fruit out. When the crop came fresh and healthy last summer—there wasn’t a hint of blight, and no insects attacked it—I felt a bit like Viva and I had brought green babies into adulthood. We will never not do it again.

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How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, and Why You Should Celebrate it

When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint it’s not what you do it’s what can you do. For some people it’s not a big expensive to install solar panels on their homes, whereas others don’t own a home. Every individual action counts. Once you’ve figured out what’s possible for you to do, you should celebrate it by telling as many people as possible. Since every individual action counts, the more individuals doing something to help the planet can make a large collective impact.

Social influence can drive change, says Diana Ivanova, a research fellow at the School of Earth and Environment at University of Leeds in England who reviewed emissions reduction options in April in Environmental Research Letters. If you see other people taking steps to shrink their carbon footprints, “you may feel more empowered to enact changes yourself.”

Researchers call this transmission of ideas and behaviors through a population “behavioral contagion.” That’s where individual action can be a potent force for change, says Robert Frank, a Cornell University economist. “Installing solar panels, buying an electric vehicle or adopting a more climate-friendly diet don’t just increase the likelihood of others taking similar steps, it also deepens one’s sense of identity as a climate advocate,” Frank writes in his 2020 book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work. Those actions can also encourage other meaningful actions, like supporting candidates who favor climate-protecting legislation.

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