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Chief Rahinsky gets nauseated, but defends police violence against the black community in Grand Rapids

December 14, 2017

Let us be clear from the get go. What the GRPD did to the 11 year old black girl in Grand Rapids was violence. It was physical violence to put cuffs on her, it was psychological violence and it was emotional violence that will likely cause this 11 year old black girl to suffer for years to come.

What has been interesting to observe are the GRPD response to their act of violence and the local news media’s coverage of the police violence. In fact, a great deal of the reporting has centered around Chief Rahinsky’s response, like this channel 8 story. In fact, most of the comments in the coverage of this incident have been from Chief Rahinsky, which should tell us something about how power functions and who’s voices are important.

If you can stomach it, watch this video that is from a Press Conference that Rahinsky did on Tuesday, where he engages in a great deal of rhetorical jiu jitsu.

What Rahinsky is essentially saying is that they need to have more discussion and do more trainings in order to “fix” this problem. The problem with this approach is that it means that the GRPD will ask for more money that will not change anything about how policing is done. There is plenty of research that has been in recent decades on bias training for cops and that research concludes that it doesn’t change the outcomes of how cops engage in policing, especially in communities of color.

Alex Vitale, in his important book, The End of Policing, states: Well-trained police following proper procedure are still going to be arresting people for mostly low-level offenses, and the burden will continue to fall primarily on communities of color because that is how the system is designed to operate – not because of the biases or misunderstandings of officers.

In virtually every story that has come out about the police violence against the 11 year old black girl, has the Police Chief saying he was nauseated when he saw the body cam footage. So what. This should not be about Rahinsky’s feelings, but about the harm done to Honestie Hodges and her family. Even city leaders have been getting all emotional about GR cops abusing the 11 year old black girl and it doesn’t mean shit. It doesn’t mean shit, because the city leaders continue to give one third of the city budget to policing every year.

Part of the problem, which is both a liberal and conservative problem, is that people think that police department exist to protect people. This has never been true, from their role of rounding up people who escaped slavery all the way up to the present where police killings of black and brown people are outrageously high. Think about it. The last time you were at a protest, any protest, the function of the police to maintain order, to protect property and the interests of those in power. Cops are never on the side of those rising up, never!  and it never will be. Police officers kill black and brown people all the time and all the bias training, body cams and other false solutions will not change a damn thing.

What we need is a serious discussion about community safety that is community-based. There are a lots of really good models that work, models that have been mostly developed by black and brown communities because they do not put their faith in the cops. A great resource on this topic of community-based solutions comes from the group INCITE! and it is entitled: Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color and Trans People of Color, as well as the resources that are provided by the group Safe OUTside the System Collective

For those of us who are not likely to be victims of police violence, we need to begin to rethink the nature and function of policing, do our own investigations and particularly listen to the voices from black and other communities of color. White people shedding tears over the news that the police killed or brutalized another person of color won’t change a damn thing, but our willingness to dismantle White Supremacy is a step in the right direction.

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