It’s time to drastically reconsider what safety means to our communities. Close your eyes. Relax. Take yourself back to a moment in time, a moment in your life that you can remember, a time where you felt absolutely safe. You may have to dig deep into the file cabinet of your childhood memories, you may struggle with this because safety has been such an unimaginable idea for so many of us. Who’s there with you in this moment? What are the sounds that you hear? What does it smell like where you are? Take yourself back to that time. When you have the memory, just go ahead and open your eyes.
When I do this exercise with large groups, people often mention remembering their family, smelling food cooking in the kitchen, or hearing the voice of someone that they loved.
I’ve never met someone who did this exercise and imagined the police in it. Why? Because police don’t keep us safe. Beyond the historical racist ties of the police, even if we ignore the harmful actions of their union, we must at the very least recognize that no organization whose only real function is to catch people after they’ve committed a “crime” and whose very economic sustainability is dependent on there being community-based harm can actually be dedicated to the prevention of harm.