“I hate the police.” Those words were heard during a discussion about data documenting racism in police arrests in Fremont County. The data is telling about why many feel hatred towards the police. Courageously, the Riverton Peace Mission (RPM) is exposing racist policing. Exposure can lead to action if anyone cares.
Policing in the United States is inherently racist. Policing was used to protect the property of wealthy white property owners. That property included the land stolen from the Indigenous tribes and the bodies of their slaves. Land became a commodity to build wealth as opposed to that which is sacred and provides for all life. Although slavery was abolished, the bias continued through the Jim Crow era, a bias that survives today for the benefit of white property owners. A community watch group formed last year in Riverton to facilitate protecting predominantly white owners of their property in cooperation with the local police.
A year ago, I gave away 10 copies of a book I had read by Geo Maher entitled A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete, because I believe this is the direction we must go if the growing unjust and needless police killings of people of color are to stop. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States and Not a Nation of Immigrants, wrote that Maher’s book analyzes the historic roots of policing in the institutions of slave patrols, border guards, settler colonialism and capitalism…”
Why does the RPM take on such a complicated and controversial issue? The signature issue of RPM by its timing was the needless killing of Andy Antelope by a police officer in 2019. Nothing has been done since to assure us that it will never happen again, only continuing cover-up. Exposing the data is a step in that direction.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.