October 4, 2018. New Rules. Make it Real. MPD 150.
Art installation and panel discussion centered on the performance review of the first 150 years of the Minneapolis Police Department at New Rules in North MPLS. A panel of social justice activists, thinkers, and organizers took questions and told stories from the perspective of a future without police. Juliana Hu Pegues moderated the free-form discussion and cleared space for real stories and true analyses of this moment in their lives and in their communities. We heard from D.A. Bullock, local film-maker, Roxanne O’Brien, community activist, Roxanne’s daughter, Oya, and Devika Ghai, from Release the MN 8. In tune with the story-based approach of MPD 150 public events, panelists were virtually unencumbered by the Q&A format or time constraints. The result was over 90 minutes of compelling, thoughtful, real talk about community, police, and imagining a society without police. This important conversation takes place at a critical time in the Twin Cities, reeling in the wake of still more lives stolen by police and community violence. My hope is that by parsing the ideas and stories into a series (8-10, as of the moment) of short videos (ideally 3-5 minutes) the insights of the panelists might be made more accessible. Accessible because human attention span is abysmally short; 8 seconds. Even goldfish pay more attention. Stretch yours by watching these clips – all the way through. If you have not realized it yet, most of my videos do not requite much watching. Listening is enough.
In Social Contract, D.A. Bullock busts the myth that police make it safe for us to go out in and gather in public. In fact, humans have a social contract to tolerate each other enough to enjoy public events. We may require some direction and guidance, but no police are required to keep us civil. Imagining a police-free future is realizing our evolutionary history of living with other human beings. The human social contract is much longer than the human police state.
Roxanne O’Brien has been advocating for those killed by police violence for years. The title, Still She Would Not Go Down, was taken directly from Roxanne’s story about 2 high speed police chases through her neighborhood within 1 week. When O’Brien approached and questioned the police at the crash scene at the end of the chase, she was roughed up and arrested. Ultimately all charges were dropped. Six days later another police chase ended with her car smashed and totaled. Would you tolerate this in your neighborhood?
Devika Ghai spoke about how to resist the divide and conquer scheme employed by so many that oppose her efforts to ensure the rights of immigrants. Her contention that granting special protected status on one group or another is an extension of divide and conquer is insightful. Declining those crumbs to demonstrate solidarity with all persecuted immigrants keeps the pressure on the powers that be. The Crumbs of Division sums up and should evoke the idea that the success of divide and conquer tactics depends on enticement by crumbs. Whether the substantial “crumb” of protected status, or of righteous indignation, or of parading of a bruised ego down every thread. Resist divide and conquer. Ignore the crumbs. Listen to Devika.
The meta message can be glimpsed by looking between the clips. This is important to the understanding of my approach because most of my story is in the connections between the clips featuring the words, thoughts, and ideas of other people – most of whom are strangers to me. Imagine how to connect the dots between “humans evolved a social contract”, “sometimes authority violates that contract”, and “our opponents exploit the desperate circumstances in which they have immersed us to maintain their power” in a way that is consistent with the myth of our American Dream State. I don’t think you can do it. Yet our culture does it every day. Every day that we are privileged to ignore these voices and these hard truths. So I put these powerful dots together in a way that subverts that myth using the words of 3 people speaking 1 truth. Thank you Maria!
If New Hughes is anything, I hope it is a sharp tack. Either that, or an old gentle fire to warm you deep. Burst a bubble or protect it.