Re-imagine a world where Rayshard Brooks is still alive: what defunding the police could look like
Imagine this with me for a moment a different kind of world. A guy falls asleep after drinking. He’s in line for Wendy’s because he’s needing some late night greasy food. He’s been out with his friends all night and he’s super tired. He falls asleep. An employee notices and goes inside.
They call 911.
The driver wakes up to a gentle tap on the window. He rolls it down. He’s a little confused and disoriented.
“Hi. My name is Stacy. I’m a social worker and I just wanted to make sure you are alright?”
“I just fell asleep.”
“I understand. This is my colleague, their name is Dominque. They want to go order your meal for you while we talk. What did you want?”
“A number four with a coke.”
“Would you mind pulling your car over there so we can talk? Dominique will be getting that meal for you.”
“Ok, just a second. Am I in trouble?”
“No, we just want to make sure you are safe and that everyone else on the road is safe. Can we do that together?”
“I can do that!”
After a conversation, Stacy and Dominique decide that they are pretty sure they can confirm that the driver has been drinking. They ask a lot of questions about his drinking habits. They determine that he clearly doesn’t have a drinking problem. He just rarely drinks, didn’t know his limits, and made a mistake to get behind the wheel.
After his meal, the driver is feeling much better. The social workers offer to have his car towed to his house and an Uber comes to pick him up.
In this scenario, Rayshard Brooks is still alive. He’s given compassionate and reasonable care. This is what community should look like. This is a way we could re-envision what our response could be as a society. This is what it could look like to defund the police.
A lot of people ask, why defund and not just reform? The answer is pretty simple. When a house has a good foundation and good bones, you rebuild it. If the foundation is bad or the structure is damaged, you demo it. This is a basic concept that almost anyone can get behind. The whole idea of bad housing foundations was even used as an example by Jesus.
The whole idea of defunding the police and abolishing this system is because the foundation is bad. There isn’t any amount of retraining or rebuilding that can undo a bad structure. It’s not the individuals that are the issue here, it’s the entire premise the system was built on that is the problem.
The system we have in place now was built upon a loophole within the 13th Amendment that allows for the continued enslavement of people. When the 13th Amendment was put forward it was supposed to abolish slavery but it left one caveat, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States...”
That one little sentence, “except as a punishment for a crime” changed the Amendment from being an abolition of slavery and instead just an evolution of slavery. The prison system still uses involuntary servitude to work on farms, answer calls for major corporations, make clothing, and the list goes on.
It was a crooked frame built on a cracked foundation from its inception. We’ve got to demo it and build something better in its place. A system built on restorative justice, hope, and freedom.
Nathan Monk’s new book, Charity Means Love, addresses many of our cultural blind spots in how we give. Order your copy today!