You're invited to attend "Support Your Local Police and keep them independent" as presented by former police officer James Fitzgerald. We support our peace officers who answer the call to serve local communities, but forces are working to turn them into a national police force. March 31, 2016 – 7:00 PM The Falls Ballroom 15879 Highway 27 Little Falls, MN 56345. Advance purchase: $10.00/At the Door: $15.00 For information, contact: 612-990-5600 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The phone number and email are those of Mark Griffin, an Andover, MN, realtor who serves as the Minnesota and Wisconsin field coordinator for the John Birch Society.
While a decades-old program of the JBS, "Support Your Local Police and keep them independent" has rammed up by the right-wing conspiracist group since the election of President Barack Obama--and while some of the criticisms of law enforcement offered by the Birchers are shared by the American left and the Black Lives Matters movement, Bluestem doesn't think they'll find common ground in the Little Falls Ballroom at the end of March.
While both sides share fears of militarized police forces and command enclaves called "fusion centers," the two sides part company on those "local" and "independent" adjectives. In the meantime, the headline and some of the copy in the 2014 JBS New American magazine article, When Local Police Become a “Standing Army” would feel comfortable for those on the left struggling against lethal policing in communities of color:
As civil unrest engulfs Ferguson, Missouri, and police patrol the streets in armored personnel vehicles and confront unarmed citizens while wearing riot gear like something out of Robocop, headlines from around the country relate similar stories of cops training like, dressing like, and acting like soldiers. . . .
As the number of U.S. troop-heavy foreign interventions decreases, the warcraft and weaponry used in battle are now being deployed in American neighborhoods as the members, machines, and methods of law enforcement become increasingly indistinguishable from those of the military . . .
But the John Birch Society has never supported review of local policing. Buried in the article, there's this historical nugget:
To this end, for more than 50 years The John Birch Society has been committed to stopping and reversing the dangerous trend toward nationalizing our police forces. In 1963, the society launched its “Support Your Local Police and Keep Them Independent!” campaign and formed local Support Your Local Police committees. The effort was successful in stopping Police Civilian Review Boards in the 1960s and ’70s and in getting the federal government’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration abolished in 1982. Today, as the federal government subtly subordinates local police and sheriffs through grants of money and materiel, Americans need to participate in this sort of grassroots activism to work to keep local law enforcement under the supervision of local elected officials and free from state and federal control or influence.
The conservative-libertarian Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project reviews the roles of civilian review boards here.
Oh What A Lovely War: JBS and the War on Police That Wasn't
None of that for the Birchers. While they fear a nationalized police force, the group appears to have completely bought into the 2015 rhetoric that Black Lives Matter and other grassroots movements questioning law enforcement were simply fueling a "War on Police."
The description of the September 2015 JBS YouTube, War on Police: It’s Time to ‘Support Your Local Police’ sums up the group's position:
In this week's Analysis Behind the News video, JBS Director of Communications Bill Hahn discusses how the recent execution of a Texas sheriff’s deputy has focused national attention on an ongoing war on police; how the John Birch Society produced a 1966 documentary, “Anarchy, USA,” which exposed a 5-step plan by far-left and communist groups to create a semblance of revolution in our streets; how the 4th step was “precipitate mob violence,” which involved creating violent confrontations between demonstrators and local police forces; how this deliberate war on police is now being used as part of a pressure from above/pressure from below strategy to nationalize our local police forces; how a national police force is the hallmark of tyranny; how sheriffs and local police help protect citizens from a tyrannical federal government; how the John Birch Society has sponsored “Support Your Local Police & Keep Them Independent! committees for 50 years now; how we encourage you to start a local Support Your Local Police committee in your area (more information at https://www.jbs.org/issues-pages/suppo... ); and how the entire next issue of The New American magazine will consist of articles on the war on police and what you can do about it (watch for the articles on https://www.TheNewAmerican.com).
But that "War on Police"? Never happened, as reviews of the year later demonstrated. We turn again to a conservative naysayer to the likes of the JBS and other conspiracy floggers. In Reason magazine's blog, Scott Shackford observes in That ‘War on Police’ in 2015 Sure Was a Miserable Failure, Wasn’t It? that "As 2015 nears end, the numbers simply don't match the panic:"
Like every other "War on X" America embarks on, this year's War on Police was a complete disaster. Can't we do anything right? This alleged war resulted in the second-safest year for police officers in U.S. history. Former Reason Editor Radley Balko takes note over at The Washington Post that as 2015 comes to an end, there's been no real War on Police and there's been no real nationwide crime wave either. Balko explains the difference between comparing just this year's stats to last year's and the overall trend:
It's true that some cities like Baltimore, St. Louis and Detroit saw a significant and troubling rise in homicides this year. But those are isolated cases. In other cities, homicide were up, but only after long and historic drops.
Here in Nashville, for example, we saw 67 murders in 2015, up from 41 last year. (The figures are for all of Davidson County). At first blush, that seems like an alarming increase. And it has caused much consternation among politicians, the media and community leaders, with lots of calls for "action," whatever that means.
But last year was a historic low for the city and represented the floor of an overall 10-year decline. This year's total of 67 murders only takes the city back where it was in 2009, and is right at about the 10-year average of 66. For comparison, between 1971 and 1989, annual murders in Davidson County usually numbered in the 80 and 90s, and never dipped below 67 — and that was with 20 to 25 percent less population than the county has today.
And these are just raw numbers. The ten-year drop since there were more than 90 murders in 2005 has taken place in one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. Raw crime figures can drop only so low, particularly in a city that's growing by the day. And once they are at historic lows, even small increases look large when expressed as percentages.
Now as for deaths caused by police officers, The Washington Post (and The Guardian as well) launched a database this year tracking fatal police shootings, because federal statistics are extremely incomplete. As of today, the Post records 959 people killed in police shootings. They note that more than 700 of them were in connection with a range of violent crimes like hostage situations and carjackings. Independent site KilledByPolice.net has a higher number, 1,168. If their numbers are accurate (note that this site documents killing by police, not just fatal shootings), this would be an increase over last year's estimate of 1,108.
Bluestem suspects that the late March presentation in central Minnesota will appeal to the same sorts of folks who conclude after attending an anti-refugee seminar that the Muslim Brotherhood controls Black Lives Matters.
If it's not one thing, it's another.
Here's the John Birch Society "War on Police" YouTube:
Of course, it's all Obama's fault. Or whatever.
Photo: Police in Ferguson, MO. Jeff Roberson, AP, Via ABC7 Eyewitness News, Chicago, PHOTOS: Militarized police in Ferguson, Mo.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie's posts and analysis, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.