What follows is a basic text transcript of the new “Community Policing and Other Fairy Tales” comic book. View and/or download the comic right here at MPD150.com!
COMMUNITY POLICING AND OTHER FAIRY TALES
COMICS & STORIES FOR A POLICE-FREE WORLD
(JONAS GOONFACE, MYC DAZZLE, DENNIS MADAMBA, FERRAYA, MOLLIE W, RICARDO LEVINS MORALES, MICAH BAZANT, MPD150.COM)
© 2020 MPD150. All Rights Reserved. All rights to individual comics and images belong to their respective illustrators and are used with permission. Layout and design by Jaime Hokanson.
First printing Minneapolis, MN (Occupied Dakota territory), June 2020.
MPD150’S FIVE ESSENTIAL FINDINGS
- The police were established to protect the interests of the wealthy and racialized violence has always been part of that mission.
- The police cannot be reformed away from their core function.
- The police criminalize dark skin and poverty, channeling millions of people into the prison system, depriving them of voting and employment rights, and thereby preserving privileged access to housing, jobs, land, credit, and education for whites.
- The police militarize and escalate situations that call for social service intervention.
- There are viable existing and potential alternatives to policing for every area in which police engage.
AN ORDINARY DAY
Written and illustrated by @MycDazzle
Story inspired by Malcolm Jamison
(Two Black youth sit on a couch, playing video games)
Lebron and AD are unstoppable. You’re a bum.”
You can’t hold me, bro. I’m unstoppable.
(phone rings- “gram”)
Talk to me.
Don’t play with me. What I done told you about ignoring my calls while you’re playing that game??
Get up off this couch and go get me some milk from the store! Money’s in my coat.
You okay, Peanut?
Gram always forcin’ us outside like it’s not 189 degrees.
It’d only feel like 70 if you took off that hot ass hoodie.
iT’d OnLy FeEl LiKe 70 YoU tOok oFf tHat hOt AsS hOodie. Lookin boi.
Back of your head look like a toaster.
Boi, front of your face look like falafel.
Boi, spell falafel.
(Arriving at store)
Ay watch my bike.
Boi. Don’t nobody wantcho BIKE.
WATCH MYYY BIKEEEEE! Want anything?
Erm… an Arizona & shum Shkittles.
(in cop car)
(on radio) Black Male-ish figure Between the ages of 8 & 87 seen busting windows. We think. Be advised.
Hey kid. Young man… Ya hear me talkin to ya? Boy.
You talkin’ to me?
Talking to you. Seen any suspicious activity around? Vandalism?
Here’s my card. See anything… give me a ring.
Sorry. No pockets, brehr. Guess I’ll have to call y’all’s other number. 911, right?
Er… ya-you do that. Have a nice day.
(cop leaves, as one kid exits the store with snacks)
(thinking) Ol’ strong face. Ol chin look like it can bench 200 lookin’ BOI.
Deng, Costco. Did you forget you biked here?
I’ll just walk my bike. We needed snackage.
Was just complaining about the heat. Choose a position.
If you walked any slower you’d be walkin’ backwards.
(a different cop pulls up)
Big fella… let me holla atcha. Got a call about someone in the area, causing trouble. You fit the description.
Do III, thooo?
You tell me. Do ya?
(thinking) I knew muscle neck was on dirt! Please be okay!
I need to see some ID, kid.
You’re trippin’ bro. Unless you have some evidence or something, I’m a head out.
Not so fast.
(second cop arrives) He definitely fits the description.
Hands behind ya head. Legs. Spread ‘em.
Stay calm, D. I’m recording. You on candid camera, bro! Whole hood is recording!
Er… you’re good to go. We should probably get out of here.
Nothing to see here, folks. Have a nice day.
You okay, Peanut?
(crying) Shut up, bro. I’m good. Just wanna go home.
Cops always smiling in your face before they traumatize you.
F**k 12, bro.
DON’T BE BAMBOOZLED
One-page image & text by Jonas Goonface
(a cartoon wolf wearing a police uniform, a smiley-face mask, and a hat saying “officer friendly” offers candy to a child)
Golly officer, you sure are friendly!
All the better to subdue your community with, my dear…
(background text: They’re not your protectors! They’re not your pals! MPD150.com)
Two images by Ricardo Levins Morales
(In the first image, a large banner that originally said “community policing” is falling apart, revealing the true message of “impunity policing” underneath it. Four police officers stand at a podium reading “Please Dept.” Three hold flowers, a teddy bear, and an ice cream cone. The fourth notices the sign slipping down and thinks, “uh oh!”)
(In the second image, a group of people sit at a picnic table, eating. A cardboard cutout of a police officer stands at the head of the table, holding an ice cream cone, while silhouettes of police beat someone behind it.)
SWEET TEAMS & S.W.A.T. TEAMS: A HISTORY OF COMMUNITY POLICING
By Dennis Madamba
(A police officer speaks as others play basketball, hand out ice cream, and participate in National Night Out): Community policing is about developing personal relationships with cops- via police/youth sports and social activities, cops on bikes, visible acts of charity, precinct open houses and “officer friend” visits to classrooms.
Back in the 1960s, we had to take care of a lot of protest movements. It didn’t make us very popular. So we took a page from the counterinsurgency manual… winning hearts… and minds… and collecting lots of data. “Remember, we keep you safe. Keeping an eye on the neighborhood. (A series of images: police shaking hands with youth, giving out ice cream, attending neighborhood association meetings… all while documenting activity; a computer screen reads: “Subject’s brother wears pants low. Add to gang database.”
Now when trouble breaks out (image: a phone showing a news story saying “officer shoots and kills unarmed teen” + protesters with Black Lives Matter signs) we’re ready… to show how nice we are. “If you see something, say something… wink wink.” We put tons of money into our sweet teams… and our S.W.A.T. teams.
The result (and main goal) is a steady inflow of information to the police. The “information sharing” between police and community flows in only one direction (image: a police officer being fed information from Nextdoor, neighborhood watch, community meetings, and surveillance).
A final image: a police officer surrounded by ice cream saying “another tool in our belt!”
ON COMMUNITY POLICING: WHOSE COMMUNITY?
What it is
When police are in the news for something bad, whether that’s brutality, profiling, or other kinds of misconduct, we often hear calls for more “community policing.” The image of the cop walking his beat, knowing the names of the people in the neighborhood, and becoming a trusted member of the community– this is an attractive story for a lot of people. But it’s also full of holes.
“Community policing” is a police strategy meant to counter community suspicion and hostility caused by police racism, violence, and harassment. It arose alongside the increased impoverishment of black, brown and poor communities as the “friendly face” of racialized mass incarceration. It is a strategy to calm the outrage of communities facing structural injustice while suppressing efforts to challenge that injustice. It’s about optics, not meaningful policy.
Community policing is designed to create positive relationships between the police and people in the community. These “positive relationships,” however, don’t change the material conditions of the community, or affect the deeply-rooted racism at the core of so many police departments. What they really do is provide the police with detailed information about the community, develop a cadre of community leaders who can be tapped when police actions spark public anger, and create a political support base for the police. This relationship-building is paired with an increasing reliance on military-style SWAT teams, surprise raids, and anonymous tips.
“Patrol officers form a bond of trust with local residents who get to know them as more than a uniform. The police work with local groups, businesses, churches, and the like to address the concerns and problems of the neighborhood. Pacification is simply an expansion of this concept to include greater development and security assistance.” –excerpt from the RAND corporation’s “War By Other Means” report on counterinsurgency study, 2006.
How it started
Community policing was born in response to the urban uprisings and protest movements sweeping the country in the mid-1960s. Violent police and FBI repression successfully destroyed the most militant organizations of the time, but at great cost to their legitimacy in the eyes of large segments of the population. Police looked to military “counterinsurgency” and “pacification” methods for answers.
They began to add helicopters, body armor, sophisticated weaponry, and advanced surveillance ability to the police arsenal. This steadily expanded in the 1970s and was widely embraced by the police establishment in the 1980s, a time when the threat was not from organized rebellion but from deep resentment of an economic environment of massive upward distribution of wealth from poor, black and brown communities to the rich (called “restructuring” in the language of politicians). Instead of just targeting oppositional organizations, the police focus shifted to controlling entire communities. They also identified the need to “re-brand” as a trusted community partner.
“The predominant ways of utilizing police and law enforcement within a COIN [counterinsurgency] strategy… consist of the adoption of the community-policing approach supported by offensive policing actions such as paramilitary operations, counter-guerrilla patrolling… and raids.” –excerpt from “Policing and Law Enforcement in COIN: The Thick Blue Line” (Joint Special Operations University Report, 2009)
How it works
Community policing is about developing personal relationships with cops– via police/youth sports and social activities, cops on bikes, visible acts of charity, precinct open houses and “officer friendly” visits to classrooms. Additionally, the police cultivate neighborhood watch and block club networks, and build relationships with neighborhood (usually homeowner) organizations, attending their meetings, listening to their concerns, and providing safety trainings that rely on police involvement.
The image they seek to promote is one of police as community friends, promoting safety and connection, reducing crime and practicing “soft” problem-solving. Because of the gentler, kinder image, communities subject to police violence often demand community policing in the hope of getting some relief from police violence.
The result (and the main goal) is a steady inflow of information to the police. Counterinsurgency/community policing relies on centralized databases and mapping out the “human terrain” of the community. The “information sharing” between police and community flows in only one direction. Human sources are supplemented with sophisticated surveillance technology, public security cameras and social media stalking.
The “problem-solving” aspect of community policing leads to a concentration of social service functions added to police duties, functions that would be better served by community-rooted organizations that do not have the repressive social control mission of the police. The police’s mission has, from the beginning, involved defending privileged white access to resources and opportunities, and the protection of the holders of wealth against the demands of the poor.
The soft methods of community policing are introduced alongside paramilitary SWAT teams. These rapid response police squads are separate from the friendly neighborhood cops so when they break down doors and terrorize people (often based on anonymous tips), the officer friendlies are on hand to reassure their community contacts and smooth things over.
Community policing does not replace racial profiling and street harassment; it enables them by recruiting community leaders to defend the police based on personal relationships with individual cops. These personal interactions promote the message “see, all cops aren’t bad” and divert attention from a systemic understanding of the police role.
Broken windows policing– in which people are pursued for very minor infractions on the theory that it will prevent bigger crimes– can overlap with community policing by sending the message that it pays to stay on the good side of the cops through cooperation so as not to get the “suspect” treatment. This police tactic is often employed to make life uncomfortable for “undesirables” when a neighborhood is being gentrified.
“The research shows that community policing does not empower communities in meaningful ways. It expands police power, but does nothing to reduce the burden of overpolicing on people of color and the poor. It is time to invest in communities instead.” –excerpt from “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale.
By Micah Bizant
“I don’t watch my neighbors. I see them. We make our community safer together.”
Image: a peaceful community scene of someone riding a bike with a hoodie on, someone reading to a child, and someone else smiling out a window.
SPEAKING UP ABOUT STINGS
By Mollie W & Ferraya
(Three people wait at a bus stop; one is reading a newspaper with the text: “Every year the Minneapolis Police Department approaches the City Council for more money. In June 2018, the Minneapolis Police Department announced that it would end its marijuana stings, after it was revealed that 46 of the 47 people charged with felonies were black. Officers have directly asked black men to facilitate drug deals with other black men, and have then requested that the facilitator be charged with sale… Officers are seeking out extremely low-level marijuana transactions with people of color and are then arresting and booking the sellers and submitting the cases for felony charging.” -County Public Defender)
That stuff is so messed up, right?
Those targeted cannabis stings.
I mean, if you’re going to be selling drugs in public, shouldn’t you be taken off the streets.
Who are we calling dangerous in public? Cops literally kill people in broad daylight- criminalizing just isolates drug users and fills up prisons. Weed isn’t even illegal in like eleven states, but MPD has this as a top priority for some reason? Those resources could have gone to actually treating drug addiction. But the whole point of this? Just setting these people up, and then punishing them. White sports fans can get wasted in public and light cars on fire, and cops won’t even arrest or charge them.
Well yeah, but if someone is doing drugs in public…
Those white kids across the street are literally hitting a pen right now; you don’t think there’s a problem?
It’s a double standard. The only white person of the 47 literally walked up and tried to sell to an officer. All the others were black men targeted by undercover cops in public. Have you gotten to that part yet?
Can you read some of that? What does it say?
“One of the black men targeted, Jacob Aikens, told the Star Tribune: ‘I feel like it’s kind of ridiculous. There are people dying from fentanyl and meth, and I get a felony for selling a small amount of weed. I feel like it’s racial profiling’.”
What if instead of cops, the city was funding much needed stuff? Why is there no shelter around this bus stop? Where the hell is the heat here??
My church group has advocated for more shelter space; how does the city afford so many undercover cops when they aren’t even doing good work?
It’d be cool if my kid’s school could afford new textbooks. Or more than a cold cheese sandwich for lunch.
(The bus finally pulls up; it’s packed. The bus driver says “Good luck fitting back there, y’all.”)
The three people respond: …..
(An end note, all text): Sixteen of the people in those Minneapolis Police Department marijuana stings had already been convicted and the County Attorney made no effort to expunge the charges.
Cops do not make people safer. In the case of these stings, cops specifically targeted black people on Hennepin Avenue, asking if anyone had any weed. In the case of Jacob Aikens, he was immediately surrounded by four cops after making the sale to an undercover cop.
At this same time in June of 2018, the City of Minneapolis released a report detailing instances in which MPD pressured Emergency Medical Services to sedate patients. Cops caught on bodycam were referring to the sedative, Ketamine, as “the good stuff.” One officer, after EMS double-dosed a patient, exclaimed jokingly, “he just hit the k-hole.”
This report stated that when EMS and the police co-respond, cops quickly begin calling the shots on the scene, demanding that EMS enact abusive practices such as forcibly sedating patients with a drug that’s also used as a date rape drug and a horse tranquilizer.
Imagine a world where there are no cops pressuring EMS. Where medics facilitate patient-driven decisions.
These same communities targeted with forcible sedation also hold sacred, ancestral knowledge about healing the body. There are so many possibilities in a police-free future.
By Ricardo Levins Morales
A single image featuring two people: one wearing a Black Lives Matter shift, and the other a police officer with a big smiley face head. A single text bubble floats above their head: “We just want the community to heal! / heel!”
WHY IS THERE A COP ROAMING THRU OUR HALLS?
Art by Jonas Goonface; written by Young People’s Action Coalition
(Students talk at the lunch table)
Why do we have a cop roaming thru our halls?
That’s our Student Resource Officer. How have you not heard of him? He’s like the hero of our school.
The SRO don’t do shit but sit in his office.
C’mon Shaya, that’s not true. He stopped that one fight like a couple weeks ago.
Oh okay so he must be a good guy then?
Negative. That small ass fight was the only one he stopped all year, and even then he still called in backup… I’ve been at this school two years and that was the first time I’ve seen him stop a fight. Otherwise the AP’s usually take care of the brawls.
You’re only judging what you see in school. I’ve personally had conversations with him. He talks about how much he wants to protect the school and how much he wants to keep us safe.
Your ass must be sipping his kool-aid. You’re luck if you even see his ass once a month, Brian. Immean look at Kasey; this is their first time seeing this man.
She’s got a point there.
Hey, no, listen… My uncle is a cop and he risks his life every day protecting the city.
Maybe he’s not protecting our city hard enough.
Shaya… (the SRO clomp clomps by)
He’s a fucking pig (Shaya leaves)
Whoa, what’s your problem?
Brian, chill. You wouldn’t understand.
Yikes man. Something is wrong with her.
She’s had some pretty bad encounters with cops.
(A new scene: Kasey is at their locker; the SRO clomp clomps by and says “whatcha lookin at?”)
(A new scene: someone else talks to Kasey as they enter a classroom)
Whatcha looking at, Kasey?
Ah. Nothing man.
Alright, um. You dropped your book.
Hey, do you know the SRO in our school?
Yeah I do. He seems chill.
This is my first time hearing about an SRO, so I can’t really have an opinion.
That’s fair. I don’t know much about him either… but you gotta think about it; what IF someone broke into our school? We would have the SRO to protect us.
Like yes, but what I’ve heard from Shaya is he’s rarely around.
Thinking about it now, I don’t see much of him.
Hey, what are you guys talking about?
Our resident cop.
Really? That’s an interesting topic.
What’s the deal with him?
Even though I’m a teacher here, I don’t agree with having an SRO in school.
Instead of spending money on an SRO, we could be spending money on counselors, and social workers, new desks, textbooks, and and and… and fresh whiteboard markers. *sigh*. Having an SRO is just a waste of money.
Okay but who would protect the school?
We usually have backup cops from outside the school get called anyway if something does happen..
Personally I don’t like cops and it’ll always be fuck12… but the SRO is the basketball and football coach on our teams and I think he’s cool.
I’m glad he’s nice to a bunch of kids in our school, but howabout other SROs in other schools. Some of these officers are not the nicest or the most professional. Has anyone heard about the SRO at Central High School? (image: students watching a YouTube clip of an SRO incident)
I think I heard about that. Wasn’t it about how the cop got kicked out of the school because he was too rough on the student he arrested?
That’s correct. Yet a bunch of other teachers and parents want to keep SROs cause they say it’s “safe for schools.”
(Security footage showing that Shaya had seen the Central SRO roughing up a student, went to intervene; the SRO pushed her and pulled his gun on her)
(New scene: Shaya walking, alone; she stops to cry in the bathroom when she gets a text from Kasey).
Hey Shaya are you good? I’m sorry for what Brian said; that was uncalled for.
I’m not good. It really hurts thinking about it.
It’ll be okay. You know I’m always here for you if you wanna talk about anything.
Thank you Kasey.
Listen right we were in class talking about the SRO in our school but I don’t know if they’re good or not. I NEED HELP!
Don’t worry about it. I gotchu. Come to this Young People’s Action Coalition meeting tonight at 6:30. We having a chill meeting so it’ll be fun.
Word okay merch I’ll be there.
(Final image: Kasey shows up to the YPAC meeting, where students are making signs for a protest, including one that says “no cops in schools.”
(Final text): YPAC (Young People’s Action Coalition) has been working for a number of years on gathering input from youth on how they feel about SROs and engaging students from across the metro in dialogue and action on the issue of cops in schools. This comic reflects conversations student have had with their peers and some of the violence and tension that has resulted from having cops in schools. If you are a Minneapolis high-school student and you are interested in our work, send us a message on Instagram (YPAC.MN), or Facebook, or come to a meeting!
This comic was made in collaboration between YPAC, MPD150, and comic artist Jonas Goonface. The script was collectively put together by Minneapolis highschool students and Abdoulie Ceesay, a recent graduate from Southwest High School and YPAC facilitator. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send us donations via venmo at @WHYPAAK.
General History of Policing
- Our Enemies in Blue by Kristian Williams
- Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States. A Truthout Collection edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré, and Alana Yu-lan Price, foreword by Alicia Garza
History of Community Policing
- Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency edited by William Munger, Lara Messersmith-Glavin, and Kristian Williams
- “The Problem with Community Policing – A World Without Police” by the Abolition Research Group – aworldwithoutpolice.org
School Resource Officers (SROs)
- Freedom Inc’.s “Police Free Schools” and #PoliceFreeSchools on Instagram
- ACLU’s “Cops and no Counselors: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff is Harming Students”
- Advancement Project’s “Police in Schools Are Not the Answer to School Shootings”
Ideas for Action
- Night Out for Safety and Liberation Discussion Guide & Community Organizing Toolkit – www.nosl.us
Resources Available from MPD150.com
- “Building a Police-Free Future: Frequently-Asked Questions”, a one-page print-and-fold pocket zine
- “Ten Action Ideas for Building a Police-Free Future”, a printable 2-page handout
- Links to further reading, tools and perspectives on police abolition, including both Minneapolis/Minnesota-specific and general resources
MPD150’s Lupine Project
(Image: a seed packet; front-and-back)
Pollination not Police Nation; the wild lupine: planting a police-free future.
First Responder – Lupines establish themselves quickly after natural disasters, contributing to recovery and transition to a thriving and diverse ecosystem.
Restorer – A nitrogen fixing plant, lupines feed the soil, encouraging new growth.
Protector – Lupines provide safety for plants and other wildlife against the fast spreading and invasive Knapweed, by releasing protective chemicals into the soil.
Pollinator – Lupines support many pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and songbirds, and is the sole sustainer of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.
Plant the seeds of our police-free future with wild lupines everywhere!
The perennial wild lupine is the official police abolition follower of Minnesota.
With many practical and symbolic parallels to the cultivation of a police-free future, Wild Lupine is recommended for public seeding in yards, gardens, empty lots, roadsides and near police stations and prisons. Plant the message of the polli-nation we will bring to life. For details on ordering and cultivation visit: mpd150.com. The wild lupine was chosen for its properties and symbolism and as a native plant in Minnesota. Other regions wishing to seed the future should research native plant species for their area.
The final page of the comic a parody ad for “TRUST Air Freshener”
TRUST is a must! For those hard-to-cover-up odors (brutality, racism, mass incarceration). TRUST lets you get the job done. No headaches, no interference. The air sweetener with the calming effect. Best of all: TRUST can be bought!
“TRUST helps you make the bust!” -random police chief
Order now; only $3! Mail in this coupon today!
Trust N’ Bust Industries Inc. (Dept. 13-12)
YES! Rush my TRUST Air Freshener at once. I understand that if I am not satisfied, I can return my TRUST for a full refund of the purchase price*.
*offer not valid in areas with strong community organizing due to lessened product effectiveness.