I read the May 13th article about the Taos sheriff's "round-up" team arresting 16 people on old warrants and serving up new ones if they tried to flee or were found with certain items, such as a marijuana pipe or a .22 rifle. The article states that there was "zero use of force." I guess that means they didn't pull the trigger or apply lethal chokeholds, although they certainly brandished their military-style assault-rifles at people.
I know this because a well-armed fright-force showed up at my daughter's door, banging and demanding some unknown individual give himself up. Instead, my daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter came to the door and talked them down, managing to convince them they had the wrong address. As the article stated, these were state police and didn't know one end of town from the other. They declined her offer to come in for tea.
Lately there has been a lot of talk about "de-funding" the police; that our system is not serving humanity. Private prisons detain 50 percent of our incarcerated population here in New Mexico and are run for profit by corporations such as CoreCivic. There's a bottom-line, corporate-greed desire to keep them fully occupied. If the state lags in their efforts to keep an 80-90 percent occupancy rate, they are under contract to pay anyway. It costs the taxpayers well over $100 a day to keep someone in prison.
We are led to imagine that everyone who ends up behind bars must be a bad criminal, but too often they are just ordinary people who got into trouble with the law once and are forever branded as "felons-for-life,",making it nearly impossible for them to get decent jobs or do many of the things we take for granted, like vote.
Just think of it, the more people who end up in prisons, the fewer people can vote for progressive alternatives and the richer the ruling class becomes.
They say, "Every fortune begins with a crime." The original capital made in our country came from murder of indigenous peoples, theft of land, plundering of resources, destruction of ecosystems and upon the lashed backs of slaves.
When slavery was finally abolished, suddenly the crime-rate went way up for ex-slaves who were legally locked into chain-gangs, even for minor crimes like jaywalking. When another excuse was needed to incarcerate black and brown people, marijuana suddenly became a dangerous drug. Laws come and go, orchestrated by those currently in power and their lobbyists.
We are in a time to reimagine our collective future. It is human nature to want to feel safe and secure, but we are pitted against each other through manipulation of our violence-fed psyches. Every day we hear about more mass-shootings that could happen anywhere.
I would rather everyone be offered safety in other ways … free education, good jobs, a home, affordable physical and mental health care, high quality foods and a vibrant, thriving, natural world. For us to feel safe, we all need to feel safe in basic human ways. Many countries have already figured this out and we do not see mass-incarceration or mass-shootings in places such as Denmark, Portugal or Canada.
What if the military budget was spent, not on weapons, but on clean transportation and energy systems, foreign-aid and diplomacy? What if soldiers were honored by never again being sent to fight senseless wars. They could become soldiers of soil-remediation and forest-management, and continue to offer help when natural disasters strike. What if prisoners were allowed to build low-cost housing and plant gardens? What if police had nothing to do because there were no more victims of the crimes of inequality, exploitation and poverty?
Our biggest crisis now is global warming. We need all hands on deck! When I think of the key-rattling revolution in Prague and the singing revolution in Estonia, peacefully ousting the Communists, I feel hopeful. When people are united in their desires, change is possible.
Carole Crews lives in Taos. She the author of Clay Culture: Plasters, Paints and Preservation.