People, usually people of color, more often than not Native Americans and African Americans (according the the available statistics) suffer regular repression by the police. Day to day, the most common form of repression is about the small stuff. Jay walking, being out after curfew, walking around in a shopping mall, driving while black, and similar imagined (or at worst, very minor) offenses bring the police into contact with individuals, making day to day existence harder and for many building up a list of arrests, charges, and convictions that form an ever-growing albatross around those individuals’ necks.
The recent work slowdown in New York is being heralded by astute observers as an inadvertent, almost ironic, positive step. As long as the police refuse to “do their jobs” in this manner, they are incidentally refusing to engage in this day to day repression.
It is generally thought that the small stuff — citations for minor offenses that often don’t even rise to the level of violations of law — make up a part of the public safety or, more broadly, municipal budgets of the governmental institutions supporting the police (city, county, state).
But what if that income was never accessible to those institutions? What if all of the money collected in fines could not be put against the city, county, or state budget? That might remove the impetus, in part, to engage in this kind of policing. I’m not entirely sure where the money should go. If it went into some public program (food shelters, etc.) it might replace other budget items at the same level of government. That would not serve the intended purpose of sequestering these funds. But with a little imagination, it probably would not be too hard to find a way to use that flow of cash for purposes that would not benefit the government responsible for the police force, or any other class of people, corporation, or pubic authority that might have the power to direct increased enforcement.
A law, or in some cases, a constitutional amendment (at the state level) could suffice for this purpose. Don’t fund the police, or any unit of government, on the backs of those being repressed. This is only a partial solution to a larger problem but it could be a useful and meaningful single step. The “Back Turning” law.