Why are there so many cop shows? I’ve been asking myself this more and more as I intentionally try to unlearn and disavow my enjoyment and support of them.
That is, since the most recent killing of Mike Brown (and the 13 others since him), I cannot bring myself to sit down and watch a cop show, let alone, “enjoy” it. I experience it as propaganda now and worry about those who watch them.
Confession: I used to want to be a cop. Yes, the propaganda once worked on me. I believed in the “criminal justice system.” I wanted to be apart of making communities “safer” and thought this could be done with a gun and a badge. I was naive enough to think that some kind of rehabilitation could happen in prison and even thought, for a brief moment when I was still a teenager, that the death penalty was better than spending the money to keep someone in lock up for life.
As I Christian, I can no longer accept any of these things. As such, I no longer believe in the myth of redemptive violence (that more violence saves, that war brings peace, etc.) or that more guns (state sanctioned, street, or otherwise) will ever make a community safer.
Instead, I believe in transformative justice and community accountability. I believe in dismantling systems that are racist, classist, and purely punitive (i.e. the prison industrial complex) and instead, replacing it with communities that non-violently restore and rehabilitate, that truly strive to heal deep wounds. I believe in repentance.
Last week, this came up in conversation when a professor of mine stated that they had reluctantly decided not to attend an interfaith commemoration of 9/11 and instead, were waiting for a national day of repentance. “A long way off,” they wrote, “given war on ISIS.”
A friend of mine responded, “commemoration and repentance are not mutually exclusive. Beware the false binary.” To which my mentor responded, “…not a binary at all since remembering is necessary to repentance; but without repentance, commemoration is another form of forgetting.” #neverforget
Which brings me back to my initial question about the cop shows. Since Mike Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, I have tried to find ways to not forget, but also, repent in a world that celebrates and honors violence. To do this, I’ve attended Ferguson solidarity protests and vigils, community conversations about safety and police accountability, and even made it to a “know your rights”/cop watch training (which filled quick up in Chicago).
This has been one way to remember, however, I don’t want to lose sight of the particulars of the people. That is, we have hundreds if not thousands of war memorials all over the world. But rarely do we remember those murdered by the state.
It was once a tradition of one of our church elders to pray every week for those on death row, as well as, the governors and those able to grant them a stay of execution. Together the community prayed for repentance.
p.s. don’t forget to click the links! i left y’all a little surprise in there. ha.
p.p.s. the ev’ry day impastorin’ tumblr is my favorite.