I remember back when I was little, it must have been when I was 9 because that is when the IT TV miniseries was on, I would creep backwards down the stairs to say goodnight to my father. That night he happened to be watching the aforementioned IT TV miniseries because just as I got to the bottom or the stairs Pennywise bit off George’s arm and dragged him into the sewers. I went running, screaming up the stairs and straight to the safety of my bedroom.
Soon after that at school Ronald McDonald came for a fire safety demonstration. Now there was a clown with loud sirens blaring and smoke filling the room, and I went running, screaming out of that room as well, and when the teachers asked me why I did so I informed them that the clown was there to eat me. You see in my mind I didn’t distinguish or understand the difference between Pennywise and Ronald McDonald.
All cultures have a boogeyman. A creature who about stories are told to make certain children obey their parents and the norms of society. The problem in modern America is for a lot of kids that boogeyman is real.
Take my experience with the clown and imagine a child walking downstairs to say goodnight to his father or turning on the TV at 11:00 AM or sitting down to dinner around 5:00 PM or even over a bowl of Captain Crunch. What might be seen at any of those times is violent and lethal action being taken by police officers against the men and women of this country. Those that are sworn to protect and serve now seek to maim and harm.
Think about a young child watching George Floyd crying out for his mother as he struggled to breath and life slowly drained from his body. Then think about that same young child being taken to a peaceful protest to witness democracy and history in action. Now think about that young child sitting in a class room and a cop walks in as part of their community outreach program. That young child is very likely to react the way I did to Ronald McDonald. The only problem is it’s not difficult to avoid clowns and as I’ve grown up I’ve learned they’re just men in customs, but for the young child whose boogeyman is the cop as they grow up they will learn more history and witness more incidents until one day they’re pulled over for doing nothing but being the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood, and we’ve all seen on the evening news what happens then.
Here is the thing about de-funding or de-militarizing the police. The uniform is tainted. T millions of children and adults it is the custom of the boogeyman. A creature that stalks the streets waiting for the slightest hint of wrong doing before striking with lethal force. The only way for our society to move forward is for the uniform to be removed. For the boogeyman to be sent far far away into the recesses of history. The uniform of the police is too tainted, too stained with blood, for anything else to do.