My name is Paige P., I live in Ward █ in Somerville. I am white. I am a public school teacher. I am a mother. And I am a jew.
Since the day I became a mother, I have been afraid for my child’s life. I am ashamed to say that it wasn’t until recently that I came to see (though I will never fully understand) the burden of fear that black and brown womxn carry as the mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends of black and brown children.
As a teacher, I believe that we cannot correct history without fully examining it, and this is why it’s important to acknowledge that slave patrols evolved into modern police departments, and the racist history of the police has yet to be reconciled. Since the beginning, the police have always enforced the law, regardless of how racist those laws were. After the abolition of slavery, slave patrols took on new forms such as sheriffs who enforced segregation or vigilante groups like the KKK. In the North, police were used to control the increasing numbers of immigrant workers, and block labor strikes to suppress poor Americans.
Saying “defund the police” means that I acknowledge this history and I want to take money away from an organization that continues to protect the comfort and wealth of white people, while oppressing and killing people of color, without accountability.
As a jew, the closest comparison I can draw to empathizing with Black and Brown womxn is considering the following: if the police organization in America was started by the Nazis, and after WWII, they no longer labeled themselves as Nazis but the laws they enforced still allowed them to violently uphold segregation, there is no way that I would ever teach my child that some police officers are good, and some will protect them.
For my child’s safety, I would teach them that all police officers are representing a systemically racist organization that they are obligated to follow orders from. And that, because of this, they must assume that they will potentially be harmed or killed at the hands of any person from this organization. This is what Black and Brown womxn have to teach their children.
We should not be giving $18.2M to an organization that forces any of our Somerville residents to have these conversations with their children at the dinner table. Defund the Somerville Police.