Lawlessness

Recently, many people have been prophesying about the fast-approaching end of the world. Billboards along major freeways warn of Christ’s second coming and have set the date for May 21st. People who follow the economy are expecting a bleak immediate future once some of the real impacts of the Japanese disaster become clear. With sky-rocketing gas and food prices, most American families have run into the wall known as “hard times.” But even for off-grid, independently-wealthy atheists, there is a storm on the horizon.

In a report by KCRA, a local Sacramento News station, Sacramento Police have openly criticized Sacramento’s budget plan for the next fiscal year. The Sacramento Bee also published an opinion piece by the California Peace Officer’s Association outlining what they see as a very serious budget short fall when it comes to public safety. Tara Golden, the cooridator for the Lavender Angels, a Sacramnto public safety group funded by the Midtown Business Association and composed of volunteers concerned about public safety, recently warned of public lawlessness in her personal blog. I am reposting the blog here with Tara Golden’s permission:

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A Warning of a Storm Approaching

I do not enjoy what I am writing right now. In fact, I have been putting this duty off for far too long. But it has become essential, due to recent events, that I finally sit down and pen this missive to those out there in the world that I care for.

I don’t claim to be anything other then what I am – a simple human being with some unique perspectives and experiences, but underneath it all… just me – which isn’t anything particularly worthy of any acclaim. I do not have advanced degrees in this subject. I have won no awards. I have not even spent any significant time working professionally in law enforcement. What I am, simply, is a concerned citizen who has been granted a small window into the world of “The Law.” But that small window has granted me a view that I think I need to share… because out that window I see a storm brewing that threatens to be the storm of the century.

Let me outline for you what I have seen and heard from professionals in the business, which are concerned enough to speak openly and candidly… which is, in itself somewhat disconcerting knowing their usual cautious natures and general reticence to reveal any situation that is not in the past and safely closed and sealed. What they have revealed to me, they have done freely and without any requests to not reveal what I have learned. I think they simply see that this information is available to anyone who is reading the signs in the sky, in the air, in the winds blowing.

What we are talking about is a complete break-down of something we have come to accept as a central pillar of our society. Ten years ago, if I had been asked what would be the first pillar of our society to fall I would have put money on the financial system, or maybe, as I toyed around with in a story I started to write, the electrical grid: our power based on limited, non-renewable resources. But both guesses would be wrong… although both are starting to crack under the strain of the weight of our society. What is shattering instead, is our legal system. And I am not one prone to fear or outbreaks of paranoid delusions – outside of the safe confines of literature; however, this has me frightened to the point where I am trying to remember a good night’s sleep free from nightmares. But, “forewarned is forearmed,” is the cliché pertinent to this situation. And I have been more and more assured of the fact that I must pass on the information that I have received so that those I care about can prepare for the coming storm. It is their safety and well-being that I am most concerned about and that haunts my sleep. So this is what I have to relate, take it as you will and do with it what you will. And, as a friend of mine, Captain of the SacPD Central Command says, “Good Luck.”

The first aspect of our law that is breaking down is our police force. They have been devastated due to cuts in their budgets. It seems that every day I read in the paper that more officers in cities around California have been laid off due to budgetary demands. Just today San Jose gave pink notices to over a hundred of their officers, and Stockton has had their forces decimated to the point that they are asking private individuals to help citizens form community patrols to keep some sort of order. And the other cities and municipalities of California are not far behind. Sacramento PD is just a short time away from a near-complete shut-down as well… and I cannot imagine life without those I have come to know and admire only a phone-call away to guard and protect us as Sacramento citizens.

The second aspect of our law that is breaking down is the court system. Our courts too have lost funding, and are over-booked with cases which they simply have no resources to deal with. And, our courts are also aware that there is no jail space for inmates. Therefore, their hands are tied and they generally try to plea bargain even the most heinous criminal’s sentences down. The honorable Judge Brown told us at the F.B.I. citizen’s academy that he sees a wave of criminals being turned loose back into the populace of our state simply because long jail terms are not possible in our current situation.

What is really troubling is the third aspect of our law that is falling apart: our jails. Our jails are full to capacity. And they too have faced cut-backs. There is also another problem looming. Our federal jails are now offering to pay for beds in the state and local jails. State and local criminals are not funded in this manner, therefore, in order to stay in the black, our jails – which have been privatized in many cases, are going to turn out state and local criminals in order to make space for beds paid for with this federal largesse. And, to make matters worse, the parole officers have also been cut, which means that many of the even violent criminals released will be unmonitored and be free for all intents and purposes other than a piece of paper stating them as parolees. In other words, a huge wave of violent inmates soon will be released back into our communities.

Combine the crumbling of these three aspects of our legal system and you have the perfect storm brewing which is soon to hit our communities. It is hard for me to even comprehend lawlessness. The closest I can come are the post-apocalyptical movies and some news footage of third-world countries which I have seen and been amazed by. To think of that coming to our communities, here in America, where my friends and family live and work… is difficult for me to even wrap my head around, and it is what keeps me up at night.

How do we even prepare for this coming storm? How do you prepare for something that is not even in our social paradigm? I do know that there are some who are beginning to consider private police-like agencies to try to take over… but the dangers of this are obvious. Mercenaries who are beholden only to those who are paying them are simply not an option.

The only other option that I can, with my limited imagination and intelligence, imagine is to train average citizens to form community watches and to police their own streets. But this too is fraught with inherent problems and conflicts of interests. But we simply have no other options. We must learn to stand up for ourselves and fill in the spots of the social net that is the basis of our civilization to protect our way of life, the safety of ourselves and our loved ones, and the entire democratic experiment that is America.

And maybe we need to learn to think small again. Rather then thinking about protecting the entire country that we live in, which boggles the mind, maybe instead we learn to think from small to large. Start by thinking how to protect our houses and immediate families. Think of how you are going to protect that in your heart and immediate lives. How is your house for security? Do you have ways to defend it? Do you have a way to contact each other at all times? How are your stock-piles of basic emergency supplies? Have you gone over emergency plans as a group?

Then start thinking about your immediate neighborhood. Do you know everyone on it? Do you have a neighborhood watch? Do you have a contact tree in case of emergency? Maybe it is time to talk to your neighbors and fill in whatever gaps exist in your neighborhood safety net.

Then, when all that is secure… how about your friends and family outside of your immediate vicinity.

It is this sort of outward moving circles of awareness that are necessary now. There is no more megalithic structure to provide you and yours with safety. It is time for us to do this for ourselves… and for those we care about.

I don’t know how this all going to turn out… what the final result of this set of circumstances will be. No one does, no matter how they may insist otherwise. We simply have never been here before. This is not a part of our cognitive map, and we will all have to learn on the fly. And, it isn’t going to be easy. But it is what faces us, and burying our heads under the covers and refusing to look at the coming storm will only leave us unprepared and unable to face the challenges facing us. It may just be a temporary situation, or it may be that it is the beginning of a new era that is outside of our abilities to even guess what the future holds.

But I have to maintain hope. I have to believe that we are in a time-period of change in our society and in our world. I have to believe that even though these changes may be frightening and brutal… the end results will be that we are a better, more aware community with a heightened social consciousness. I have to believe that history shows that positive change is always a brutal process and often bloody. Things do not end, they are reborn… and we are facing the end of some aspects of our culture and our historical period. What lies in the future? It is impossible to tell, but I believe it will be better… that we always, forever progress towards a better reality.

Either way, now is the time for conversation and planning and becoming forewarned and forearmed and I sincerely wish good luck to all, good luck to California and good luck to America.
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To get involved with the Lavender Angels, you may contact Tara Golden at: lavender.angels@saccenter.org

To get involved with your local Sacramento Neighborhood Association: http://www.cityofsacramento.org/ns/nadb/alpha.cfm