No New Police Station!
Police supporters in Berkeley are trying to jump on the bandwagon of "War on Crime" hysteria and the blitzkrieg expansion of the criminal justice industry to build a new fortress police station. The building will undoubtedly stand as a symbol of the fact that even in Berkeley repression is winning out as the solution to social problems.
Over 60% of the cases currently in the criminal justice system are from the drug war. History has shown us however, that reliance on the criminal justice system to solve social problems such as drug abuse merely perpetuates a cycle of crime and punishment, leaving the social problems unsolved.
With the ongoing economic, racial, and political polarization of American society, some would legislate the economically expendable out of existence, warehousing them in prisons. Instead of spending $18 million on a new police station, we should be building institutions of inclusively, of economic access for all to the goods of society, to solve the social problems and drug problems.
Since so many police services are drug related, if Berkeley moved from criminalization to a harm reduction drug policy, there would be no need for the proposed 66,000 square foot monstrosity. The police force could be downsized from its current size of 321 officers and the extra money spent on a whole array of social and cultural programs. Furthermore, billed as a "Public Safety Building," city planners are attempting to conceal the draconian nature of police by placing them in the same building as the fire department.
And finally, the City will need to divert money from seismic retrofit funds, a misuse of that funding. In the past the people of Berkeley voted for a seismic upgrade of the existing police station, not a new four story repression facility with a weight room, gymnasium and shooting range. This backroom decision by City leaders is a manipulation of the democratic process.
This issue must be opened up to the public for discussion. We need to consider the alternatives to the insane jail-everyone policy that has much of our society currently under its grip. Opposition to this proposed facility could represent a coalition against all kinds of repression.
Coalition for Alternatives