Thoughts and Perspectives

Introducing Children to the Rhetoric of Living in a Police State

Every now and then I enjoy seeing what Polk Elementary is up to – the school where I spent seven years of my young life! There were lots of great times, lots of nightmares, too. 

This past weekend when I was looking at its Facebook page, I discovered they had just had the annual Fall Festival. (When I was there, it was in April and called Polk Planet Earth Day.)

Anyway, I enjoyed looking at the pictures…until I came across these two photos:

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-click to enlarge- 

Lately, I am more and more concerned about the relationship citizens have with police. (There are, of course, lots of wonderful individuals working in the police department – but I study and critique systems.) These issues are partly discussed in the new film 13th.

Anyway, apparently part of Polk’s Fall Festival includes some kind of activity where young people are (play) arrested, (play) placed in jail, and someone has to pay real bail money for said person to be released. There is an armed, fully equipped and fully uniformed police officer monitoring the proceedings, too.

Wow! So much to unpack and to say, but I will just provide a few thoughts.

While such seems “normal” and only “fun and games,” there is much more to it, especially given that the United States actually–really and truly–puts more people behind bars than any other country on this planet. People deemed “criminals” and locked away are treated horrifically. Such treatment should never be subject to fun and games, in the same why that we can never make light of enslavment

Polk Elementary is increasingly populated with minority (i.e., non-White) students. Statistically speaking, a significant number of children who attend Polk Elementary have relatives who are currently behind bars, have been, or will be. Additionally, a large number of these children will themselves be put behind bars unless major reform happens — and reform in the way of eliminating institutional, codified racism.

This “fun” Fall Festival event merely tries to establish the cruel and unusual as normal and everyday, maybe even kind of “fun” and okay, too. It also introduces children to the vocabulary, the rhetoric, the signs and symbols of being incarcerated. And it vastly simplifies the process of getting out of jail, as many people cannot afford bail. 

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Event matter. While one event, such as the one discussed in this article, likely has little consequence, children remember more than they are given credit for. They understand. They think. And we live in a culture where the new military urbanism is only becoming more common, accepted, and unquestioned.

Andrew Joseph Pegoda  

 

5 replies »

  1. Thanks for this blog post regarding children and the police state; I really enjoyed it and am definitely recommending this blog to my friends and family. I’m a 16 year old with a blog on finance and economics at shreysfinanceblog.com, and would really appreciate it if you could read and comment on some of my articles, and perhaps follow, reblog and share some of my posts on social media. Thanks again for this fantastic post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, shuddered at the description of the events. I can see both sides in having kids learn about the process. You are very right in implying that kids may become a bit too comfortable with the status quo in high minority districts. But I can understand how they would be very confused when their mommies/daddies are put into prison. Adults are extremely reluctant to describe exactly what happens during the process of putting a parent into prison.

    The only solution I can suggest to help prevent the acceptance of a police state is to have a real discussions/open forums at these events. Topics that could be discussed might include how Texas has little to no legal help for the poor. There are NO civil rights lawyers in West Texas, for instance. Discussions might be added to the events (but not for little kids) about new laws that might require, at least in civil court, that both sides have legal representation or no side has it, that adequate funding and incentives be required for good attorneys to step up to defend the poor, pro bono in criminal cases, for ways to stop the school-to-prison pipeline.

    In many schools there are too few or no school counselors, but they have police present. Police get paid a lot more than school counselors but the latter are infinitely more capable of dealing with most infractions that lead to the child being suspended or sent to court. What is interesting is that at least one judge in Texas has ruled that a person’s upbringing can play a role in the conviction and/or sentencing process (e.g. whether or not they were subject to child abuse/maltreatment). I think it was an appeals court judge, but do not recall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment here (and your other recent ones!). I always enjoy your thoughts.

      I don’t think people at any level, sadly, are willing to truly discuss such issues. The schools more and more it seems teach a weird kind of patriotic indoctrination.

      Schools for sure need counselors – and better trained ones! Somehow or another based on what I last heard, you can be a school counselor in Texas with a BA or BS, some teaching experience, and “x” score on the test for that certification!

      We need so many things vastly improved! :/

      Liked by 1 person

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