Respect, Authority, & Engagement

DeShawn Franklin was torn from his bed, beaten, and arrested in South Bend illegally. A jury determined that his civil rights were violated, and then awarded him $1. The City of South Bend is currently demanding that DeShawn's family pay for the cost of the hotel rooms the police officer stayed in during the trial (among other expenses).

DeShawn Franklin was torn from his bed, beaten, and arrested in South Bend illegally. A jury determined that his civil rights were violated, and then awarded him $1. The City of South Bend is currently demanding that DeShawn's family pay for the cost of the hotel rooms the police officer stayed in during the trial (among other expenses).

I'll be the first to admit that my Facebook posts can get a little snarky. I'll often tag Mayor Pete Buttigieg and ask a tongue-in-cheek question about an issue that I care about. I do this for many reasons. For one thing, I think Facebook is the most powerful democratic tool of our time. Grassroots organizing can happen at the speed of governance nowadays. We can stop legislation and hold lawmakers accountable before laws get passed, before property is sold, and before they have a chance to tidy up their narratives in the media. For another, though, Facebook equalizes power dynamics in a way that has thus far been difficult -- especially for those who don't have the hallmarks of credibility that the mainstream media usually uses to vet interview subjects (properties I think very often have very little to do with actual credibility...but that's (literally) another post).

I was challenged the other day, though, by a good friend of mine. Why not engage the Mayor in a more respectful way? He's got power and authority -- why not post respectfully, acknowledge that power and authority -- and ask him to address issues in the way you'd engage any other adult.

I take this advice seriously. I've reconsidered my posting habits, tried to dial back the snark, etc.

But I'm also going to ignore the advice.

Why? Because the administration, under Pete Buttigieg has decided that it values DeShawn Franklin's civil rights at $1. Because the officer involved has an insanely long history of severe abuse and is currently being promoted by the SBPD.

In short: because you can win authority (seriously, any fool with enough rich friends can get a seat in Washington), but you need to earn respect. And when you target vulnerable members of my community. -- people who have literally been defeated (in the words of a local pastor) because of the color of their skin -- you are on the wrong path. 

Those who govern our city have clear choices every day. They have the choice to honor and respect their citizens. To hold their police accountable. To provide equal protection under the law. And if they ignore it.

Well, I just don't really feel like these are the sorts of people that have yet earned our respect.