What’s missing in LVGNA’s march to victory?

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Gadfly has liberally quoted recent voices from the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance without comment.

But he does not agree with them.

Here is some of his thinking on that.

  • LVGNA’s two highly placed but unnamed sources who indicated City Council was conspiratorially plotting as a bloc to “defund” the police department were wrong.
  • In fact, two Council members were immediately on record weeks ago as totally opposed to “defunding.”
  • Gadfly followers would know that he, who looks forward to comprehensive discussion but not necessarily “defunding,” has been whining precisely about Council inaction and saw no movement toward a vote of any kind.
  • People paying attention would know that there would be no vote on the police department funding at the regularly scheduled Council meeting December 1, that if there were to be any voting at all it would happen at the budget hearing December 3 and the final vote would not be till December 15.
  • Thus, LVGNA created a false sense of crisis for December 1.
  • People paying attention would know that Council is planning public meetings with and about the police in January, and if there were to be any change in the way policing is done, it surely would not happen till after that public discussion.
  • People paying attention would know that, on their own initiative, the police have instituted a pilot program involving a social worker, without any “defunding,” to be sure, but precisely in the kind of direction that “defunders” would like to see them go.
  • That said, the new Chief has basically recognized that there is a problem to be addressed and Council and police seem to be working cooperatively not antagonistically.
  • The notion fostered by LVGNA that people need to rally at the barricades to defend the police and save public safety from dissolution seems a false narrative.
  • LVGNA has perpetuated the notion of “defunding” — admittedly a poor term to begin with (which is the reason why Gadfly tends to put it in quotes) — as a mindless or Marxist attack on the police rather than a good faith attempt to address some problems by re-imagining how policing is done.
  • Those who call for “defunding” are not monolithic. Gadfly spent several posts on the “abolitionist” who presented at the NCC conference in October. He saw change gradual as public safety moved to a new structure.
  • The notion that “defunders” or “abolitionists” want an immediate end to police departments, throwing civilization into chaos, returning us to the law of the jungle, misunderstands the movement.
  • There were extreme public statements made against the police July 7 — that, yes, gave even Gadfly the shakes — but his response, like those expressed by some members of Council, was to try to understand the basis of such rhetoric not immediately condemn it. That seemed the neighborly thing to do, and certainly would be the role of a Council charged with representing the entire community.
  • Since that time those speaking for change in public safety have been quite moderate both in tone and idea. Gadfly has come to think of them as mainstream “defunders.”
  • In contrast, we find the LVGNA facebook pages filled with extreme hostility: Council members are characterized as “big city leftists,” supporters of “BLM, Antifa, and the criminal element,” toxic, disgusting, Socialist, simple minded, disgraceful, shameful.
  • And we find callers referred to as “radical Marxist anarchists.”
  • The kind of language hardly conducive to the good conversation that builds community.
  • The LVGNA seems to believe that police should be allowed to operate without oversight, especially by the body legislatively charged with doing so.
  • In short, Gadfly has a hard time seeing that LVGNA is doing any good. In fact, quite the contrary.

Without a doubt, the main thing that Gadfly has noticed in the recent self-styled LVGNA march to victory is what is not there.

Not a mention of George Floyd. Nor the other names on the necrology of tragic police encounters with people of color.

Not a mention of awareness of where and why the “defunding” movement started.

Not a mention of the problem the movement is trying to address.

It’s generally agreed that the “defunding” movement began with the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

And in the past six months it crescendo’d with a series of such events spanning George Floyd to Walter Wallace.

If you don’t try to understand the trauma of these events, you will never understand the “radicals.”

LVGNA has 7000 signatories to a petition to defend the police. LVGNA could do a lot of good with that following.

Gadfly has suggested starting a conversation based on a specific “first contact” situation between the police and a member of the community.

Here’s how he put it after his discussion of LVGNA’s “coffee cup” brochure.

Does LVGNA see no first contact problem that needs to be addressed? Gadfly would be curious to know the basis for such a view. That would be good conversation.

Or does LVGNA see a first contact problem and have a solution (such as more training handled internally by a department) but are objecting to “defunding” and/or to the presence of BLM? That would be good conversation too.

Such a conversation would better prepare us for the meetings Council will host with and about the police in January.

4 thoughts on “What’s missing in LVGNA’s march to victory?

  1. Ed, you’re part of the problem when you equate Marxist with mindless and defunders with abolitionists. We may disagree with Marxism, but it is far from mindless. And the concept of defunding has very, very few followers who support abolishing the police. Defunding should be more compared to sculpting. The LV Good Neighbor Alliance does not understand defunding. I do not know why.

  2. Here, here, Gadfly. Thank you immensely.

    One response:
    “People paying attention would know”: you serve a great role helping to inform the local public.

    In my opinion, however, access through the city website is not nearly as easy as it could be.

    For instance, Quick Buttons have not been employed on the city’s main page for the police budget and policy or the CEI, At least not on the mobile platform by which I – and many reach it. There is a Quick Button used for the COVID update (top left).

    And outreach? variable digital message boards around town, and free and open source mass text messaging apps.

    If you recall, I have mentioned this to council at least twice now.

  3. Much appreciate the work Gadfly; the need for this conversation is pretty apparent if one does believe that there are over 1000 neighbors “supporting” the fear mongering being driven by the so-called good Neighbors Assoc. To stick to facts over 50% of Americans believe that policing needs a major over all while only 6% believe no improvements are needed. Gallup usually gets this stuff fairly close to right I think we would all agree (https://news.gallup.com/poll/315962/americans-say-policing-needs-major-changes.aspx)
    But more than that; there are concrete examples actually happening all across the country. Chesa Boudin in San Francisco and now the newly elected LA prosecutor George Gascon (https://www.wfmz.com/news/crime/new-la-prosecutor-ends-cash-bail-for-many-offenses/article_7451be42-206c-5537-93bb-0e4aa7304b6d.html); revolutionizing the way we see policing, eradicating cash bail, re-evaluating 3 strikes cases and the ceasing of charging juveniles as adults. All of these structural changes are supported by data; not rhetoric, not feelings nor a desire to cling to days gone by. The only excuse Bethlehem has to not follow the ingenuity of those leading the way; other than those neighbors who have no problem displaying their racism, is fear. Not good enough. We have the information and the ability to do better.

  4. The Gadfly wrote: “LVGNA has perpetuated the notion of “defunding” — admittedly a poor term to begin with (which is the reason why Gadfly tends to put it in quotes) — as a mindless or Marxist attack on the police rather than a good faith attempt to address some problems by re-imagining how policing is done.”: Notice the word “or” between mindless and Marxist.

    I am thinking that because emotion tends to create action and the people the LVGNA is appealing to are basically defending the status quo, which is rarely emotional; therefore the emotional rhetoric is used to add emotion where it really does not exist. Embellishment enhances the effect. This is not to say some are emotional based upon an mostly irrational evaluation of the situation. This assumes that LVGNA is not acting under the direction of those who have a vested interest in the police funding and are only acting over safety and welfare concerns.

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