Monday, April 20, 2009

One reason I'm not a big fan of protests

I got an email today from ATAC about a rally in Midtown next week, which I'm going to try and make. For a variety of reasons, I have not made it to previous events. A combination of class, previous commitments, and an ad hoc road trip to help a friend out have prevented my involvement. I have wanted to get involved, and I don't really have much excuse beyond having slightly selfish priorities and a deep aversion to protest politics.

I'm already iffy about ATAC's seeming focus on officer furloughs - in fairness, having not been engaged with the group or attended any of the events, I can't speak to their tactics much. However, IIRC, the ATAC-related gathering after the Standard murder was going to be in protest of the officer furloughs until the Standard folks asked that it not be, and the email I received today included this line:
We chose this location not only because Midtown serves as an excellent example of community engagement and organization but also because, like many of Atlanta neighborhoods, they continue to feel the effects of a public safety system on furlough.
I, too, think the furloughs are a bad idea, but crime was up well before the furloughs and focusing on the number of officers on the street seems to be missing the bigger picture. I'm not sure what the "big picture" answers are, of course, but I am certain that public officials need to be pushed toward a more comprehensive solutions than "more officers".

I noted that I have a deep aversion to protest politics. One reason: the email also notes that Georgia Equality is part of the event, lobbying for hate crime legislation. Now, not that I have any problem with Georgia Equality, but this seems to me to be a bad idea. The reason for the rallies is an increase in crime, and to put pressure on the City of Atlanta to do more.

Shifting the focus of the event to a state-level piece of legislation with little chance of action under the present administration only minimizes the attention that the rest of the rally is supposed to be about. And while I may feel the urge to get out to rally about Atlanta's crime problems, I'm not going to go protest for hate crime legislation. Again, nothing against the legislation, but it just isn't my main priority and I'm pretty sure with the GOP in charge it is a waste of time.

If you aren't careful, you'll end up like lots of protest events, where people are bringing banners for any number of unrelated causes, and it becomes a mish-mash of interest group buzz words. It is pretty easy to see thing spiral into a protest about capital punishment, police profiling, etc. It isn't long before it is just another liberal protest thing.

1 comment:

  1. The problem with rallies and protest politics in general: their creation of a permanent underclass that politicians feel like they can afford not to take seriously.

    If officer furloughs are truly the root of the problem (and I don't think they are), responsible politicians and protest organizers alike would see it necessary to point out that the only way out of this situation is raising taxes-- there simply isn't enough money to avoid furloughs or outright layoffs without draining the budgets of other worthwhile, even critical public efforts. But that's politically impossible right now, so we look at our alternatives-- close more parks, fix even fewer streets, turn off streetlights. These don't exactly help the crime problem, either.


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