A Narrow Focus On Race And Police Ignores Larger Problems With The Criminal Justice System

by William Skink

There will never be equity in our criminal justice system if we only focus on race and ignore class.

And we will never substantively address police misconduct if we don’t place police in the larger context of a criminal justice system that includes city attorneys, county attorneys, public defenders, defense attorneys, judges, coroners, detectives, Sheriff deputies, federal agents, probation/parole officers, jail staff, politicians and the other various worker bees who make the wheels of “justice” slowly grind on and on.

On Wednesday, the naive call to DEFUND THE POLICE is being reported by the Missoula Current like this:

Opponents of police funding have been vocal in their opposition and on Wednesday, some turned nasty in their charges and accusations. Daniel Carlino called the city’s budget and police funding akin to systemic racism and white supremacy.

“You either care about BIPOC safety in Missoula or you don’t, and you’ve shown you don’t with your budget,” Carlino said. “At the end of the day, it seems like you’re going to keep upholding the same white supremacist society since you benefit from it.”

When it comes to dealing with local media, the BLM activists need to get savvy quick and realize the kind of people they are dealing with.

For some recent history on Martin Kidston and his online “news” journal, the Missoula Current, I strongly recommend reading this post from the Outer Limits crew, titled Martin Kidston Is Montana’s Gomer Pyle.

I would then follow that post up with this one about how KBGA’s leadership dumped Outer Limits from their radio spot after Kidston raged and threatened litigation.

Why did local media and Missoula’s college radio station react so harshly to the Outer Limits crew, you ask? Because they were a BIG PART of an effective local effort (that included myself) to raise concern about how public TIF money was being used to line the pockets of gentrifying developers and cultural monopolizers like our benevolent Sultan of Sound, Lord Checota.

Instead of being more aware of these local dynamics, the local manifestation of the BLM movement is demanding their narrow focus on police funding (as it relates to just racial injustice) be immediately accepted to the exclusion of other systemic problems festering like moral rot in our community.

I’m glad a few activists have commented on some of my previous posts, and I hope they continue reading this blog, even though I am a privileged white male speaking with the confidence that privilege has afforded me throughout my life. I would like to think, despite being a privileged white male, that I have learned a thing or two about the community I’ve called home for 20 years.

Tomorrow’s post will be a poem about defunding the police. I hope it gets readers thinking a little differently about the class angle of what activists are calling for.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to A Narrow Focus On Race And Police Ignores Larger Problems With The Criminal Justice System

  1. TC says:

    Bernie Sanders, in his first presidential campaign, caught excessive flack for advocating Class over Race. He tried to emphasize that Class equality would positively transfer to race and other minority (gender, sexuality, etc) equality. We saw the monied class aggressively push back against this to support status quo Clinton and now Biden. It is easier to maintain power/control by deflecting class equality and using corporate media to promote racial discord.
    Here in River City, I too, wish BLM/BIPOC would broaden their focus to emphasize the Class divisions. By not doing so they will remain priced out of true justice – they will end up being sequestered into Soviet style housing in gravel pits to clear the “prime” real estate for gentrification and upper classes (regardless of race).
    Oh, the City/County will throw enough empty gestures toward race to make an appearance of liberal hand-wringing/heartstrings plucked. But rest assured – those efforts will only extend as long as they do not interfere with the Out of State money relocating here.
    True justice and equality starts with economic justice!!!

  2. Sandy says:

    A narrow focus on the criminal justice system ignores Montana’s health care, housing, and education systems.

    A narrow focus on Montana ignores the US.

    A narrow focus on the US ignores the world.

    A narrow focus on the world ignores the rest of the universe.


    • JC says:

      So you’re saying if we focus on the universe, everything else will be taken care of? Right.

      Some people are capable of focusing on one or more issues at a time, only then understanding how the greater picture is an assemblage of inter-related issues. And then one can make sense of how that came to be and maybe how to tackle it.

      For what it’s worth, TPTB were fine with MLK advocating racial issues. But when he started talking class, they killed him. Just like BLM is tolerated as it only focuses on race. If it were to start focusing on class issues, it would be suppressed in a week. Just like the Occupy encampments were, once it was apparent they weren’t going away on their own, and the 1% label was getting a bit too uncomfortable and gaining traction among the 99%.

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