Young Leaders for Justice Participant, Lynda Lopez, reflects on her experience:
When it comes to policing, very few people ask questions about its origins. We just accept it as part of the fabric of our culture. Police is so ingrained in our society that it’s difficult to even imagine a time before they existed. The Youth Leaders in Justice Program wants to challenge this notion and challenged us to consider the history behind it.
During one particular activity, we were each asked to think of events that contributed to the rise of the modern police state. We each started to add events to the timeline “War on Drugs, SB 1070, establishment of ICE, slave patrols, etc.” It was amazing to be able to track the emergence and the creation of policing. Understanding the history of policing allows us to better ask questions of “why’ they were even needed in the first place. The “why’ is a lot more complicated than “to protect.” I have come away from this session with a more adamant desire to inform myself of the important history that we don’t typically hear. History informs and challenges our perceptions of what should be normal. When it comes to policing, why have we come to a place in time when mass incarceration is seen as justifiable? Let’s relearn our history and start to unravel this question.