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Column: A researched response to the comments section for no cop academy

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Column: A researched response to the comments section for no cop academy

Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Brian Munoz

Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Brian Munoz

Brian Munoz

Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Sam Beard, Student Trustee

There will be no cop academy at SIU.

To some, opposition to the proposed cop academy at SIU makes little sense, as evidenced by comments sections attached to the various articles surrounding the new, local movement against it.

They think that the cops exist to fight crime and promote safety.


This view of the cops, however, ignores their actual role in society, historically and today.

Police scholar David Bayley writes, “The police do not prevent crime. This is one of the best kept secrets of modern life. Experts know it, the police know it, but the public does not know it. Yet the police pretend that they are society’s best defense against crime and continually argue that if they are given more resources, especially personnel, they will be able to protect communities against crime. This is a myth.”

The actual social role of the police is articulated by sociologist Alex Vitale in The End of Policing: “The reality is that the police exist primarily as a system for managing and even producing inequality by suppressing social movements and tightly managing the behaviors of poor and nonwhite people: those on the losing end of economic and political arrangements.”

The police are always the violent defenders of the rules made by the powerful. There is no honest look at their history that can deny these facts.

Many police don’t think of their jobs in this way. Some enter the job with noble intentions of protecting people, keeping them safe.

Of course, some of them are overt white supremacists, who find the job is consistent with their genocidal worldview. But regardless of what they believe as individuals, their social function remains the same.

They are trained to see the world through a lens of paranoia, they accept the laws they are given as legitimate, and accept their own use of violence as justified.

To criticize the police is certainly not to say that they all have evil intentions. It is to say that, in many cases, they know not what they do.

Cops pledge to violently enforce the conditions that create the crime and violence that they think they are fighting.

Michelle Alexander notes in her indispensable book, The New Jim Crow, that in 1970 the U.S. Congress commissioned a study by the American Sociological Association on how to reduce crime.

The answer was clear: reduce poverty.

Most violent crimes, from domestic abuse to robbery and gang violence, are rooted in an economic caste system that keeps some people in a constant state of battling for scraps of money and dignity against others.

Prisons and police do not reduce violent crime, just as a 40 year long war on drugs has not reduced drug use or sales. Rather than reducing poverty, however, the last 40 years have seen an explosion of inequality, and consequently, an explosion of police to manage the effects of it.

The U.S. now locks up more of its population than any other country in the history of the world, including the Soviet Union at the height of the Gulag system.

This is not an accident.

The war on drugs, which has been the major justification for growing police departments around the country, was a cynical attempt to destroy the movements for liberation and equality of the 1960s and 1970s.

This was clearly stated by Nixon’s domestic policy advisor, John Erlichman, in a 1994 interview:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Today, there are growing social movements against police murder, inequality, and ecological catastrophe.

Universities are one of the few places where people can have the time to reflect on and study the conditions of our society that the police use violence to defend. They are not a place for a training ground for the agents of that violence.

The embattled Chancellor, like so many people in positions of power, does not see it this way.

He is taking the cowardly side of a social struggle, one that seeks to align SIU with the Blue Lives Matter reaction to the protests of police murders, with Trump and the neofascists who worship police power.

It is our job, as students and members of this community, to make it clear that we see the police for what they are, and that we respect our learning about history and society enough to insist that a cop academy not be built at SIU.

At the No Cop Academy demonstration in the student center last week, we said: “There will be no cop academy at SIU.”

Say out loud, believe it, and let’s do what it takes to make it true.

#NoCopAcademy Student Trustee Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (618) 453-8418. His office is located in the Registered Student Organization Suite on the third floor of the Student Center and his office hours are Mondays and Thursdays: 12:30 pm – 2 pm or by appointment.



11 Responses to “Column: A researched response to the comments section for no cop academy”

  1. Matt Chancey on April 4th, 2018 11:50 am

    Does anyone take this person seriously? He has certainly bought in to the radical left ideology. He even throws in the obligatory and apparently mandatory name calling of those who might disagree with him. You don’t like the way police operate, so you oppose any training that might improve their performance. Apparently he believes we should just do away with the police entirely.

    The concept of a student trustee was to give students a voice on the board. Does anyone believe that the other members of the board give any serious consideration to what this person has to say?

  2. Sue Elliott on April 4th, 2018 11:50 am

    Seriously!?!?!?as you students so often speak of…why not diversity!?!?! do you on ly want diversity on your terms!?!?! What harm can another “college of” really do other than generate new students who bring new money to a struggling university and town. To assume the “cop academy” will not graduate many good cops is a silly and childish assumption on your part. WE need well trained officers of the law to enforce it since our legal system is letting us down obviously.

  3. K Roy ONeil on April 4th, 2018 12:39 pm

    Am I naive in wondering if a police academy at SIU could be an opportunity to address and perhaps help remedy the issues that Beard raises? Sensitivity training appears to be improving police relations with communities.

  4. D.J. on April 4th, 2018 12:45 pm

    Sam, you started off eloquent and correct. But flew off the rails at the first corner. While true, police generally do not stop crime without the just comb luck of being in the right place at the right time you miss the bigger picture. The possibility of being caught. Criminals, much like ANTIFA, are generally cowards. They do not commit felonious acts unless convinced they hold the advantage. The same reason they wear masks and gloves to keep from being identified. If we remove the “negative consequence” of illegal activities. What stops them from being committed? The police aren’t the problem here. The breakdown of the core family group that holds members accountable is. You want a social justice cause to get behind? There it is. End single parent households.Teach children that they aren’t the center of the universe and hold them accountable when they make mistakes. Teach them right from wrong and instill citizenship and respect for the law. The problem you describe fixes itself. Poverty is a problem, but it’s more a lack of effort than racism that keeps it propagated.

  5. Tom Barrett on April 4th, 2018 1:12 pm

    Our society is doomed with thinking like Mr Beard is expounding about the police.He is wrong and the univversity is wrong not to add a police academy when there is a shortage of people willing to do that job. I will be keeping my gun handy since I will be defending myself going forward thanks to stupid decisions like this one.

  6. Brian Reaves on April 4th, 2018 2:10 pm

    People want to wonder why SIU struggles to survive and is quickly withering away as a quality university, but they need not look any further than fools like Sam Beard who try to squash out one of the few positive things the school tries to do. In a state and at a university ran by corrupt, shady, and crooked politicians, young wannabe politicians like Sam Beard want to push their confused ignorance onto the student body to prevent something that would be good for the area and school. I’m not aware of where Mr.Beard is from, but I’m willing to bet that it isn’t southern Illinois. Seeing people like this makes me glad that I left Illinois and its corruptness. I have always been proud to be a Saluki, but over the past couple of decades and seeing what my alma mater has become, my opinion on that is changing.

  7. William Lee on April 4th, 2018 8:27 pm

    I feel like I am reading a Lewis Carroll story. The assertions in the article are asinine.

  8. Abe on April 5th, 2018 7:57 am

    Have you ever done research on, “shut up”?

  9. David Rossi on April 6th, 2018 3:36 pm

    I applaud Mr. Beard for maintaining a perspective that is over three decades old. Quite a tenacious method. He elicits research produced during or immediately after the Civil Rights Movement and of course the researchers were not at all influenced by the volatility of that era. Vileness was inflicted by both sides, guilty should be shared. However we’re living in the twentieth-first century and much has changed, then again much has not. It seems Mr. Beard believes the police – or rather many people – have a pre-Civil Rights mindset. If so, then we have our work cut out for us. Change cannot happen overnight but perhaps the most efficient and peaceful way to correct police behavior is to join the police and set an example for how they should be. Mr. Beard and his compatriots should join the police, swell their ranks, bring in a new mindset and change their culture from within as the next generation of police officers who conduct themselves to a higher standard than those he criticizes. Be the change you want to see.

  10. J Liggett on April 9th, 2018 10:13 am

    Your age please?
    You actually a paying student?
    You really believe the vile
    you are spouting?

    Scary ..

  11. Mun on April 10th, 2018 10:43 am

    I’m looking forward to bailing out your student debt and paying your meals, rent, and kids for the rest of your life.

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