One of the most disturbing things I've seen lately is how rapidly and probably irreversibly the pandemic has changed the policing of my local park. Like most local parks, it's immediately surrounded by an affluent neighbourhood, but serves a much wider and more diverse community
The park (of course) has been busier in the last year, and especially in the last few weeks. On the first week of easing there was (the horror) some litter (also, not enough bins). A flag was torn. Local forums went straight to SEND IN THE POLICE
After literally two evenings of people picnicking, a motion was proposed by local residents with the 'support of the police' to ban drinking in the park.('A shame for those of us who want a sensible glass of prosecco', the proposer said,but it will keep the park 'quiet and safe')
This weekend 'at the request of local residents', the police are extending sniffer dog stop &search patrols usually in the city centre to the suburban park. Local forums are awash with 'gratitude' for the police,& we're all urged to introduce our children to their friendly horses
What disturbs me most is that is is all happening now, in Sheffield's guardian reading labour ward, with NO mention of the fact that police don't make everyone safer. In fact, it is all based on the shared, tacit understanding that they don't.
Local residents are equating 'safer' and 'quieter' directly. They are knowingly using the police to segregate 'their' park. I know I shouldn't be shocked. But every day when I read the news, then walk past our policed park with its brand new CCTV cameras I just think, my god.
Police violence is not a 'one bad apple' phenomenon and it's certainly not only an American thing. Whenever we imagine the police will make already comfortable lives 'nicer', safer or more convenient, we're complicit.

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