Stabbings Near UC Davis Were Terrifying, But More Policing Won’t Make Us Safer

Scholar-led care and help work fairly than criminalization and prosecution must be our mannequin for security.

A part of the Sequence

The Highway to Abolition

Town of Davis, California, was just lately shaken up following a spate of stabbings — three over the course of 5 days, starting on April 27 — which left two useless and one severely injured. Davis is a small, prosperous, school city the place nobody expects “unhealthy” issues to occur, even though they sometimes do. Resulting from that phantasm of security, it’s not unusual to see youngsters freely roaming neighborhood streets, or to search out many a entrance door unlocked. However this newest violation of public house left individuals on edge.

The presumed perpetrator — a former College of California Davis scholar — has been arrested, but I stay troubled by the widespread emphasis on better police and safety presence as key mechanisms for producing security. The university amped up its surveillance cameras and enlisted campus police from across the UC system, in addition to city police and private security officers; even the campus Safe Ride program was coordinated by city and campus police. The coed affiliation, whereas important of the administration’s option to not pivot to distant instruction, implicitly reasserted carceral rhetoric when noting in a letter to the campus community that college students felt unsafe and didn’t want to return to campus “till the suspect(s) [were] apprehended.”

Within the face of the egregious and spectacular violence of serial homicide, it’s tough to think about exterior of policing and prisons. As I reacquainted myself with Zoom educating and heard from anxious college students, I too confronted an advanced mixture of emotions. I used to be relieved to listen to of the perpetrator’s arrest, but additionally felt indignant as I assumed concerning the police’s position in creating violence, concern and insecurity, typically within the identify of “security.” George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and many others misplaced their lives due to cops who deemed their Black our bodies a menace. The most recent data from the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board signifies that, as in the remainder of California, Black drivers are 5 occasions extra prone to be stopped for site visitors violations by Davis police than white drivers.

The knowledge of abolitionist feminisms is especially related right here. As abolitionist writers reminiscent of Mariame Kaba and Andrea J. Ritchie level out, the police — and carceral options emphasizing crime and punishment extra broadly — fail to generate security. They don’t forestall violence, nor do they allow therapeutic from violence. On the contrary, grassroots actions have traditionally taken on a lot of this work.

Feminist self-defense training, for instance, teaches ladies and trans individuals not solely tips on how to chase away attackers however empowers them to really feel entitled to public house. Within the Seventies, feminist anti-violence activists offered secret shelter to ladies fleeing home abuse. The domestic shelters we know today grew out of these underground ones. In 1979, the Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist group, drew attention to the racialized and gendered nature of a serial killer who was targeting Black women in Boston, Massachusetts, when police didn’t make these connections. Extra just lately, individuals have been creating options to calling the police, reminiscent of these documented by Inventive Interventions’ StoryTelling & Organizing Project.

In an off-the-cuff survey of a few of my college students, I realized that whereas many have been sheltering-in-place, holding out for the perpetrator’s arrest, they have been additionally providing care and help to 1 one other in numerous methods: sharing places and updates, checking in on associates, touring in teams, ridesharing, and holding house to grieve and course of. They have been, in different phrases, doing numerous security constructing work, exemplifying UC Davis Cops Off Campus’s assertion to college students that “true community lies within the shared experiences, grievances, and struggles you and your peers face.”

Security is a long-term and structural subject. Criminalization and prosecution — which reply to violent acts after the actual fact — don’t generate security. Affordable housing, well being care and training create security. Nicely-funded social providers create security. Flourishing public areas create security. Davis’s high cost of living performed no small half within the current stabbings. The unhoused inhabitants in Davis, who didn’t have the means to shelter-in-place, were particularly vulnerable: Two of the stabbing victims were unhoused.

As individuals grieve, mourn and course of these occasions, I’m additionally hoping they may heed the decision of abolitionist feminisms that emphasize care, neighborhood accountability and mutual interdependence over carceral options. I’m weary of the opportunity of elevated policing and surveillance on campus, given the dangers this may occasionally pose, notably to Black and Brown college students. The reminiscence of the 2011 pepper spray incident — when campus police pepper sprayed college students seated on pavement throughout a tuition hike protest — continues to be recent, too.

The perpetrator could also be behind bars, however Davis isn’t abruptly “protected.” Was it ever? Security right here, as somewhere else throughout the nation, requires numerous structural change and a ton of inventive creativeness.

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