Many within Black Lives Matter and those who identify as Libertarians, Anarchists, and Capitalists all agree on one thing: the police are overbearing, abusive, militarized, and need their powers curbed. Even if some cases that make the news are based on exaggerations or lies, there is a lot of truth to abusive police officers and even systematic corruption within police departments. The idea of community policing, privatized policing, and neighborhood-watch groups doing most of the police work is an idea that works in theory, and it was a theory I believed in. Until I saw that there is a petri dish in which we can view this experiment of privatized policing. The results made me, and will make many, turn up their noses in disgust.
Right before our very eyes we see how this experiment plays out: those who hold the most power, those who have the biggest guns, those with the most money, win. Any grievances you have regarding regular state-run police, amplify that with privatized police. It might not be so terrible if these private police were enforcing laws created by public officials: the ones we had a say by voting for. Instead many of these privatized police work on behest of religious groups, enforcing religious laws. The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” because it is important that you are able to practice your religion, and just as important that you cannot forcefully impose your religious beliefs on others through consolidating power in government.
While politically-correct (PC) culture has made it nigh impossible for officials and those in media to criticize actions of religious minority communities and leaders. While we stood silent, the Western World became full of small religious communities that gained power in local governments. Some towns have literally been “taken over.” Not “taken over” as in occupied by foreign adversaries, but “taken over” as in these religious communities voted in blocs and some took control of the local government. Which to a Libertarian, is fine. There are regional differences, ethnic differences, and so on in different parts of The United States. There might be a town that is mostly Puerto Rican, or a mostly Lithuanian town. We don’t and shouldn’t criticize control of local government from minorities in certain areas unless they violate the Constitutional rights of others. This article will not look at that issue. It will look at the issue of when governmental power is used to steer a religion and mostly when religions set up their own police, government and courts.
Islam is likely to become the world’s largest religion by 2070, based on growth and birthrates. It may not happen that quickly, but Islam is growing and thanks to a migrant and refugee crisis, it has spread into and planted seeds to grow within The United States and Europe. Many Muslims create communities and congregate in certain areas, as do other minorities, which is fine. Many assimilate into Western Society and have cultural roots and traditions in those communities they congregate in. Truly a beautiful sight to see in the melting pot that is the Western world. However, many fail to assimilate and bring the negatives of their previous countries along with them. The negative being Sharia Law.
Sharia Law is the law side of the Islamic tradition, in which the “rules” stated in the Quran are enforced. I’m sure you’ve seen our wonderful Stefanie MacWilliams talk about Sharia Law, but to sum it up, Sharia Law is not kind to women and allows for violent punishments (ie. hand cut off for theft). Many Muslims leave their native countries to escape the oppressive Sharia Law-based regimes, only to find Sharia courts have been set up in Western countries. Yes, kangaroo religious courts where the rights of the accused are not recognized are now in Western countries. At least 30 sharia councils are in the UK and are under inquiry from the government. Let’s not forget about the policing, as Sharia Patrols are roaming the streets of Europe.
They targeted people drinking alcohol, couples holding hands, women they considered to be dressed immodestly, and harassed men they perceived as being gay.
Let’s be clear, as of now these aren’t institutions that are endorsed or through the governments here in the West (they are via the government in many Islamic countries). These institutions operate separate from the official government, forming their own quasi-government. Many libertarians and liberals have been questioning why localisites and states are banning Sharia law and claiming xenophobia and ignorance is the reason. Seeing Sharia Councils and Sharia Patrols in western society may be a reason why many are banning Sharia Law.
Now while Sharia Law is spreading, another set of religious rule outside and inside of local government has come to New York and New Jersey: Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. This group is a hard-working and Torah-focused, if I may with the positive stereotypes. The doctrines of the community allow for a lot of integration into mainstream society. The clothes they wear may differ from most Americans, but they still work the same jobs and their kids play in the same parks as your kids. The only issue surrounding this community is the fact that religious courts and councils are established outside of a government that guarantees rights to all. There was a scandal in New Jersey where men would be coerced into giving their wives a religious divorce.
An Orthodox Jewish rabbi has been sentenced to 38 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to coerce a Jewish man to give his wife a religious divorce – referred to as a “get” – through threats of violence, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Monday.
Martin Wolmark, 57, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to a charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to commit extortion.
According to court documents, in August 2013 Wolmark spoke with a woman and her brother about obtaining a Jewish divorce from the woman’s recalcitrant husband. A get is a divorce document which, according to Jewish Law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce….
Unbeknownst to Wolmark, the woman and the brother were actually undercover FBI agents.
During the conversation, which was recorded by law enforcement, Wolmark informed the agents that there were two ways to go about obtaining a get from such a recalcitrant husband, one of which was to “nail him.” Wolmark also told the agents that coercing the husband into giving a get could be expensive. He then recommended that the agents speak with his colleague, Mendel Epstein, 70, of Lakewood, who he knew had previously used violence to coerce recalcitrant husbands into giving gets to their wives, according to court documents.
Violence was used to make someone submit to religious law. Now like Sharia Law, their religious law and their interpretation of regular law is enforced by private police and neighborhood watch groups. What’s the issue with these neighborhood watch groups? Well
The story goes on to tell of some less than stellar police work, but some justice found for the beaten Taj Patterson. This isn’t a rare case, citizens not involved in the community are attacked and harassed by wanna-be cops. These “safety patrols” have no accountability, no government oversight, and don’t have to answer to the public. The water becomes far muddier when these Safety Patrols begin to work along with the actual police. As in corruption. The Shorim attempted to bribe some in the NYPD to get firearms permits for their members. This scandal has connections to Mayor De Blasio and high-ranking NYPD officials. Imagine, unaccountable groups of rent-a-cops with illegally obtained firearms? Some New Jersey towns including Jackson and Toms River have banned the Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch, a similar private policing group run by and on behalf of the Orthodox Jewish Community. This group’s vehicles don red-and-blue lights that are regularly used for actual law enforcement, this is known to confuse many citizens.
Policing in America needs a reformation. Relationships between communities and police needs immediate healing and reaching out. But the answer is not to have those who can abuse just as much or even more than regular police with no accountability. Anarchists, Libertarians, Black Lives Matter: we tried your idea of policing. These are the results. And it will only get worse if we allow it to grow. Let’s stand together, hand in hand, against abusive policing from both private and state-run police.