This semester, several of my students did research papers on the Drug War and police strategies used to pursue it. In all these papers, one point got across loud and clear-- that policing and incarcerating Black people in numbers disproportionate to their involvement in criminal activity, benefited many people who weren't directly targeted, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs with good salaries and benefits at a time when unionized industrial jobs were leaving the country.
The Racialized Drug War, whatever the array of motives that gave rise to it, therefore ended up becoming a jobs program for working class whites- not only in urban areas and suburbs where expanded police forces were concentrated, but in rural areas where new prisons were built to hold those swept up by the drug raids
This helps explain the immense hostility among working class and middle class whites to the Black Lives Matter movement- a hostility that contributed significantly to Donald Trump's victory in the last Presidential election
Black Lives Matter not only put the work of individual police officers under greater scrutiny; it called for long term reforms which might, if implemented, significantly reduce the need for police and prisons.
Those reforms would not only threaten the interests of real estate developers gentrifying our cities and reduce revenue produced by arrests for non violent offenses; it could lead to significant job losses in communities where prisons are located or suburbs where police officers live.
Challenging racially targeted, militarized policing, unfortunately, threatens many many people's livelihoods and interests
The election of Donald Trump was no accident..