Operation: Doomsday
Byron Crawford

Addendum: The Crackdown Begins

Parkway North’s second most notable alumnus, Eric Greitens (Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

The 8 or 10 people who actually read “Operation: Doomsday” will be able to confirm that I called all of this shit.

I initially conceived of the article during the late Obama era, but I didn’t get around to writing it until after Trump was elected (but before he took office). Part of it is that I’m a lazy person, and I prefer to walk around feeling sorry for myself for a good six months after I come up with an idea, before bringing it to fruition. But part of it was that it took Trump being elected for me to fully understand what was going on.

When it was announced, in the last few months of the Obama administration, that the federal government was ending its use of private prisons, that Obama was granting pardons to a small handful of nonviolent drug offenders, as part of a very special episode of one of Vice’s almost completely unwatched HBO series, and whatever other reforms they implemented, it didn’t make sense to me.

I knew, as a student of history, that black people would eventually be sold back into slavery, but it wasn’t clear to me how scaling back the prison-industrial complex played into that. Would they really be letting very many people out of prison? Even if they made it more or less legal for white people to possess heroin and unauthorized prescription opiates, which they have in some places, they’d still have to lock black people up for the same crime, right?

And then Trump was elected, rendering all of those concerns moot. Before he even took office, there was talk of bringing back private prisons on a federal level and forcing prosecutors to seek maximum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. There was even talk of somehow making weed illegal again in places where it’s been legalized, which, I’m not even sure how they’d do that, since those are state laws.

I thought racist white people were supposed to believe in state’s rights? Ronald Reagan even once gave a speech, in the town where two Jewish civil rights activists were killed, in which he declared, “I believe in state’s rights.”

All that was left, at that point, was for the government to start rounding black people up, and possibly placing them in camps. But maybe not initially. First, they’d have to run out of space in the prisons, or there’d have to be some sort of crisis.

In those first few weeks, when Trump was taking meetings with black dignitaries like Kanye West and Steve Harvey, he announced that he might have to send the feds into Chicago, to get that body count down. They brought in some guy no one ever heard of, who’s supposedly a respected religious leader in the area. He sorta kinda resembles Brian Pumper, at least more so than Lloyd Banks.

So far, Trump has only sent a few ballistics experts to Chicago, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They’re there to figure out where the gunshots are coming from. But aren’t the gunshots coming from all over? Statistically, there must be bullets flying through the air constantly, in some parts of Chicago. I’m reminded of the time when Dick Cheney explained to a reporter that they’d reduced the potential location of WMDs in Iraq to either the north, south, east or west.

In my native St. Louis, there was a bullshit article in the paper a few weeks ago about how cops in the city were complaining that they might have to leave the force if they didn’t receive a substantial pay increase, i.e. like tens of thousands of dollars more per year — thus raising the question, what would they be doing if they weren’t cops? UPS can only absorb but so much of that exodus in non-holiday months, even with more and more people doing their shopping with Amazon Prime.

Cops in the city complained that cops in the county make way more money. Which is kinda bullshit, in that, aside from a few shitty parts directly adjacent to the city, e.g. Ferguson, there isn’t nearly as much crime in the county. What do cops in the county even do?

One time my van caught a flat during a pretty bad snowstorm. This was out in the county. As I was changing the tire, a cop car pulled up and out stepped an adorable 24-year-old white chick (apologies for any redundancy there). I was amazed that this girl could even be a cop, let alone ride around by herself.

She saw a sticker from the college I went to on the van, which of course used to belong to my mom. Come to find out, she went to the same school I went to, but years after I graduated, natch. Girls my own age are gross!

Being a woman, she wasn’t about to help me change the tire, but she gave me a free blanket and told me to give her a call if I needed anything. I thought about calling her, but not for automotive assistance. Maybe we could find a use for that blanket.

But I digress.

Some of the cops in the city were threatening to get jobs in the county, but the county isn’t any more equipped to handle the city’s overflow than UPS. Most likely, the most capable recruits, and the most attractive women, take jobs in the county, and everyone else has to go work in the city. Why else would you take a substantial pay cut to work a job that’s more dangerous?

The other day, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens announced that he’s pulling his own personal equivalent of “sending in the feds.” He’s ordering the state highway patrol to police the highways in the city, so the cops can focus on fighting crime in the neighborhoods.

The thing is, city cops never policed the highways, or at least not any time that I can recall. Because the city needs people to come spend money downtown, and because obviously the police have better things they could be doing, they avoid pulling people over for traffic offenses, both on the streets and on highways, if at all possible.

Therefore, siccing the highway patrol on people on highways in the city, probably mostly black people, will only result in way more people getting busted for bullshit crimes that don’t have anything to do with gun violence, like warrants for past traffic violations, which are epidemic here in the STL, or possession of small amounts of drugs that were clearly intended for personal use. The local jail population will probably skyrocket.

It was always legal to ride around with a gun in your car, provided it wasn’t sitting there on the seat next to you; but as of the beginning of the year, it’s legal to walk around with a gun on you, even if you don’t have a concealed-carry license. This seems like the perfect recipe for more Philando Castile-like incidents, in which a motorist is shot and killed for announcing he has a gun in the car. I’d suggest not mentioning the gun, but then they’ll think you’re lying to them.

A lot of people don’t know that Castile was from the STL. Hence, perhaps, his penchant for riding around with a gun in the car.

Not only is Governor Eric Greitens from St. Louis, but he went to the same high school I went to, which is the same school garbage-rap producer Metro Boomin went to. Arguably, that makes it the most hip-hop high school in the area, demographics notwithstanding.

Greitens, who must not have spent much time in the area after high school, doesn’t seem to have a very sophisticated understanding of how crime in the city works, despite having been a Rhodes Scholar. By bringing in the highway patrol, he hasn’t done anything at all to increase the number of cops in the neighborhoods. He has suggested that the police should focus on the specific locations where crime is most likely to take place, as if that hadn’t already occurred to them.

Anyone who watches the local evening news could probably tell you the specific locations where crime is most likely to occur, even if they’ve never set foot in North St. Louis. You hear the same street names and neighborhoods mentioned over and over again.

If they wanted to, the police could maintain a constant presence in places where violent crime is almost certain to occur, and probably risk getting shot themselves, but why would they want to do that? They’d much rather wait until after someone has been killed and get someone to snitch, if possible, or more likely, just allow the case to go unsolved.

At the press conference in which Greitens unveiled his brilliant plan to throw more people in jail without making the city any more safe, he could hardly be heard over shouts from people protesting the recently announced decrease in the minimum wage. That’s right, while other cities are raising their minimum wage to $15, we dropped ours from $10 to $7.70, i.e. damn near half what people in some other cities are making.

The minimum wage is $7.70 throughout the state of Missouri, including in the aforementioned St. Louis county, but people in the city voted to raise theirs to $10, which is something you can do, apparently. For people who had been making $7.70, this was a pay increase of something like $4,000 a year. Imagine if you were some broke hoodrat and you got a $4,000-a-year raise, and then some CAC took it away. Greitens better watch his back. Again, I don’t think he understands where he is.

Meanwhile, the mayor of St. Louis, a rich white lady who ran on a Nixon-style tough-on-crime platform, is trying to raise taxes, to raise $20 million to hire more cops. Not to give the police a raise, mind you, but to hire more of them, even though St. Louis already has more cops per capita than most other cities.

I doubt the police are any more pleased with this news than the girls who were screaming at Eric Greitens. They were having a hard enough time getting a raise when there weren’t as many of them. Hiring even more of them will hardly help matters. And having more cops on the street is similar to Greitens’ suggestion that they focus on high-crime areas, in that it’s aside from their actual concern. They could care less about decreasing the amount of crime in the city; they just want more money to do the same shit they’ve been doing.

Don’t we all.

Enter your email address above and click sign up, to subscribe to my email newsletter Life in a Shanty Town