Four experts– including CR Oakland chapter member Rehana Lerandeau– discuss the options to prepare for crisis response—defund the police, reform police practices, or look to communities of color to protect themselves.
Rehana Lerandeau, a member of the Oakland, California, chapter of Critical Resistance, a national member-based grassroots organization which seeks the abolition of the “prison industrial complex,” cited the Danziger Bridge shooting as one among numerous instances of the “dismal response” by police to vulnerable communities during Katrina.
Lerandeau said she considered the NOPD’s violent treatment of Katrina victims paradigmatic of how police respond to crises. “When we actually are in a disaster, we see that they either exacerbate the issue and actually cause more harm, or they just don’t show up at all and we’re left to our own devices,” Larendeau said.
In Lerandeau’s mind, investing resources in policing as a means of disaster recovery is not effective, given a troubled history of police interaction with racial minorities during emergencies.
A native of Oakland, Lerandeau recalled an absence of support from law enforcement in heavily Latino areas after the 2019 wildfires. Instead, she found support in mutual aid networks made up of community members, which seemed to transcend racial and geographic lines.