End Police “Wellness Checks.” Now.

Will Hall, MA, DiplPW
69
4670

Are you a mental health worker or advocate?

Do you actually want to help dismantle police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S.?

Then take action, now, to mobilize people to demand a ban on police so-called “wellness checks” and police response to community health and mental health calls? Because police wellness checks kill. Black and brown people especially.

Countless Preventable Deaths

That’s right. Around the U.S. we have an obscene policy wherein if you see someone suicidal, or they have been not heard from recently, or they are yelling and in an extreme state of consciousness, you are to call the emergency phone line and the geniuses in your county government will send out the police. The police show up, sometimes with guns drawn and sometimes breaking down the door. And people who would not have died, die.

Let’s set aside for the moment all the times the police escalate violence when they show up for a “wellness check” (or “welfare check” or “safety check”) that results in injury and needless arrest. We know this happens. I’ve seen it. Someone is beaten and the police lie about what happened. Let’s just set that aside.

Let’s just talk about police killing people as a result of wellness checks.

Here are just a few examples found by searching with the terms “police death wellness welfare safety check.” Just a small fraction of the ones we know about because guess what, there is no national database on police killings or the races of those killed, no meaningful oversight or investigation, and we know the police cover up and lie about what happened all the time. Forgive me if I’ve left some people’s races off this list; news reports often don’t include that information:

  • In Albuquerque, New Mexico earlier this year, Valente Acosta-Bustillos was killed after his daughter was worried about him and police came for a so-called wellness check. Valente was Latino.
  • In Fort Worth, Texas in 2019, police murdered Atatiana Jefferson in her home after a neighbor called a non-emergency line concerned that her door was left open, requesting a wellness check. Atatiana was Black.
  • In Minneapolis in 2019, Travis Jordan was killed by two police officers at his home after his girlfriend called 911 because he was suicidal. Travis was Black.
  • In Gastonia, North Carolina in 2015, James Allen was murdered by a police officer after firefighters forced his door open during a wellness check “concerned he might need emergency assistance” because he wasn’t answering knocks to his door.
  • In Birmingham, Alabama in 2015, Douglas Harris was shot by police after officers went to his apartment for a wellness check because someone “heard he had dementia.”
  • In the Bronx borough of New York City in 2015, Denis Reyes needed medical attention so his mother called 911. But it was the police –in their role as “wellness” providers—who came instead, and he wound up dead. Denis was Latino.
  • In Brunswick County, North Carolina in 2014, police killed 18-year-old Keith Vidal after his family called for help because he was angry with his mother. Two police arrived and were talking with Vidal. Then a third showed up, threatened Vidal with a taser, and shot him to death when he tried to run away.
  • In White Plains, New York in 2011, Kenneth Chamberlain accidentally triggered his medic-alert bracelet. Police responded and he was dead after being hit by a taser, beanbag shotgun, and two handgun rounds. Kenneth was Black.
  • In Portland, Oregon in 2008, Jordan Case wandered into a neighbor’s apartment and apologized, explaining he was high on psychedelic mushrooms. The neighbor called for help, but again it was the police who responded to this wellness call instead. They ran Case down and shot him in the back of the head.

Again, just a few examples from a quick search, from public media accounts—when we know there are many, many more murders we don’t hear about.

But wait, these people probably died accidentally, so why do I use the word “murder?” Because our society planned, in a pre-meditated way, to send armed officers to these situations as a matter of policy, knowing full well there would be a serious risk of police provoking and/or escalating the situation. Police and the governments that fund them know that historically, “wellness check” policies and sending the police as first responders when people call for help consistently result in some people dying who did not need to die. To call these deaths “accidental” just defies reason. These people were murdered by the systemic violence of so-called wellness /safety checks by police, and police being dispatched to respond to calls for help when they shouldn’t be sent in the first place.

Let’s be clear. The police have no role to play in responding to mental health crises. None. The idea that a person in emotional crisis needs a person in a uniform carrying a gun, club, handcuffs, taser, and pepper spray—someone who is trained to kill— to show up to “help” them is absolutely insane. Orwellian. Madness.

Police provoke fear and things quickly escalate to violence. Then they lie about it and cover it up. And we’re going to make them emotional-crisis first responders?

The police have no role to play in mental health care, period. None. They don’t need to be trained to respond to mental health calls better, they don’t need more resources to respond to mental health calls better, they don’t need more funding to respond to mental health calls better, and they don’t need better policies around mental health calls.

Police must stop responding to any mental health calls, ever.

Where We’re at Now

Now is the time to get clear about this, because now is the time we are getting clear about the police in society.

In case you have become confused about the protests against police violence around the U.S. and world after the death of George Floyd, let’s just go over what we know:

Police in Minneapolis, Minnesota who knew they were being filmed tortured George Floyd, a Black man, to death for no reason while other officers stood around watching. The police officers’ bosses did nothing. The police autopsy lied about it to make the murder seem like it wasn’t a murder. When the video was shared and the entire U.S. erupted in the most serious protests since the Civil Rights Movement era, it was the protests—and only protests, not politicians—that finally forced Minneapolis to take action against the officers.

But the anti-police brutality protests around the country were met by more police violence—also seen on video on the Internet and TV news. Police are shown again and again to inflict brutality, to provoke peaceful protests into riots, to use rubber bullets, tear gas, tasers, clubs, and physical assault without reason or justification —and then when they were caught on video, to brazenly lie about it or make flimsy excuses. People around the U.S. and world, in perhaps the most dramatically clear and undeniable way in world history, now have the shocking truth about the real nature of the police staring us in the face. This is a truth Black people have been trying to get Whites to face for decades.

It became clear immediately and obviously that the U.S. police —openly and on video —murdered George Floyd, protected his killers, lied about it, and then inflicted violence and provocation on peaceful protestors because they do this all the time. It was plain to see that for police, all this was just business as usual, because they have been doing it for many decades and getting away with it. It is normal for U.S. police to murder people, lie about it, and get away with it. What is new here is that maybe for the first time, the evidence is so undeniably obvious, and the brutality towards protestors so widespread, that people are waking up to the horrifying fact of systemic police violence and racism.

So that’s where we are at.

We remember the Ferguson protests and the promises of reforms under a Black president. Those promises of reforms did nothing, and the police—who are murdering protestors in growing numbers—know they can continue to get away with their violence even after Ferguson.

So, finally, what is happening now is that people are realizing two things:

First, we have to have protests. Not marches —which have done nothing and will do nothing. We need protests in the streets. Only plunging the country into an uprising has made any change happen in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

Second, reforms do nothing. The only way to stop police from murdering people and getting away with it is to stop the police. We need to defund police, not reform them. We need to get police off the streets, and we need alternatives to policing. Not reformed, better, less brutal police. Not going to happen. Finally, people are actually demanding a real change that will solve the problem: Defund the police.

Minneapolis and Los Angeles are already taking steps in the direction of cutting police budgets and shifting to police alternatives. Police unions that stand in the way of change—full of white supremacists and defending police violence (and working hand in hand with mental health agencies around the country—are now being challenged.

Now, at this point you may ask, But what will we do about crime without police? The answer, as many people have been discussing for decades (and Alex Vitale writes in his free e-book The End of Policing), is that we fund community-controlled prevention and response programs, we end mass incarceration, we end the war on drugs, and we end immigration detention. Near where I live, Richmond, California reduced its murder rate with such community programs, and there are many, many examples of other effective ways to do it. Defunding the police and building community responses is real, it can work, and it is available to us.

What You Must Do

Here is where the mental health organizations and advocates come in.

Now is the time for all of us to join our voices to demand change. Stop talking in vague terms. Let’s get specific. Defund the police. Because if you ask us, we should know already what works. We have the programs, we have the ideas, we have the skills, and we have the tools. We have been doing this work already – providing non-police alternatives to mental health crises. It’s called the “recovery movement,” it’s called the mad movement, it’s been the rallying cry of psychiatric survivors since Judi Chamberlin wrote On Our Own. Now is the time for us to demand that police be replaced—replaced, not added onto— with real community mental health responses.

Clearly, as people are taking to the streets, all this means that your organization needs, right now, to go on record calling for defunding the police. You need personally to go on record calling for defunding the police. Defund and replace with funding for community organizations that provide real alternatives to the police.

And we can start that process by ending so-called police wellness checks (“welfare checks,” “safety checks”).

And if you think it’s just the police, it’s not. This violence is woven into the entire mental health system wherever it relies on police. If you are a therapist or social worker, right now, go to your email auto-signature at the bottom of every email you send out, and where you wrote “If this is an emergency, call 911,” delete it. Go right now to your voicemail greeting that says, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911.” Delete it, too.

You are sending police to beat and kill people with these messages.

If you want to dismantle systemic racism and use your White privilege for change, stop reinforcing police mental-health response in every email and voice message you send out. (And stop listening to your lawyers, who tell you that you have to do this to protect yourself. From what are you protecting yourself – compared with the people who could get assaulted or murdered by police when they call 911 because you told them to?)

Stop fooling yourself. If you are a mental health professional, if you work for a mental health organization, then you and your organization need, right now, to come out for a ban on police so-called wellness or safety checks.

We need to end police wellness checks now. Police have no role to play in mental health. They kill people who did not need to die. Black and brown people especially. And if you work as part of this system, or represent mental health as an advocate, and you don’t make a clear line against sending police to deal with mental health crises, then, yes, you are part of systemic violence and you are helping to get people murdered.

Of course, we need to send some help sometimes when we are worried about people. This is not a false choice between sending police and doing nothing. If you think someone needs a “wellness check,” then OK, send someone other than the police! Send community members. Send clergy. Send neighbors. Send people who have been through emotional crises ourselves — “peer counselors” and workers. Send therapists. Send mediators. Send domestic-violence advocates. Send trained community-response workers with conflict-resolution skills. Yes, call the local county hotline; yes, have a dispatcher handle it; yes, have it be community-funded, with paid people ready to be sent out to help.

Just don’t send police. Ever.

Another thing you need to do: Make a stand to end police wellness checks. Make that phone call, post on social media, start a petition and share it, write an open letter to your boss, email your friends and co-workers, write to the media, meet with your local politician and congressperson. Right now. Now, when we have this unprecedented momentum for change in the U.S. and the world. Because George Floyd was murdered on camera and people are protesting.

Calls for mental health advocates and organizations to support the Movement for Black Lives may not have gained much support, and mental health advocates have been mostly silent on ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration. Maybe the time has come for that, too. Maybe mental health advocates can wake up to making systemic change in a brutally capitalist and authoritarian society that is driving people crazy every day. Maybe now is the time.

But can we at least join together at this crucial time to do the most obvious thing on police violence? Can we at least do the thing that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are demand in the streets, right now?

Can we at least join together in a united voice as the mental-health advocacy community, to call for an end to police so-called “wellness checks?” For an end to police responding to community health and mental health calls?

Can we at least be part of the movement to defund the police? Can we join calls to stop putting money and resources into police responding to mental health crises? Can we join the movement to instead put resources into community-controlled alternatives?

Right now.

 

Thanks to Faith Rhyne for helping to inspire this essay.

 

69 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Will.
    Police have no business to do death checks. That is what many “wellness checks” “became”.
    Always a good reason they say.
    A woman being hysterical. A woman with a knife. She attacked me (yet no wounds)

    they all seem to have “rights”, but the vulnerable in distress end up dead, mostly the young.
    Many on Psych drugs, the other “wellness service”.

    It’s a scary thought to have “mental health services” to do “wellness checks”. Especially in Canada. There are no “advocates” in Canada. They are hired by the same people that employ shrinks.

    Every country should have a completely different system apart from ANY “mental illness” services. The fact is, many people in distress have no family or the family has no clue what to do and the first thing that comes to mind for them is 911.
    Every country should have a completely different system apart from ANY “mental illness” services. It cannot be done because psychiatry wants the control. They are the depot center for what the cop dragged in.

    Guaranteed a proposal in Canada for any “peer systems” to send out crisis units are ONLY for ultimately being shipped to psych. It could easily be done, the funds could easily be directed to people with lived experience. It can never happen in Canada.

    I have seen families of a dead person be blamed for calling 911. People say, what did you expect if your son was holding a knife. It is beyond sad.

  2. I do believe this is the most radical article I’ve ever read on this website and I heartily approve. It comes very close to my own stance that we need to completely abolish the Carceral State including police, prisons, and psychiatry. Very well written, Will! Thank you!

    I used to joke that my donations were going to pay for Moderator Steve. Please feel free to earmark my contributions for more pieces like this!

  3. The threat of police presence is more than enough “mental health assistance” to make anyone go crazy.

    Thank you for this firm call to simple, honest, direct action and a concise list of exactly where white people & mental health professionals can start doing the minimum. Will do.

  4. I had a police officer come to a group I ran as a guest speaker. He ended up interviewing us instead. He had deep concerns about police doing the wellness checks and crisis calls because they were trained to attack anything that looks like aggression with actual aggression. He wanted to find a better way. I arranged a meeting at his request between Survivors, Community Mental Health, Victim Services, Police and Medical. It was hijacked by the head of Mental Health. He shared our histories as reasons we shouldn’t be heard. I wish I had of been more educated, or rich, or famous. Or not from Canada. I wasn’t even off meds yet. I didn’t know how, only that I must. Just stumbling forward. Afterward the person helping me was cut from services at Mental Health cold turkey. The police officer never spoke with us again. It was the kind of silence that tells you there was a memo you missed because it was about you. 
     
    I am relieved to read a piece that pushes the professionals and advocates to act instead of guilting the already vulnerable, alone, and in danger into rising up. I speak up and someone calls for a wellness check. That’s the end of it. It is time for colleagues to confront colleagues. Power against power. You guys fight it out. That way when we do rise up it isn’t such a blood bath.  

  5. Here’s an article, listing how many Native Americans are killed by the police, and most of the cases involve “wellness checks”

    https://inthesetimes.com/features/native_american_police_killings_native_lives_matter.html

    And sadly, there’s absolutely no talk about how treatment with psychiatric drugs cause, after an initial period where “symptoms” are suppressed, more relapsing, more disability, loss of life expectancy, and than I think one can add paranoia against someone expressing that such treatment doesn’t work, with then the erroneous idea as if more of it is needed and should be forced, or we’re all in danger.

  6. Thank you for this article and bringing the concept of defund the police into psychiatric survivor consciousness here on MiA.

    There’s an opinion piece on MindFreedom written by psychiatric survivor Pat Risser in November 2008. The article is called “Psychiatric Survivor Inside A Police Training Conference.”

    https://mindfreedom.org/kb/police-mental-health/

    The article chronicles Risser’s experience in this police training conference, but because the conference was overwhelming narrated by NAMI and the medical model, Risser’s points were lost in the overall messaging of drugs and forced treatment. He writes:

    Some attendees seemed almost puzzled because I wasn’t typical medical model. I spoke of discrimination and prejudice. I spoke of how the system oppresses mental patients and teaches them learned dependency. A few seemed to understand.

    Then I went out and interacted with others at the rest of the conference and I got more and more scared.

    The conference left Risser with a message that we all need to hear:

    I recalled another fanatic group in the 1930’s and 1940’s who used the muscle of a heavily armed law enforcement branch to impose their will. I started to “flashback” to scenes of goose-stepping authorities imposing oppression on those they deemed different and not “pure” – people sort of like those of us who have been labeled as having a brain disease caused by an impure mind due to a chemical imbalance.

    I watched the disingenuous smiles of the NAMI folks and I realized that I’d come face to face with the enemy. Those of us who are part of the movement for human rights in opposition to psychiatric oppression need to beware because, unbeknownst to most of us, NAMI is literally building an paramilitary army out of law enforcement that will be the enFORCEment arm of involuntary treatment.

    • Yes. NAMI is behind the police brutality toward the “mentally ill.”

      Doesn’t require much brain power to see how convincing armed enforcers that others are monsters will lead to more shootings and brutality of these people. But NAMI wants to make the world’s largest omelet and are more than happy to break countless numbers of eggs to achieve this end.

      I avoid all things “mental health” now. If I know someone works for “mental health” I will cross over to the other side of the street to avoid them if I can. They think they’re kind when they lock you up and destroy you with drugs, shocks and other random brain damage.

      They deny the humanity of their “compassion” objects. Zero empathy because of this denial. All our suffering is written off as fake just like we’re “fake people” in their eyes–without real thoughts or feelings. Only walking brain diseases.

      Delusional and dangerous. Lacking insight into their own motivations.

  7. Will,
    People in distress are more likely to die than someone that is committing a crime. And even if they don’t get shot, they wind up handcuffed and dehumanized in a psych jail, all for their own “mental health”.

    I have seen cops being so combative, baiting people and the famous move by cops is this: “STOP RESISTING”

    They yell it over and over again while wrestling a person on the ground, punching with low blows. The person is moving their arms trying to do what they say plus protecting their head, so the “STOP RESISTING” is supposed to make it appear as if the victim is in fact resisting.

    I want to be protected from criminals, but do I want that at the expense of a vulnerable person being shot?

    Hear Hear to protestests.

  8. Thanks Will and Faith,

    As usual this is a very well written Article.

    I remember (reading) from your own experience Will, that you were incarcerated as a ‘seriously unwell’ person until the insurance money ran out, and then you were “released”.

  9. Sadly psychiatrists are already planning on setting up their own police. My guess is if you end the current police system, “mental health” will take over completely as far as those already labeled are concerned. 🙁

    Defund psychiatry. Its propaganda is behind police hatred and fear of the “mentally ill.”

    • Sadly psychiatrists are already planning on setting up their own police. My guess is if you end the current police system, “mental health” will take over completely as far as those already labeled are concerned.

      I fear you’re right, Rachel. It seems the framework is already there.

      And sadly, too many people would turn themselves in. The later versions of the DSM were written so that ordinary people would start to self-label. Many already do.

    • Of course it is propaganda. Not sure if covertly, but I have noticed how quiet one segment of the system has been.
      But then, people really don’t like winding up dead or damaged, nor defined. I think they might have to put something in the water to maintain control. Shh, don’t repeat this.

  10. This article shows a distinct lack of understanding of the way that these ‘welfare checks’ are used to enable human rights violations by mental health services.

    Neither police or mental health services are going to give ground with their loophole that enables the use of torture.

    I have explained what was done to me over a long period of time now. The documents I have show a use of euphemisms to conceal what is known to be methods of torture. Any competent mental health worker would recognise the ‘code’.

    “chemically restrain” = ‘spike’ with benzos”.

    Knife for self protection = plant items for police to lawfully detain. Any old knife will do.

    “welfare check by police” = induce “acute stress reaction” in target and obtain “lawful sanction” to conceal the use of known torture methods [see the two DO NOTS of acute stress reaction]. I assume the reason these methods can not be employed in Gunantanamo is precisely because it is known to constitute torture. The physical assault (‘spiking’) is what takes this method into the arena of ‘hard torture’. Though by concealing the evidence of this offence one can use any claim by the victim as evidence of their mental illness, claims that one has been ‘spked’ being the most common delusion treated by psychiatry. Clever when you think about it, drug someone for speaking the truth.

    Yes your correct about police aggriavating the situation, but thats the very reason a Community Nurse calls them to a scene, they are his personal thugs used to ‘rough up’ his potential meal ticket, I mean ‘client’. How else would a filthy ‘verballer’ get someone who would exercise their right to silence to speak? A few belts to the leg with a stick or pepper spray in the eyes from a few inches away, they usually talk.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUOoRiI8HVU

    Ready to talk to Doctor now? “Do you like that?” Police filming on their own cameras the abuses, for what reason? Like the photos from Abu Ghraib?

    Conceal evidence of the ‘spiking’. ‘verbal’ anything the target says to create the ‘reasonable grounds’ for referral to a psychiatrist, and you can have them dribbling in a cell within the hour due to a need to ensure they don’t get angry and retaliate for being kidnapped. No National Standard as to what constitutes a “chemical restraint” so you can literally take them to within an inch of their life (or further if you have the stomach for it).

    And you want to take the money off these people who have found means to torture, maim and kill and with a little ‘trick cycling’ call it medicine?

    Good luck with that.

    Yes, police are liars, but they have nothing on the ‘verballing’ skills of most mental health workers. There are the Courts holding police lying in check. What stops a mental health worker from filling out fraudulent Forms? Certainly not our Chief Psychiatrist who writes that the Community Nurse has the ability to time travel to make “observations” and can read minds. This of course means he would never ‘suspect on reasonable grounds’ that a citizen was actually kidnapped rather than that eupemism he prefers of ‘referred’. Conspire to stupefy and commit an indictable offence namely kidnapping becomes referral and detention if you tamper with the documented proof you provide to the Mental Health Law Centre. And not a soul would dare stand up for the reasons given above, in a State where you can be snatched out of your bed by police and force drugged within the hour for complaining about their ‘service’,
    or speaking the truth.

    • What I can say is that the people who planned to obtain a police referral to mental health services in my instance (my ‘wife’ and a private clinic psychologist) discussed the possibility of police shooting me as a result of the need to plant a knife on me to make everything appear lawful. Due diligence I believe this is called. And of course as a result of the ‘prepared one earlier’ plan, police would have been within their rights given I was in posession of a knife. They weren’t aware it was a ‘plant’, or ‘throw down’. So maybe the deaths mentioned above have more to them than just police notching their guns? Were there ‘set ups’ among them too? Because I’ve been surprised by the number of people aware of the methods I speak of. Even websites dicussing how to ‘set up a loved one for mental health services’ appearing on the internet. And the $200 for the psychologists ‘councelling’ good value if your on the right side of the equation. Unfortunately that wasn’t me but ……. next time maybe.

      But could we blame the police if they had shot me? (and let me add, that this is possibly a preferred option when one considers the ‘career’ of mental patient) I mean these people plotting and scheming to obtain or procure their services when they didn’t actually have the right to (as a result of the ‘protections’ of the Mental Health Act, which are ignored for convenience by State authorities. Dereliction of duty by the Minister goes a long way to enabling these human rights abuses). Though i’m sure their intentions were good (much like the nite club rapist, in their mind it’s simply a matter of coercing until they realise how good it is for them. And well, with the ability to ‘spike’ yoir ‘clients’ then informed consent is neither here nor there). I did after all refuse to pay money to a psychologist I obviously didn’t need to speak to. The psychiatrist who interrogated me recognising that my decision to leave a situation where I was being repeatedly assaulted might not constitute a mental illness. See, told you I was right. Shame I, and my family, had to be fuking destroyed for it

      And what I did notice was the ‘just doing my job’ attitude of police. This was bread and butter for them. The Community Nurse needs someone bashed into talking, we can arrange that. Gives the young guys some practice at ‘take downs’ and obviously the person concerned is of little to no value, we know that because a doctor has taken the time to label them.

      And well, if I only had the time to explain how police reacted to me having the documented proof of the ‘set up’. I can only begin to imagine the problems faced by someone who has been wrongly convicted of aserious offence, when police actively engage with criminals to conceal evidence of those offences. Total disregard for the law, by refusing to take documented proof of serious offences, threats and intimidation of witnesses, and even a Member of Parliament putting his head in his hands and exclaiming “I have to work with police” (I assume even when he knows they are acting as criminals).

      When you hire thugs to do your dirty work, they usually figure out that the reason you hired them is because your afraid. They will of course then learn fairly quickly to exploit that fear, and increase their share of the ‘takings’. This is just human nature.

      I’ve also heard it said that the best predictor of future behvaious is the past (history). Theres a long list of black people who have been killed by police, and nothing has changed. And nothing is going to change this time either. Rinse, lather and then repeat. I say this as someone who has been tortured and kidnapped, and then had my community turn their backs on me even when I could prove that.

      Advocates? No, I think the term is Hypocrites.

      “Police in Minneapolis, Minnesota who knew they were being filmed tortured George Floyd, a Black man, to death for no reason while other officers stood around watching.”

      • Oh there was a reason.

        1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

        The question is, did they have “lawful sanction” to do this, and if the answer is yes, then it does not constitute torture. Hence the reason to plant a knife on someone before you torture them as a police officer. Exploit the loophole, and tamper with the evidence. And of course in my country access to legal representation can be denied if the criminals are also public officers. The corruption watchdog is useful in this regard.

        As one would expect in a National Socialist totalitarian State there needs to be a mechanism to ensure that the interests of the State, and NOT the individual is served. We speak of valuing a rule of law, but need a method to subvert that rule of law. In some ways its the double think spoken of by Eric Blair. We watch as Mr Floyd is being choked, and yet would accept that his calls of “I can’t breathe” was as a result of COVID if the State wishes to impose that reality on us. Sure we might break a bit of crockery, but nothing is going to change. I say this from experience as someone who had fraudulent documents provided to my lawyers manufacturing a ‘preferred truth’, that everyone in my community has decided they will go along with. They look, realise the truth, and then wish they hadn’t looked. We are torturing citizens and unintentionally negatively outcoming them. Challenge the authorities? I think not.

        Deng once said “conceal your strengths, and bide your time”. This is what the authorities will do in this situation. Leaders will be identified and when the time is right……..they will be treated for their mental illness. The ‘strength’ being the ability to use the mechanism of the State to identify ‘dissenters’ and remove their human and civil rights, not necessarily beat them into submission and make martyrs of them. How many fingers do you see Winston?

  11. There are two inter related points I would like to make and then I will say no more.

    1. There has been marches in support of Mr Floyd and BLM here in my State. Many of those people have what is called a COVIDsafe app on their phones. They can and are being tracked with their consent. Could that information be used to charge them with offences under the Emergency Provisions currently in place?

    That would be a breach of the Privacy Act and agreement that was made when consent was given right? So you find yourself charged, what then? Get a lawyer? When they say your privacy is protected what they don’t tell you is that there has never been a sucessful conviction of ANYONE who breached your right to privacy. You only assume that because the protections are there that your protected, your not. The acquiescence in failing to bring action when a breach is known about and identified is used, and you only find out when it’s too late. Awww ya got me. And here was me thinking that my personal medical records couldn’t be distributed without my consent. Especially given that they were provided in such a way as to seriously mislead people into false beliefs about me. I call it fraud and slander, the Clinical Director in his authorisation of the documents to be sent to lawyers calls it “editing”. This despite legislation that lawyers are to be provided unredacted documents to protect the human rights of “patients”. Problem if they are given evidence/proof of torture and kidnappings by said mental health workers though right?

    2. There is an offence in our Criminal Code s.336 Procuring the Apprehension or detention of a person not suffering from a Mental Illness, penalty three years prison. This crime was included in the code to stop mental health workers using police to do kidnappings and later claim they received a referral from police. So in my situtaion I can prove I did not have a mental illness, and was ‘procured’ by ‘spiking’ me and then planting items for police to create the appearance of lawfulness.

    Problem is that this section of the Criminal Code has NEVER been used. Why would that be? Because you have to ask the people who kidnapped you to enforce the law? Because the intention of passing the legislation was to deceive people into the false belief they were protected from rogue mental health professionals who may simply wish to snatch anyone from their home for no other reason that a doctor wants them delivered to a hospital for ‘treatment’? Which coincidentally can be done without their consent now they have been brought under the provisions of the Mental Health Act?

    The laws are fairly well constructed, it is providing the people who have a duty to ensure accountability with the means to be derelict in their duty that the problem lies. A Chief Psychiatrist who doesn’t know what a burden of proof is (suspect on reasonable grounds) can hardly provide “expert legal advice” to the Minister. Once you change suspect on reasonable grounds to suspect on grounds we believe to be reasonable then the mandatory reporting section of the watchdog legislation is useless, you simply never suspect and therefore never report suspected misconduct. If however the ‘criteria’ for reporting contained in the Act are met, then not reporting becomes misconduct and you go to prison. Once again though, it’s like reporting acts of torture by police to police, they simply drop you at an Emergency Dept for an unintended negative outcome (hotshot) round here.

    Sure, lets see that the ‘scapegoat’ officer is convicted and gets to share some time with people he was responsible for putting away (coz it’s all about breakin off sausage, don’t ya feel sorry for the poor little ……. See Cypress Hill, Pigs). But lets not forget that there are others further up the food chain enabling these abuses, and concealing their involvement in that vile conduct. I’ve personally witnessed them washing the ‘blood from their hands’.

    I can’t help but think about why the French revolution suceeded, open the cages and arm the inmates.

  12. “Let’s be clear. The police have no role to play in responding to mental health crises. None. The idea that a person in emotional crisis needs a person in a uniform carrying a gun, club, handcuffs, taser, and pepper spray—someone who is trained to kill— to show up to “help” them is absolutely insane. Orwellian. Madness.”

    The sane are insane.

  13. Will

    Thank you for this great blog.

    “Defund” and “Dismantle” the police are definitely important demands that could lead to some positive changes in the U.S. that will ultimately save innocent lives.

    HOWEVER, we must clearly recognize that we live in a class based capitalist society, and even significant reforms made to policing in American will not end all forms of violence to working class and dispossessed people in this country and around the world.

    Capitalism (by its very nature) leads to the violence of poverty, climate destruction, sexism ,racism, and inter imperialist type wars. These facts of political life will also ultimately lead oppressed people to confront the ruling classes enforcement of such and oppressive “order” of life in our society. Some sort of police force or military force in society BY NECESSITY will inevitably be sent out to brutally suppress uprisings against this oppressive “order” of things.

    So to Will and others, when we raise demands such as “Defund” or Dismantle” the police, we must also link these struggles to the need for humanity to rid itself of a profit based capitalist system.

    Richard

  14. Will, thank you for this extremely important article!

    I have been terrified by discussion by media people and politicians who think it’s a good solution to replace police with “mental health professionals,” given the oppressive and even violent ways that the latter have treated people who are suffering. And Will, I agree that NONPATHOLOGIZING, NONCOERCIVE approaches are needed, but how do you think, in a practical way, anything can be done to make sure that groups calling themselves “mental health advocates” and such but that are Big Pharma-funded and focus on labeling don’t increase their access to and power over those who are suffering? What steps can be taken to make sure that the compassionate groups and individuals are the ones who are called when someone is frightened and/or menacing?

    • “I have been terrified by discussion by media people and politicians who think it’s a good solution to replace police with “mental health professionals,” given the oppressive and even violent ways that the latter have treated people who are suffering.”

      Don’t ever visit my State then Ms Caplan. When the UN stated that our Mental Health Laws were a violation of human rights and that the treatments may constitute torture, our politicians took the opportunity to invalidate that statement by rewriting our MH Laws and effectively ‘marrying’ mental health services and police. We now have a ‘mental health professional’ stationed at every single police station in the State. Which means that police can now subject citizens to acts of torture and then hand them over to mental health to be labelled, drugged and ‘processed’. And all of this can occur before you even get to speak to a psychiatrist, so we can’t even blame them.

      I can see why they were trying to shift the responsibility for drug issues to mental health (its what they do best, cause drug issues), though to do so they needed to ignore the fact that these abuses could occur. The presumtion of ‘good faith’ will, I have no doubt, result in some ‘they did WHAT?’ moments some time down the track.

      The ability to drug suspects without their knowedge before interrogations a definite advantage for the police to extract valuable information (chemical restraints all part of the service due to no National Standards). Combined with the ability to lie and the use of ‘coercive measures’ against suspects I do hope we will jnot be hearing that police are lacking the powers they need to resolve crime in our community any time soon.

      This and our “wild” (or decentralised) Euthanaisia Act should give all the powers required for cleaning up our streets, and create the illusion that it is medicine.

      I did write and ask our Minister for Health about how the ‘protections’ of his Act could possibly work given that hospitals are distributing frauduent documents to conceal their criminal conduct, and that the people who have a duty to protect the community are derelict in their duty, though he considers anyone who doesn’t suit his false narrative mentally ill and in need of treatment. Shame he doesn’t understand what due dilligence before making such slanderous statements is, he might check the proof of what im saying. How powerful he must feel signing off on acts of torture and unintended negative outcomes.

      What we now have is a system where police simply hand any and all evidence of their corruption over to mental health services for silencing (it really is very easy). I personally witnessed this when I presented them with the documented proof that I was ‘spiked’ with benzos and then tortured and kidnapped under the guise of the provisions of the Mental Health Act. Don’t like that truth so they call mental health services and request that I be picked up for ‘treatment’ for my “hallucinations”. Though are they really hallucinations when the documents prove I was ‘spiked’? Inconvenient truths handed off for forced drugging is not a good look. Though it is highly effective.

  15. I am so deeply proud of Will Hall. Normally, I’d write paragraphs in response. But I’m almost speechless now. As someone who has been twice the victim of police physical violence, once due to an error of the police (mistaking me for someone else simply because we shared the same first name) and another time when, after my mother died, a psychiatrist-friend called the police for a “wellness check” on me, I am too emotional now to coherently outline my own work to realize several of Hall’s calls to action. But I couldn’t agree with him more: we don’t need alternative interventions as ADJUNCTS to police responses to community mental health crises. We need a wholly different model. And, as Hall points out, this is only one area of systemic violence and bigotry we need to expunge. Of course, with the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of qualified immunity, we have an uphill battle on our hands.

    Thanks for taking such a brave, bold stand, Will Hall. I wish I could give you a hug.

    • “Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, government officials performing discretionary functions are immune from suit unless the plaintiff shows the official violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.””

      And with the ability to have police assist in retrieving documented proof of such violations and then turn a blind eye while mental health services have a ‘qualified immunity’ unintended negative outcome?

      I mean tell me that the Community Nurse didn’t know that ‘spiking’ someone with benzodiazepines was a criminal offence? That the training he received in not “procuring the apprehension or detenition of a person not suffering from a mental illness, penalty 3 years prison” didn’t apply to him?

      I have clearly demonstrated the violations, and what do police do? Fail to perform their duty while the hospital ‘fuking destroys’ the victim. And of course when the Minister ‘intervenes’ and has legal representatives assist in concealment of the use of torture and kidnapping, and is derelict in her duty to report under mandatory legislation, can we ignore the MISCONDUCT?

      We can do anything with fraud and uttering, especially when the legal fraternity is so corrupted that they side with the criminals rather than their ‘clients’.

      This issue of taking what one knows to be false and using it for defence is as vile as the original criminal conduct. Police refuse to act despite the proof that I was not anyones “patient”, though they continue to utter that falsehood to maintain their concealment of the use of known torture methods. They take qualified immunity to mean total immunity, and in some repects they’re right to. Who does one turn to when the State is the criminals? When they are killing anyone who makes a valid complaint regarding the use of torture? Certainly not police who simply make referral to mental health services for ‘treatment’ with a strong correlation to negative outcomes.

  16. Thanks, Will. I agree that this is a moment for solidarity. Human rights, includes re-imagining resourcing communities, not the current structured inequality and violence. We must listen to activists in BLM without assuming that white psych survivor vision for de-funding police and investing in communities matches the visions of black survivors of systemic racism. Abuse of power and corruption are the space we all occupy, and it takes a toll differently according to where we’re located, what we look like, what we’ve experienced and learned.

    The 1% are skilled in marketing and spinning messages that infiltrate legislation and “non-profit” organizations to easily co-opt vigilant movements. Redistributing power and opportunities requires listening without assuming we know what’s “best.” Noel Hunter’s blog also resonates with me and speaks clearly to our current opportunity for moving towards justice and away from the violence of a carceral state.

    Current alternatives to incarceration, whether probation, parole, or involuntary “treatment” maintain violent systems that perpetuate harm. Investing in non-police coercive workers can easily look like non-uniformed drug delivery agents of control, much as ACT teams, behavioral health and drug courts maintain institutional control outside walls yet still segregated from full participation in the community and informed choices.

    The language of “wellness checks” originates in messages from folks who hold concern for checking and controlling, not those of us who might be “checked.” What choices look like will emerge if we listen, reflect, and amplify without assuming we know. It is time to participate in co-constructing.

  17. Yes, I do realise that. In fact, if you look carefully at the actual function of the various Mental Health Acts, there raison detre is precisely that, to provide “lawful sanction” to perform what would otherwise be called torture against people who now have the status of “patient”.

    The methods used at Guantanamo Bay were ‘enhanced coercive’ and did not constitute torture. This is crucial in understanding what is and isn’t being permitted by our respective governments. Mock executions and threats of pack rape are coercive, or may constitute ‘soft torture’ at best.
    If Tyrannies torture by making it legal, then I live in a tyranny. Our Mental Health Act, combined with ‘police welfare checks’ enables the use of known ‘hard torture’ methods, as I believe I have shown for some time now.

    Look away though, blowing the whistle in a tyranny usually has some negative outcomes that are without the ability to prove intent dealt with in ways that are considered unintentional.

    If one makes torture legal, is it then torture? The loophole is in the “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction”. In my State all that needs to be done is to provide police with the lawful sanction (eg plant a knife and cannabis and the target is now in breach of s 68 e of the Criminal Code, and lawful sanction applies). They can now place their knee on your neck and apply pressure to stop you resisting arrest, and when you become unconscious can apply pressure to stop you from passively resisting arrest.

    Combine this with the ability of a Community Nurse to administer drugs without the knowledge of the target, and then hand their ‘patient’ back to police for interrogation? Who then hand them back once they have the information/confession they require so that the target gets treated for the mental illness they are about to get diagnosed with by a real doctor, who will also write a prescription for the ‘spiking’.

    And all this can be concealed with fraudulent documents sent to the lawyer of the target. (though I’m certain they never thought I was going to figure out that they did that. The concealment of such serious offences for the time being being overlooked by our police who find dereliction of duty highly effective).

    What has interested me has been that my government has been open in criticizing other third world governments for the exact same conduct they are engaging in here. By ensuring no right to remedy and that the authorities do cover ups while doctor has an unintended negative outcome we van appear to be meeting our obligations we ratified under International Law. Dead men tell no tales, and even our Attorney General can’t tell me how I make a complaint regarding torture (that is a right under the Convention). I believe this is because no one ever makes it to that point, police simply drop them at the Emergency Dept and make them “patients” and the problem literally disappears for the reasons set out above.

    Anyhow Will, I’m with you in the defund police thing. They aren’t policing by consent anymore (but by force and terror) and like making torture legal, they are no longer police, but a 1% Security Company. We need to recognise that just because they have the badge, doesn’t mean they are what they say they are. We here recognise that calling drugs medicine is a trick of the light.

    “They will take their oaths as a cover”

    If you have difficulty understanding what i’m saying, feel free to contact me. I understand that me publishing (and educataing) public officers in the use of torture methods may be a problem. And as is known I have been traumatised by what I have been subjected to, and I am not a good communicator. Public interest? Not according to the people who are torturing citizens. But I’d call that a conflict of interest.

  18. This is a plan for disaster, built upon threadbare and romanticized appropriations of genuine Black liberation struggles, and has the same tired old ring echoed by most white liberal romanticism.

    Yes “wellness checks” are an issue and must be opposed. But this is not separate from the need to oppose ALL psychiatry, and all capitalism for that matter.. To pretend that a grand alliance of psychiatric victims/survivors and “mental health” workers should lead the way is simplistic and absurd.

    The only way people will ever unite to march against psychiatry in effective numbers is to educate people that Psychiatry is not a legitimate field of medicine and Psychiatry is a tool of social control I.e., psychiatry IS the police.

    We don’t need opportunistic slogans based on limited “reforms.”

    As I and Anomie, and maybe others have mentioned, a grassroots anti-psychiatry survivors movement now exists and is growing steadily. Our goal is to “make psychiatry history.” As abolitionists we recognize that “reform” of psychiatry is a contradiction in terms, as it is designed to oppress and repress us. We have two primary demands:

    ⦁ An end to all forced psychiatric procedures and “treatments,” including but not limited to incarceration, solitary confinement, physical restraints, drugging, and electroshock.

    ⦁ An end to all state support for psychiatry, including but not limited to the use of psychiatric testimony in legal proceedings; psychiatric screenings in schools, prisons, and workplaces; licensing; and the use of public monies to support psychiatric programs or research.

    As can be seen, the last demand is essentially saying
    DEFUND PSYCHIATRY.

    At this stage of history and with the current level of anti-psychiatry consciousness among survivors, to demand anything less would represents a sellout.

    We don’t want to appropriate the Black struggle, but to help advance it by exposing how — just as the initial role of the police was catching escaped slaves — psychiatry and the entire eugenics movement has been and continues to be an enforcement tool for white supremacy and capitalist exploitation.

    “Mental health workers” who support the above demands should make their positions clear, or else get off the bus.

    • Abolish psychiatry – it is a eugenics movement that should have been outlawed after WW2.

      “When the T-4 Euthanasia Program commenced, Eberl was a willing participant. On 1 February 1940, at 29 years old, Eberl became the medical director of the killing facility at Brandenburg. In autumn 1941 he assumed the same position at Bernburg Euthanasia Centre. Despite not being formally ordered to take part, psychiatrists such as Eberl were at the center of each stage of justifying, planning and carrying out the mass murder of those with mental disorders, and constituted the connection to the later annihilation of Jews and other “undesirables” in the Holocaust.”

      “He was very ambitious. It was said that he ordered more transports than could be “processed” in the camp. That meant that trains had to wait outside the camp because the occupants of the previous transport had not yet all been killed. At the time it was very hot and as a result of the long wait inside the transport trains in the intense heat many people died. At that time whole mountains of bodies lay on the platform. Then Hauptsturmführer Christian Wirth came to Treblinka and kicked up a terrific row. And then one day Dr. Eberl was no longer there..”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irmfried_Eberl

    • Yes “wellness checks” are an issue and must be opposed. But this is not separate from the need to oppose ALL psychiatry, and all capitalism for that matter.. To pretend that a grand alliance of psychiatric victims/survivors and “mental health” workers should lead the way is simplistic and absurd.

      Exactly, Oldhead. Thank you for emphasizing this. Not only is it simplistic and absurd, it’s also dangerous because the psychiatric hegemony is not being challenged and ended. “Mental health” workers will never lead the way to anything more than expanding their own guild interests. This is why:

      ALL SURVIVORS should assert — and plan to exercise — our right as an oppressed class to self-determination.

      • “….To pretend that a grand alliance of psychiatric victims/survivors and “mental health” workers should lead the way is simplistic and absurd.” (OH)

        ” it’s also dangerous because the psychiatric hegemony is not being challenged and ended.”(anomie)

        “ALL SURVIVORS should assert — and plan to exercise — our right as an oppressed class to self-determination.”

        It’s important that not only survivors are made aware of the hoax of psychiatry. Survivors became survivors because no one warned them.

  19. << imagines the day when children watch the 1034th rerun of Frazier and ask "daddy, what's a psychiatrist?" and the reply is "son, there was a time when people thought it was a good idea to empower a privileged white male with the ability to select people based mainly on the color of their skin for what they called 'treatment'. They made lots of money but in the end the people we call taxpayers decided that loading their pockets with money for damaging perfectly functional human beings in what were experiments that went very wrong at a certain point was a bad use of their dollars. So we sacked the lot of them, threw most of them into prison and fed the rest to cane toads and made a reality tv show out of it. You remember Steve Irwin and his saying 'Croaky'? Well that's where that saying came from."

    We must have hopes, wishes, dreams 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY