Can we have peace in the streets without police patrolling us? One city has proven that we can.
For more than 30 years now, the city of Marinaleda has termed itself a “utopia for peace”. They have absolutely no municipal police, which has saved its citizens $350,000 a year.
Every few weeks, community volunteers clean the streets or do odd jobs without anyone forcing them to. A lot of people have termed the city “socialist” or “communist,” but the city’s high level of voluntary community service shows that while the town does describe itself as socialist, it doesn’t neatly fit into pre-determined pigeonholes, with significant levels of voluntary community service, not compelled by law.
On the surface, the Spanish town appears indistinguishable from any other in the area.
The city is located in Spain’s poorest and most southern Andalusian province. While the city might be a utopia for peace, it is situated in a region with employment so high that it could be characterized as anything but utopian. Unemployment and poverty are through the roof, at a staggering 37%, with 55% of youths unemployed. But that is actually somewhat lower than the average for surrounding cities.
But let’s not get hung up on the dismal economy of the city, because that isn’t really the point. What we should pay attention to is that even with rampant poverty, the city is not overflowing with violent crime.
Police are not present and police are not needed.
This may sound strange to some, until we examine the pages of history and realize that community policing is itself a modern phenomenon. It was in 1829 that Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. Peel had only drafted the idea for community policing in 1812. It was still some time after that before police hit the streets of the United States.
We have been conditioned to think that without police, our societies would fall apart. But the historical reality is that we have only had police for a very short period of human history. Now, one city is showing us that we can still do without them.
Whether you support the City of Marinaleda’s politics across the board or not, there is little denying that they have demonstrated another way for peace in the community, besides militarized law enforcement patrolling, looking for trouble.
(Article by Jackson Marciana)