The Green Bay Packers got themselves a glowing write-up in the Washington Post today for enacting an initiative that the paper describes as “a response to August’s police shooting of Jacob Blake” and “another step in the NFL’s prominent, often uneasy role in the nation’s ongoing reckoning with racial injustice and police brutality.” And what does this specific piece of that reckoning look like, exactly? Buying a bunch of gadgets and tasers for the cops.
The Post story says that the Packers will be donating $757,000 to the city of Green Bay in an effort to help the city purchase $3.6 million worth of technology that includes “body cameras, training and a video system that allows officers to review their performance with supervisors.” The paper does not mention that the Packers’ money will also be used to purchase 150 tasers. That information can be found in a press release from Axon, the technology and weapons company that the city of Green Bay will be forking all this money over to. From the release:
Axon (Nasdaq: AAXN), the global leader in connected law enforcement technologies, today announced that the Green Bay Police Department will equip its officers with 190 Axon Body 3 cameras, 45 Axon Fleet 2 in-car cameras, and 150 TASER 7 devices as part of a five-year subscription to the Officer Safety Plan 7+. The Green Bay Packers have made a financial contribution to the local police department to help fund the program as part of the team’s ongoing pledge to support social justice and racial equity in Wisconsin.Axon
Axon is a billion-dollar company that invented the taser, but has recently pivoted its focus to selling body cameras. The company used to be named Taser, in fact, but changed to Axon in 2017 so as to present a friendlier face to cities looking to buy toys for their overfunded police departments.
There are many other ways a football team could go about enacting its “pledge to support social justice and racial equity” that do not include injecting $757,000 into the very police-industrial complex that begets the bloating of police department budgets at the expense of other social programs, which ultimately leads to the further immiseration of the communities the Packers say they want to help. In fact, if the choice came down to giving $757,000 to Axon—thus perpetuating the toxic flow of money from cities to police departments to tech and weapons companies—or setting $757,000 on fire, the Packers would probably do a lot more for the citizens of Green Bay by throwing that money on the grill and lighting it up. But hey, at least they got a nice write-up in the newspaper for their efforts.