Archive for the ‘police brutality’ Tag

Thom Stark Replies on Slavery and Social Justice in America   2 comments

Thom Stark

Thom Stark and I are continuing our debate. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a fun and safe New Year’s Eve. Thom’s post today is in response to my post from two weeks ago, on what I perceive to be the root cause of police brutality in the United States. I think it’s the size and power of government and the lack of respect for individual liberty. Now for Thom’s take. Lela

 

Obviously we both agree that Slavery Is Bad. We agree, too, that the American Civil War had more than one cause, and that the question of states rights vs central government authority was one of the most important of them. I’ll even cheerfully grant that the Reconstruction was a time of barely-mitigated Northern vengeance on the South. We begin to part company after that, though.

First of all, I think it’s been firmly established that Federal authority trumps states rights pretty much across the board. Our Civil War settled that question. Nor do I think the precedent is a bad one, either in retrospect or in the perspective of the current era. Instead, I see states rights as steadily – and rightly – diminishing as our society evolves into a single, increasingly-homogenous culture, where regionalism is rapidly becoming a moot argument. I’m certain it looks different to you, because you live in Alaska, where a highly-individiualist, frontier mentality is the norm, rather than the exception, but in most of the lower 48, and throughout the Western world, one place is increasingly becoming interchangeable with the next. The ubiquity of chain stores and big brands, combined with the smothering cultural blankets of television – which gives us an unofficial received pronunciation that’s swiftly eliminating regional dialects – and social media (which strongly encourages herd think) is combining to create an environment where, on a day-to-day, experiential level, one town is completely indistinguishable from the next. Soon, the only legitimate regional sphere of influence will be that of the local professional sports team. The argument for right of place therefore becomes increasingly hard to make – and increasingly academic, in any case.

Which takes us to the individual, and the question of his or her rights vs those of the society in which he or she lives.

Society is always going to win this one, simply because there’s more of Them than there are of Us, when Us is defined as a single individual. You can complain about the unfairness of it all, wave your fists, and beseech the heavens as suits your fancy, but, in the end you’re outnumbered and outgunned, so They get to make the rules.

To me, an elected official has an ethical obligation to try to protect Us from Them – whoever We and They might currently define ourselves as being – but only insofar as doing so doesn’t create a still greater harm to one, the other, some third party altogether, or society as a whole in the process. Unfortunately, most of our elected officials are focused, instead, on getting re-elected and on gaming the system on behalf of their campaign contributors, but that’s a product of the perverse incentives the organized bribery we laughingly call a campaign finance system creates. If our Supreme Court hadn’t spent the past few decaces trying to give the vote to corporations, things might well be different. But it has, and they’re not.

As for Eric Garner, I think your assertion that the power of taxation was the root cause of his death is … well … “reductionist” is putting it mildly. Garner was killed by white cops in a white borough of New York City because he was a black man whom the area’s white shopkeepers viewed as a nuisance. Untaxed cigarettes are beside the point. Garner was a small-time hustler. Had selling loosies not been profitable, he’d have found something else to peddle. And the cops would have hasseled him over that, instead. The only real issue worth focusing on in his demise is the ubiquitous American police culture of cowboy justice, depraved indifference to human suffering, systematic lack of accountability, and the “thin blue line” mentality. (I say it’s the only real issue, because no one is going to be charged in Garner’s murder, video or no video, so the question of whether justice will ever be done has already been answered – and the answer is “No.”)

Lela Markham Davidson Ditch CorrectedI’ve become acquainted with quite a few cops over the years. Some of them are fabulous officers who view themselves as public servants, take seriously their duty to protect and serve, and make it a point to treat everyone they encounter with courtesy and respect. Others are thugs with guns, who use their badges as an excuse to bully those they regard as their social inferiors. The system – and I’m talking here about the real-world, non-theoretical way things actually work – is supposed to protect the first type from the consequences of single, tragic mistakes. Unfortunately, it ends up protecting both types from any consequences of their actions whatsoever, regardless of how flagrantly they may misbehave.

Here in the USA, that’s considered normal, natural, and entirely appropriate.

I think it’s none of those things, and it needs to stop.

Troopers: Pickup was driving toward officer when driver shot, killed – Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: News   2 comments

ALASKA POLICE SENTENCE DRUNK DRIVER TO DEATH

Troopers: Pickup was driving toward officer when driver shot, killed – Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: News.

Let me make this disclaimer. I am opposed to drunk driving. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. If you must drive, don’t drink. Simple, easy, no exceptions. That part is not open to discussion (with me)!

But here’s a thought experiment I’d like us all to do.

Are drunk drivers usually sentenced to death?

No. In fact, even the ones who kill someone while driving drunk usually get less than 10 years for manslaughter (I’m talking Alaska here, determinant sentencing is four years minimum).

Does resisting arrest or fleeing from police officers usually carry a death sentence?

No. In fact, a kid killed another driver about 15 years ago while fleeing from police down Airport Way and was sentenced to 2-3 years for negligent homicide.

So, why is it okay for a cop to shoot and kill a man who has not been afforded a trial to determine his guilt?

If I had taken it upon myself to shoot and kill this man, I’d be sitting in jail right now.

The article indicates that the vehicle had been surrounded by cop vehicles and was not going anywhere when the driver attempted to flee. The cop who was in the path of the truck needed simply to step out of the way. Instead, he MURDERED this man.

And like the half-dozen other cops who shot citizens in Anchorage last year, this officer will likely not even lose a day’s pay over his behavior.

What the hell are we doing? Are we so naive that we believe this will never happen to us? Oh, no! I don’t drive drunk so they’ll leave me alone! Really? What about the Austin jogger they arrested for jaywalking because she didn’t immediately respond to the cop because she had ear buds in and she was … uh … crossing the street, safely, not dodging cars.

We’re all at risk as long as police believe they have the right to administer the death penalty to anyone who annoys them.

Alaska’s Finest in Action   Leave a comment

The following video took place in Kodiak, Alaska, four days ago. Some things to know about this video —

  • Alaska state law allows residents to keep a small amount of marijuana in their homes for personal use. I don’t condone the use of marijuana, but that is the law, so the officers had no standing there on a drug charge
  • apparently someone made a 911 call from the residence … so the police say — but that was no reason for them to come into the house. Apparently there was another adult who shows up late in the video who let them in. So, in essence, the Troopers were trespassing because the person who let them in didn’t even live there. Skyler, the woman who was arrested, was actually pretty polite given that they were violating the 4th Amendment and lecturing her about something that state law says is none of their business.
  • Note that the young lady is about 90 pounds soaking wet and the big brave officer who slammed her into a book case is at least 200.
  • Pay close attention to what caused him to smack down this dangerous criminal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=D_hCd9uwsng

The arrestee reached for the door to close it. If you live in a cold climate, you do that automatically. The officer’s contention that he “feared for his safety” is stupid. He’s wearing a Kevlar vest and could easily make two of her.

If any other man had done that to her, he would be in jail charged with Assault 1, which — given the video evidence — would mean a mandatory minimum sentence of EIGHT years. This cop hasn’t even been removed from active duty.

But, let’s just say that he overreacted. He covered a barroom brawl the night before and he’s a little skittish, let’s say for argument’s sake. When he pushed her, he knew he had crossed a line. As soon as she said “thank you”, note that he glances toward the camera — but he doesn’t know there is a camera. Up to that point, the video has been secret (which is perfectly legal under Alaskan law). With only kids as witnesses, he assumed he could cover his first assault by arresting her.

After he faceplants her, he realizes he’s being video-tape, but it’s too late, so he cuffs her and drags her from the house. But note that when he puts her in the cruiser, he attempts to shut her up by covering her mouth with his hand. That is a second assault charge that would carry another eight years if he weren’t a cop.

She reached for the door, folks! He assaulted her, not the other way around.

And police wonder why people hate them? This is police brutality!

Because this made Youtube and 50,000 hits or some such, the Alaska State Troopers have promised to “investigate”. What’s to investigate? It’s on video-tape that he ASSAULTED her TWICE and kidnapped her. YES, Alaska’s law says that if you force someone to walk more than three steps without their consent, it’s kidnapping. Since this was clearly a case of police brutality, this officer should be facing 99 years in jail right now. But because he’s a cop, he’s still on duty.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Because Skyler (the arrestee) is an Alaskan Native, this is tearing through the civil rights groups here pretty fast. There is a good chance that something will be done about this officer, but we’ll see.

Folks, we need to wake up and smell the tyranny. Police officers are not supposed to act like that and when they do, their supervisors when presented with irrefutable evidence, are supposed to relieve them of duty. If you’re not demanding that of your state’s officials yet, you should be.

I posted a letter to our legislative delegation about an hour ago.

Anchorage Police No Longer Bother with Trials Now   Leave a comment

I’m in favor of lawful order. I don’t think people should steal other people’s cars and if they do, I think the police should do something about it. And, this story would not have attracted my ire at all except for the second story.

Anchorage cops kill car thief

Okay, maybe I would have wondered why stealing a car warranted execution without a trial, but Alaska has a thriving non-mainstream “trapline” journalism culture, so by the time I read this article today, I’d already heard the story from people who live in Anchorage and saw it a little differently than the cops.

But then comes the second story.

Anchorage cops shoot at driver who rammed patrol car

Yeah, apparently Anchorage police are no longer bothering to arrest, investigate, charge and try crime anymore. They’re going right to shooting the driver, which I’m guessing is quicker than using due process.

As I said, if it weren’t for the second story, the first one would have been just a cop defending himself against a violent thug, but if the SOP for dealing with resisting arrest is shooting the resistor, I’d say it’s time to remove a few cops from the streets and perhaps take their badges away permanently. This is getting out of hand when a city with only 350,000 has two incidents of this sort in less than a week.

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