Archive for the ‘#policebrutality’ Tag

All Lives Matter   Leave a comment

Image result for image of police brutalityBrad has been making me watch these videos on 1st Amendment audits. Search for them on Youtube. Some of them are annoying and some of them are very informative. I’m sort of fed up with Brad’s latest obsession, but I am grateful to know about the topic.

Basically, law enforcement in the United States has gone full-on tyrannical. Again, this is associated with the growth of the state. We thought it was a good idea to give government agents the authority to order people around and abuse them regardless if they are causing harm to anyone. We’re reaping the logical results of that concept. Brad wants to see it change right now, but I recognize that’s a sea-change requiring an evolution in consciousness.

The current relationship of law enforcement officers to the public is flatout wrong, but the fix will take a long time to establish. In the meantime, there are some obvious fixes that would make things a lot better right now – and it’s hard to imagine anyone objecting.

Image result for image of police brutalityLaw enforcers should be required to know the law – and be fired when they are caught making up law  …

Law enforcers have guns. You knew that. Citizens who carry guns operate under extremely strict rules and are warned that they had better not operate outside the law, even by a little bit. Repercussions for doing so are severe. Statistics show they comply and rarely rarely operate outside the law.

Is is legal to film cops in their interactions with you?

Shouldn’t the same standard apply to armed police officers? Shouldn’t they be expected to at least know what the law is? Shouldn’t they be sanctioned just as severely as an ordinary citizen if they step outside the bounds of the law?

Keep in mind that everything cop – no matter how “friendly” he may seem – is backed up by a gun. You know it and he knows it. This makes every encounter between a citizen and a police officer inherently threatening to the citizen, who is usually unarmed.

Which is why it so important that law enforcers restrict their enforcement to the actual law … and nothing beyond the law. No citizen should ever have to worry about law enforcement unless he has violated a law or, to borrow from legalese, given law enforcement some specific reason to suspect he has or may be about to violate the law.

Is it legal to film public buildings from public spaces?

And yet, citizens are routinely accosted by armed law enforcement ignorant (or contemptuous) of the law. Examples are many but include belligerently confronting citizens legally taking pictures or video in public, where there is no expectation of privacy and the courts have repeatedly stated that no permit or permission is needed to photograph or video record anything that is plainly visible from a sidewalk or other public right-of-way. That includes  law enforcement offices, courts, jail facilities and so on.

Image result for image of police brutalityLaw enforcers often regard such photography/video-taking as an affront to their authority, but it is not illegal. If they do not know this and accost citizens, they are derelict in their duty. If they do know this and accost citizens, they are simply thugs. Either should be cause for immediate dismissal and, in several of the cases I’ve viewed, criminal prosecution. If mere citizen accosted someone lawfully going about his business in such a manner, we would be arrested and probably tried and convicted for assault.

Any illegal act performed by a person given life or death power over others ought to be treated at least as seriously as the same action would be treated if performed by an ordinary citizen, who usually lack life or death power over others.

Law enforcement is “trained” in all kinds of things peripheral to knowledge of the law: e.g., how to suss out arbitrarily illegal drugs or perform a “visual estimate” of vehicle speed, admissible as evidence in court. Why not require that law enforcers demonstrate competent working knowledge of the law – and weed out those who demonstrate that they do not possess it?

The right to defend oneself against an abusive law enforcer

If someone enters your home illegally, attempts to take something of yours or threatens you with physical violence, you have a legal (as well as moral) right to defend yourself. If you get the better of your assailant – or simply get away from him – you won’t be charged with a crime, but they will be.


Few question the rightness of this.

Image result for image of police brutalityWhy shouldn’t the same standard apply when a citizen is abused by law enforcement? Why should a government-issued costume grant what amounts to a license to abuse people by making such abuse, in effect, a legally protected act – since the citizen isn’t permitted to defend himself against such?

Shouldn’t a citizen be free to ignore a palpably unlawful command and walk away without legal repercussions? And, if legally justified, defend himself physically against an abusive law enforcer?

As it stands, not only does a citizen face repercussions for ignoring unlawful orders or defending himself against abuse of authority, the abusive law enforcer is treated far more gently for his abusive actions than the citizen is for defending his legal rights.

Personal liability for wrong-doing

Most of us are held personally responsible, civilly as well as criminally, for any reckless or criminal conduct we commit that results in harm to others or damage to their property. Ordinary citizens cannot foist the bill for the damage they cause in the course of their work onto the backs of taxpayers, as law enforcement routinely does.

We all want to believe that cops have our best interests at heart, but many of us have had encounters that have convinced us that most of them don’t. Many people live in jurisdictions where cops have killed and assaulted law-abiding citizens without any repercussions. When police step over the line, they should face judgment just as when citizens step over the line. Yes, losing their jobs should be on the table, but when they physically harm someone or cause property damage, they should also face criminal penalty and civil liability … just like ordinary citizens. Furthermore, they should not be allowed to fall back on the excuse that the citizen they were pummeling was “resisting arrest” when the person was just trying to protect themselves from an assault.

Posted December 26, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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Government Investigates Itself Again After Tragic Death of Justine Damond | Eric Schuler   Leave a comment

On July 15, a police officer in Minneapolis shot and killed Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian-born woman who had actually called the police in the first place.

Source: Government Investigates Itself Again After Tragic Death of Justine Damond | Eric Schuler


Image result for image justine damondReportedly, Damond called police because she thought a sexual assault was occurring in an alley near her residence. When the police car arrived, she approached the vehicle and was shot and killed by the officer in the passenger seat. Damond was unarmed at the time. As far as we know, neither police officer had their body cameras switched on and the dash cam was not recording. The officer who killed Damond was subsequently identified as Mohammed Noor, 31. Both Officer Noor and his partner have been placed on administrative leave.

Some of the characteristics in this case differ from other high-profile police shootings. But in the main, it fits a familiar profile. A police officer shot and killed a person under suspicious circumstances, and the victim’s loved ones are searching for answers.

And as with other police shootings, the officer involved in this case will be investigated by his colleagues in law enforcement. In particular, the investigation will be managed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

To be fair, the BCA is not Officer Noor’s own police department, so the conflict of interest could have been worse. But it’s also not really an independent entity. The BCA falls under the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which is the same department in government that oversees police in the state. Additionally, according to its own website, the BCA routinely assists law enforcement on other investigations. Indeed, that’s why it was established in the first place:

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) provides investigative and specialized law enforcement services to prevent and solve crimes in partnership with law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice agencies.

So the BCA investigators collaborate with police officers in their day-to-day work, draw their paychecks from the same place, and are ultimately accountable to the same officials in government. In spite of this, they are also charged with performing an independent and credible investigation of a police officer who killed someone.

If this does not sound immediately scandalous, it’s only because we’re accustomed to it. This is what accountability usually looks like in police shootings and in government generally. One nominally independent arm of the government investigates another for wrongdoing, usually finding nothing and prosecuting less. Speeches are given, press releases are issued, and hands are wrung–yet “never again” will likely happen again.

In government, this cycle of events feels normal. But what if we observed the same approach outside of government?

Suppose Wells Fargo came out tomorrow and announced that they had conducted an extensive internal investigation into their aggressive sales practices and found that, in fact, the company didn’t open any fraudulent accounts after all. Would you believe them?

What if Marlboro released the results of a new internal study and shared the good news that smoking cigarettes doesn’t actually cause lung cancer? Would you believe them?

I’m guessing probably not.

The conflicts of interest are obvious. Both firms stand to benefit if their conclusions are widely accepted by the public. So even if one of them assured us that the investigations were carried out by an “independent” department within their organization, we would still be skeptical–and rightly so.

But when it comes to government, many are willing to apply a less critical lens. Claims of independence are accepted when they should be questioned. Perfect professionalism is assumed, even when recent history offers little basis for confidence. Does this make sense?

Government employees are still people, just as surely as Wells Fargo employees are. And as people, they are fallible. They have biases, interests, and flaws like everyone else. Individuals do not become uniquely virtuous or incorruptible when they work for the government.

If this is true, then we should judge all of these institutions, whether public or private, by the same standard.

We would not trust Wells Fargo to investigate allegations of fraud committed by Wells Fargo. Neither should we trust the government to investigate itself when it comes to matters of life and death.

Yet Another Unjustifiable Police Shooting   Leave a comment

Justine Damond was in her pajamas when she approached the police car. She had earlier called in a report of a possible rape and probably just wanted to know if everything was okay with the woman she had heard screaming. Instead, Officer Mohamed Noor shot the Australian woman dead in the upscale Minneapolis neighborhood.

Justine DamondFred Bruno, the lawyer for Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, said: “It is reasonable to assume an officer in that situation would be concerned about a possible ambush.”

Justine Damond’s family’s lawyer, Fred Bennett told CBS News: “I think that’s ludicrous. It’s disinformation. It doesn’t have any basis in fact. She obviously wasn’t armed, was not a threat to anyone, and nor could she have reasonably been perceived to be.”

Officer Mohamed Noor has refused to be interviewed by investigators, as is his legal right. Body cameras, which are worn by all Minneapolis police, had not been turned on at the time of the shooting and the squad car dashboard camera also failed to capture the incident. Does that seem suspicious to anyone else?

Officers Harrity and Noor, who between them have spent three years on the police force, have been placed on paid administrative leave. So they got a paid vacation for tampering with evidence (turning off the body cameras) and killing a woman.

Officer Noor should be immediately charged with 1st degree murder and placed in jail without possibility of bail like anyone else who shot someone in similar circumstances. It is well past time that we stopped treating cops like they are somehow immune for the rules that the rest of us live under.

Officer Charged … Finally   Leave a comment

Image result for image of police brutalityGood! This is the sort of common sense process that ought to accompany every officer-involved shooting. Anytime an officer shoots a citizen, no matter the circumstances, there ought to be a coroner’s inquest and a full investigation as if it were a crime BECAUSE it should not be presumed lawful for police to kill citizens. PERIOD! Then, if it is found that the civilian was shooting at the cop or trying to harm someone else … then and ONLY THEN should the police officer be exonerated and allowed back on duty.

This would force the police into the same position that an ordinary citizen is placed in if we are ever called upon to protect ourselves from a crime. No, police should NOT be treated as a special class of citizen.

But watch. This is only the first step in the process. Second-degree manslaughter is basically negligent homicide. Here in Alaska that carries about a two-year minimum sentence with a maximum sentence of 10 years. Philando Castile was murdered by this officer for exercising his Constitutional right to go forth armed. Because of the unfair bias towards police, expect Officer Yanez to be offered a plea deal that brings this down to something like reckless endangerment and likely offered a no-jail-time sentence. There will be no justice for Castile because he was a citizen acting in a lawful manner, but Yanez is a special class of citizen who is allowed to get away with murder.

If it goes to trial, expect him to be acquitted, because juries are notoriously sympathetic to cops … even when cops kill people who weren’t doing anything wrong. Lela

A Minnesota police officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile, a black man whose girlfriend streamed the gruesome aftermath of the fatal shooting live on Facebook, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot the 32-year-old during a July 6 traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the car along with her young daughter at the time. The woman said Castile was shot several times while reaching for his ID after telling Yanez he had a gun permit and was armed.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, whose office will prosecute the case, said Yanez shot Castile seven times, and that the evidence shows Castile was calm and complied with the officer’s requests. Prosecutors believe Castile never tried to pull his handgun from his pocket, Choi said, adding that as Castile was dying, he moaned and uttered his final words: “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

Choi said the officer’s unreasonable fear cannot justify the use of deadly force.

“No reasonable officer, knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time, would’ve used deadly force under these circumstances,” Choi said as he announced the charges. If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Yanez could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Yanez’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has said Yanez, who is Latino, was reacting to the presence of a gun, and that one reason Yanez pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like a possible match for an armed robbery suspect. Choi said Wednesday that Castile was not a suspect in that robbery.

Kelly did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment on the charges Wednesday.

Family members claimed Castile, an elementary school cafeteria worker, was racially profiled.

Choi got the case from investigators in late September and began reviewing the evidence for possible charges. Choi resisted pressure immediately after the shooting to turn the case over to a special prosecutor, but added one to his team to get an outside perspective. He also enlisted the help of national use-of-force consultants.

The shooting prompted numerous protests, including a weekslong demonstration outside the governor’s mansion and one protest that shut down Interstate 94 in St. Paul for hours. The interstate protest resulted in about 50 arrests and injuries to more than 20 officers, after police said they were hit with cement chunks, bottles, rocks and other objects.

The shooting also exposed a disproportionate number of arrests of African-Americans in St. Anthony, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, which are all patrolled by the St. Anthony Police Department. The Associated Press reported in July that an analysis of police data showed black people made up nearly half of all arrests made by St. Anthony officers in 2016. Census data shows that just 7 percent of residents in the three cities are black.

The fatal shootings of black men and boys by police officers have come under heightened scrutiny since the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and led to calls nationwide for officers to be held criminally responsible.

No charges were filed in the death of 18-year-old Brown, who was unarmed, after a grand jury found officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defense. The white officer had said Brown tried to grab his gun during a struggle through the window of the police vehicle and then came toward him threateningly after briefly running away.

Other police shooting deaths also did not result in charges, including the killings of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 in Cleveland and 24-year-old Jamar Clark last year in Minneapolis. A grand jury determined the white officer who shot Tamir had no way of knowing whether the boy, who was drawing a pellet gun from his waistband, was trying to hand it over or show them it wasn’t real.

In the Clark case, prosecutors said the two white officers involved in the shooting feared for their lives when Clark tried to grab an officer’s weapon during a struggle.

Officers have been charged in other cases, though. Michael Slager, a white officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, who has since been fired, is currently on trial for murder in the 2015 death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot while running from a traffic stop. More recently, Betty Jo Shelby, a white Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 16 shooting of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black man whose car was stopped in the middle of the road.

When looking at whether to file charges, authorities must determine if the officer believed he or she, or fellow officers, were in danger in the moment the decision is made to shoot. If the fear of danger is deemed reasonable, charges are typically not filed. To prove a serious charge such as murder, prosecutors must also show that the officer was not just reckless, but had ill intentions.

Posted November 19, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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Controlling the Cops   Leave a comment

Do you lie awake at night in constant fear a fire will break out and nothing will be done to put it out?

Yeah, me either.

Brad has been saying this for a long time and I just decided to explore it recently. Firefighters aren’t patrolling the streets in their large red trucks looking for fires. They hang out in the station waiting for a call to come in. They still manage to arrive at the scene of a fire within minutes of an emergency call.

So why aren’t police departments run in a similar fashion?

If you think about it honestly, a whole lot of dead people would still be alive if police stayed back at the station instead of roaming the streets looking for trouble. No one had called 911 asking for protection from Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Zachary Hammond, or Philando Castile. No judges had issued warrants for their arrests. At the time of their arrests, all three were just walking or driving down the street, minding their own business. They were detained in what are generally considered “routine” but are in reality wholly unnecessary encounters with police.

There’s a lot of exercised discussion being expended right now over whether three of these victims were treated differently because of their race, but I don’t see a way to end that discussion with any sort of practical solutions.

So Brad has a bold … even radical solution … in keeping with  our proclaimed status as “land of the free” Take cops off the streets. Allow them outside the building only when responding to a 911 call or serving a legitimate warrant issued by a judge.

Everyone would be safer, including the police officers themselves. Ultimately, I don’t think the problem of police brutality stems from how they do their jobs. It’s that we ask them to do that particular job. A free society shouldn’t be asking armed agents of the state to patrol the streets, keeping its citizens under 24/7 surveillance. It encourages police to prevent crime by any means necessary. That flies in the face of the foundation of our form of government. The 4th and 5th amendments were written to keep the government from even trying to prevent crime. They assume the government is powerless until a crime has already occurred. The 4th amendment even provides further restraint on how the government investigates after the fact.

Defending oneself while a crime is occurring is left to the citizen. It’s not a police responsibility. The Supreme Court has agreed that protecting oneself is what the Second Amendment is all about.

The job we ask police to do today annihilates the 4th amendment’s principle for existence. Police surveilling all of society all of the time is as unreasonable a search as there can be or ever was. Only decades of becoming accustomed to the idea allows us to see it any other way.

There is no historical basis for it. The police departments we know today are a product of the 20th century. Prior to that, peace officers were generally dispatched in response to a complaint by the victim of a real crime, usually with a warrant. Contrary to legend, this did not lead to chaos, not even in the “Wild West” or the “Last Frontier”.

In fact, the first time I remember thinking the cops in our community were not adequate to the task of protecting the town was when three soon-to-be-rapists tried to enter our home. Mom scared them off with a gun while I called 911. I was informed that the cops were all tied up at a bar fight in downtown. Fortunately, Mom had already taken care of our needs. However, those same three men showed up at another house where they gained entry and raped a girl while her father was forced to watch. Years later, I spoke to one of the bartenders who witnessed that fight. He swore the cops started it by harassing a prostitute who had stepped inside the bar to warm up. And then they were too busy quelling the fight they caused to respond to an actual need of the public’s. Had they responded to my call, their presence in the vicinity might well have prevented the rape of the neighbor girl.

Would life where cops were only allowed to respond to reported crimes be significantly less safe? I doubt it because I grew up in a community where there were few cops and they mostly did exactly that, until a population explosion provided State funds to vastly increase the number of officers, who then had to justify their existence by looking for trouble — i.e., starting a bar fight so they could break it up. The laws that might go unenforced are largely those that shouldn’t exist anyway. Yes, more people might “get away with” driving 66 mph in a 55, but people would be free to call the police if a reckless driver were truly threatening public safety. The same goes for thousands of other victimless “crimes” currently enforced by police.

Freedom matters. It’s THE founding principle of our nation. We need to get back to organizing society around it. Redefining the role of the police would be a great start. Let’s restrict their interactions with the public to serving warrants and answering emergency calls. We’d all be freer and safer and cops could do the job they joined the force to do. They could spend their down time watching videos on the Constitution and how to properly interact with their ultimate employers — the public. As they passed people on the street on their way to real crimes, they’d no longer be looking for people about to commit a crime. They’d soon stop viewing all people as potential criminals and once more begin to view us as neighbors. And, in time, people would stop viewing the police as harassing oppressors and begin once more to view them as people with a job to do that shouldn’t impact our quality of life unless we have committed an actual crime that might cause an actual victim to call the police.

Getting to the Root of the Problem   Leave a comment

Following the July 7, 2016 shooting of several police officers in Dallas, DPD Police Chief David Brown has been thrust into the national spotlight, and understandably so. Chief Brown not only has a remarkably tragic personal story—in 2010 his 27-year-old son was shot by Dallas police on Father’s Day seven weeks after he became chief of the DPD—the reforms he has advanced during his tenure as head of the Dallas police have been praised by the likes of Radley Balko as a “national model for community policing.”

How will passing more laws that make potential criminals out of more Americans ease the tension between police and citizenry?

Found on FEE

So, whether Chief David Brown likes it or not, he has become the face of law enforcement in the on-going debate over police brutality. And yesterday, he flipped the script of the debate in a way not often suggested by police unions or civil rights activists, saying, “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are. We’re just asking us to do too much. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve.”

Brown went on to say since there is not enough “funding” for mental health or drug addiction, the cops are expected to solve the issue. Failing schools and broken homes are supposed to be remedied by the cops too, Brown suggested, as he called for “other parts of our democracy” to help and “not put that burden all on law enforcement.”

I welcome Chief Brown’s suggestion with a qualifier. Indeed, the police are doing “too much” in this country. Yet, I worry Brown along with many civil right activists are caught in a catch-22. The more they call on our democracy to “do something” and pass more laws, the more the burden will necessarily fall upon the police to enforce such laws. For instance, when the Congressional Black Caucus called for gun control after the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, did they somehow think their calls for Congressional action would lead to fewer intrusive actions by the police?

How will passing more laws that make potential criminals out of more Americans ease the tension between police and citizenry? How will stripping Americans of more of their freedoms and wealth to fund government programs lead to greater freedom for the people?

More Laws, More Violence

Thus, though the police may be the face of law and order, behind their blue eyes rest the marching orders of politicians riddled with this presumption—that the law is the best tool for bringing order to a society facing complex problems.

Let’s not give the politicians too much credit though. They, of course, are elected by “the people” to presume as much. As Mencken wrote, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard,” and though I do not think the common people deserve to be victims of police brutality, I am not surprised they have become the victims of their “representative” government. Indifferent to freedom, the people have forged their own chains and have given “themselves” the reins by empowering their government and its agents.

They have forgotten that the law is always backed by the threat of force.

That said, I’d like to amend Chief Brown’s statement about the cops being asked to do too much and solve every societal problem. More than relying on the cops, we are relying too much on politics to solve our problems.

Every societal failure, real or merely perceived, is expected to be remedied by some new law or political program. Whether on the issue of drugs, health, education, broken families, or broken windows, the American people seem unwilling to voluntarily solve such societal problems themselves when they are more than capable of doing so. They would rather rely on political action and new laws leading to more enforcement. They are in no mood to spare the populace the proverbial rod of authority, yet we seem spoiled all the same.

Somehow the people have forgotten the law is not some benign tool or harmless guideline for the social engineering of society. They have forgotten that the law is always backed by the threat of force, and when a person understandably resists the law, even an unjust law, that person will most likely suffer and potentially die for upsetting “the will of the people” as carried out by law enforcement.

An Over-Politicized Society

I contend if we continue to drift in this direction, becoming more and more obsessed with finding political solutions to our societal failures, the less and less moral, prosperous, and free our society will be. Morality, prosperity, and liberty cannot be fostered at the point of a gun draped in democratic demands.  Such things can only come from within the hearts and minds of real, flesh-and-blood individuals on the ground, acting to build family, fellowship, and community based upon enthusiastic individual consent.

Let’s remove the burden from the police by repealing all laws that do not explicitly defend life and property.

Once family, fellowship, and community come to be represented by the government then what is sure to follow is the folly of state power: a permission-based society full of entitled masters and passive serfs where what is true, just, and beautiful takes a back seat to the trappings of state power and those who wield it.

In such a society, consent is not enthusiastic and individual but passive and general to the point where violence becomes institutionalized, opaque, and ultimately self-destructive for the vast majority of the population such violence is supposedly meant to defend. In taking up our causes, the state transforms our personal, explicit, and voluntary responsibilities to one another into general, vague, and outright coercive duties, hammering our natural “plowshares” into swords to be wielded by those with state power.

This is no petty point, for when we regard serving our fellow man as a personal responsibility, we posit a society of born-free individuals who are equal under the law and must help one another through voluntary aid and association. On the contrary, when we see our obligation to serve our fellow man as coercive state duty, we posit a society of rulers and subjects—rulers who need to instill in their subjects a “sense of virtue” by violently imposing whatever duties the state, as demanded by the people, deems desirable.

And in such a society, the cops will certainly be asked to do too much.

Positive and progressive change will not come from passively consenting at the ballot box or raucously marching to the sound of demagogues’ marching orders and laments. Change must come from within, person to person, day by day, helping to build the beautiful mosaic of community piece by piece.

So let’s remove the burden from the police and the impositions on the populace at the same time by repealing all laws that do not explicitly defend life and property. After that, there will still be many problems to solve, but at least we will then know most, if not all, societal failures are for us as individuals to solve and not the province of the state.

I Don’t Trust Cops   Leave a comment

This is Brad. My lovely wife consented to me posting if I didn’t get too crazy, so here’s me being light and humorous for a good cause.

I don’t trust cops. Maybe that seems odd to you because I have previously admitted that I am white. My “privilege” ought to make me mostly immune, right? White men never have anything to fear from cops. Right? That’s the mantra we’re supposed to believe. It’s important to say “Black Lives Matter” and it’s racist to point out that All Lives ought to matter.

Bull! There may be some black people who believe that and they sure want middle-class mostly-white America to believe it, but the fact is — cops are mostly about oppressing anyone who isn’t a cop.

Before I came to Alaska, I lived in a lot of places but I spent most of my teenage years in Staten Island and Ossining New York. Staten Island taught me early not to trust cops or Puerto Ricans. I’m sorry if you’re a Puerto Rican. It’s nothing personal, but a chick stabbed me in the back (literally) there. Why? I have no idea. I’m going to blame it on the color of my skin versus the color of her skin because I didn’t know her and I never received any explanation for why she would do that. So, I’m a little slow to warm up to Puerto Ricans. I know that about myself and I try to set it aside, but the fact is — once stabbed, twice shy.

The inner city can be a scary place and Ossining was filled with the children of residents of Sing Sing. Yes, that’s where the infamous prison is. In both places, I made friends by being one of the cool kids. We didn’t call it parkour yet, but we climbed walls, jumped alleys (not making that up), jumped over cars from our skateboards (not making that up either and unlike Tony Hawks, I did not need a ramp), and basically raised hell in the urban environment. To my knowledge, we never hurt anyone, stole anything or otherwise threatened anyone’s existence, but the cops hated us and my parents were called at least three times because I was having fun without official permission.

The thing is, most of my friends were white kids. It wasn’t a bigotry thing. I had a few black friends too (I was the cool white kid who could run up walls twice as high as our heads; of course they wanted to be my friend), but for some reason bussing integrated my neighborhood with Puerto Rican kids and not that many blacks. I can’t name a single black kid in my neighborhood who ever got in trouble for the things I did. They got in trouble for doing real shit — burglaries, burning down a fruit stand, strong-arming little old ladies for their Social Security. Maybe it’s just me, but I think those are real crimes that ought to be subject to police scrutiny. Parkour … not so much. Odd observation – the black kids that were hanging out with me … they didn’t get into trouble. Maybe they were better at outrunning the cops (although I was track team fast back in those days) or maybe the cops figured they were channeling their rebellion into healthier pursuits than armed robbery, but for some reason, they were exempt from being busted for having fun. Us white kids … no, we had to be controlled. Now, hanging out on street corner … for some reason, black people hanging out on street corners freaked the cops out more than our running up walls. Just an observation from my childhood.

I have a lot more stories, but Lela drew some lines around what I could share. I think you get the picture. I don’t like cops for a reason. I like to test the “wet paint” sign and if there are lines, I will waver over them just to see if they really have meaning. I’m not looking to hurt anyone, steal anything or damage anyone’s property, but I have difficulty following arbitrary rules that seemingly exist for no reason. If I’m capable of jumping over your car without even touching it, you shouldn’t object. And, the cops shouldn’t be able to arrest me for doing it if I didn’t do any harm.

So, what prompted this post was that I was stuck in traffic yesterday and watched as police pulled some guy over for a minor traffic violation. I had Lela verify this with a local reporter friend and it started as a brake light. I had all the time in the world thanks to construction delays to watch. First a single cop pulled the guy over and then two more police cars appeared. They all had their hands on their guns as they surrounded the car … for a freaking brake light. The one officer talked to the guy, who seemed nervous. Yeah, I’d be nervous too, guy, with five Kelvared cops standing around my car with their hands on their guns. Lela used her computer skills to check on the guy’s name and he got busted for possession of pot about 20 years ago. Pot, by the way, is now pretty much legal under Alaska law. Apparently the cop asked him if he could his vehicle. I’d have agreed in that situation too, dude. While the search was underway, the officer handcuffed this guy and humiliated him in front of everybody waiting for the construction to clear. And … then … then they uncuffed the guy and let him go. Lela says the police blotter recorded a citation for a brake light and noted his “cooperation” with “necessary protocols” and that the “suspect” appeared shifty. Yeah, the prospect of a traffic stop being escalated into being shot to death would make me appear shifty too.

For years now, I have been saying that cops ought to be treated like firemen. It’s not like they stop pretty much any crime from happening. It took them three hours to figure out what to do in Orlando and a couple of hours in San Bernardino. It took them two or three days of harassing innocent people to catch the Boston Bombers. When they are out patrolling the streets, if they don’t find trouble, they create it. They apparently feel they are authorized to mete out the death penalty for minor infractions and they don’t stop actual crimes. So why are they out there?

To oppress people and force us into compliance is what I think. You shoot one lawfully armed motorist and the rest of the country begins to rethink whether they should exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms or deny a Terry search. After all, are your rights worth being shot dead? Studies show that cops are a whole lot safer in the jobs today than workers in my profession. I’m an electrician. We are killed on the job at a rate nearly three times what cops are. Nobody authorizes me to shoot my coworkers for doing stupid, unsafe things on the job that endanger my life, so why are cops authorized deadly force?

Yeah, yeah, Lela already covered this.

I believe cops should stay at the police station and watch training videos in how to treat civilians with respect and due care, maybe with a perpetual loop that says “Ordinary people are not the enemy” over and over.

When the rare call comes in, they can be dispatched to the scene with body cameras that cannot be taken off or otherwise disabled. If they are involved in shooting a civilian, they should be tried for murder … just like you or I would be if we shot someone who didn’t draw a gun on us.

And while we’re at it, since we’re discussing who ought to be disarmed … the police kill far more citizens than all the mass shootings do … so, to be perfectly safe and fair, the police ought to be the first ones to give up their guns. Imagine the much more humble attitude they would exhibit at a traffic stop if the public was still armed, but they were not. Of course, there would be far fewer traffic stops if they had to remain at the police station until a call came in.

Just a prediction … if the cops stayed back at the barn until needed and didn’t have guns, but the public retained its right to protect itself … we’d see a huge drop in gun-related violence. I think it would reduce societal pressures incredibly. That’s just a theory based on a childhood of watching police oppression in action. Let’s test it. I, for one, would be glad to not see another cop for the rest of my life.

Food for Thought   Leave a comment


Posted July 9, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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