Posts from November 2007

Oops. Our bad.

In Lawrenceburg, Indiana last week, Kayla Irwin, a young single mother, got served and protected by a paramilitary police attack squad:

A SWAT team raids the wrong home in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, now the homeowner wants some answers.

Police said they were led to the Village Apartments on the trail of fugitive Sean Deaton.

Convinced he was inside apartment 407G, the Lawrenceburg SWAT unit surrounded the building.

It looked like they were ready to go to war, one neighbor said. Some of the ones out here had AR15’s and shotguns.

Neighbors said police spent hours, ordering Deaton to surrender.

But when that didn’t work, they responded with tear gas and forced entry.

— NBC News: SWAT Team Mistake Leaves Woman’s Home Wrecked

Only one problem. It turns out that the reason he didn’t come out to surrender is because he was never fucking there in the first place. They had the wrong apartment.

It looked like my apartment was on fire. The smoke was just blowing out of my windows, Kayla Irwin, the tenant of 407G said.

Irwin, a single mother of two, said she is unable to live in her apartment and didn’t even know the man police were searching for.

Now, she said, she has been left with the mess and no apology.

It’s all covered with poison. I don’t know where to start over with two kids, said Irwin. How do you start with replacing the items that your kids have had since the day they were born?

— NBC News: SWAT Team Mistake Leaves Woman’s Home Wrecked

You can see what the assault squad left when they were done in the video news story. The windows are all boarded up. The inside looks like a disaster area. The reporter who did the story still couldn’t stay in the apartment for long before the lingering tear gas residues made it intolerable to stand inside. Ms. Irwin’s neighbor, Emanuel Brightwell, a soldier who had just come back from clearing landmines in Iraq, said that he’d never seen anything like it, and that while the cops were ransacking her place, it looked like they were enjoying what they were doing. They did not need to do all this.

Irwin said she appealed to the police, but hasn’t gotten anywhere.

They basically just said, sorry for the inconvenience. Go ahead and clean it up. Clean up our mess, Irwin said.

She said she’s had to borrow everything from family in the week since the incident.

She also said she can’t stay in the apartment because of the acrid gas residue.

An assistant chief and another officer were at the Village Apartments talking to Irwin telling her that they would try to get some money so she could clean her clothes and furnishing on her own.

This is the first time this has happened. I’m surprised the incident has not been remedied. We will take care of it the best we can, the assistant chief said.

— NBC News: SWAT Team Mistake Leaves Woman’s Home Wrecked

Note that the boss cops had refused to do this, and barely even offered an apology for the damage that their own employees had caused, until the local TV news got involved. Once a reporter called the police department for a statement, it took about 30 minutes for an assistant police chief to make his way down to her apartment complex and make some vague offers to try and rustle up some petty cash to help her get her clothes and furniture cleaned.

In the real world, outside of statist power trip la-la land, when you fuck up somebody’s life like that and trash their house, all due to a mistake, you pay for what you did. That’s how civilized people step up and try to make it right. At a minimum, that would mean paying her expenses and her rent for the time she was unable to live in her own home, paying for a professional cleaning of the apartment, paying to replace anything that their goon squad destroyed, and paying restitution for the family pet that they killed in the process. Also, in the real world, when you have make this kind of thing right, you pay for it; you don’t just get to send a bill to a bunch of unwilling third parties who never agreed to get involved. Here, the people who pay for it should be the cops who trashed her house and the police commanders who ordered them to do it. And I mean pay for it out of their own personal accounts. Of course, public servants that they are, they will instead pass along whatever costs their fuck-up may incur straight to a bunch of innocent taxpayers who had nothing to do with the raid.

If you want to know why cops keep forming heavily-armed elite goon squads, and keep on indulging in this sort of macho paramilitary dick-swinging exercise, no matter how many times they end up ruining, hurting, or killing innocent people in the process, well, that’s the reason right there.

(Story via Karen De Coster @ LewRockwell Blog 2007-11-21.)

Coalition of Immokalee Workers marches in Miami

Fellow workers:

Right now, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers are marching in the streets of Miami, as part of their campaign to win wage increases for tomato pickers whose tomatoes are bought by Burger King. Here’s why.

Today, farmworkers from Immokalee, Florida and their religious, labor, and student allies are marching 9 miles through the streets of Miami to the world headquarters of Burger King.

Today we march because there is a human rights crisis in the fields of Florida. Tomato pickers who harvest tomatoes for the fast-food industry face sweatshop conditions every day, including sub-poverty, stagnant wages (pickers earn about $10,000/year on average and a per-bucket piece rate that has not changed significantly since 1978) and the denial of basic labor rights.

Today we march because to earn minimum wage for a 10-hour day, a tomato picker in Florida must harvest over TWO AND A HALF TONS of tomatoes.

Today we are marching because, in the most extreme cases, farmworkers face conditions of modern-day slavery. We have seen five slavery operations in the fields brought to the federal courts since 1997, helping to liberate over 1,000 workers and sending 10 employers to prison.

Today we march because Burger King contributes directly to farmworkers’ poverty through its high-volume purchasing practices, for decades demanding the cheapest tomatoes possible but never demanding fair treatment or just wages for the people who harvest those tomatoes.

Today we are marching because we have hope. In the past years farmworkers and consumers have united to bring Yum Brands (the world’s largest restaurant corporation) and McDonald’s to the table to help improve tomato pickers’ wages and working conditions.

Today we march because, in the wake of these changes, we stand on the threshold of a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida. Yet, facing this historic opportunity, Burger King has responded with lies and excuses to not take responsibility.

Today we are marching to say ENOUGH.

Today we are marching for the dignity of workers, consumers, and our communities alike.

JOIN US as we demand justice. Rally at Burger King headquarters this afternoon, 3:30 to 6:00, at Blue Lagoon Drive and NW 57 Ave.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (2007-11-30): Why We March

Migrant farmworkers in southern Florida spend every workday picking tomatoes by hand for 10 to 12 hours at a stretch, at a piece rate of $0.40–$0.45 for every 32 pound bucket that they fill (or about 1¼ to 1½ pennies per pound of tomatoes picked). Since that piece rate hasn’t changed since 1978, farmworker’s real wages have actually fallen by more than two thirds over the past three decades, thanks to the combination of the farm bosses’ efforts to stonewall wage increases and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep the market safe for finance capital by eating up the value of other people’s wages.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworkers’ union founded in 1993 and organized along community workers’ council lines, has been working to change all that. They are mostly immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean; many of them have no legal immigration papers; they are pretty near all mestizo, Indian, or Black; they have to speak at least four different languages amongst themselves; they are often heavily in debt to coyotes or labor sharks for the cost of their travel to the U.S.; they get no benefits and no overtime; they have no fixed place of employment and get work from day to day only at the pleasure of the growers; they work at many different sites spread out anywhere from 10–100 miles from their homes; they often have to move to follow work over the course of the year; and they are extremely poor (most tomato pickers live on about $7,500–$10,000 per year, and spend months with little or no work when the harvesting season ends). But in the face of all that, and across lines of race, culture, nationality, and language, the C.I.W. have organized themselves anyway, through efforts that are nothing short of heroic, and they have done it as a wildcat union with no recognition from the federal labor bureaucracy and little outside help from the organized labor establishment. By using creative nonviolent tactics that would be completely illegal if they were subject to the bureaucratic discipline of the Taft-Hartley Act, the C.I.W. has won major victories on wages and conditions over the past two years. They have bypassed the approved channels of collective bargaining between select union reps and the boss, and gone up the supply chain to pressure the tomato buyers, because they realized that they can exercise a lot more leverage against highly visible corporations with brands to protect than they can in dealing with a cartel of government-subsidized vegetable growers that most people outside of southern Florida wouldn’t know from Adam.

The C.I.W.’s creative use of moral suasion and secondary boycott tactics have already won them agreements with Taco Bell (in 2005) and then McDonald’s (this past spring), which almost doubled the effective piece rate for tomatoes picked for these restaurants. They established a system for pass-through payments, under which participating restaurants agreed to pay a bonus of an additional penny per pound of tomatoes bought, which an independent accountant distributed to the pickers at the farm that the restaurant bought from. Each individual agreement makes a significant but relatively small increase in the worker’s effective wages — about $100 more per worker per year in the case of the Taco Bell agreement — but each victory won means a concrete increase in wages, and an easier road to getting the pass-through system adopted industry-wide, which would in the end nearly double tomato-pickers’ annual income.

Since the victory in the McDonald’s campaign, the C.I.W. have turned their attention from the Clown to the Crown, and Burger King Inc. has mostly followed the same path as Yum! Brands and McDonald’s did. First they ignored them. Then they stonewalled them. Then they tried to make up some excuses, and had a P.R. flack make an ill-considered little funny about how distressed farmworkers should apply for a job at their stores. (If I recall correctly, that same exact joke was recycled from Taco Bell.) Unfortunately, before moving on to the inevitable last step — in which they cave, the C.I.W. wins, the farm workers get a bonus, and the fast food chain gets to issue a press release patting themselves on the back for their humanitarian buying standards — Burger King has decided to make a detour through some dirty anti-labor joint maneuvers with the Florida tomato growers’ cartel.

The Florida Tomato Growers’ Exchange is a cartel and legislative lobby which represents more than 90% of Florida’s tomato growers. It has recently set out to destroy the pass-through system. Since the bonuses are paid by the buyers, the system costs the farm bosses nothing to implement, and I’m not entirely clear what their interest is here (although, if I had to guess, they are probably worried that widespread success for the system would raise workers’ expectations about pay and conditions). Burger King and the cartel recently teamed up on a joint P.R. campaign intended to convince the eating public that farm workers are actually richer than most minimum-wage workers, and besides which the farm bosses pay for charity houses and scholarships for their poor kids. (The basis for their argument is a comparison of estimated hourly wages. Of course, the reliability of those hours, or the total annual income, is never mentioned.)

Meanwhile, the F.T.G.E. and Burger King have endorsed the cartel’s yellow-dog auditing agency, S.A.F.E. Reps from Burger King and the tomato cartel have also teamed up with a Republican state congressman to discredit the C.I.W., by claiming that the set-up looks fishy, denouncing nonviolent protest and consumer boycotts as extortion, and then insinuating that the pass-through system is little more than a channel for graft, and that C.I.W. is pocketing a skim. Since they have no empirical evidence for this claim, they have relied on innuendo and unsubstantiated soundbites, and they have refused to give any backing for their claims, while steadfastly ignoring the offers of participating restaurants, who dismiss the claim, to explain how the system works.

Meanwhile, Reggie Brown, the tomato cartel’s professional spokesdick, has invoked the spectre of federal prosecution, claiming that the C.I.W.’s voluntary pass-through system somehow violates federal antitrust and racketeering laws. Brown has also denounced the freely bargained agreements as un-American, apparently because they organized bosses’ divine right to control the terms of wage negotiations with no input from workers organizations or, for that matter, their customers. The cartel has publicly warned its members not to participate, and, behind the scenes, they have apparently threatened any member who participates in the penny-per-pound pass-through system with a $100,000 fine. As a result, while Taco Bell and McDonald’s are still willing to participate in the bonus system, all of the growers have, as of now, announced that they will not participate next year.

Well, fine. If they want to play hardball, let them play hardball. Workers are more than capable of hitting that hardball right back. The main danger, at this point, is that, with spokesdick Brown’s muttered fulminations about federal prosecution and the bosses’ enlistment of state government creeps on their side, this fight may get kicked from creative, nonviolent industrial action, over into the stifling atmosphere of legal and regulatory action. As long as the C.I.W., and the workers and consumers acting in solidarity with them, keep away from political action, we have all the resources we need to beat them. The Taco Bell boycott was won, after years of stonewalling, through fight-to-win tactics like working with sympathetic students to get Taco Bell franchises booted out of campus dining halls. This fight can be won through more of the same, and better. Never forget that the workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the weapons and property that the plutocrats have to attack us. As Robin Blumner writes in the St. Petersburg Times:

The coalition initially tried to convince the growers to pay the added penny but they wouldn’t budge, so the group sought to enlist fast-food giants instead. Go to the major buyers who have reputations to uphold and have them pay the penny. It was a brilliant stroke.

Consumers tend to respond well to a company they think is socially responsible, and the converse is true.

… According to [C.I.W. rep Julia] Perkins, there are growers willing to help their workers secure this additional wage but the exchange is standing in the way.

Both Yum Brands and McDonald’s say they are committed to their agreement with the coalition. It appears that for now, however, things are on hold until the coalition and these companies can figure out a way around the intransigence of the exchange.

This is how it often is in labor fights: Employers dig in so hard that even an extra penny – one that they’re not even paying – is too much to ask. No wonder they can’t find Americans to do this work.

In the meantime, the coalition is trying to convince Burger King Corp. to come aboard, and is planning a demonstration at its headquarters in Miami on Friday. Keva Silversmith, a Burger King representative, says that the Florida growers have a right to run their business how they see fit.

I guess expending the $250,000 it would cost Burger King is simply too much for a company that is paying its CEO $2.35-million a year.

Okay consumers, sic ’em.

— Robin Blumner, St. Petersburg Times (2007-11-25): At a penny per pound, a little adds up to a lot

Further reading:

Res ipsa loquitur

For those who may be curious, here’s my attitude towards the Ron Paul primary campaign. I would not vote for Ron Paul, even though I don’t have any in-principle objection to voting defensively in government elections. The short explanation is that I don’t vote for anti-abortion candidates, and I don’t vote for candidates who are significantly worse than the status quo on immigration. Unfortunately, whatever it’s other merits, Ron Paul’s campaign features both of these poison pills. On the other hand, currently he is running in a primary, and so to some extent I wish, without much hope, that he might somehow manage to defeat his current opponents, i.e., the other Republicans, i.e., that bunch of howling bare-fanged war-fascists.

But that’s about all the enthusiasm I’ve got. Many anti-war types and many libertarians are getting positively gleeful about the campaign, claiming that even if Ron Paul has little real hope for electoral victories, the campaign will at least provide a platform for outreach and education about libertarian and non-interventionist ideas, both through media notoriety and also through attracting an obviously enthusiastic and organizationally clever following of base supporters. For my part, I certainly hope that the Paulians learn something in the process, but the first problem is that Ron Paul’s positions, however preferable a select set of them may be to the positions espoused by the rest of the pack, are not libertarian; they’re Constitutionalist, which is something different. He can’t even always be counted on to mount principled, non-legalistic arguments against the war, and that issue’s the centerpiece of his campaign.

The second problem, even setting aside the ideological differences, is that the usual dynamics of electoral horse-racing, and the sometimes ridiculous tone of uncritical personal adulation toward Ron Paul’s personal virtues and the shining radiance of Ron Paul Thought, give me a lot of reason to fear that whatever lessons are drawn may very well be the wrong lessons, and that in any case the enthusiasm and activity around his campaign is likely to collapse into frustrated torpor more or less immediately after their sole vehicle for activism, the Ron Paul political machine, closes down for the season, and stays shuttered for the rest of a multiyear election cycle. Unless something changes, but soon, I see no reason to believe that the flurry of activity, as exciting as it may seem, is going to survive the end of this one maverick candidate’s personal electoral prospects.

Micha Ghertner recently posted a good article at The Distributed Republic, which touches on some similar themes and makes a number of other good points besides, focusing on the way in which the choice of electoral politics as a vehicle seriously hobbles the prospects for accomplishing much in the way of successful education about freedom or anti-imperialism through the Ron Paul machine. Thus:

But it is unreasonable to expect most of the target audience, having been successfully persuaded that Ron Paul is the candidate to support, to then go through the trouble of seperating the wheat from the chaff and come to the self-realization that implicit in Paul’s message of liberty is the notion that our focus should not be on selecting a candidate with admirable qualities such as honesty, integrity, and devotion to constitutional limits on government, but instead our focus should be on the inherent threat to liberty of the system itself, regardless of who happens to be temporarily at its helm. Bundling these two things together involves a self-contradiction between the medium and its message. Expecting people to ignore that contradiction, expecting people to hear the message we actually intend to send while rejecting the message of the medium itself, is expecting too much.

— Micha Ghertner, The Distributed Republic (2007-11-28): The Medium Is The Message: Why I Cannot In Good Conscience Support Ron Paul

Meanwhile, in the comments section, in order to prove that Ron Paul’s supporters really are approaching this from the standpoint of fair-minded principle, really are making the necessary careful distinctions, and really are putting principled concern for liberty over electoral politicking and partisan cheerleading, an anonymous paleo comes along in the comments to reply that You beltway libertarians are morons and that Micha’s remarks sound like the uninformed commentary of Hillary Clinton pollster.

Well, I guess it’s a fair cop. What could be more inside-the-Beltway than considered opposition to making an incumbent Congressman’s candidacy for the Presidency of the United States the main vehicle for your social and political vision, or encouraging means of activism, education, and resistance that bypass the machinery of the federal government?

Law and Orders #3: John Gardner of the Utah Highway Patrol tasers Jared Massey in front of his family for questioning why he was pulled over

Update 2007-11-29: Some of the quotes from commenters were re-ordered to correct for a misplaced copy-and-paste.

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely force their way into situations they have no business being in, use violence first and ask questions later, and pass off even the most egregious forms of violence against harmless or helpless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal. In order to stay in control of the situation, they have no trouble electrifying small children, alleged salad-bar thieves, pregnant women possibly guilty of a minor traffic violation, or an already prone and helpless student who may have been guilty of using the computer lab without proper papers on hand. They are willing to pepper spray lawyers for asking inconvenient questions and to beat up teenaged girls for not cleaning up enough birthday cake or being out too late at night. It hardly matters if you are an 82 year old woman supposedly benefiting from a care check, or if you are sound asleep in your own home, or if you are unable to move due to a medical condition, or if the cops attack you within 25 seconds of entering the room, while you are standing quietly against the wall with your arms at your sides. It hardly even matters if you die. What a cop can always count on is that, no matter how senselessly he escalates the use of violence and no matter how obviously innocent or helpless his victims are, he can count on his buddies to clap him on the back and he can count on his bosses to repeat any lie and make any excuse in order to find that Official Procedures were followed. As long as Official Procedures were followed, of course, any form of brutality or violence is therefore passed off as OK by the mainstream media, while a chorus of sado-fascist bully boys in the newspapers, talk shows, and the Internet will smear the victim and howl for the obliteration of any notion of restraints on the use of force in securing compliance with police demands. Then they will sanctimoniously explain how cops need to be able to shove you around and then beat and torture you with impunity so that they can protect you. Whether or we ever wanted or asked for their protection in the first place.

One increasingly popular means for out-of-control cops to force you to follow their bellowed orders is by using high-voltage electric shocks in order to inflict pain. Now, in fact, tasers were originally introduced for police use as an alternative to using lethal force; the hope was that, in many situations where cops might otherwise feel forced to go for their guns, they might be able to use the taser instead, to immobilize a person who posed a threat to them or to others, without killing anybody in the process. But in practice, police culture being what it is, any notion of limiting tasers to those situations very quickly went out the window. Cops armed with tasers now freely use them to end arguments by intimidation or actual violence, to coerce people who pose no real threat to anyone into complying with their instructions, and to hurt uppity civilians who dare to give them lip. They often do so even when the supposed offense that they’re responding to is completely trivial; they often start tasering, or keep on tasering, after their victims have already been rendered helpless by the circumstances or by an earlier use of force. Among civilized people, deliberately inflicting severe pain in order to extort compliance from your victim is called torture; among cops it is called pain compliance and is considered business as usual. So shock-happy Peace Officers can now go around using their tasers as 50,000-volt human prods in just about any situation, with more or less complete impunity. In those rare cases where media criticism, mass riots, or a lawsuit does force some minimal accountability on the police force, the handful of low-level officers who face punishment are portrayed as bad apples and the whole thing is written off as yet another isolated incident.

Last week, the latest isolated incident came to light thanks to a pending lawsuit and a dash camera video posted on YouTube. John Gardner, who works for the Utah Highway Patrol, pulled over Jared Massey on U.S. highway 40. Here is what happened:

The nearly 10-minute video clip, which has drawn nothing but negative comments toward the trooper on YouTube, shows Gardner approaching Massey’s SUV and asking for his driver’s license and registration. Massey asks how fast he was going, which prompts Gardner to repeat his request.

I need your driver’s license and registration — right now, the trooper says.

Massey continues to question Gardner about the posted speed limit and how fast he was going but hands over his papers. The trooper walks back to his car.

Gardner returns to the SUV and tells Massey he’s being cited for speeding. On the video, Massey can be heard refusing to sign the ticket and demanding that the trooper take him back and show him the 40 mph speed limit sign.

What you’re going to do — if you’re giving me a ticket — in the first place, you’re going to tell me why … Massey says.

For speeding, the trooper interjects.

… and second of all we’re going to go look for that 40 mph sign, Massey says.

Well you’re going to sign this first, Gardner says.

No I am not. I’m not signing anything. Massey says.

Gardner tells Massey to hop out of the car, then walks back to the hood of his patrol car, setting down his ticket book. Massey is close behind the trooper pointing toward the 40 mph speed limit sign he’d passed just before being pulled over.

Turn around. Put your hands behind your back, Gardner says. He repeats the command a second time as he draws his Taser and takes a step back.

The trooper points the Taser at Massey who stares incredulously at him.

What the hell is wrong with you? Massey asks.

Gardner repeats the command to turn around two more times as Massey, with part of his right hand in his pants pocket, starts to walk back toward his SUV.

What the heck’s wrong with you? Massey can be heard asking as Gardner fires his Taser into Massey’s back. Immobilized by the weapon’s 50,000 volts, Massey falls backward, striking his head on the highway. The impact caused a cut on Massey’s scalp.

— Geoff Liesik, Deseret Morning News (2007-11-21): Trooper’s Taser use pops up on YouTube

The newspaper account omits that at this point Massey is screaming in pain. While the cop kneels and handcuffs him, he gives Massey a lecture about how he should’ve followed my instructions.

Massey’s wife Lauren, who was seven months pregnant at the time, gets out of the SUV screaming and is ordered to get back in the vehicle or risk being arrested. Gardner handcuffs Massey and leaves him on the side of the highway while he goes to talk to Massey’s wife.

He’s fine. I Tasered him because he did not follow my instructions, Gardner explains to the audibly upset woman.

You had no right to do that! she responds. You had no right to do that!

While Gardner is still talking to Lauren Massey, her husband gets to his feet and approaches the trooper from behind. Gardner takes the handcuffed man back toward his patrol car and again orders Lauren Massey to stay in her vehicle or risk being arrested.

Officer you’re a little bit excited. You need to calm yourself down, Jared Massey tells Gardner before being put into the trooper’s patrol car where he continues to demand an explanation for his arrest.

— Geoff Liesik, Deseret Morning News (2007-11-21): Trooper’s Taser use pops up on YouTube

Gardner’s response was to sanctimoniously tell Massey, who never made any threatening motion, and who hardly even raised his voice until a weapon was pointed at him, that No, you’re a little excited, because you weren’t following my instructions. As he marches Massey to the police car, and informs him that he’s going to jail, Massey demands to be read his rights. The officer’s response is to threaten Massey with another shock from the taser. Please note that, at this point, Massey is already handcuffed and has done nothing other than talk back.

The video concludes with a demonstration of the cavalier buddy-buddy culture of policing:

When a backup officer arrives on the scene and asks Gardner what happened he tells them Massey took a ride with the Taser.

Oh, how was it? the unidentified officer asks.

Painful, isn’t it? Gardner responds.

— Geoff Liesik, Deseret Morning News (2007-11-21): Trooper’s Taser use pops up on YouTube

After they’ve finished jeering at their handcuffed victim, the other cop asks what happened, Gardner tells some plain lies about the sequence of events, and gets a clap on the back for his efforts. Meanwhile, the bellowing blowhard brigade chimes in in the reader comments:

This reminds me of what is wrong with America, and what, if not rectified will be the recipe for our demise. Respect. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, I was taught to respect authority. That meant my elders, law-enforcement, teachers, whatever. Kids now have this sense of entitlement that is unmatched anywhere else on this Earth. They think that if they make a mistake they can just hit the ‘reset’ button like on their video game and start over. Well, life is not like that. There was once what is called the Greatest Generation. This is not it. What we have is the Worst Generation. No wonder other countries hate us. We are gluttons in every thing we do. This sniveling little brat needs the full measure of the law brought against him and that trooper needs a pat on the back for doing his job. I’m still dumbstruck by this. To have it called into question like the officer was in the wrong. WAKE UP MORONS! It’s not the teacher, the officer, the bus driver, or etc. IT’S YOUR KID.

Erick, 12:44 a.m., 21 November 2007

Accept to sign the paper … Than between a trooper and a driver could be argue, misunderstand, etc. Next step to see a judge to have speeding charge or dismiss the ticket, which the judge, the driver and the trooper have neutral and work together. The trooper has a reason is protect himselif when the driver was too close to him. (the school or the trooper training trained him the rules).

–Anonymous, 6:17 a.m., 21 November 2007

Those officers out in the desert put their lives on the line every day. They don’t know when stopping someone if they are a housewife or a murderer. If an officer places you under arrest you don’t turn around and walk away. The guy was way out of line. Sign the ticket and fight it in court.

not right, 8:28 a.m., 21 November 2007

I think releasing the video is Massey’s way of testing the waters for his lawsuit. But as he should see, he’s not getting everyone on his side. He started the who incident by his disobedience to an officer. He left the officer no choice, and a jury will see that.

Testing the waters, 9:04 a.m., 21 November 2007

As for some requirement to show him the sign I have never heard of anything of the sort. The kid kept ranting about his rights. Funny. Too much tv for him

Relax, 9:44 a.m., 21 November 2007

Please also note that attempting to ask a police officer a question constitutes resisting police, and that a 50,000-volt electric shock is just a natural consequence of the resistance. Cops certainly haven’t any discretion in whether or not to escalate the use of force:

It amazes me that people think that they can resist police and expect to not suffer the consequences. The man was willfully disobeying a lawful command from an officer, and got tasered for it. Why should anyone be surprised? If it were otherwise, everyone would be non-compliant towards officers. If the guy felt that he was being ticketed erroneously, he should have fought his battle in the courtroom, not on the street.

Jim, 7:42 a.m., 21 November 2007

Note that Gardner never, at any point in the video, claimed that anything that Massey did in the encounter was threatening or that he felt he had to defend himself. He explicitly stated, over and over again, to Jared Massey, to his wife, and to a fellow cop, not that the reason for his actions was self-defense, but that it was to coerce compliance. Gardner also never told Massey that he was under arrest until after knocking Massey to the ground with his taser. However, cop enablers are not about to let the mere evidence of their senses get in the way of fabricating excuses for police violence:

Everyone knows you can’t approach a cop from behind, especailly after you have refused to sign the ticket (which you have to do). Then you walk away when he tells you 4 times to put his hands behind his head. The taser wasn’t called for, and then the reason why he was getting pulled over was shady for sure. And the cop started to lie to the other officer in the video about what happended. Both in the wrong, but the kid posed a clear threat by walking behing the officer (twice in fact). STUPID!!!

Both are in wrong!!, 7:32 a.m., 21 November 2007

From the video I saw, the guy deserved it. He was ignoring orders, started to walk back to his car and started to put his right hand in his pocket. I can see why the officer wanted to end his refusal to obey right then. It’s easy to see that the officer might have been concerned that the guy was going to reach for a gun, or go get one from his car, or just get in his car and take off. Had the driver obeyed, there would have been no need for the Taser. But, looks to me like he asked for it. No sympathy from me.

Deserved it, 8:41 a.m., 21 November 2007

It is pretty apparent from the you tube video that the gentleman that was tasered was not cooperative with the officer. While he had a right to ask the questions he asked, he has a responsibility to follow the directions given him by police. I stand by the officer; when someone chooses to act the way this gentleman did, and place an officer in a situation where he may feel at risk, that person has to accept the consequences for his actions.

Derek, 9:19 a.m., 21 November 2007

Third, you start walking away from a cop that is telling you that you’re under arrest, expect something bad to happen.

l, 10:11 a.m., 21 November 2007

I think the officer was well within his rights to protect himself. When a command is given, you obey it? If you don’t then it is considered not compliance, then you fry them.

Funny, 12:58 p.m., 21 November 2007

Meanwhile, an anonymous contemptuous thug asks:

OK all you couch-Cops, once the guy refused the cop’s orders and was walking back to his car, clearly to drive away, what do you think the cop should have done? Some how, some way, he had to keep the driver from doing that. Had he not, how do we know there wouldn’t have been a much more dangerous high-speed chase. It’s clear the guy wasn’t going to sign the ticket, and when you don’t do that, cops are instructed to arrest. The solution wasn’t to let the guy go free just because he disagreed. The driver caused this confrontation.

Better suggestion, 9:00 a.m., 21 November 2007

Even if it were clear, which it certainly is not, that Massey intended to drive away, the notion that the cop Some how, some way … had to keep the driver from doing that is completely preposterous. If he just drove off, then the cop can bloody well look up his license plate number and mail him the ticket. But the notion of letting a Bad Guy temporarily get away with a minor speeding infraction is so repugnant to the nature of both cops and their sycophants that no solution other than a 50,000-volt shock on the side of the road even comes to mind.

Meanwhile, while many commenters show a healthy outrage at Gardner’s obviously abusive behavior, most of them seem to feel compelled to pepper their statements with cavils about how Massey could have acted better, or about how I support police officers, I have sympathy for the difficult situations policemen face, both people behaved badly, The public should be respectful of law enforcement as a matter of principle, etc. etc. etc. Most of those who suggest a concrete penalty for Gardner suggest that he should be reprimanded, or re-trained, or reassigned to a desk job, or temporarily suspended, or perhaps even fired. To hell with that. The behavior of both Gardner and his fellow cops, based on the contents of the video and the laggard pace of the investigation, is despicable. Gardner should be indicted and prosecuted for assault and battery, and he should be forced to personally pay compensation for Massey’s pain and suffering.

If you’re baffled that cops could feel free to indulge in this kind of outrage, and that numerous fellow cops, prosecutors, and freelance bullies would rush to defend it, while even the opponents make only timid and isolated efforts at mild criticism, it may help to remember that in most of America, there is no such thing as a civil police force anymore. What we have instead would be better described as elite paramilitary cadres, often referred to as Troopers and organized into a chain of command with military ranks, who are occupying what they regard as hostile territory. Here as elsewhere, the occupation forces are going to serve and protect us, whether we want them to or not, and if we don’t like it then they’ve got more than enough firepower to make sure they can protect the hell out of us all anyway.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: November 25th
Today, November 25th, is the first day of 2007’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The 16 Days run from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (International Human Rights Day). Sokari at Black Looks (2007-11-25) has a good run down on the events of the 16 Days, and a powerful statement of what it’s all about:

One fundamental problem is that because gender based violence is so common across the world that it has been normalised – through actions, language, imagery, pornography – and it is this normalisation that has to be broken. I spoke of my own personal experience of domestic violence. But the violence didn’t start there. I have had a life time of it from my child hood, of sexual harassment – touching, misogynist language, presumptions, jokes, looks, homophobia – it becomes a constant battle not to internalise the abuse. As a teenager I used to think it must be my fault – I am to sexual and that’s why this is happening. There was also the added racial element which expressed itself differently depending on whether in Africa or in the West. I did not know where to turn or how to deal with any of this. All of us girls were experiencing similar abuse. With my father acting like a – prison guard when it came to boys/men, I was way too scared to talk to my parents about it even too my mother. The strict environment left no doors open in which to try to discuss this with family members for fear of being grounded to the house. Looking back I probably thought it was normal – we girls and women are the one’s responsible for arousing men who then cannot help themselves. Unfortunately much of society still believes and accept this ridiculous explanation for acts of violence against women.

All our denials – women, men, parents, families, communities – will certainly not protect us. On the contrary it sustains and even encourages acts of violence against women………

It is a scourge that preys on women and girls of ALL nations, of ALL cultures. It is gender-based violence – and it continues to grow, encouraged by the silence surrounding the issue and excused by reference to cultural norms. At the dawn of the 21st Century it is a very negative reflection of global society that violence against women is increasing throughout the world. Gender-based violence is the social, psychological and economic subordination of women and occurs in ALL societies. Violence against women is a complex phenomenon deeply rooted in the way society is composed – cultural beliefs, power relations, economic power imbalances, and the masculine ideal of male dominance

— Sokari, Black Looks (2007-11-25): International Day Against Violence Against Women

Cara at feministe (2007-11-25) adds:

And as a blogger, I encourage all others to blog on the topic as much as possible for the next 16 days (and thereafter). Of course, blogging is neither the only nor most effective method of activism, but I also think that it plays an important role. If you read liberal blogs that don’t normally cover gender issues, strongly encourage them to participate (and demand answers if they won’t). If you run a non-feminist blog, or read other non-feminist blogs by writers that you know care about women, let them know and encourage them to blog about the issue, too. The issue of gender violence is an absolutely massive one, considering the many forms that violence can and does take and all of the intersections of race, sexual orientation, age, nationality, class, religion, location, etc. It has more dimensions than I imagine the combined efforts of every feminist blogger working diligently for the entire 16 days could fully cover. And that’s why it’s so important to say as much as we can. I will be covering the issue of gender violence as much as possible on my own blog for the 16 Days.

I would like to see my fellow libertarians and anarchists, in particular, take up this challenge. Violence against women, when not simply waved off as a fabrication of p.c. academic feminists, is far too often dismissed or marginalized as if it were an isolated personal problem in a few unusual relationships, or a freakish phenomenon of some benighted and far-away cultures, or among the tragic but perhaps inevitable misfortunes of the female sex. Male violence against women is, in fact, pervasive, systemic, and universal, both abroad and in your own neighborhood. It is the result of the deliberate and systematic practice of men — including individual men who personally commit violence against women, men in positions of political power who order or encourage or permit violence against women under the color of their authority, and also men who cultivate and disseminate a misogynistic culture in the form of jokes, artworks, ads, literature, sermons, journalism, pornography, and overt propaganda. Understanding the nature of the individual violent actions — wife beating, date rape, stalking, groping, rape as a weapon of war, etc. — is of fundamental importance; and so is understanding the backdrop of misogynistic attitudes, practices, and institutions that nurture and sustain this systemic violence through an ideology of male supremacy and men’s right to use harassment, intimidation, and force to control their women.

Libertarianism and anarchism profess to to be a comprehensive theory of human freedom; what supposedly distinguishes the anti-statist theories of justice is that they concern themselves with violent coercion no matter who is practicing it, no matter what ideological-mystical excuses may be used to cover over the violent domination. What feminists have forced into the public eye over the course of the last 40 years is the fact that we live in a society where one out of every four women faces rape or battery by an intimate partner (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000), and where women are threatened or attacked by men who profess to love them, because the men coercing them believe they have a right to control their women. Male violence against women is nominally illegal but nevertheless systematic, motivated by the desire for control, culturally excused, and hideously ordinary. For libertarians and anarchists, confronting the full reality of male violence means nothing less than recognizing the existence of a violent political order working alongside, and independently of, the violent political order of statism. As Catharine MacKinnon writes, Unlike the ways in which men systematically enslave, violate, dehumanise, and exterminate other men, expressing political inequalities among men, men’s forms of dominance over women have been accomplished socially as well as economically, prior to the operation of the law, without express state acts, often in intimate contexts, as everyday life (1989, 161). We must recognize the systemic violence and terror of male dominance as a politically coercive order, even though it is usually carried out in society, independently of the state apparatus, and we must oppose and resist it for precisely the same reasons that we oppose the violence and terror of the State.

Although neither directed nor coordinated by any central authority, male violence against women, and the spontaneous disorder of male supremacy that emerges from these countless acts of violence and intimidation, have their own ideological rationalizations, their own propaganda, their own expropriation, and their own violent enforcement, all of which are made invisible by the same male supremacist culture, and made to pass as sex, love, and daily life between men and women. Although often in league with the male-dominated state, male violence is older, more invasive, closer to home, and harder to escape than most forms of statism. To seriously oppose all political violence, libertarians need to fight, at least, a two-front war, against both statism and male supremacy. I urge my comrades to join me, and to join the many women in every nation of the world who are organizing to expose, to resist, and finally to end systemic male violence against women — immediately, completely, and forever.