Rad Geek People's Daily

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Cops are here to protect you. (#3)

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 14 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

Let’s review.

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely force their way into situations where they are hardly needed or wanted; they deliberately escalate confrontations in order to get control of the situation through superior belligerence; they routinely hurt people, use force first and ask questions later; and they invariably pass off even the most egregious violence against harmless or helpless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal. In order to to coerce compliance with their arbitrary commands, they have no trouble electrifying small children, pregnant women, 82 year old women who just want their social workers to leave them alone, alleged salad-bar thieves, 75 year old grandmothers guilty of blocking the line at a McDonald’s drive-through, 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 beat a handcuffed woman bloody for demanding to use the phone, to slam a 13-year-old boy to the ground and choke him in order to arrest him for the crime of skateboarding in public, to rough up teenaged girls who don’t clean up enough spilled birthday cake or walk home too late at night, or to throw a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair for not standing up on command. When they deal with non-police officers (the people that we call our friends and neighbors, and who the police contemptuously dismiss as civilians), they have been trained to assert full-spectrum dominance at every opportunity, and they are willing to end a tiresome argument with pain compliance techniques, which include pepper spraying lawyers who ask inconvenient questions, or using a 50,000-volt electric shock to disable an unarmed, retreating woman, or tackling a 17-year-old girl and tasering her while she lies helpless in her own bed, or shocking a man in front of his family and leaving him lying on the side of the highway (in order to make absolutely sure they could serve him with a dubious traffic ticket). It hardly matters if you cannot obey their commands because you are sound asleep in your own home. It hardly matters if you can’t move due to a medical condition, or can’t hear their bellowed orders because you’re deaf. It hardly even matters if you die. What cops can always count on is that, no matter how aggressively they escalate the confrontation in the name of control, no matter how quickly they resort to violence, and no matter how obviously innocent or helpless their victims are, they can always count on their bosses and their colleagues to repeat absolutely any lie and make absolutely 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 boss cops, and the judgment will be dutifully repeated by fellow cops, by prosecutors, by judges, by much of the news media, and by the hordes of freelance howling cop-enablers who rush into any media forum they can find to publish excuses for any and every cop accused of brutality, while they also use absolutely any means necessary to smear, humiliate and blame any and every victim who ever comes forward.

Even if a cop arrests an assault victim for interfering with the Investigation of her own assault, and then forces her into a cell where she can be strip-searched, over her screams of protest, with male guards wrenching her arms and holding her down, we are informed that these gang rapists were Just Following Orders. Cops are also elaborately trained in the use and abuse of the legal system, and know very well which judges are most likely to absolve them of any wrongdoing. The completely unsurprising result is that violent cops hardly ever face any personal costs whatsoever for their actions: if anything happens at all, the worst of it is usually that they are given a paid vacation and an administrative reprimand, or at worst they may be fired. Even if they are fired, they are hardly ever face legal consequences for their violence, and if they do, the city government can be relied on to settle and force taxpayers to cover the tab. Even if they are sued, they are hardly ever arrested for their violence. And even if they are arrested, they are hardly ever convicted. It doesn’t even matter if they as much as confess in open court. With few exceptions, the best that most victims of police violence can realistically ever hope for by way of compensation is an Oops, our bad, and a Fuck you, civilian is what they are far more likely to get. No matter how many times these same things happen, again and again, and no matter how often they are repeated within the same police department–or even at the same shift in the same office–and no matter how widely they are repeated in so many different police departments across so many different cities and counties, every time the latest outrage comes up in the newsmedia, a cop mouthpiece can be expected to say, and the establishment media can be expected to dutifully report, that nobody should rush to judgment, that they should dismiss eye-witness testimony and even the evidence of their senses in order to give the cops every possible (and some impossible) benefit of the doubt, and that even if these cops did do something wrong, well, it’s just A Few More Bad Apples committing Yet Another Isolated Incident. If anyone so much as dares to suggest that something may be systemically wrong here, beyond what can be fixed by punishing a few bad cops, or through superficial reforms and sensitivity training, then they are dismissed by comfortable political Moderates as irresponsible crazies, while cops and their sycophants can be expected to respond with the usual fragile macho flash of crying about how they get no respect, while sanctimoniously bellowing about how they risk so much serving and protecting those who never asked for, and never freely agreed to, their service or their protection.

The result, which is completely predictable and completely outrageous, is that individual cops and entire police departments in America deliberately take on the posture of occupying paramilitary forces, with the express intent of spreading fear in what they regard as hostile territory, and that, on a daily basis, many cops routinely engage in rampant, intense, unchecked violence against anyone and everyone who happens to get in their way or look at them funny, no matter how many options the cops may have and no matter how harmless or helpless their victims may be. Thus, while investigating his neighbors, they will happily break into a suspect 60-year-old man’s home, while he is recovering from surgery, trash his house without a warrant or probable cause, rip a catheter out of his body, and leave him there to suffer without medical attention, even after they apparently found absolutely nothing to indicate his guilt:

HARTFORD, Conn. — A man alleges that police entered his home illegally and ripped a catheter from his body during a child pornography investigation that led to the arrest of two neighbors.

Andrew Glover, 60, of New Britain filed a notice with the city Thursday that he intends to pursue a federal civil rights lawsuit. He accused the officers of inflicting severe injuries as he was recovering from intestinal surgery in February.

Glover’s lawyer, Paul Spinella, said police entered Glover’s apartment Jan. 30 and Feb. 28. Glover wasn’t involved in child pornography, has not been charged and has no criminal record, Spinella said.

The poor guy, Spinella said. They ripped the catheter off his person. They assaulted the guy. He’s got major problems as a result of this. He’s a mess now.

Lt. James Wardwell, a police spokesman, said Friday that the department had not received the intent-to-sue notice and would not comment. A message was left for the city’s corporation counsel.

Glover has two years to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Spinella said officers tossed Glover’s apartment during a search Jan. 30. In February, he said, Glover returned home from the hospital after his surgery to find officers searching his apartment again. That’s when they assaulted Glover and left him alone in the apartment without calling for medical help, Spinella said.

The police didn’t have search warrants, Spinella said.

— Associated Press (2008-05-09): Connecticut Man Says Cops Broke Into His Home and Ripped Out His Catheter

Meanwhile, in Kamloops, British Columbia, in order to subdue a frail 82 year old man, on an oxygen tank, who had undergone heart bypass surgery, who could not hurt anyone outside the reach of a small knife, cops were willing to blast him three times in the chest with a 50,000-volt electric shock while he lay helpless in his hospital bed. Because they had work to get done that night:

An elderly man in Kamloops, B.C., was zapped three times on the torso by a police stun gun while lying on his hospital bed, CBC News has learned.

Frank Lasser, 82, appeared fragile Thursday when he showed the Taser marks on his body and talked about the ordeal he went through Saturday.

They [police] should have known I had bypass surgery, Lasser told CBC News.

Lasser has had heart surgery and needs to carry an apparatus to supply oxygen at all times. He was in the Royal Inland Hospital Saturday due to pneumonia but has since been released.

RCMP said nurses called police after Lasser became delirious and pulled a knife out of his pocket.

Lasser told CBC News that he sometimes becomes delusional when he can’t breathe properly. He said he couldn’t explain why he refused to let go of the knife even after the Mounties arrived. I was laying on the bed by then and the corporal came in, or the sergeant, I forget which it was, and said to the guys, OK, get him because we got more important work to do on the street tonight, Lasser said.

And then, bang, bang, bang, three times with the laser, and I tell you, I never want that again.

Kamloops RCMP said Thursday that officers had no other option but to deploy the conducted energy weapon when Lasser refused to drop his knife.

— CBC News (2008-05-09): RCMP subdue hospitalized man, 82, with Taser

In Philadelphia, a police commissioner says that, while On the surface, it certainly does not look good, people should not rush to judgment over an aerial video which clearly shows a swarm of Philadelphia police officers dragging suspects out of a car, then repeatedly beating and kicking them while they lay handcuffed and held down on the ground. Remind me again of how the good guys who do this are morally any different from the Bloods or the Crips?

The reason that you should suspend your judgment on this vicious gang beat-down of helpless, restrained suspects by a huge crowd of the Gangsters in Blue is that The video is the video … We have no audio. You don’t know what was going on at that moment when the officers approached the vehicle. There will be an investigation and we will move on.

Well. I am sure that after The Matter Is Investigated, and nothing of any consequence happens to these dangerous, heavily armed, tightly-organized gangs of batterers, the Philadelphia Police Department and city government sure will move on, with business as usual, and not a damn thing will change. Besides which, think of how hard the poor cops have it when a fellow cop was killed on the job not long ago. Because those trained professionals who, at every opportunity, sanctimoniously inform us of all the risks that they voluntarily take on For Our Own Good, cannot possibly be expected to do their jobs without beating the shit out of helpless captives if it should ever happen that one of them is hurt or killed. This is how these dedicated public servants serve and protect the public: by hurting innocent or helpless people under their power, by taking out the stress and risks of their own chosen profession on members of the public who pose no threat to them, and then by lying, dissembling, making excuses, and crying about it if anyone should happen to take issue with this reign of terror being carried on by peace officers in the name of Public Safety. Cops are here to protect you. Cops are here to protect the hell out of you, whether you want it or not, and you had better not get in the way.

When every fucking week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police department almost invariably doing everything in its power to conceal, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, it beggars belief to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here, that cops ought to be given every benefit of the doubt, and that any blanket condemnation of American policing is a sign of hastiness and unfair prejudice. The plain fact is that what we have here is one of two things: either a professionalized system of control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people–or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

(Via Scott Hagaman @ Scottish Nous 2008-05-10: Is Bad Cop Redundant Yet?, Mike Gogulski @ nostate.com 2008-05-09: Philadelphia police beating restrained suspects: video, Lindsay Beyerstein @ Majikthise 2008-05-09: Cops tase 82-year-old heart patient in bed, and Pam Spaulding 2008-05-09: Canada: 82-year old heart patient Tased in hospital bed.)

Further reading:

16 replies to Cops are here to protect you. (#3) Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. David Houser

    Have you checked out the comments on these stories? As I read the CBC story about the 82 year old man this morning, I noticed there were over 500 comments, and was silly enough to think that at least a good portion of them would be critical of the cops in such an obviusly extreme case, but nope, first one out of the gate suggests that an octagenarian who’s had heart surgery, was sick with pneumonia, and was on oxygen at the time was lucky he wasn’t shot! The vast majority of commenters weren’t far behind in their support of the pigs. Even if, as one commenter suggests, a lot of those kind of comments are left either by cops or spouses of cops, a hell of a lot of them aren’t, so I wonder where a line might ever be drawn when a critical mass of people just plain stop taking it?

  2. Mike Gogulski

    David, if you liked those, check out the comments on this story from Niagara Falls, NY: link

  3. Rad Geek


    Chicago city Alderman Isaac Carothers actually said more or less exactly the same thing six months ago, when an 82-year-old black woman, Lillian Fletcher, was tasered in her own apartment and sent to the hospital for five days, by a pair of cops who forced their way into her apartment, without a warrant and against her will, so that a professional busybody social worker could do a wellness check:

    It’s very unfortunate that it had to result to that, but I certainly understand. I’m pleased that they decided not to shoot her and they decided not to tackle her and that they didn’t use the night stick, which may have been options if someone is swinging a hammer at you.

    There is absolutely nothing so low or so vicious that some government official or freelance sado-fascist police enabler won’t befoul the Internet, and any other medium they can get into, with a bunch of victim-blaming excuses for it, as long as the thugs doing it have badges and guns.

  4. Aster

    I don’t think the primary trouble is with the cops. The cops are made possible by a society with an ethos that the good is simply something that you do because you ‘have to’, because you ought, because you owe it to society, and that all human civilisation rests upon authority and obedience. The parents, the churches, the class structure teach everyone that a person who doesn’t obey the tribe and play its game is a threat to everyone else. The tolerance of police thuggery is but a consequence.

    The hideous comments David Houser alluded to show that the essential problem is not internal to police culture- people in the larger society think that you have to keep order, no matter what. They treat their wives and children and employees this way- and even if they are the wives and the children and the employees they probably don’t question the basic view of human beings and society which inevitably leads to people being tasered to make them ‘behave’. They just get upset that someone else is on top (and never mind that when you have this atavistic morality, men of prestige and violence will always come out on top.)

    This is the reason it has been impossible to rally ineffective opposition to authoritarianism in America- people don’t object to authoritarianism because they share its mind- even most libertarians and progressives. Here, the libertarians merely obsess that the authority is wielded by the state and not civil society and the most of the left is more concerned with the fact that one group is lording it over another than with the ethos of authority shared by all the groups.

    Everyone paying attention knows by now that America has a gulag scale prison system where rape and torture are simple part of the social order. And yet it is impossible to get significant numbers of people to care. Yes, this is because the system continually rewards the type of people that don’t care- but the ‘system’ starts in childhood and doesn’t change much across class lines; even if the oligarchy helped create this kind of culture (and it clearly and consciously did in the last generation and a half), today the oligarchy’s values are shared by the public at large. In fact to a large degree I think the authoritarianism of the American public makes an oligarchy inevitable. If the elite and the cops were to disappear tomorrow, the public would rise up a new elite and a new set of cops as bad as the old ones.

    The police conduct the worst and most direct physical brutality, yes. They’re bastards- I’ve certainly myself a few stories. But what makes it possible is all the ‘good Germans’… er, ‘good Americans’- all the nice everday people who teach their kids from day zero to conform and obey if they want to get ahead; who prize ‘getting ahead’ (and ‘getting along’) more than integrity or happiness; who believe that we have to stuff our humanity down deep if we’re to be civil to everyone else and hide miserable nastiness under suffocating demands for public neatness and politeness.

    The dominant cultures in America take it as common sense that rights are mainly the property of ‘good citizens’, which primarily means those people who are best at showing their compliance to others. American meritocracy has become a system which is ‘individualist’ only in the sense that it expects people to ruthless compete with each other to see who is best at conforming and obeying, and in the sense that the most idiotic forms to personal gratification are available to those who win the bloody game well enough.

    People can’t complain about police abuses because they share the premises of the police. When people revere the inner policeman in their hearts (or the big one in the sky) as the most necessary part of their souls, they will never be effective at combating even gross and obvious police brutality because they share the mindset that causes it and only object to the last consequence of visible violence and blood. Patriarchs who believe women should keep in their place can’t stop wife-beating even when they genuinely believe in paternalism without violence. The ‘good patriarchs’ endlessly blame the ‘bad patriarchs’ and never get that the difference between the two is merely one of degree and circumstance. And unfortunately in patriarchy most of the wives feel the same way (they’ve been brought up with the same values, and survive to the degree they adopt them), and their absolutely just complaints about their own oppression too often translate merely into more demands for resources to put down the bad patriarchs without any challenge to the system. American police statism is simply the bad patriarch of a generally authoritarian culture.

    The average German in Hitler’s time probably didn’t want to murder Jews, but shared a warped view of society, ethics, and history which caused them to see Jews as a ‘problem’. Similarly, the average American today probably doesn’t believe that gays, social deviants, drug users, poor people, or whatever should be treated in the way they are. But they don’t do anything to stop it because they do basically feel that such people aren’t being good and behaving as they ‘ought to’ (and ‘ought to’ no matter what was done to them or what real chance they have to do anything else). They don’t believe gay men should be bashed but do believe gay men are a threat to others, or at least bad people for being themselves at the ‘expense’ of others’ conventions. They believe that poor people must be bad if they didn’t succeed because they take for granted a respect for the virtues which result in success in a heirarchical society. It’s all just parents beating on children in the sincere (and of course also ideological) belief that they are performing the most necessity of social duties and defending good by beating down the bad.

    The good Americans abhor the means but share the ends, and no matter how obvious it becomes that the ends necessitate the means they won’t give up on them because their bedrock sense of morality and personal identity makes these ends the unchallengable basics of civilised life. If you believe that civilisation depends on everyone working hard in order to be rewarded for serving the group you will not be able to prevent thugs from coming to power on the promise that they will make everyone do what they ought to do anyway. It’s not the thugs that did it. It’s the non-thugs who falsely believe that the thug’s virtues are responsible for everything good and true in this world.

    Nothing can change the direction of the political system as long as these values pervade a culture. Most attempts to prevent the disaster include in themselves the worldview which causes it, and those that do not simply have no traction and appeal with mainstream society because they implicitly or explicitly contradict its basic understandings. We now have a homo Americanus to match homo Sovieticus- a new competitive, commercial, it’s-all-your-fault, ‘devil-take-the-hindmost’ variety of collectivist soul.

  5. john galt

    Oh wow, Well said, Aster. If you don’t mind me asking, is this essay/comment entirely original? Because I would be very interested in reading its underlying work.

  6. mack520

    If the average prosecutor had any greater interest than their conviction rate, the police state wouldn’t be nearly so advanced and unstoppable as it is. While cops may lie routinely, DAs and Judges often welcome this behavior. In many jurisdictions ( Boulder, Colorado, as an example) DAs use the system to persecute anyone who doesn’t toe their PC line, actively aided by the police and judiciary. While its routine for DAs to pervert justice,they are seldom criticized for it, and a Mike Nifong outcome is one a billion or so. Cops act like brown shirts because A. they can get away with it, and B. they are often encouraged to do so by the system

  7. Discussed at politicalinquirer.com

    The Demise of Smalltown Police « The Political Inquirer:

    […] Demise of Smalltown Police Posted on May 11, 2008 by Lance Good article at RadGeek on the militarization of the police over the last twenty years. Here, cops have nothing […]

  8. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-05-11 – Cops are here to protect you. (#4):

    […] GT 2008-05-10: Cops are here to protect you. (#3) […]

  9. Aster


    Well, ’tis original in the sense that I wrote it. The ideas are obviously derivative of Ayn Rand, with influence from Alice Miller, Ellen Willis, Riane Eisler, etc- if that’s what you mean by underlying work.

    Otherwise, you’re welcome to email me as aster_perelandra@hotmail.com if you wish.

· June 2008 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-06-03 – Cops are here to protect you. (#6):

    […] GT 2008-05-10: Cops are here to protect you. (#3) […]

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-05-20 – Cops are here to protect you. (#5):

    […] GT 2008-05-10: Cops are here to protect you. (#3) […]

· December 2008 ·

  1. Keith Ashline

    I blame the Local and State Governments for the way the Cops are such bullies in the above rant. They pass more and more laws to make more and more of what you do just plain illegal. Like having a cigerette. They come up with curfew laws, seat belt laws, cameras all over the damn place. Just look it up yourself how many new laws have been passed in the last 15 years and people just accept this. The Taxes and fees are another thing. We need to stop them from picking our pock- ets or vote them out. There are now too many Cops considering we are supposed to have a lower crime rate. I mentioned the cameras, traffic- cams and technology can cut the Police force down and funding cuts and repeal a lot of these DAMN Marxist laws.

— 2009 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-06-22 – The Police Beat:

    […] GT 2008-05-10: Cops are here to protect you. (#3) […]

— 2011 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2011-01-28 – Non-Lethal Force (Cont’d):

    […] Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. Among the most highly trained, and therefore most domineering and violent, are the members of urban SWAT teams, who go beyond everyday bullying and instead are trained to think of themselves as paramilitary strike forces who are occupying hostile territory, and engaged in a war of classic counter-insurgency. […]

— 2014 —

  1. Discussed at www.copblock.org

    Cop Block "Non-Lethal Force" by Rad Geek | Cop Block:

    […] Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. Among the most highly trained, and therefore most domineering and violent, are the members of urban SWAT teams, who go beyond everyday bullying and instead are trained to think of themselves as paramilitary strike forces who are occupying hostile territory, and engaged in a war of classic counter-insurgency. […]

  2. Felix Wilde

    Yes, Keith, the root cause of cops torturing and murdering innocent people isn’t a culture of enforced conformity and the need to sublimate individuality in order to pursue a more vigorous nationalism, it’s damn nanny state seatbelt laws.

    This argument is capped off with a nonsensical invocation of Marxism as the spectre looming behind all your bugbears. Have you read any Marx? I don’t recall any references to the importance of a nanny state to ending labour exploitation and class hegemony in his writings, nor those of his acolytes Trotsky, Gramsci, Fanon, Sartre or deBord.

    This is why left libertarians and anarchists outside America think American libertarianism today is a poorly formulated and misdirected movement. Conservatives and those who think the most important and endangered expression of liberty is their drunk driving through school roads have all boarded the wagon, and as a result it’s lost its momentum and direction (though Aster’s thoughts above about American libertarians only opposing statist authority and violence are interesting).

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