The Police Beat

I recently mentioned a story that POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine ran a couple weeks ago, in which Dean Scoville was outraged by the outrage over an El Monte police kicking a prone Suspect Individual in the head after he’d already surrendered to police. (Scoville also openly praises extrajudicial punitive police beat-downs as an institutional practice, longing for a time when post pursuit ass-kickings were obligatory.)

Anyway, the week after they ran Scoville’s ill-tempered tirade in praise of police brutality, the POLICE magazine website decided to run this funny little web poll:

WEB POLL: Have you ever wanted to kick a suspect who was surrendering for endangering the public and being a total dirtbag?

a. Yes

b. No

c. To hell with kick, I wanted to shoot him

Here are the final results as of Monday:

“Yes” received 45.4% of the votes. “No” reeived 22.7% of the votes. “To hell with kick, I wanted to shoot him” received 31.9%.

You can see the results for yourself here. 45.4% of POLICE readers responding to the poll said that they have at some point wanted to kick suspect people after they’ve already surrendered to police. The cop editors of POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine thought they’d add a funny little joke option for their cop readers, To hell with kick, I wanted to shoot him. 31.9% of POLICE readers responding to the poll went with that one.

Ho, ho, ho.

Speaking of which, in Oakland, Officer Johannes Mehserle is now on trial for murder in the execution-style shooting of Oscar Grant. Here’s some recent testimony from the trial:

(05-27) 17:00 PDT OAKLAND — A colleague of the former BART police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man early New Year’s Day testified Wednesday that the victim would still be alive if he and his friends had cooperated with police.

If they would have followed orders, this wouldn’t have happened, said Officer Marysol Domenici at a preliminary hearing in Oakland for former Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is charged with murder.

— Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle (2009-05-28): Cop: Had Grant cooperated, he would be alive

According to Officer Marysol Domenici, ordinary civilians like you and me are always under the command of the police, so that when a cop gives an order you’d damn well better follow, and if you don’t, well then, you’re resisting, and you have nobody to blame but yourself when they slam you into the wall, throw you to the ground and shoot you in the back while you’re prone and physically restrained.

Also:

Domenici said she did not see Mehserle shoot Grant because she had been facing the other direction. Immediately after the shot was fired, she said, some train riders were so angry that she started thinking about using her gun.

**I said to myself, Oh, Jesus Christ, if I have to, I’m going to have to kill somebody, Domenici said.

— Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle (2009-05-28): Cop: Had Grant cooperated, he would be alive

Note that when her buddy-cop shot a man who was prone on the ground and physically restrained by the police, her first thought was not that she might have to defend the public from this killer cop; it was that she might have to open fire on the crowd of bystanders.

In Metro Detroit, the Warren city government’s police chased down Robert Mitchell — an unarmed, 16 year old black boy, weighing in at about 110 pounds — and killed him with non-lethal force in an abandoned house of Eight Mile. This extrajudicial electrocution of an unarmed young man was carried out in the attempt to arrest him; the reason the cops were chasing him down and trying to force him to surrender himself to them is that he jumped out of the passenger side of his cousin’s car during a traffic stop for an expired license plate. For, that is, trying to leave the scene in a situation where he himself was not suspected of any crime. Boss cop William Dwyer believes that his forces had no alternative to blasting an unarmed 16 year old with a 50,000-volt electric shock in order to force him to surrender to arrest. Of course they did have an alternative; they could have let him leave, since they had no probable cause to suspect him of any particular crime. But government cops in America aren’t actually interested in dealing with crimes; they are interested in targeting suspects, and are willing to summarily declare you a suspect sort of guy based solely on your failure to follow their arbitrary bellowed commands, or your decision to try to leave the scene when they are present. They are quite willing to say that running away from cops, just as such, without any evidence of any specific crime, is considered good enough grounds for chasing you down, beating, shooting, or electrocuting you first and asking questions later, and arresting you on suspicion of resisting arrest. Presumably because the sheep are supposed to stay where they’ve been herded.

The commissioner called Mitchell’s death a tragedy, but said police who watch someone run from them can only assume he committed a crime or is wanted for a crime.

— Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, CNN.com (2009-05-28): ‘No excuse’ for teen’s Taser death, mother says

Boss cop William Dwyer adds that, since the cops have been trained by a bunch of other cops to use 50,000-volt electric shocks to torture anyone resisting arrest until they surrender, regardless of the risks involved and even if their chosen target is unarmed and poses no physical threat to anyone present, as a form of pain compliance, well, that makes it O.K. for them to do so. Just following orders, you know:

The officers had been trained to use Tasers on people resisting arrest, so there was nothing wrong with using that Taser, Dwyer said.

— Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, CNN.com (2009-05-28): ‘No excuse’ for teen’s Taser death, mother says

Renea Mitchell, the mother of the victim, says They are here to protect us. There’s no reason for what they’ve done…. There’s no reason, no excuse. She also calls what happened to her son a murder at the hands of police. And that’s about the size of it. Her son was not suspected of any crime; he was not even on the scene for anything more serious than an expired license plate. He tried to leave because he doesn’t feel safe around cops — and, given that cops are the ones who eventually killed him, why should he have? — and the cops took this as good enough reason to treat him as presumptively criminal, and therefore to use any level of violence necessary to stop him from leaving — whether or not they have any knowledge of his having been involved in any specific crime, or even whether or not any specific crime has been committed, and regardless of the fact that he was completely unarmed and posed no threat to absolutely anyone’s person or property. They had no reason to use force at all, let alone the potentially lethal force of a taser.

Meanwhile, back over at POLICE magazine, editor David Griffith believes that political correctness is killing a lot of Americans because cops in some major cities can’t use suspicion of immigration violation as [Probable Cause] to roust any gang member. Apparently suspicion of immigration violation means looking Latino. Griffith asks and answers a few clarifying questions: Would that be profiling? Absolutely. Would some American citizens get hassled? Surely. Would there be a lot less violent crime in our cities if we deported many gang members who are probably illegal aliens [sic]? You tell me.

In other words, in the name of controlling crime by controlling entire populations, Griffith wants for cops to have unilateral authority to roust absolutely anyone based solely on their ethnic status, without any evidence of having committed any crime whatsoever, and so to bring them under the control of the police unless and until they can prove, to the police’s own satisfaction, that they have a permission slip from the government for existing in this country. Griffith asks, rhetorically, What is our priority? Do we want to make Americans safer? But which Americans does he have in mind, and what does he hope to make them safer from? Apparently not the Americans he explicitly expects to be hassled, that is, terrorized, manhandled or, if necessary, killed in order to put them under, and to keep them under, the physical control of those cops who Griffith would like to grant unlimited discretionary authority to detain anybody that they want, for absolutely any reason or for no reason at all, based solely on their ethnic status, and without any connection to any known crime.

In the same article, Griffith mentions an Atlanta cop, Scott Kreher of the local Fraternal Order of Pigs, who is pissed off about inadequate bennies for Atlanta city cops; so he told the city council that the situation made him want to beat Mayor Shirley Franklin in the head with a baseball bat. (Griffith doesn’t have anything worse to say about this than a weak joke about how he hopes that Kreher does not command the APD’s crisis negotiation team.)

Does a police state, staffed by men who deal with stress like Sergeant Scott Kreher does, with the powers that David Griffith wants to give them, make you feel safer? Probably depends on what side of the taser, or the baseball bat, you expect to end up on.

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  1. Crosbie Fitch

    A couple of decades ago I used to enjoy seeing how fast I could run up a flight of steps, often taking 3 or more steps at a time. There was a set of steps leading out of a tube station in Leicester Square, London, UK, that I once ran up, past a standing police officer - I only fully appreciated this when out of the corner of my eye I realised he had set off in hot pursuit behind me, also running up the steps. Fortunately, I outran him and lost him in a busy arcade. So, yes, running in the presence of an officer constitutes ‘fleeing a crime’. At least UK police don’t usually shoot suspects and ask questions later.

    Perhaps there should be ‘honeypot’ undercover agents deliberately acting in a manner likely to arouse officers’ baser inclinations? Perhaps after a few years they wouldn’t have to wear bulletproof vests or be paid danger money….

  2. Discussed at www.the-gabe.com

    Wretched and Beautiful : links for 2009-06-02:

    […] Rad Geek: The Police Beat Round 10 billion of "Fuck the Police" (tags: policestate) […]

  3. Gabriel

    Horrible, simply horrible…

    One of the most bizarre things I’ve ever read in these kinds of stories was a mother’s reaction after her teenage (black) son was shot in the neck after a police chase (for the “crime” of drinking a soda and running from police): “I’m afraid he’ll grow up not trusting police”. Given the fact that they are the thugs that ran him down and tried to execute him solely based on his race, wouldn’t that be the right thing to learn?

  4. Currence

    Griffith, “You tell me.”

    Wow, now they don’t even care about the results of their utilitarian calculation, they just gesture to the possibility that their preferred balance of liberty and “security” will come out with the conclusion: safer cities. (Scare quotes because a secured un-free life is, imo, worth nothing, while at least a free, un-secured life is worth something.)

    Has there ever been a poll asking LEOs if they just enjoy hurting people, regardless of whether they are guilty or not?

    And, re: your thoughts on importing or learning from the tactics of Otpur: we’ve got RateMyCop.com and a barrage of news stories re: police misconduct (for names) and ZabaSearch.com (for addresses; there are repeat names, so more investigation would be required), therefore we could pass out fliers to neighbors detailing brutality claims, etc. Let’s see how many people want to live next to an LEO after they find out that the LEOs don’t really care about them.

  5. Aster in Patpong

    So, a %77.3 supermajority of percent of POLICE readers are friendly to the idea that a person guily of no crime except earning the displeasue of a law enforcement officer ought to treated in an abusive manner which consciously and completely refses to recognise their human, civil, and Constitutional rights. 31.9% go all the way and boing to the idea of aiding their less obviously lawful evil brethen by resort to the tactics of t&r0rR and murder.

    Anyone who wishes to distinguish these figures from the behivour of a police state whose members are abbetted by bad-cop military death squads, as on the sterotypical Latin American model, in welcome to check my math and these premises.

    It is happening here. Like I said, DICTATORSHIP.

    Time for Gadsgen flags. Time for red flags. Time for black flags. Time for rainbow flags- I don’t care, just no Nazis or other bigots and totalitarians worse that the total bastards running the place, and that we left-libertarians don’t forget who we truly are. These are not light and transient causes. Something Needs To Be Done. Fear! Fire! Foes! Wake up!

  6. Friend of Liberty KC

    Those of us reading this have arguably already woken up ~ after all, we know about it. The problem would be the people who are eager for police violence above.

  7. Marja Erwin

    It does look like a toxic mindset.

    Once people develop these inclinations towards violence, even if they hold them back, they are likely to assume other people share the same inclinations, and that without someone holding them back, anyone would turn violent.

    If professionalism is what holds them back, then they are going to look down on us civilians.

    If law is what holds them back, then they are going to assume the worst of those of us who recognize its illegitimacy.

    If obedience is what holds them back, then they are going to assume the worst of those of us who ignore our supposed betters.

    And much of what they are taught about protest groups and protest tactics is literal defamation - it is intended to teach them to see peaceful marches as preparations for an attack, and to see protesters as at once irrational and malicious.

  8. Aster at BKK

    Marja-

    All good reasons to seek our alles among those spiritually farthest from neo-fascist police culture, not those closest to them in mind, spirit, class, or commitments.

    Left-libertarians, were they to gain full friendly recogniton with the pre-Rockwell centre-individualist libertarian renmant on one side, and the resurgent (left-)anarchist community on the other, would be very well placed to attract such people. with great possibiity for spiritual and material mutual benefit.

    So let’s just do it. Feels good, doesn’t it?

  9. Roderick T. Long

    The problem would be the people who are eager for police violence above.

    And the other problem is the vast population that doesn’t necessarily support police abuse but a) tends to underestimate its extent (“a few bad apples”) and b) tends to give it a pass because these heroes are laying their lives on the line for us etc. etc. — basically unwilling to confront the badness of something they think is necessary. In general it’s these people, not the cops or their enthusiastically pro-abuse fan lobby, that we need to convince.

  10. Friend of Liberty KC

    I agree, Roderick. I once discussed the drug war with my half-sister. She spoke of being against tyranny, but she was quick to find rationalizations for paramilitary SWAT teams ~ saying she had friends who were cops. I wasn’t commenting on any individual police. Generally, the assumption was they may be armed.

  11. Friend of Liberty KC

    If I were to show her the mountains of proof about SWAT team raids on lightly armed or poorly armed individuals, then I suspect she would concede the point to me.

  12. Jim Davidson

    Here’s my thought. The cops are always wrong. The cops are always evil. Any cop is fair game. Any encounter with a cop that leaves the “civilian” alive is a surprise. Any encounter with a cop that leaves the cop dead is preferable.

    I’ve been beaten by cops, after I was in cuffs and completely docile. Eleven of my bones were broken. There won’t be a next time.

    All cops are pigs, all cops should quit. If they won’t resign, they are asking for death.

  13. Aster

    Jim Davidson-

    I hate cops with a similar instinctual passion. It’s nothing like what you must feel after having been tortured by law enforcement, but in San Francisco I was afraid of every phone call and every stroll outside SF because of the patrols and the vice squad. I’ve had obvious cops try to entrap me on the phone (guys, it works better if you don’t follow a script- we’re not stupid), been illegally ticketed (how can I commit a moving vehicle violation while WALKING?), been bullied by pigs in Australia when I was in tears after being stranded there by immigration fascists despite documents logically proving my New Zealand citizenship, and repeatedly pulled over due to obvious profiling. I now know, counting you, three people who have been tortured by American lawful evil officers, including one close friend. The other’s as nasty as any pig herself, but that’s not the point- and as far as I know she’s still an international fugitive, having fled the country after the police threatened and harassed her and blatantly rigged the court system against her. And it’s not hard in the sex worker community to find women who have been raped by police officers at lawpoint.

    Anything I have said before to the contrary means only one thing: it’s a good idea to judge individuals as individuals. And there is a big difference between, say, cops in Iran, cops in America, and cops in New Zealand. The airport security Na…(=) officers who just pawed through my luggage and held a couple of badly needed sleeping medications until I can get a state-recognised doctor so sign off on them were downright friendly and polite. Kiwi cops are safe to walk up to and ask the time of day, at least if you happen to have white privilege.

    Police officers make a choice to enforce laws made by others regardless of their justice and injustice, and agree to take a job whose essence involves bossing people around. That’s kinda evil. But nearly all of us have to make compromises in this world in order to survive, nearly all of us have done hurtful things to others, and we were all something worse before we were anarchists or liberals or feminists or libertarians.

    I hate being judged as a group. If we don’t extend the principles of individualism even to those we’d like to kick in painful places, we stand the risk of losing them ourselves.

    That’s why we should only kick pigs in the naughty bits when we know the individual pig in question deserves it, in situations where there’s no danger of setting a bad precedent against methodological individualism as a founding principle of public affairs. Then it’s time to get revenge and give the other cops a message that if they oppress people they just might get hurt. A lot.

    (=) Idea for another post.

  14. Ariadne (is not an Amazonian *nationalist*)

  15. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-06-11 – The Police Beat:

    […] ground, and started punching him over and over again. (I guess he’s lucky they didn’t kill him for running away.) When his father, Luis Natal, 49, tried to find out what was happening to his son, they arrested […]

  16. Discussed at waronyou.com

    The Police Beat | War On You: Breaking Alternative News:

    […] to the ground, and started punching him over and over again. (I guess he’s lucky they didn’t kill him for running away.) When his father, Luis Natal, 49, tried to find out what was happening to his son, they arrested […]

  17. Discussed at radgeek.com

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

    […] GT 2009-06-02: The Police Beat […]

· July 2009 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-07-31 – The Police Beat:

    […] him about 5 or 10 more times until Inderbitzen was beaten unconscious. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t taser him to death […]

— 2010 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-01-23 – Siege mentality:

    […] GT 2009-06-02: The Police Beat […]

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