Day after day, our political leaders remind us of human rights violations happening all across the world, yet they often fail to recognize and stand up against the violations happening in their own backyards. In communities of color, young people feel under siege. Kimani’s murder and the resistance displayed by young people in response must be taken as a continued call to action. We must ask ourselves: why are we allowing this to happen? Where have we failed in organizing a long-term movement?
Omowale Adewale, a father and community organizer from Brooklyn has a radical solution:The only negotiation I want conducted on my behalf with the police is withdrawal of their paramilitary troops from my community, which includes community affairs, helicopters, police horses, barricades,he says, likening the need for police to turn over control of our communities to that of the US Military’s efforts in withdrawing from Iraq. His words echo the sentiment running through Flatbush in this traumatic moment.
— Rosa Clemente, Why Did Kimani Gray Have to Die?
in EBONY, 18 March 2013 (second boldface added)
Here is the creepiest bit of dystopian legal language that I have heard in the past month or so:
Keep in mind that one of the main activities of the
Real Time Crime Center right now is to watch, chase down, arrest, imprison and force unwanted psychiatric treatment on people who specifically have not been accused of committing any crimes (
The city [sic] is making a major push to sweep the streets of dangerous, mentally ill New Yorkers—and has even compiled a most-wanted list. … Those [)
mental hygiene] warrants mean that the patients are not wanted for a crime but instead are being sought because they are not getting their court-ordered treatment.
Without government cops, and government courts, and government prisons, who will stop unscrupulous criminals from robbing honest people blind?
Q. Without government cops, and government courts, and government prisons, who will stop unscrupulous criminals from robbing honest people blind?
A. We will.
Last month AOL News ran an anecdotal Data-less Trend Story about city governments in small towns firing the city government police force in order to cope with budget crunches. I’d like to know what the actual data here is; typically, cash-strapped city governments react by cutting everything except police and jails. If governments’ financing crises are finally leading them to reduce the number of police patrolling city streets, that’s surprisingly good news. Most of the towns mentioned are very small towns — with populations ranging from about 700 to 4,500. The outlier, Maywood, California, has about 30,000 people living in the town (with a whopping 4 murders in 2008! twice the national average!). Apparently part of the reason they fired the police department was because a lot of the city government’s $450,000 budget deficit, and its trouble securing insurance, came from
lawsuits, many involving the police.Government employees and hangers-on are going nuts about all of this. After the vote in Maywood, ex-City Treasurer Lizeth Sandoval told the city council
You single-handedly destroyed the city,by which she means that they outsourced the city government. (You won’t find any burned-out buildings, torn-up streets, or dead bodies; the places and people in the city of Maywood, California are still right where they were, going on as happily as they were before; the only things
destroyedwere the government jobs of tax-eaters like City Treasurer Lizeth Sandoval.) Jim Pasco, national executive director of the Fraternal Order of Pigs, said that decisions to fire local police were
penny wise and pound foolish,because sheriff’s departments and state police will be spread thin patrolling larger areas, and no amount is too much to spend on city cops, because
The absolute threshold responsibility of a government at any level is to ensure the safety of its citizens.
For example, consider local hero Officer Bryan Yant, liar and killer for the Las Vegas Metro police department, who by making up lies to obtain fraudulent search warrants and by violently breaking into citizens’ homes late at night, where he ensures the safety of Las Vegas’s citizens by kicking down doors and shooting unarmed black men with his AR-15 assault rifle, based on
a glimmer or something shinythat nobody but Officer Bryan Yant ever saw, and which is plainly contradicted by forensic evidence related to the angle of the shot. Local government in Las Vegas has fulfilled is threshold responsibility by once again ensuring the safety of Officer Bryan Yant from any legal consequences for shooting innocent, unarmed men in the head during a hyperviolent raid to investigate a completely nonviolent, victimless
crime,all of it based on demonstrable falsehoods and mistaken identity — oops! my bad! All of which should free Officer Bryan Yant up for a fourth Internal Investigation, in which his government colleagues will once again either exonerate him or let him off without any criminal penalties, for lying and fabricating fictitious search and arrest warrants in at least one other drug investigation involving another hyperviolent late night home raid. The polite term in local media for Officer Bryan Yant’s work ensuring the safety of Las Vegas citizens is
sloppy.A better term would be
fraudulent and lethally violent.How much safer does it make you feel that this lying, killing 4-time winner is still a fully-paid member of the Las Vegas Metro police force?
Meanwhile, in El Reno, Oklahoma, government police officers are ensuring the safety of El Reno citizens by forcing their way into an 86-year-old bed-ridden grandmother’s home on a
wellness check,and then, if she should object to 10 armed strangers busting into her house, by stepping on her oxygen hose and torturing her with electrical shocks in her own bed, until she passes out from the pain. El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown justified this use of extreme violence against an elderly woman who could not possibly have physically harmed anybody more than a couple feet away from her on the grounds that she was holding a kitchen knife, and she told officers
She was in control of her life.Thus,
Police were forced [sic!] to use a Taser on the womanuntil she could be forced into a hospital psychoprison — not because she was actually charged with any crime, of course, but so that she could be cured of her deranged and dangerous belief that she was in control of her own life.
Meanwhile, in New York, New York, Officer Patrick Pogan, a government police officer working for the New York city government, ensured the safety of New York citizens by body-slamming an unarmed bicyclist to the ground for trying to avoid hitting him, and then lying about it in his police reports, where he claimed that his victim was trying to ram into him, rather than swerving around him. His government colleague Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley, in turn, fulfilled his threshold obligation by ensuring that this lying violent thug would face absolutely no criminal consequences whatsoever for the crimes that he had been convicted of.
Also, in New York, New York, government cop Detective Louis J. Eppolito ensured the safety of New York citizens by taking a second job as an informant and hit-man for the Luchese crime family. He took a special interest in ensuring the safety of Brian Gibbs by framing him for murder — among other things, making up fictional witness statements, threatening witnesses in order to get testimony against Gibbs, withholding evidence that would have proven Gibbs’s evidence, and torturing Gibbs himself until he extracted a false confession. Brian Gibbs lost 19 years of his life locked in prison. The New York Police Department spent years fulfilling its threshold obligation to keep Detective Louis J. Eppolito safe from any consequences for his violent crimes, even though — years before he tortured and framed Brian Gibbs — they had direct evidence that he was working for the Mafia (including having his fingerprints on police reports he had handed off to a fellow gangster). The Incident was, of course, Internally Investigated, and Detective Eppolito was let off without even facing any administrative disciplinary actions. Which freed him up to go on murdering and imprisoning innocent people for the mob. The city government in New York still officially maintains that Brian Gibbs is guilty of murder. However, they’ve decided to sign a $9,900,000 settlement; dedicated public servants that they are, they will send the bill to innocent New York City taxpayers who had nothing to do with the crimes committed against Brian Gibbs.
Meanwhile, in Sebastian County, Arkansas, government
drug investigatorsare ensuring the safety of citizens by staging heavily armed, late-night raids on citizens’ houses, where they threaten the lives of everyone in the house, including sleeping babies — without bothering to check the address on the mailbox to see whether they are actually even forcing their way into the right house. (Oops! My bad!) Then, after releasing their innocent victims from the shackles they had forced them into, the cops they went down the street to the
righthouse, where they broke into somebody else’s home, threatened three other innocent people’s lives, and forced them into cages at gunpoint, for the completely nonviolent
offenseof having marijuana.
Meanwhile, in Universal City, Texas, government police are ensuring the safety of citizens by surrounding innocent women and children in their cars, pointing guns at them and screaming at them to put their hands up, and then forcing their way into the car before they realize — oops! our bad! — that they had the wrong car and the wrong people, and were threatening the lives of a black woman with three children who had nothing to do with the white man they were trying to ambush. Since government police never face any consequences whatsoever for their fuck-ups, no matter how high-stakes, violent, reckless, traumatic or dangerous to the safety of innocent citizens, the police department is waving it off as
an unfortunate coincidence.They refer to the use of such high-stakes, violent tactics in uncertain situations, with incomplete information, to terrify and overwhelm innocent women and children, as
doing our jobs,and publicly state that
We would not change what we did.Of course they wouldn’t; who’s going to make them?
Meanwhile, in Tavares, Florida, government police are ensuring the safety of citizens by interrogating and then arresting Latina women who are not suspected of any crime, for not
giving her name fast enoughor producing identification papers on demand. The government police officer told his victim that she had to provide ID because he needed to put her name
in a database.When she said she needed to go to the car to get it, the cop arrested her for resisting arrest and had her locked in a jail cell for 5 hours.
Meanwhile, in Hamilton, Ontario, government police are ensuring the safety of citizens by staging hyperviolent drug raids, forcing their way into apartments at gunpoint, forcing the citizens in them to the floor, then slamming their faces into the floor and kicking them when they try to explain that the cops have the wrong address. Po Lo Hay’s safety was ensured so good and hard that he ended up with stitches above his eye, a bloody nose, welts, and a broken rib.
Meanwhile, in Bridgewater, England, government police are ensuring the safety of citizens by threatening them with electrical torture devices and then accidentally hitting them with a 50,000 volt electric shock to their genitals, in the course of an unnecessary traffic stop intended to investigate whether or not they were committing the completely nonviolent
offenseof driving without government-mandated corporate car insurance. For accidentally inflicting the worst pain that this innocent man has ever been subjected to in his life, government cops are offering an
Oops! Our bad!
I sure am glad that government cops are out there to ensure our safety, and local governments are there to extract tax dollars to force us all, on threat of prison, to pay for this
threshold obligation. If government cops weren’t there to harass, threaten, torture, frame, jail or kill innocent citizens, all with complete legal impunity so long as they can shout an
Oops! My bad! that some fellow cop or other government employee will believe, who would keep us all safe?
NewsOne recently published an interview with an anonymous Black cop on the NYPD, where they asked him for his thoughts on police brutality and racism in the wake of a string of high-profile stories about overkill shootings, grown-ass male cops
appropriately punching 17 year old black girls in the face over suspected jaywalking, etc. The fact that the cop being interviewed happens to be Black ends up contributing basically nothing to the interview — so, hey, it turns out that Black police think and act like police, and they generally defend their colleagues and their own professional interest in being able to inflict violence with impunity. But the interview is interesting for a few things: a really amazing display of cognitive dissonance; an amazing exercise in unintended irony; and one of the few times you’ll see a cop actually come out and just say it in public.
First, the cognitive dissonance. When NewsOne asked him about
race relations at the NYPD, Officer Anonymous says his gang brothers like to tell racist jokes to their colleagues, and discriminate against people based on their appearance, taking signs of urban Black culture as being (in and of themselves) evidence that somebody ought to be treated like a criminal, up to and sometimes including targeting, harassing and arresting people over how they look:
Officer: If anything, the only thing I could comment on is that some officers believe there is a certain ‘look’ that most perpetrators have and that tends to be those who follow the trends of urban Hip Hop culture. That would consist of cornrows, saggin jeans, earrings, fitted caps, etc.
So, if a cop fits this mold in his civilian clothes, they often joke ‘you look like a perp.’ I believe some of them try to mask it behind a few smiles, but they really believe that. Though, many do fit this ‘profile’, at least in the communities I’ve worked in, it’s still an unfair generalization.
Newsone: Have you seen officers unfairly target individuals who look like this?
Officer: As I said earlier, though its wrong and not right as law enforcement, I have seen that type of behavior and at times [it’s] led to arrests.
Then he says he’s never encountered any racism from his superiors or fellow officers:
Newsone: Have you ever encountered any racism from your superiors or fellow officers?
Officer: I have not.
Elsewhere in the interview, he’s asked about the recent 46-shot overkill police shooting in Harlem, where NYPD cops lit up Angel Alvarez at a late-night part — hitting him 21 times, killing Luis Soto (the main they were supposedly intervening to save) with 6 gunshots, and hitting 3 bystanders, and one of their fellow cops, in the process. (This is, of course, the same city government police force that lit up Sean Bell (50 shots, killing an unarmed man) and Amadou Diallo (41 shots, killing an unarmed immigrant who was holding a wallet so that he could show the cops his ID). Officer Anonymous wants us to go easy on the Gangsters in Blue, and wait until Official Sources tell us what to believe about what happened.
Newsone: What about the recent event in Harlem where a cop shot a man 21 times?
Officer: A lot of the facts haven’t come out yet. Many in the department are mad because the media is so quick to paint us as the bad guys. I suggest people wait until all the facts come out.
Newsone: But you can understand the rush to judgment in a city like New York where Louima, Diallo, and Sean Bell occurred?
Officer: I do understand that, but think about all the other incidents where people jumped the gun and were wrong about us.
Gosh, that’s tough.
It must be so hard for the police, what with how people get the situation wrong, and
jump the gun.
Further down, NewsOne asks Officer Anonymous about the NYPD’s standing policy of subjecting random people of color to unreasonable searches and seizures. It’s not often that a police statist will come out and just lay certain things on the line; but here we go. Emphasis mine.
Newsone: What do you think of the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy?
Officer: The stop and frisk policy is an important tool in helping the department curb serious offenses.
Newsone: I disagree. It is a violation of our civil rights.
Officer: It is, but at the same time, crime would have never gone down in the Giuliani era to now if it weren’t for these small measures.
Officer Anonymous goes on to say
Sometimes you have to do things that may not be approved by the public to make everyone safer. By which he means that police should roam the streets with unchecked power to stop and search anyone they damn well please — for no reason at all — in open contempt of the civil rights of their victims. The same racist-ass, hyperviolent, power-tripping, domineering, twitchy police who have proven themselves more than willing to beat up anyone who questions their actions, to torture those who won’t
comply with their arbitrary bellowed orders, to open fire into a crowd at late-night parties, and to light up unarmed men with dozens of shots during routine stops. Does that make you feel safer on the streets of New York City?