Trigger warning. The video of a local news story, below, may be triggering for experiences of sexual violence.
When anarchists suggest that a civilized society can do without government or its cops, we are always asked how people in an anarchistic society would be protected from violent criminals like murderers and rapists. If we suggest that people could handle their own protection through consensual private arrangements — individual self-defense, cooperative community defense, or hiring out help, if need be — we are constantly told that we need monopolistic government control in order to ensure that professional police go about their policing in a way that’s transparent and accountable to the people.
In northern Ohio, a woman named Hope Steffey is suing the Stark County sheriff’s office and several of the deputies and prison guards working for them. Here’s why.
So, a gang of uniformed women and men, violently exercising the power of the State, pinned a screaming woman down on the floor of a jail cell and tore off her clothes to search her, over her screams of protest, while male guards were not only still in the cell, but in fact wrenching her arms behind her back, and then left her naked in the freezing-cold cell for six hours, in full view, without even a blanket to cover her body or keep herself warm. This was, of course, justified by means of unilaterally declaring Hope Steffey crazy, so that they could officially record that they had to inflict that kind of extreme violence and sexual humiliation on an imprisoned woman, over a period of hours — for her own good. Afterwards, when a local news station interviewed Hope Steffey, and aired video of what the cops and prison guards did, they ended up facing a series of unkind words about their character and professionalism. And here is how the dedicated public servants of the Stark County sheriff’s office have transparently and accountably responded the strains resulting from public exposure of their treatment of Hope Steffey:
CANTON — Stark County sheriff’s deputies who were vilified after a Cleveland television station aired video of them stripping a woman at the Stark County Jail have filed a lawsuit saying they are victims of one-sided reporting.
Last year, WKYC Channel 3 began airing reports on a lawsuit filed by a Salem woman who says she was strip-searched at the jail in October 2006. The reports included video of sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers pinning Hope Steffey to the floor of a jail cell and removing her clothes.
This week, those deputies — Kristin Fenstemaker, Laura Rodgers, Tony Gayles, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., Andrea Mays and Brian Michaels — sued reporter Tom Meyer, WKYC and its parent company, alleging defamation and invasion of privacy.
The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $25,000 and is assigned to Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown Jr.
The lawsuit may seem obviously retributive; it may indeed seem like a thuggish attempt to silence criticism by shooting the messenger. But the strip-searchers would like the press, and a judge, to consider how hard it’s been on them, having their privacy invaded like that.
When you write about politics — and the politics of policing, especially — the problem is that, if you try to write anything more articulate than just expressing how much the whole thing makes you want to spit nails, you’ll soon find that the usual tools of satire, or even simple sarcasm, end up useless: the facts themselves, just as they are, constantly outstrip any sort of ridicule, no matter how over-the-top, that you could possibly craft.
- GT 2008-02-05: Rapists in uniform
- GT 2008-03-07: Rapists in uniform #2: four more women come forward
- GT 2008-03-08: In Their Own Words:
Just following ordersedition
- GT 2008-05-10: Rapists in uniform #3: a sixth woman comes forward
- GT 2008-06-23: We need government cops and government courts because private protection forces and private arbitrators would be accountable to the powerful and well-connected instead of being accountable to the people. (#2)
- GT 2008-11-13: Rapists in uniform #4: Standard Operating Procedure
- GT 2008-09-14: Omerta