Officer Justin Barrett. Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Police Commissioner recently suspended and moved to fire Boston patrol cop Officer Justin Barrett, after being forwarded a racist-ass e-mail that Barret wrote in response to Yvonne Abraham’s Boston Globe column criticizing Sergeant James Crowley for his stupid arrest of Henry Louis Gates. All the news stories have mentioned how Barrett stated
I am not a racist, but I am [prejudiced] towards people who are stupidand repeatedly described Gates as a
banana-eating jungle monkey.Some also mentioned active patrol cop Barret’s statement that, had he been in Crowley’s place, he not only would have arrested Gates but would have pepper-sprayed him
in the face.None of the mainstream media articles I’ve read so far have mentioned that active patrol cop Officer Justin Barrett also complains that
Your defense [4th paragraph] of Gates while he is on the phone while being confronted [INDEED] with a police officer is assuming he has rights when considered a suspect. He is a suspect and will always be a suspect.(Brackets in original; emphasis mine.) Or that, alongside the violent racism and explicit totalitarianism, he adds some crude misogyny, writing to the immediate target of his letter, Yvonne Abraham, that
You are a hot little bird with minimal experiences in a harsh field. … You have no business writing for a US newspaper nevermind detailing and analyzing half truths. You should serve me coffee and donuts on Sunday morning.He later repeats the joke about coffee and says that
you just need to get slapped.Officer Justin Barrett, when not a racist, sexist, police-statist patrol cop, is also a veteran of the United States government’s Army; he felt comfortable forwarding his racist, sexist, police-statist e-mail to a few of his buddies in the Boston police force and several of his buddies in the Army National Guard. Since the story hit, Barrett has complained to the media that in the uproar over his repeated use of the phrase
banana-eating jungle monkey,
People are making it about race. It is not about race,and that, although he made a
poor choice of words,
I didn’t mean it in a racist way. I treat everyone with dignity and respect.His lawyer says that he plans to fight to hold onto his cop job at the upcoming hearing.
Disorderly conduct. Patrolman Robert Lang, Patrolman Jared Bock, and Patrolman Shawn Panchick. Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. Three white patrol cops in Pennsylvania are being investigated by another local government’s cops in response to allegations that they beat and robbed a three black teenagers who they arbitrarily commanded (why?) to clear off of a friend’s front porch where they were hanging out late at night. I don’t know whether or not the allegations of robbery are true — one of the victims, Kyle Dudley, claims that he was beat down and robbed of his watch and money by a group of cops possibly different from the three who originally responded to the call, which makes it hard to compare stories — but I do know that, whether or not those allegations are true, the story that the cops all agreed on for their report is more than enough reason to call their conduct belligerent, violent and stupid. Cops have exactly no business singling out black teenagers to be hassled, or for forcing them down and arresting them on a
disorderly conductbeef simply for refusing to obey arbitrary bellowed commands that they leave a private residence where they have been invited to hang out with their friends, or a neighborhood where they are hanging out on public property. And once again, it is clear that
disorderly conductcharges are the
sheepdogs’favorite threat for making that the
sheepstay just where they’ve been herded, regardless of whether or not anyone is actually doing anything that would threaten anyone’s rights even in the slightest.
Cops are here to keep us safe. (Cont’d.) By sideswiping our cars while they tear down the road at 20 mph over the posted speed limit with no lights and no sirens on. Then by concealing information or flat-out lying in the accident report and to the media about how fast they were going, until they finally reveal, a couple days later, that the accident was, after all, clearly the fault of the cop’s speeding. Where have I seen that before…? I guess his victim is lucky that he wasn’t doing 100; if he had gotten himself hurt or killed in the crash he caused, she probably would have been arrested for
reckless drivingand smeared as a cop-killer all over the local papers.
Fun for ages 7 to 70. Unnamed patrol officer, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Deputy Chris Beize. Austin, Texas. In Knoxville, a government cop, who had important business to do Investigating reports of some neighbor kids getting into a fight, has been accused of trying to coerce a 7 year old boy into talking more candidly by handcuffing the child and cussing him out, while the boy was crying and asking for his mother. The 7-year-old was not involved in the fighting and was never suspected of, or charged with, any crime.
Officialsrefuse to so much as disclose this dedicated public servant’s name, but they promise that the matter is being Internally Investigated.
Meanwhile, in Texas, Deputy Chris Beize tasered Kathryn Winkfein, a 72-year-old great-grandmother, twice during a routine traffic stop, after she refused to sign a ticket and he decided to escalate the situation by ordering her out of her car, instead of just mailing the damn thing to her home address. Beize claims that she swore at him (which is not a crime) and that she
pushed him into oncoming traffic(no she didn’t; the dashcam video clearly shows that he lunged over and grabbed her and shoved her back several feet, when she tried to de-escalate the situation by sidestepping him to get back to her truck). Then he blasted her with a 50,000-volt electric shock from the taser, and then tasered her again while she was lying on the ground. Then he arrested her for resisting arrest. His superior officers in the paramilitary chain of command have defended Beize’s hollering belligerence, physical assault, and torture by repeated electrical shocks, against an unarmed, 4′11″, 72-year-old great-grandmother who never threatened any physical harm and was guilty of nothing more than a moving violation and
contempt of cop,as an appropriate reaction to a
dangerous situation.By the by, when Beize is not busy shocking the hell out of elderly women, he is a taser instructor for the local police.
Officer Morris Taylor. Springfield, Missouri. Officer Morris Taylor, a cop formerly on the Springfield, Missouri city government’s police force, is facing misdemeanor assault charges for beating John Sedersten, a prisoner under his authority, after Sedersten had been restrained and booked in the Greene County Jail. The story’s in the news because Sedersten, the victim of the beating, recently decided not to testify against Taylor in the criminal case, on advice from his attorneys, because of the danger that his testimony will open him up to lines of questioning that the government can use against him in his pending criminal cases. Sedersten is pursuing a separate civil lawsuit against Officer Morris Taylor for the beating; apparently he’s just not particularly interested in working closely with the same government office that is trying to lock him up in other cases, particularly not for so minor a vindication as a misdemeanor assault conviction. Even without his testimony, apparently
portionsof the assault are recorded on video.
Besides having spent 11 years in local government police
forces,Officer Morris Taylor also has experience in dealing with prisoners from working as a government soldier in the U.S. government’s war and occupation in Iraq.
Deputy Marcus Smith. San Joaquin County, California. San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a car on a routine traffic stop near Manteca; Charles Inderbitzen was riding in the car. Inderbitzen was ex-con out on parole, and believed that he had a warrant out on him, so he got nervous around the cops. He tried to leave the scene without the cops’ permission; even though the police had no reason whatever, at this point, to suspect that he had committed any crime, or even (since he was not the one driving the car) of even the most minor civil infraction. But government cops in America aren’t actually interested in dealing with crimes; they are interested in targeting suspects, and are more than willing to summarily declare you a
suspectsort 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. So a gang of police chased Inderbitzen down, cornered him in a back yard, drew their guns on him, and ordered him to get on his knees and put his hands on his head. After Inderbitzen complied with their orders, with several cops pointing guns at him and while physically at their mercy, Deputy Marcus Smith hopped the fence, kicked Charles Inderbitzen in the gut, punched him in the back of the head, kicked him two more times in the stomach, and then punched him about 5 or 10 more times until Inderbitzen was beaten unconscious. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t taser him to death instead.
Oops. Our bad.Deputy Matthew Paul. Seattle, Washington. Christopher Harris was trying to get away from a group of King’s County police (or rather, a gang of beefy, heavily armed strangers, dressed all in black, who didn’t bother to identify themselves before they started hollering and chasing after him late at night). Turns out he didn’t actually do anything wrong (they were chasing him because a witness fingered him as having been involved in a bar fight; the witness was wrong). But rather than risking the possibility that someone possibly might get away from the cops (even when he had no way of knowing they were cops, who had every right to leave the scene, who posed no physical threat to anybody, and who, at the very worst, was
suspectedof some minor-league drunken fighting), Deputy Matthew Paul, who outweighed his victim by about 100 pounds, decided to put an end to things by waiting until Christopher Harris slowed down to a walk, and then body-tackling him so hard that he knocked him eight feet into a wall, slamming Harris’s head into the concrete so hard it put him into a coma. The story’s in the news because Deputy Matthew Paul’s coworkers in the King County government’s prosecutor’s office have announced that, as far as they’re concerned, Deputy Matthew Paul did not violate Christopher Harris’s rights and the only personal consequence that Deputy Matthew Paul will face, for putting his falsely accused, completely unarmed and physically harmless victim on life-support, is having been given a paid vacation from his job for a while during the investigation. According to the county government,
It’s a tragic incident.Well, oops. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t just shoot him in the back instead.
Non-Lethal Force (Cont’d.) Unnamed officer, Officer Debra Lynn Indovina-Akerly and Officer Charles Watson. Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Last summer, a 37 year old unarmed black man named Andre DeMon Thomas was extrajudicially electrocuted by a gang of three Swissvale cops, who tortured him with three 50,000-volt electric shocks, handcuffed him, and, after he was handcuffed, kicked him, punched him, and crushed him until he vomited, passed out, and died. They were electrocuting him, incidentally, For His Own Good, after he begged neighbors to call the cops to help him out. He was unarmed; he wasn’t acting aggressively; none of the neighbors felt threatened by him; he was never at any point charged with any crime at all by anyone; he seemed disoriented and terrified, and he wanted the cops there to keep him safe. But in cop-think, being terrified and disoriented means acting
erraticin the judgment of a cop, even if you pose no threat to anyone and even if you have not been so much as accused of committing a crime and even if you are yourself seeking help, is reason enough for you to get Served and Protected good and hard until you are physically
subdued.Or dead, whichever comes first. [And]((http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/06/22/the-police-beat-3/) yet again, it became necessary to kill Dre Thomas in order to save him. The case is in the news again because the family has filed a lawsuit and the coroner’s autopsy report, which revealed deep and widespread bruising all over Thomas’s body, contradicts the Medical Examiner’s initial report absolving the cops and claiming that Thomas died from a mythical made-up condition called
Gang cops (Cont’d.).
Gang Strike Force,Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Seven victims of racist shakedowns by a multi-agency paramilitary
Gang Strike Forcein the Twin Cities have filed suit against the members of the
Strike Force,the city governments that put it together, and the boss cops who commanded it. The
Strike Forcewas permanently shut down earlier this month after repeated complaints about the cops on it making
improper seizures,which is to say armed robberies under color of law, of money and property from innocent people with no connection to gang activity, but who happened to be immigrants (hence easy targets). If only we had some warning, had some way of knowing, that an
elitegang police unit with an unlimited mandate, overwhelming force, and extremely broad legal powers to roust people and take their property with minimal legal accountability, might end up just acting like the baddest gangsters on the block. But who could possibly have foreseen that? It’s not like anything like this has ever happened before.
Detective Keith Alfaro. San Antonio, Texas. A couple years ago Detective Keith Alfaro of the San Antonio police department got himself involved in what the media at the time dignified as a
poolside scuffle with a teenager. By which they meant that he punched an 18 year old girl in the face, then, after he knocked her down, got on top of her, put her in a chokehold, and, according to an unrelated witness,
pummeledher black and blue while she was on the ground. After Alfaro ran away from the Sheriff’s Deputies who responded to a call, Vaughn had to be taken to the hospital; she still couldn’t open her jaw for weeks after the attack. The reason he did this was that she told him to put out a cigar he was smoking; the community pool had a no-smoking rule. Tamara Vaughn claims she asked him politely; Alfaro claims she copped an
attitude, got up in his face, dared to say some vulgar words in his hearing, and tried to swipe the cigar out of his mouth. Apparently, even if we grant his story to be true, Detective Keith Alfaro believes that that’s good enough reason for a grown-ass man to throw the first punch, then beat the living hell out of an 18 year old girl while she’s lying on the ground, and that doing so
was totally defensive … It was her own actions that forced me to take those measures.Perhaps that’s also what forced him to answer her request that he not smoke a cigar at a non-smoking pool by telling her to
take that East Side attitude back over there;maybe that’s also what forced him to call her a
half-breedwhile he was beating the hell out of her, or to tell Vaughn, who is a lesbian, that
You wanna look like a man, I’m gonna treat you like a man.. Detective Keith Alfaro testified that his problem was not with her race but with her
attitude(you know, the East Side kind), and that
She though she was talking to a child, … She thought she was talking to someone she could bully — not an adult family man.Apparently Detective Keith Alfaro believes that
an adult family mandeals with tense social situations by punching 18 year old girls in the face and dislocating their jaws. In any case, this
adult family manbragged in an online profile for an Ultimate Fighting website about his
countless street KO’s.
The story is in the news again because Keith Alfaro finally ended up going to trial this year on a misdemeanor assault rap, along with some resisting and evading arrest for having run away from the Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies. And just today, after the judge refused to allow Bexar County prosecutors to tell the jury about the online bragging about street fights, or about the numerous existing complaints against Alfaro in his internal affairs file (complaints which, of course, never endangered his position with the San Antonio Police Department, until he got into a fight on another police agency’s turf), the jury voted to acquit Alfaro on the assault beef. They convicted him on the misdemeanor evading and resisting arrest charges, because apparently busting up an 18 year old girl’s jaw is OK, but they’ll be damned if they’ll let anyone get away from the po-po.
Rapists on patrol. Officer Feliciano Sanchez, Los Angeles, California. (Possible trigger warning.)
Officer Feliciano Sanchez, formerly hired muscle for Los Angeles County’s Bell Police Department, recently plead guilty to using his police powers to abduct a woman he had detained on a traffic stop, drive her to an isolated location, and then flashed his gun and coerced sex from her before he would let her free. Bell Police Department Captain Anthony Miranda says he is
shockedto hear that a male cop might use his government-granted legal powers and his arsenal of deadly weapons to intimidate and violently coerce sex from women who come under his power. He says that he’s in
disbeliefbecause he’s never heard of such a thing before. Well, I’m not. I have.
18 shots for running a stop-sign. Officer James Arnold. Fort Wayne, Indiana. The city government in Fort Wayne, Indiana just spent $335,000 of other people’s money in order to cover Office James Arnold’s ass after he shot an unarmed immigrant named José Baudilio Lemus-Rodriguez 18 times, after Lemus-Rodriguez refused to pull over for a routine traffic stop for running a stop sign.
Fort Wayne Police Officer James Arnold, by the way, was just four months on the
forcewhen he lit up Lemus-Rodriguez’s car; before that, he had years of combat experience as a United States government Marine fighting for the U.S. government’s occupation and counter-insurgency operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards refused to file any criminal charges; the city hired on a PR flack to declare Arnold’s actions
objectively reasonable.The city’s main concern in settling the family’s lawsuit, besides using taxpayer money to cover Officer James Arnold from any personal legal liability for his lethal actions, is apparently as a bribe to ensure that the objective video record of the
objectively reasonableshooting remains permanently concealed from the public.
The San Antonio police department recently adopted a perfectly reasonable policy restricting the use of tasers to situations in which there isn’t any risk that somebody will get killed. Here’s part of a reader’s comment in reply to the story about the policy in POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine:
I think the one officer at a time is a good policy, but to deny them the use of the Taser is WRONG! What are we supposed to do, go back to the baton or billy club? Once an officer is SCARED he will resort to whatever it takes to save him/herself.
–konaron @ 10/16/2008 8:04 PM
Translation: according to
konaron, cops are a bunch of twitchy, trigger-happy cowards who will resort to any kind of violence, no matter how excessive, in order to save their own skins. Therefore police department policies should indulge their violence as far as possible, even if it means letting them kill people with their
And I’m the one who’s supposed to be running down cops?
Rapist on patrol: Officer David Alex Park
Last month, in Irvine, California, Officer David Alex Park, stalker and rapist, was acquitted by a jury of eleven men and one woman. He was acquitted, not because he is anything other than a stalker and a rapist–which he as much as admitted in open court, and which was proven well enough anyway by phone records, license plate requests, and DNA evidence. He was acquitted because he is a cop, and the woman that he harassed and sexually extorted danced at a strip club, and so the jury concluded that she made him do it, and besides, if she strips for a living, she must have been asking for it anyway.
You might think that I am exaggerating the defense’s position for polemical effect. No, I’m not. Here’s defense attorney Jim Stokke:
She got what she wanted, … She’s an overtly sexual person. And in cross-examination of Lucy, the survivor:
You do the dancing to get men to do what you what them to do, … And the same thing happened out there on that highway [in Laguna Beach]. You wanted [Park] to take some sex!
Back in the real world, outside of Jim Stokke’s and Officer David Alex Park’s pornographic power-trip succubus fantasies, what actually happened is that a professional cop, while armed and on patrol, used the extensive arbitrary powers that the law grants to police in order to get personal records on several different women at the strip club, picked out the one he liked the best, followed her, waited for the first excuse to use his legally-backed coercive power against her, used the power of his badge and gun to force her to pull over, used that same power to bring her under his
custody and keep her there against her will, threatened her with arrest and jail, and then forced her into sex against her will. He didn’t give a damn about what she wanted because she’s just a woman, and an
overtly sexual one at that. And he could force what he wanted on her because he’s a cop–so he has the power to restrain and threaten her–and she’s a stripper–so he had every reason to believe that a jury would give him every possible (and some impossible) benefit of the doubt, while they treated her bodily integrity and her consent as worth less than nothing, and blamed her for anything that happened to her, anyway. As, in fact, they did.
As I said about a case with several male cops in San Antonio back in December:
What as at stake here has a lot to do with the individual crimes of three cops, and it’s good to know that the police department is taking that very seriously. But while excoriating these three cops for their personal wickedness, this kind of approach also marginalizes and dismisses any attempt at a serious discussion of the institutional context that made these crimes possible — the fact that each of these three men worked out of the same office on the same shift, the way that policing is organized, the internal culture of their own office and of the police department as a whole, and the way that the so-calledcriminal justice systemgives cops immense power over, and minimal accountability towards, the people that they are professedly trying to protect. It strains belief to claim that when a rape gang is being run out of one shift at a single police station, there’s not something deeply and systematically wrong with that station. If it weren’t for the routine power of well-armed cops in uniform, it would have been much harder for Victor Gonzales, Anthony Munoz, or Raymond Ramos to force their victims into theircustodyor to credibly threaten them in order to extort sex. If it weren’t for the regime of State violence that late-night patrol officers exercise, as part and parcel of their legalduties,against women in prostitution, it would have been that much harder for Gonzales and Munoz to imagine that they could use their patrol as an opportunity to stalk young women, or to then try to make their victim complicit in the rape by forcing her to pretend that the rape was in fact consensual sex for money. And if it weren’t for the way in which they can all too often rely on buddies in the precinct or elsewhere in the force to back them up, no matter how egregiously violent they may be, it would have been much harder for any of them to believe that they were entitled to, or could get away with, sexually torturing women while on patrol, while in full uniform, using their coercive power as cops.
A serious effort to respond to these crimes doesn’t just require individual blame or personal accountability — although it certainly does require that. It also requires a demand for fundamental institutional and legal reform. If police serve a valuable social function, then they can serve it without paramilitary forms of organization, without special legal privileges to order peaceful people around and force innocent people intocustody,and without government entitlements to use all kinds of violence without any accountability to their victims. What we have now is not civil policing, but rather a bunch of heavily armed, violently macho, institutionally privileged gangsters in blue.
In Irvine, the same thing is happening all over again–just another Bad Apple causing Yet Another Isolated Incident. Except that in Irvine, the legal system has not even gone so far as to get to the part about individual blame and personal accountability. Overt misogyny against women who dare ever to be
overtly sexual, combined with overt authoritarianism in favor of any controlling macho creep with a badge and a gun and a pocketful of wet dreams, have combined to get this admitted sexual predator completely off the hook, and leave all of his old buddies back at the department free to stalk, harass, extort and rape
suspect women, with every expectation of more or less complete impunity for their actions.
Christ, but there are days when I hate being proven right about the things I write about.
I’m in San Antonio, visiting family for the holidays. This is not the sort of story that I had hoped would greet me on the local news.
2 SAPD Officers Face Oppression Charges
SAN ANTONIO — Two San Antonio police officers were charged Thursday with official oppression in connection with an incident involving a woman.
Victor Hugo Gonzalez, 36, a six-year veteran of the force, was also charged with promotion of prostitution and sexual assault.
Police Chief William McManus said that Gonzalez propositioned and sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman while on patrol at a park near Riverside Golf Course in June.
McManus also said that woman was forced to commit a sex act for a friend of Gonzalez.
Also charged with official oppression was Michael Anthony Munoz, 33, a five-year veteran of the force.
McManus said that Munoz groped the woman and stood watch for Gonzalez.
Wanted SAPD Officer Surrenders To Police
SAN ANTONIO — A third San Antonio police officer charged with sexually assaulting of a woman turned himself in to authorities early Friday morning.
Raymond Ramos, 28, turned himself in Friday morning on charges of sexual assault, civil rights violations and official oppression in a Nov. 11 incident involving a 28-year-old woman.
Police investigating Ramos’ incident came across information that led to the Thursday arrests of two other officers in a separate incident.
… All three officers – now out on bond – worked overnight patrol out of the Southside substation.
To their credit, the police department and the D.A. are, for the most part, treating these as serious crimes; that’s better than you can say for some police departments. The cops believed the complainants enough to charge the officers, the arrested cops have been taken off of patrol duty while the indictment is pending (although they have only been transferred to desk jobs; why not just put them on leave entirely?), and the D.A. says that she plans to seek indictments from a grand jury by next month. On the other hand, the boss cops still insist on talking about these rapists in terms of Yet Another Couple of Isolated Incidents — a way of talking about it that takes these particular crimes seriously while also guaranteeing that crimes just like these will keep on happening over and over:
Wednesday’s arrests bring the total of police officers arrested in 2007 to five, four of whom worked out of the Southside Substation on the 700 block of West Mayfield Boulevard.
McManus called Thursday’s allegationsdisturbing,but he also said that all officers should not fall under the umbrella of a few who might have broken the law.
McManus said an officer at the substation was the one who brought the allegations to his attention after a woman complained to him about an officer assaulting her.
These types of incidents are not only embarrassing, but frustrating, and they do make you angry,McManus said.By no means are we going to tolerate it, by no means are we going to soft step it.
What as at stake here has a lot to do with the individual crimes of three cops, and it’s good to know that the police department is taking that very seriously. But while excoriating these three cops for their personal wickedness, this kind of approach also marginalizes and dismisses any attempt at a serious discussion of the institutional context that made these crimes possible — the fact that each of these three men worked out of the same office on the same shift, the way that policing is organized, the internal culture of their own office and of the police department as a whole, and the way that the so-called
criminal justice system gives cops immense power over, and minimal accountability towards, the people that they are professedly trying to protect. It strains belief to claim that when a rape gang is being run out of one shift at a single police station, there’s not something deeply and systematically wrong with that station. If it weren’t for the routine power of well-armed cops in uniform, it would have been much harder for Victor Gonzales, Anthony Munoz, or Raymond Ramos to force their victims into their
custody or to credibly threaten them in order to extort sex. If it weren’t for the regime of State violence that late-night patrol officers exercise, as part and parcel of their legal
duties, against women in prostitution, it would have been that much harder for Gonzales and Munoz to imagine that they could use their patrol as an opportunity to stalk young women, or to then try to make their victim complicit in the rape by forcing her to pretend that the rape was in fact consensual sex for money. And if it weren’t for the way in which they can all too often rely on buddies in the precinct or elsewhere in the force to back them up, no matter how egregiously violent they may be, it would have been much harder for any of them to believe that they were entitled to, or could get away with, sexually torturing women while on patrol, while in full uniform, using their coercive power as cops.
A serious effort to respond to these crimes doesn’t just require individual blame or personal accountability — although it certainly does require that. It also requires a demand for fundamental institutional and legal reform. If police serve a valuable social function, then they can serve it without paramilitary forms of organization, without special legal privileges to order peaceful people around and force innocent people into
custody, and without government entitlements to use all kinds of violence without any accountability to their victims. What we have now is not civil policing, but rather a bunch of heavily armed, violently macho, institutionally privileged gangsters in blue.