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Please Don’t Reveal Old Unprofessionalism

It’s long been clear that Justice Scalia’s declaration that police misconduct isn’t a problem because law enforcement officers now have a “new professionalism” is utter nonsense. But it should also be clear that those in charge care more about bad PR than they do about actually addressing police brutality. Here’s a perfect example:

Taken from a police car’s dash camera, the video runs for about an hour. It shows an officer pepper-spraying a college-age African American male.

At the start of the video, the young man is shown walking with a young woman on the evening of June 5. The man claims that the woman is his sister.

A squad car pulls up near them and a police officer detains the man. The man’s attorney said he was ultimately ticketed for jaywalking and arrested for resisting police, but the resisting arrest charge was later dropped. Within about 10 seconds, the police officer who apprehended him pulls out pepper spray and shoots it at him.

The man is then handcuffed and led into a police car. In another camera angle from within the car, the man urges officers not to touch him. A police officer then puts his hands on the man’s neck while he is still handcuffed, and pushes him down to the side of the car out of the shot of the video. After a few seconds, the officer exits the car.

“Take me to jail! Take me to jail!” the man said. “You have no reason to choke me.”

The mayor of Champaign is furious — not at the police brutality but at the fact that now people know about it.

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said he is ‘gravely disappointed’ the police video was posted online, saying it is counteractive to anything the city is trying to achieve in terms of police-community relations. The mayor added that he is ‘very confident’ that state police will investigate the June 5 arrest.

“I hoping that despite (the video being released) that whatever actions the city and the state’s attorney take aren’t compromised,” Gerard said.

The problem with police-community relations is not the fact that people can now know about such brutality; the problem is that officers feel free to engage in it in the first place. Don’t blame the messenger, blame the criminal — in this case, that’s the police.

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said he is ‘gravely disappointed’ the police video was posted online, saying it is counteractive to anything the city is trying to achieve in terms of police-community relations.

    How different it would have been if “the police video was posted online” was replaced with “that the incident occurred.” I mean, it’s pretty much dead-on if he had said that instead…

  2. Phillip IV says

    Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said he is ‘gravely disappointed’ the police video was posted online, saying it is counteractive to anything the city is trying to achieve in terms of police-community relations.

    Because what they are trying to achieve is a community quivering in fear of the police, and even trying to hold them accountable for their behavior is obviously counteractive to that – so technically, he’s correct.

  3. says

    I really hate the mentality of these sort of people. It amounts to “it’s only cheating if you get caught,” which is why they only regret getting caught on camera, not the criminal act itself.

  4. Aquaria says

    It’s long been clear that Justice Scalia’s declaration that police misconduct isn’t a problem because law enforcement officers now have a “new professionalism” is utter nonsense

    Believing that the cops or the military is too professional to be assholes is apparently conservatard holy writ. I still remember the Henry Bonilla aide who told a bunch of us lefties before the Iraq invasion that we didn’t need to worry about the military creating another My Lai incident, because they were too professional now for that. Of course I had to call after the Abu Ghraib photos came out and ask how that new professionalism was working out for him. That was a case where it was my patriotic duty to tell that scumbag “I TOLD YOU SO.”

    It’s the same mentality that makes them think cops can do no wrong. Or even cheer on police abuse.

    I wonder how many times Ed has to publish yet another cop abuse case for people to get the fucking hint about cops: They’re out of control.

    We’re a police state.

    Sieg fucking heil.

  5. Michael Heath says

    Aquaria writes:

    I still remember the Henry Bonilla aide who told a bunch of us lefties before the Iraq invasion that we didn’t need to worry about the military creating another My Lai incident, because they were too professional now for that. Of course I had to call after the Abu Ghraib photos came out and ask how that new professionalism was working out for him. That was a case where it was my patriotic duty to tell that scumbag “I TOLD YOU SO.”

    Abu Ghraib was an even worse indictment of our system of government because every single reprehensible act taken was within the new guidelines published by the Bush Administration. The fact President Bush was both astonished and repulsed by the results at Abu Ghraib in no way should reduce his moral responsibility for what occurred, nor IMO his legal culpability along with his senior principals and staffers’. While those indicted and convicted for the Abu Ghraib acts were tried based on military law, the fact they were effectively administrated over by the CIA is a key to understanding Messers Bush, Cheney, Addington and other’s guilt.

  6. says

    @Aquaria: Believing that the cops or the military is too professional to be assholes is apparently conservatard holy writ.

    That’s not quite it, I don’t think. I think that the belief runs more along the lines of “the cops and the military are too professional to be assholes to the ‘wrong kind of people,’ their victims deserve whatever they get because the cops and military are correct by definition no matter what they do, and the liberal hippies don’t get it and deserve the same treatment as well.”

    And when these things happen, it isn’t accidental. I remember some of my Marine Corps training on treatment of prisoners going something like this: You can’t boobytrap a prisoner… corpses maybe you can. You have to feed and clothe and medicate your prisoners… not so much if they don’t survive the firefight. And of course you have to accept their surrender if they throw down their weapons and put their hands up… but who can say for sure that they dropped their weapons before or after you shot them?

    Not everyone was like that, but enough were and I’m sure still are. And as the cops become more militarized, we can expect the same behavior on our streets as we’re used to on and near battlefields.

  7. Aquaria says

    Abu Ghraib was an even worse indictment of our system of government because every single reprehensible act taken was within the new guidelines published by the Bush Administration.

    I understand what you’re saying, Heath, and I agree with it, but the point is that there are conservatives who think that the military or cops can do no wrong, ever, that they wouldn’t, because they’re too “professional” for it. We tried to tell the Bonilla aide that, no, they’re never too professional, because you cannot predict how every single person will act in a stressful situation when they know they have the power of the state behind them.

    And no, Improbable Joe, I don’t think it’s entirely about the “wrong kind” of people thing. I think it comes back to something else. The conservatives act the same way about police abuses toward white people, after all, that they do toward any other “other”; just look at the CNN commentary about the old white guy that got knocked out by cops on Black Friday in Arizona.

    Their whole attitude seems to be that the authorities wouldn’t be doing anything to you if you weren’t guilty, and they conveniently also think that everyone (but them of course) is guilty of something. See: Original sin. It’s not a coincidence that most authoritarian-worshipping tools are followers of one dogma or another, after all, particularly of the Abrahamic variety.

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