What Fascist Policing Looks Like: Harris County Edition

As I have said before (a number of times) in this series, a principle component of fascist policing is an environment where police misconduct routinely goes unpunished. This is not to say that such misconduct never goes unpunished, but that even egregious misconduct is not guaranteed to be punished when brought to light.

Harris County, Texas gives us yet another example of cops going unpunished despite egregious behavior. The fascist cops in this case are Ronaldine Pierre and William Strong. Yet I want to question the extent to which a fascist policing mentality is exclusively to blame.

All the trigger warnings, should you choose to continue.

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Fascist Policing: How Not to Do It, Buffalo Edition

In Buffalo, a number of Black kids and young Black men were playing foot ball in the street – a common activity in many places across the US. One imagines that the players were engaged in the usual shouting for the ball, playful trash talk, and other noise making that comes with a friendly game of touch football among friends. Despite the daylight hour, apparently a neighbor took exception to all this activity and called the police to register a complaint about the noise. A white cop, Officer PATRICK McDONALD was dispatched.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

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Fascist Policing: “Betty Shelby Got Away With Murder”

What can I say?

White police officer Betty Shelby killed Black Terence Crutcher while his hands were raised in the air or being returned to a raised position after attempting to retrieve something (we don’t know what, but it was probably ID) from his car. He had raised his hands and kept them raised while walking to the car to get whatever it was that Crutcher felt necessary. He was exhibiting all the typical signs of submission, and though the cops say he disobeyed orders, cops frequently give contradictory orders (“Hands up! Show us your ID!”) especially when, as here, more than one cop is one the scene at the same time. And, of course, even if Crutcher were to disobey a legal officer given by a cop with the best of intentions and training, and even if Crutcher were to disobey for the most venal of motives, the penalty for disobeying a legal order given my a law enforcement officer is, if I understand the law correctly, something less than the death penalty both under state law and under Tulsa’s city ordinances. Of course, it is possible that I’m simply misunderstanding the specific legal meaning of the phrases “Failure to comply will constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00).” and “shall be punished by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00)”. Tulsa is in an entirely different country from me after all.

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This is What Fascist Policing Looks Like: No Gay Men Abused In Chechnya

If you aren’t familiar with the systematic abuse of gay men by the government of Chechnya, you probably don’t live in Chechnya (or any other republic of Russia for that matter). The issue has been getting considerable coverage for years now. The situation has been sufficiently highlighted for sufficiently long that people in Russia are daring to protest Putin for his lack of intervention in the neighboring country. Putin, it should be noted, did not respond well to the criticism.

But what’s particularly frightening is not yet another example of Putin’s dictatorial opposition to any form of criticism or dissent. What’s particularly frightening is the statement that Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov gave to Interfax through a spokesperson:

“You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” he told Interfax news agency.

“If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

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What a Witch Hunt Looks Like

We were talking about witch hunts in the comments to my recent post on lynching and the use of the language of lynching. I said that it’s important that witch hunts threaten more than one’s reputation and that witch hunters use evidence or tests that are not logically connected to the supposed conclusion of witchcraft (among other criteria). To illustrate what we’re actually talking about, I thought we should not stay abstract about witch hunts any more than we were abstract about lynching: and if you haven’t read that post, it’s not abstract at all. That post cannot be more disturbing because of All The Racism, and this one is potentially less disturbing only because of the lack of pictures.

That said, in a world that includes witch hunting, it is important to discuss it honestly, to understand what a witch hunt actually does, what witch hunters actually do. It is every bit as important to understand witch hunting as it is to understand lynching. So, if you’re ready, I give you two short illustrations of witch hunting from the perspective of a victim and from the perspective of a perpetrator.

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This Is What Fascist Policing Looks Like: Sacramento

In a story receiving ongoing coverage on the blogs Systemic Failure and PINAC, a man was beaten, and beaten severely and viciously, for…

…well, it’s hard to tell if there was anything significantly influential in the lead up to the officer’s decision to beat the man named Nandi Cain. Well, anything that influenced the decision other than Cain’s Blackness.

As always, there’s a narrative here. Cain crossed the street at a neighborhood, uncontrolled intersection. The cop wanted to bust him for jaywalking. Cain acted submissively while the cop acted aggressively. However, Cain did not obey the precise instructions given by the cop. He took off his coat though the cop had not asked him to do so, and he also backed up a few steps as the cop moved on him. This backing up happened at least twice, though during it Cain kept his hands in the air as instructed.  [Read more…]

Fascist Governance: Multi-state Edition

ALEC is a long-condemned organization whose mission is to share regressive and theocratic legislative ideas between states. They have long advocated heightened criminal penalties for behaviors with relatively low social cost, or, in cases of public political expression, with actual social value.

I don’t know to what extent ALEC has been working on issues of shutting down protest and public expression, but it seems to me that the “leadership” of Trump is making ALEC less and less necessary. There is a zeitgeist, and that geist is haunting the Ebenezers in our state governments. There’s no turkey dinner for the cripples at the end of this story, however. The state legislators want to control us, every one.

While there are other topics I could discuss in terms of state legislative trends, I want to particularly call out this growing need to control speech through punitive legislation, through denial of remedy, and, yes, through simply killing protestors.

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This is What Fascist Policing Looks Like: San Diego.

What is the difference between a Steven Soderbergh who creates art including violent imagery and men locked away for an entire string of actual murders?

I’ve been reading about Brandon Duncan’s and Aaron Harvey’s lawsuit against the fascist policing of San Diego and the fascist police RUDY CASTRO and SCOTT HENDERSON: I’m having trouble figuring it out. Soderbergh has sometimes lived in San Diego. He’s definitely created depictions of violence there. Duncan and Harvey have lived most of their lives in San Diego. Duncan has certainly created depictions of violence there. Soderbergh, however, is not suing San Diego and the very, very clever cops Castro & Henderson for violations of federally guaranteed civil rights.

While Duncan, AKA (when performing rap) Tiny Doo and Harvey don’t mention Soderbergh in the complaint filed with the federal district court for the Southern District of California*1, it’s hard to escape the obvious conclusion. Brandon Duncan grew up in a gang-plagued area of San Diego with Aaron Harvey and other friends. Unlike many people with more money and more privilege, Duncan stayed in the same area as an adult. Neither Duncan nor Harvey were gang members in any sense, but they did know some some members of the Lincoln Park Blood gang (“LPK”). These men were people who grew up near Duncan and Harvey, and apparently they remained on friendly enough terms that cell-phone photos were taken of some of these LPK members and Duncan, Harvey or both in the same frame.

What did the photos show? They weren’t mowing down targets at a gun range. They weren’t smuggling drugs across the border. They weren’t, y’know, committing some horrible crime like waterboarding someone or something. Instead, they were merely chillaxing, or other such moderate behaviors as I am told one’s homies, on occasion, will tend to do with one.

But this did not fool the police.

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I would love to continue to rap, but these people have you scared to do anything around here.

Brandon Duncan and Aaron Harvey served eight and seven months in jail, respectively, because of the fascist policing of San Diego specifically, and the United States more generally. I’m working on a longer post about these two (ETA: This post is now up here), who just this week filed a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act-established cause of action for official violation of citizens’ rights (42 US Code ss 1983).

The cases against Duncan and Harvey (such as they were) were different, though they arose out of the same underlying acts (acts committed by persons who were neither Duncan nor Harvey). The cases against each were ridiculous, and thrown out of court after the two had each spent months unable to post bonds of hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the one against Harvey is arguably much more scary in its plain overreach by police and prosecutors, the case against Duncan has received more attention.

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