Bill Maher Gets One Right

RawStory is saying that Maher did a segment on police brutality tonight (Friday). In it he said:

“We need to stop saying most cops are good like we know that to be true,” Maher said. “I hope that’s true, but I need some evidence—unlike cops.”

I think that the most troubling thing about this is how few of these incidents come to light through police body cams. With so many interactions recorded on body cam, how is it that the majority of brutality incidents reach the public eye through the video taken by some witness pulling out a cell phone?

I don’t think that the majority of cops have committed unnecessary and illegal violence. I think the majority have certainly committed unnecessary violence, though, and I think that the ratio of bystander videos to body cam videos in these situations shows that law enforcement as an institution is engaged in a massive coverup. What does it mean to be a “good cop” when so many of these incidents are covered up by cops? Can you still be a “good cop” while ignoring the problems too big to change by yourself? How would that square with arresting a murderer when you know you don’t have the skills to prosecute them?

The definition of “good cop” is going to vary from person to person, but from testilying to state certification boards to allowing corrupt cops to resign to avoid investigation & punishment so they can hop over to a job in the next jurisdiction, I think there’s more than enough evidence that a huge percentage of cops are corruptly ignoring the problems in their own departments even if they are decent and trying to do good when they go out on the streets. Some of those cops *might* be good if we didn’t ask them to work in corrupt agencies. But how many? It’s impossible to tell.

So, yeah: maybe most cops are good, but at this point they’re going to need to step up with some evidence.

 

 

Fascist Policing: Milwaukee Edition; AKA No One Is Talking About Sterling Brown

I’m not sure why, but since the video of Sterling Brown’s mistreatment was released no one on FtB seems to have covered the malicious violence police committed against Brown, a rookie NBA player who may not be a superstar (yet) but is already playing a large contributing role for his team in his first year. From that, we can guess he’s making significant money and had significant local fame even before this incident put him repeatedly in the news. (BTW: I Have Forgiven Jesus spoke about this in anticipation of the video’s release, but we did not yet know what it showed.)

It’s been hard for me to start this piece. This story falls in an awkward place for me. It lacks the immediate, universal concern that appears to exist here on FtB when cops kill someone, but it’s also far more serious than the quotidian racism in policing that I also cover.

[Read more…]

Fascist Policing: Yet Another Modest Proposal

So,  NJ.com, an aggregator of content from semi-major newspapers all over New Jersey, has details of a couple of instances of police beating folks without even a decent pretext. The stories are in two separate articles, but they’re entirely routine. In the first a child who took the family car for a drive before getting a driver’s license spooked when a cop wanted to pull him over and drove into a cable:

The teen, who was unlicensed and driving his parent’s car, crashed a sedan into a suspension wire at the corner of Edwin and Bergen streets following a brief police chase.

It’s not entirely clear to me, but my best (although imperfect) understanding of the situation after reading the sources I could get was that the “chase” amounted to something between half a block or up to a few blocks, where the teen, spooked after a cop wanted to pull the car over (probably legitimately, an unlicensed kid is likely to be making many unsafe mistakes in driving) but drove into the wire before any real “chase” could be said to begin.

What happened next was a vicious beating of the teen by the first responding officer – probably also the officer that first attempted to pull over the teen’s car. That officer, Joseph Reiman, is a brother of the mayor of the same city, Carteret, in which the beating took place.

[Read more…]

Megyn Kelly Solves Cops’ Racism and Corruption

Oh dear FSM: Megyn Kelly has decided to do “Hopeful Holidays” stories, and what has she decided to cover? White officers framing Black community members for crimes those persons did not commit.

As her guests she invited 2 men, one a white former cop who corruptly invented evidence when asking courts for search and arrest warrants and then turned that fraudulent evidence over to prosecutors to use to incarcerate innocent people. The other man is a Black man who was convicted and sentenced to 10 years incarceration (though only 4 would typically be served inside, the rest on parole) for possessing drugs that never existed.

[Read more…]

Fascist Policing: Portland Oregon Edition

Yet another tip from Shaun King, whom I’ve come to respect more and more. This from my home town, Portland, Oregon. Protestors there interposed themselves between an ICE detention facility and a bus delivering prisoners. They had appeared to violate a rule. They were warned. They may even have been given an explanation. Nevertheless, they persisted. So cops arrested them.

I’m actually okay with the arrest in this case. The point of civil disobedience is to force the government to act according to its laws in order to bring attention to those laws, and I’m much more comfortable with a government that obeys its own laws than one that does not, even where I strongly disagree with those laws … because at least then I have more reason to be confident that if I and others successfully advocate for a change in the law, that might be followed.

It’s what happened next that is disturbing: five of the protestors had bound themselves together to form a human chain which would be much harder to re/move than any individual person might be. Those protesters were hooded and earmuffed. Then the police applied tourniquets to their arms and explained that they were going to be using loud, dangerous tools to separate them, and the earmuffs would protect their hearing while the tourniquets protected against massive blood loss should any major injury occur to a person while the cops were separating the protesters using these dangerous tools.

No loud tools were used, however, and it’s unclear if any potentially dangerous tools were used or whether applying tourniquets in advance would be a proper protective measure if such tools had been used.

Ultimately, it seems much more likely that this was a scare tactic than anything done for the protesters’ protection as claimed by the police. The tourniquets are particularly disturbing, as harm can be done to extremities by the effects of the tourniquets themselves.

No, Portland. Just No.

Fascist Policing: Caddo Parish Edition

In a story in The Advocate (no, not that one, I’m talking about the one that is slightly less gay & writes primarily about mardi gras and other spectacular events in New Orleans … okay, maybe it’s just as gay), a Louisiana Sheriff discusses the effects of criminal justice reform (a collection of 10 new Louisiana laws collectively titled, “the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package”) that permits earlier release from prison than was possible under previous parole conditions. Because of the transition to new criteria for reducing time spent behind bars*1 and the way the law come into effect, a larger than usual number of people will be paroled on a single day. 1,400 people will likely be released on November 1st, all of them people who have been without violence or other significant incidents while in prison and most of which*2 were convicted for non-violent behavior. Many of them are people who were jailed as victims of the Drug War.

However Republican Sheriff of Caddo Parish Steve Prator is not excited that he can save taxpayer money by running a smaller jail. No. The Advocate notes that he frets that every single person eligible for parole will actually be granted parole, including particularly one person “arrested 52 times” including for a charge of manslaughter… curiously, the Sheriff didn’t say whether or not the person was actually convicted of manslaughter.

While The Advocate includes all this in its coverage, what is more interesting is what The Advocate leaves out: Prator is unhappy with the new law and its somewhat-earlier release of people who carry around the leaves of plants that grow like weeds just about anywhere in the US because it’s the best prisoners that will be released early, and he counts on being able to force those prisoners to work:

I don’t want state prisons. They are a necessary evil to keep a few, or to keep some [people] out there. And that’s the ones that you can work, that’s the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs — but guess what? Those are the ones that they’re releasing! In addition to the [cough]. In addition to the bad ones [waves some manilla folders, presumably holding details of people like the current prisoner who has been arrested 52 times] – and I’m calling these bad – In addition to them, they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to, to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that where we save money … well, they’re going to let them out!*3

That’s right. No efficiencies of private enterprise, please. The Sheriffs have a good thing going where they can force people to work, and the better you are at doing that work, the more they want to keep you locked down. If you’re uncooperative, you’re a bad prisoner and need to be held longer. If you’re cooperative? Well, then you’re a good worker, and you need to be held longer.

This isn’t a law enforcement official concerned about good law enforcement policy. This is a fucking white man mourning the loss of his slaves.

Speaking or which: Fuck you, Steve Prator.

But the truly terrible thing, is that this was Prator in a public press conference. The Advocate didn’t report Prator as advocating slavery and immediately call for his resignation. Prator clearly believed, and the terrible reporting of The Advocate tends to support his belief, that publicly praising the value of slavery was good way to endear him to the majority of the local populace.

To which I can only say: Fuck you, majority of the local populace.

Fuck the ever-loving fuck.


*1: the total sentence is typically not reduced, but more of it is spent under supervision in the community participating in programs and, the state hopes, working at regular jobs)

*2: Possibly all, I haven’t read the text of these 10 related laws yet.

*3: Transcription of Prator’s remarks by me, from a video of Prator’s press conference on the subject. The video was released (and possibly originally made) by journalist Shaun King. Video taken from King’s twitter feed and embedded here for your convenience:

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?

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.”

[Read more…]

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…]