Lynching Without Punishment

Jesus fuck.

Other people will say that I should be fucking heartened by this:

On May 7th, 2020, the GBI arrested Gregory McMichael, age 64, and Travis McMichael, age 34, for the death of Ahmaud Arbery. They were both charged with murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels were taken into custody and will be booked into the Glynn County Jail.
But I’m not. Read further:

I am not heartened.

Yes, I read what it said. I understand what it said. But I also read further:

On May 5th, 2020, District Attorney Tom Durden formally requested the GBI investigate the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The Kingsland Office initiated an investigation on May 6th, 2020.

and I am not heartened.

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Lynching is legal, says Georgia DA

In a case that can’t seem to get appropriate coverage inside the USA, Canada and the UK are publishing important stories detailing the lynching of a  Black jogger by a white ex-cop and his son just as fast as any published by the national press inside the USA. The best review of the footage of the actual killing is probably in this story, by a local news station in Jaxonville.

So what happened here, why are prosecutors declaring this behavior acceptable, and why do I call it a lynching?

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Police Union Declares War vs Government

I probably don’t write nearly as many stories about fascist cops as I should, but today’s news is far, far too important to ignore. After a NYC cop was killed, Mayor Bill de Blasio posted a supportive message to twitter:

This was a premeditated assassination attempt against New York’s Finest. It was also an attack on ALL New Yorkers and everything we believe in. This MUST be a city where everyone can live in peace and respect. This individual attempted to destroy that. We will not let him win.

In response to this message, calling the killing an assassination and an attack on all New Yorkers, the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association’s official twitter account responded with this:

Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you! We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you. NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you. This isn’t over, Game on!

It is stunning that a group of armed public servants would “declare war” against their own elected government. It’s hard even to think of appropriate commentary to respond at this point. While it’s probably only one or a very few NYPD sergeants were involved in the wording of this tweet, the head of the NYPD SBA has been reelected in the past after saying things nearly as horrible (or, hell, perhaps more horrible, I don’t follow the SBA carefully). At this point it’s clear that the SBA is dangerously biased toward conflict and violence. It’s hard to imagine any reform being successful short of firing them all.

Old News I Missed: Cops have placed the Punisher skull on patrol cars

This is from two years ago, though I didn’t see it at the time. Apparently the Blue Lives Matter movement created any number of mind-bogglingly awful logos and graphics, and at least some of them incorporated the stylized skull used as a personal symbol by the fictional Marvel comic and television character The Punisher.

If you don’t already know: The Punisher is not a good guy. He’s a former marine who now treats every crime as an act of war, and responds in kind. It never occurs to him that his wars might not make communities safer, that even if he targets bad guys war on the streets is bad for good guys and bad even for normal, non-noble but non-evil human beings. He is a man of blood and battle, a torturer and a murderer, and the embodiment of all the ideas that good is defined by its hatred of evil, that men are defined violently imposing their will over others, and, of course, that intent is magic. So, naturally, cops in the US think he’s the greatest.

Just check out those cars mentioned in the title:

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Fascist Policing: Pinellas County Edition

As long as I’ve been doing stories on fascist policing, I’ve been clear that one vital element of fascist policing is that the people who do the policing are unaccountable to the people they police. Despite the occasional officer arrested for sex abuse of a relative or stealing and reselling shipments of drugs, law enforcement officers in the US are almost entirely unaccountable for the things that they do in the process of enforcing the law, even when those actions are patently illegal.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.