This is not a radical proposal — it’s actually simple common sense.
This week, Alton Sterling was shot by the police — his “crime” was either having a gun (which, as the NRA frequently tells us, is perfectly legal) or selling CDs, which may have been illegal, but did not to be dealt with with violence. It’s telling that no one can even say what he did wrong to justify his execution.
Yesterday, Philando Castile was killed for having a broken brake light, right here in my state, in Roseville.
Both murders were caught on video. I expect none of the police officers will face any serious penalties for murdering black men.
But I have a serious question about these incidents. Why are the police armed? Do you need a gun to issue traffic citations? I remember when the police would send a representative to my public school — that “Officer Friendly” crap — and they always had a great big scary handgun strapped to their hip. Why? Were they concerned that a firefight might break out in the fifth grade?
All those policemen patrolling the streets, looking for parking infractions or speeders or jaywalkers…they don’t need guns to do their job. Given that many of them are turning out to be bullying cowards, having a gun is even a detriment to their role of defending the law and the public peace.
So disarm them. Keep a few weapons back in the police station that can be issued to deal with specific situations in which they are necessary, but for the most part, guns are totally inappropriate for the job at hand. This would have a number of beneficial effects. For one, the swaggering assholes who need their firearm to be tough would quit, and good riddance to them. For another, the police would actually have to take non-violent approaches to confrontations seriously. Maybe they’d live up to the title of “peace officer”.
I know what the arguments against this proposal will be: but then civilians will be more heavily armed than the police! After all, Philando Castile had a handgun — which he openly declared, and had a permit for — so what is the policeman to do?
That’s easy. If he were scared, the appropriate response would have been to run away, and call for assistance. But in this case, there was no sign that the man in the car was a threat. All escalation was caused by the armed policeman. Except for the fact that the policeman drew a gun and shot the man, this whole incident should have ended with a warning or ticket given to the driver, and everyone would have gone on their way.
You know what else tells me that the police don’t deserve to be armed? What they did with the murdered man’s girlfriend. They had just shot the man, she was weeping and worried about her daughter, and they handcuffed her and took her to the police station, when they should have been helping her get to her boyfriend’s side at the hospital. That made no sense. She was not a threat. She had done nothing wrong, other than maybe having a car with a broken taillight. Yet they treated her like the criminal, after murdering her boyfriend in front of her.
I’m white, and I don’t trust the police. They’re out of control everywhere. It’s time to change.
I grew up in New Zealand, where the police are unarmed in exactly the way you say. It’s a fantastic idea. There’s no need for cops on the beat to carry lethal weapons.
I mean, yes disarm the police. But really, shouldn’t it be disarm everyone?
One of these guys had a gun on him. Why does a guy who sells CDs need a gun?
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
don’t go there ;-(
Probably to protect himself from the police. Given their record, it was a well founded fear. Though events have proven once again that a gun is a terrible defensive weapon and does little to aid someone being threatened.
Yes, visiting England a while back was eye-opening to me. I felt totally comfortable asking the police walking around the towns and small train stations for directions. They were smiling and helpful nearly every time. Some were armed with tasers, but most that I saw were simply wearing one of those famous bobby sticks.
I did notice some armed police at the larger train stations and the airport, but they were wearing different uniforms and didn’t seem inclined to interact with the public. The normally uniformed police seemed to be the first line who were watching and interacting with the public. I actually felt much safer with this set-up than here in the US.
I hope that this doesn’t change with all of the problems that the UK is currently facing.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
To answer the OP’s opening question: my answer is that the gun is used to scare, not to fire. The weapon is an open threat to pay attention to the osifer or bam! A symbolic tool for intimidation.
Disarming police is ideal, but that must be accompanied with teaching proper respect for authority figures. Kinda like the Brits, who don’t arm their Bobbies yet still respect their authority.
According to the french tv news, one of Sterling’s customer called 911, accused Sterling of threatening him with a gun, the cops came, tazed him, then, when the fairly large Alton Sterling didn’t immediately fall convulsing on the ground, the cops tackled him and outright executed him.
So here’s his crime: being tougher than a taser.
Even without a gun, giving a bullying coward a badge and uniform is already a detriment to the law and public peace.
Since when do citizens need a reason to carry guns, cf. 2nd amendment an all that?
@6 slithey tove, why should anybody and especially POC respect the authority of American cops? Respect is a two way street.
Why do you need a gun when you sell CDs? How else are you going to get someone to buy them? Seriously, who still buys CDs?
” his “crime” was either having a gun ”
Yes, that was a crime since Sterling was a felon on parole with an illegal gun which he apparently brandished during a criminal threat.
What are the odds that one or more of the officers would have been killed by Sterling had they not had guns? No one knows. I would want a gun on me if I were one of those officers in that situation.
So the cops need guns to protect themselves from the civilians who need guns to protect themselves from the cops who need guns to… and so on.
I’m sure a lot of cops are trigger happy racist yahoos, but it seems to me that disarming them just means you’ll end up with a lot of dead cops instead of dead (black) civilians. Sounds like a zero sum game.
A Masked Avenger says
Arresting the woman makes perfect sense. It gives them a chance to confiscate her video. It also gives them a chance to file charges against her. Note that in many jurisdictions “resisting arrest” is a crime even if the arrest is completely illegal AND even if the officers acted in bad faith. So they can arrest her for “having a smart mouth” and if she complains that there’s no such crime, they can then legit charge her with resisting arrest.
At minimum they can use the charge to attack her credibility as a witness. “Isn’t it true that you were recently charged with a crime yourself?” At worst they can railroad her into prison. Likely something in the middle, where they drop the charges but condition this on refraining from talking about the incident publicly. And that’s just the stuff that’s totally legal–not to mention the possibility of dying in police custody, say.
They have many options after arresting her, and few if they pass up that opportunity.
They’re starting to appear earlier and earlier in the discussion.
“Kinda like the Brits, who don’t arm their Bobbies yet still respect their authority.”
BECAUSE, not in spite of. Police forces in the US need to go back to the Peelian principles.
Golgafrinchan Captain says
Please excuse my venting…
Your country’s (as a whole) obsession with guns is fucking sick. The only way disarming cops would be feasible is when it’s safe to assume that the average pedestrian isn’t packing genitalia-substitutes-of-death. While it’s not even close to an excuse for the frequent executions (particularly of minorities), I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be a walking target like a cop in your sea of death tools. That level of constant hyper-vigilance has to fuck with their heads. Guns are designed to kill. Very few of the guns sold are suitable for hunting. The rest are designed to kill PEOPLE. Hunters don’t need handguns. Hunters don’t need AR-15s. Sick, sick, sick. Fucking sick.
I will no longer even travel to the US, and I’m white. Yes, I know cars, blah, blah, blah. But death is a potential side-effect for cars, which have utility beyond killing stuff. And every measure is taken to minimize the risks (licencing, safety features, speed limits, etc.). But not fucking guns, oh no, that would impede FREEDOM!!!!!!1!1!1000
It’s also true that knives can kill but, again, knives have other utility besides killing. Plus, they’re nowhere near as effective as a gun. All you need to kill with a gun is the strength to pull the trigger while pointing it in the right direction. Toddlers can do it for fuck’s sake. I’ve been stabbed in the back while trying to break up a fight (in Canada). I got six stitches and went home.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
And keep them huddled so our cops and citizens can fucking shoot them. Yearn that, refuse.
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
But which he wasn’t brandishing at the time of the attempted arrest. And since there was therefore no danger of him using it, there was no reason for the officers to shoot at him.
None, since he was already incapacitated and did not have the gun in his hand.
What part of “He was not holding a gun and was already incapacitated” do you find hard to understand?
You might want a gun as a defence in case a person known to be armed attacks you with their own gun. This is not the same as using your gun when that person does not do that.
If Mr. Castile had had the sense to be white, everything would have been just dandy, he would have been given a ticket and sent on his way.
No one needs a damn gun, but take them away from cops first.
I agree that basically no-one needs a gun, but can we skip the poking around to find something the victim did wrong? Having a legally-owned gun in his pocket does not even remotely justify summary execution, and there is way too much victim-blaming after any incident of this kind.
I’ve heard a somewhat similar version; the police recieved a report of someone selling CDs outside a shop threatening someone with a gun, but the shop staff say it wasn’t Sterling, and that he’s a welcome regular.
For UK police, yeah, almost all of them are unarmed. There are specialist armed police teams that carry guns, that recieve extra training and are called out for specific incidents. And I grew up in a town where one of them was based and still don’t remember ever seeing an armed British civilian police officer.
Read this, you rancid asspimple.
They should definitely take away their side-arms. Police could carry whatever non-lethal equipment they think they can use to quickly subdue a suspect, but lethal weaponry would be limited to the SWAT team and a shotgun in the trunk of the patrol car. Of course, given the militarization of the police, that might just lead to them calling a SWAT team in every time they go to someone’s house to make an arrest.
“Running away” usually isn’t an option for them in these situations – if someone is going to take a shot at a police officer at a traffic stop, it goes down in seconds.
Thank you for some anecdotal accounts. Sterling was a convicted felon on parole carrying an illegal gun which he allegedly used to threaten someone. He resisted arrest, was tased, got into a physical confrontation with police and ended up being shot. This likely wouldn’t have happened if he complied with the police order.
“But which he wasn’t brandishing at the time of the attempted arrest.”
Officer Salamoni saw Sterling “going for the gun.”
“None, since he was already incapacitated and did not have the gun in his hand.”
He wasn’t incapacitated. His right arm was free and the gun was in Sterling’s right pocket and apparently visible. In the video you can see the handle of the gun sticking out of the pocket. Let’s not forget, that this was an illegally concealed weapon that a convicted felon illegally had on his person while illegally resisting arrest.
“You might want a gun as a defence in case a person known to be armed attacks you with their own gun.”
You don’t have to be attacked by a gun to use a gun in self-defense, it only has to pose an imminent threat.
Marcus Ranum says
We need to remember that current policing practices evolved from a time before there was radio, let alone battlefield grid communications or “just in time” delivery and optimal routing like UPS uses. Why can’t cops have efficient communications systems that allow them to gps-enable, share current status, pictures of a suspect, whether the suspect is armed, etc. Why can’t a police dispatcher allocate a reasonable force-structure and coordinate vectoring them in? That way beat cops could be unarmed and trained in de-escalation – and they could always play the “I’m unarmed but you can’t outrun a radio. Don’t make me hit this red button because those guys are nasty and expensive and kinda dangerous and we all hate dealing with them.”
One of the reasons policing is such a mess is because there are no standards for comm gear or practices. And none of that is standardized with the FBI. It’s like the system was set up to protect budgets and fiefdoms or something.
I did some consulting for a couple police-related companies (one of which makes electronic guns and cop cameras) and a police department (surrounding leaked cop cam video) back in the early oughts. Let me put it this way: when you watch CSI and the cops are using computers and IT and such. Heh, that’s fantasy-land. The FBI internet experts used to think AOL was the internet for the longest time…
The big scandal is that procurement budgets are consistently robbed internally. So you get things like post 9/11 the FBI did “security upgrade” by buying a bunch of people nice new laptops because new laptops are way more secure or something.
The point is: effective use of IT could make a disarmed police force very effective. But cops don’t want that. They want to do things the traditional way, including roughing up people and killing them. The whole system needs to be burnt to the ground and plowed with salt. Delenda Carthago.
Fred Clark at Slacktivist has the some further thoughts on the same idea: The Gun Undermines the Badge.
The whole reason we created a police force in the first place in the UK was so we had a means of keeping order and preventing crime that didn’t rely on using the army. Admittedly a lot of the impetus came from workers’ riots like Peterloo (which turned into a massacre when soldiers were sent in to break it up) and fear of the French Revolution coming over here, but rather than double down and just persist with using armed men to quell unrest the governments of the later 19th century came up with something better. From this side of the pond it seems that US police forces are basically turning into military units that wear blue rather than khaki. That’s kind of reverting back to the problem that civilian police were intended to solve.
Which is not to say that we haven’t had problems with institutional racism in our police forces before. And there is still progress to be made. But it seems the ideals and accountability we have insisted on have made this something that can at least be addressed and worked on.
For goodness’ sake at least work on one of the problems – guns or racism among the police. Preferably both, but if that’s just too hard then it has to be one. They’re both awful, but together the outcomes are far more serious than the sum of the parts.
While I said earlier that we ought to remove police’s side-arms, a much stronger emphasis on non-lethal training would probably go further. The British are actually unusual in disarming most of their police – most police forces worldwide carry fire-arms aside from Ireland, Great Britain, and New Zealand. Japan’s police carry side-arms ( traffic police do not), although they virtually never fire them – and the reason why they don’t fire them much is because they have a massive emphasis on non-lethal take-downs and training instead.
Horribly pedantic of me, but I can’t help myself – it’s actually delenda EST Carthago – the verb esse is required to convey the sense of necessity or obligation with the gerundive construction. Without it the phrase is just “Carthage being destroyed”.
Interestingly this nasty little jingle was the staple of Cato the Elder, who was also famous as a champion of fiscal responsibility during his time as Censor in the 180s BC – going so far as to re-auction off the public tax collection contracts when he felt the companies bidding for them were charging the Roman state too much.
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
So what you’re saying, basically, is that two police officers who already have a person pinned to the ground, are not capable of stopping that person reaching into a pocket? Maybe the training department should spend a little less time at the firing range and a lot more time on minimal-force restraint methods, since they appear, according to you, to be producing officers who are completely inept at what, in the rest of the civilised world, is a basic facet of policing.
Racism, definitely. Police do know how to de-escalate situations, behave professionally, and actually be held somewhat accountable for misconduct – because that’s what happens when they deal with white folks in the US with rare exceptions. Hell, I remember the same week that Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, there was a news bit about a police officer being fired because he accidentally shot a suburban couple’s dog in Illinois.
Without dealing with that racism, accountability measures will just be undermined over time.
Interesting thing about armed police in the UK: they are having difficulty filling the positions for armed officers, apparently because of fears of the accountability.
Nice try. Love how you tried to get away with that. What was the physical confrontation? What position did the officers have him in when they shot him to death?
You racist assholes are like a broken record. I’m sick of even bothering to point out all the cases. The dozens and dozens of cases are already out there well documented (and some even with video).
Christ, you’re really behind on this. Bless your naive little heart.
PZ Myers says
Yeah, Sterling had a gun. I notice our little murder-apologist has seized upon that distraction to avoid talking about Philando Castile.
Good to know, though, that if a white open-carry NRA-lovin’ asshole struts around in the street, it is perfectly appropriate to approach him with weapon drawn and if he twitches, to kill him.
Also, look at the examples Caine posted of white men not only “going for the gun” but having it out and pointing it at people/police.
@Saad I’m going by what the officer said in the video, and the reasonableness of the claim considering the circumstances of Sterling resisting arrest, the taser being ineffective, his right arm being free and the gun being visible from his right pocket, a history of violence, an illegally concealed weapon, and now multiple parole violations.
@PZ Myers “strutting around the street” is not the same as threatening someone with a weapon, which is what the officers were responding to.
@fletch2012, amazing how quickly we learn about every bad thing the latest person murdered by police ever did.
If you all are against guns then where is the criticism of Sterling illegally carrying a concealed weapon while on parole?
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
Even more amazingly, according to fletch2012, the officers knew all this before they knew his identity.
@fletch: The Planned Parenthood shooter actually killed a police officer (and two others) and yet he was taken alive successfully. The North Carolina church shooter killed nine and was taken alive as well. Were these two really less of a threat to police than Sterling?
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
Well, its something of a misdemeanour when compared to the casual execution of citizens by those who are supposed to be protecting them, and even more so when compared to a system which condones and encourages racism and murder.
Did they know? Did they not know? You tell me. It isn’t unreasonable to think that they knew of him since Sterling had been in the area for quite some time. What the officers did know is that he possibly had a gun, that it would have been illegally concealed, and that he was resisting arrest.
The planned parenthood shooter? The same one who was barricaded inside a building for five hours until the SWAT team used a military grade vehicle to crash into the building and he surrendered?
And the North Carolina church shooter where he was arrested at a traffic stop and didn’t put up a fight? What are these supposed to prove? That the police don’t shoot people EVERY TIME they encounter them?
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
In which case they should have approached him with guns already drawn, according to your “imminent threat” scenario. Your ability to reach for straws is, frankly, astounding.
And this is my last reply to you, since I find I’ve been instrumental in derailing this thread into a discussion of your straw-grabbing abilities. For which I apologise to everyone else.
Stain of anal leakage @37
And ignoring all other evidence not to mention ignoring the Philandro Castile shooting. Do you not see a problem with that?
Any one know how many police officers are shot by black people during routine traffic stops versus how many are shot by sovereign citizens during routine traffic stops.
@fletch: It shows that the police are capable of arresting white people even when they are known to be armed and willing to shoot people. The NC shooter wasn’t arrested at a routine traffic stop as you seem to be implying. They knew that he was the suspect in the church shooting before stopping the car.
So I’ll ask again: was Sterling really a greater threat to the police than the NC guy? Particularly after he had already been tased?
Ed Seedhouse says
fletch2012@37 “@Saad I’m going by what the officer said in the video”
Well there’s your problem. Many other witnesses said differently, but because he’s the policeman you believe him and not them. Time to pull your head out of your asshole.
They started with the taser, which in not lethal force. That is a good thing, right?
Are you saying that the police officers didn’t say that? Or that other people were in a position better than the officer who was above Sterling to see what he was doing with his right arm which, according to the video was at least partially obscured by Sterling’s body and the silver car?
I’ll just leave this here:
Marcus Ranum says
Thank you. That’ll teach my pseudointellectual ass to work from memory instead of google.
I wonder how google translate renders it…?
@specialfrom I don’t know what the Philandro Castile shooting has to o with this one.
I didn’t say the NC shooter was stopped in a routine traffic stop. But he was pulled over in a traffic stop with the intent of finding out if he was the suspect in question.
The police are also capable of arresting black people without shooting them.
Was Sterling a greater threat? I don’t know. Sterling was a suspect in a criminal threat with a weapon. I don’t know the details on how the NC guy was arrested.
Kind of like Castile?
Nick Gotts says
I don’t know why you’re bothering with all this crap. It’s quite clear you think the appropriate punishment for a black person resisting arrest is summary execution. Why not just say so?
Here’s a table of the race and gender of known offenders who feloniously killed police officers from 2005 to 2014. 55% of the known offenders were white, 40% were black. Also worth considering is the fact that there were 51 police officers killed in 2014 while police killed over 1000 people. Source
Law Enforcement Officers Feloniously Killed Race and Sex of Known Offender, 2005–2014
@Nick Gotts I think anyone resisting arrest is risking getting injured or killed. The police will eventually use whatever force is necessary to stop you, no matter what your color is.
It’s always the same pattern.
White dude commits heinous act of mass murder. News rushes to tell everyone how he was a misunderstood, mentally ill loner even as information comes out that he was a domestic abuser/animal abuser/history of violent behavior that was never enough for the police to intervene, but none of that is taken by the media to have been warning signs that shouldn’t have been ignored.
Black person gets executed by cops, media rushes to find every possible thing they ever did wrong in their lifetime and feed it to the white supremacists like @fletch2012 here, so they can comfortably assure themselves that the black person “had it coming” even though police officers didn’t know any of that information before the gun went off and the pesky reality that police can’t summarily kill someone for past criminal behavior or that they might become criminals in the future but that reality only applies to white people.
I’m so tired of seeing white assholes jump to cling to any shred of evidence when a black person gets murdered by a cop, rather than stop for 10 seconds and think “Hey maybe this is actually racism.”
@drst do you think the officer was just looking for a black guy to kill?
Fuck off. Just another broken record trying to justify to themselves why they believe a (black) man deserved to be shot in the street like a rabid dog. Go on and justify it to yourself, then remember to ask yourself, Why are you so invested in proving that this guy deserved it? It’s because your ass is racist as all fuck.
So following these two shootings my FB page is once again seeing that brilliant post where a black man describes his absolutely polite and wonderful encounter at the roadside with a police officer, while carrying his (legal, registered) weapon. How the interaction went so smoothly because he was so fucking civil and respectful, and excuse me if I don’t believe him if he said he wasn’t scared shitless somewhere deep down. How his actions were so exemplary and not all cops are bad and cops aren’t out to kill black people.
From what I can see, Philandro Castile tried to be polite and explained to the officer that he was carrying and tried to go for his wallet and still ended up dead.
Are cops out to kill black people? Not directly. But their trigger fingers sure as hell get unusually jumpy when they’re around black people. And that’s a problem less with the guns and more with the racism (see again all those white people staying alive in nearly identical situations).
Anyway. I’m angry.
Right, because racism is always so simple and straightforward as that.
Take for instance: I was once listening to a radio call-in show on NPR on this topic. A woman called in admitting to having a visceral fear of young black men due to an assault she had previously experienced. She knew it was irrational. She knew that most groups of young, black men she encountered were no threat to her. She actively went against these feelings to continue as normally as she could. Is she or is she not racist?
Racism is not just conscious belief or premeditated action. Racism can be subconscious in and individual, or it can be systemic in a society or organization. Part of the systemic racism is the rush to find damning elements of a black victim’s background. I’ve even heard people claim that Trayvon Martin was planning to use the fucking candy and tea he was carrying to make drugs.
Oh, and not to mention how many times I’ve heard white people say they are okay with black people, so long as they don’t “act black”. That’s what gets black people in trouble with the Not Racist folks. It’s not aggressive behavior, or non-compliance, but lack of conformity.
(They often feel safe talking like this around me because I’m a pale, dirty-blond guy with a European-as-fuck name and I seem like a nice boy.)
I just try to consider what I would do if I were an officer in that same situation. There was a report of Sterling having a gun and threatening someone with it. Sterling resisted arrest. They tried nonlethal force. They tried restraining him. He appeared to go for his gun. Doesn’t Sterling get some blame here? Couldn’t he have done something different, like comply with the police? Of course, he knew he would be headed to prison for the parole violation since he had an illegally concealed weapon. I don’t see how Sterling’s color changes any of those facts.
Where is the evidence that the officers were racists? You mean because they ended up shooting a black guy who threatened someone with a gun and then resisted arrest and had an illegally concealed weapon which he appeared to be reaching for? Given the situation, were the officer’s actions unreasonable? I don’t think so.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
In your imagination? Why not just sit on his arm?
Lethal force should by police should be treated as first degree murder, and automatically go to trail that way. In a court away from the area it happened, and one with a jury with some PoC as part of the panel. Justice could be served then.
Appeared. Which means there’s still a good long while for two officers well-trained in de-escalation techniques to not let him get to the gun, seeing as how Sterling was already on the ground, tased once, and oh, this, from the article: “The officers can be seen in the video on top of him before shots were fired.” You’re still justifying. You’re still a racist asshole. You can take your hyper-skepticism and shove it.
Try and consider it from Sterling’s position, if you’re at all capable of empathy.
Yes. Because countless white people have come out alive from similar situations. And far more threatening ones, too. This is what makes the officers’ actions racist.
You’re still justifying someone’s death as for the greater good, and that is pretty sick.
@Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls
Not in my imagination, in the opinion of the officers.
One officer was on his legs and the other officer was trying to restrain Sterling’s left arm. Remember, all this took place in a matter of seconds.
And they had enough time to pull out their own firearms (well, at least one did) rather than shifting their weight to his (not-yet-armed) right arm. Perfectly reasonable!
Perfectly reasonable if they were scared shitless of the angry black man, that is. I guess his one right arm going for his gun was like sooper-dooper-inhumanly fast and how he was going to be a master marksman with two grown men on top of him (Or was he going to throw them off with his immense black man strength beforehand? I can’t always remember how this narrative is supposed to go.). So yeah, he totally deserved to be shot. Stop justifying this murder.
It’s up to the police to de-escalate, and apparently they were incompetent enough to escalate, therefore I do not put any trust in their stated opinion on the turn of events. They’re simply incompetent, and Sterling should still be alive.
Funny you don’t have much to say about Castile.
No, going for a gun is an imminent threat which justifies lethal force.
I can consider what I would do if the police were detaining me, I would comply without question. On the other hand, if I were a convicted felon facing a decade or more in prison for threatening someone with a gun, illegally obtaining a gun while on parole, illegally concealing a gun, then, sure, I might think, “What the hell, I might as well try to fight my way out of this one because the alternative is going to suck for sure.”
Quite telling that the first number is known precisely, the second vaguely. A ratio of over 20:1 would seem to indicate there is problem.
Do you think their could possibly be a middle ground between “I want to kill me a n___r” and completely not a racist (with no “, but”)?
Maybe it isn’t, but we will never know if we don’t ask that question. And if it isn’t in that particular case, the larger pattern suggests that racism is a factor in a significant fraction of these cases
No, do not put yourself in his position as yourself-the-presumably-white-person. Put yourself in his position as yourself-a-black-person, with all the history that goes with it. So he was a convicted felon once – so? Still a human being and still deserving of more than a street-side death sentence from two incompetent police officers. Even if he is trying to fight his way out of it – there are two officers, well-trained (I’m certainly assuming a lot here)… and scarily far from competent.
“Going for” while being sat on by two officers is an imminent threat? Sure, maybe, if the poses of all parties involved were slightly different, such as Sterling being unencumbered by two full grown men on top of him. Lethal force is always a final option (hahaha well it darned well should be), and as I said, if they had time to pull out their firearms, they certainly had time to sit on his other arm. Stop justifying this man’s summary execution.
Is it ever reasonable to shoot a person point-blank when you’re on top of them? Also, call me regionalist, but I was thinking about the guy in my own home state, who was shot while trying to comply with officers. What about him, you jackass?
This is not a minor issue to me. I plan on living in the Twin Cities. Much of my family already does. I want to know that our safety is not being guarded by people who have no care for the lives of some of our neighbors. One of my oldest friends was a neighbor who used to babysit me and my siblings. She is biracial and her father is an African immigrant who lives just a few suburbs over from where this happened. Please tell me how to allay fears about their safety, oh wise one.
Let me guess, you are also a disciple of The Amazingly Asshole (TAA) atheist and you believe that TAA is not a racist, either – just like you are not a racist. I mean, if Blacks just stopped being part of the victim culture.
*This is a lie on your part, and if you do not know it you are a bigger racist asshole than even JT Kirk. Plenty of White guys wave guns as well as shot at police, and end up not dead . Please, stop lying.
They should just do everything a cop ever tells them to do, it’s that easy. :P Obviously, never have a criminal record of any kind, annnnnd never resist an arrest of any kind, annnnnnd… I guess never do anything that might even appear to be slightly illegal? Oh, and most of all, don’t go ’round frightening all the white folks, of course.
As have countless black people. And white people get killed in these situations, too. While statistically this may be more dangerous if you are black, that is all the more reason to comply with an officer’s order. That doesn’t mean that the officers involved in this shooting are guilty because they are white.
No it doesn’t. Guilt by association by being white?
I never said it was a greater good. I said, given the circumstances the response was reasonable.
You are talking about decisions being made in a fraction of a second where another fraction of a second may mean being killed. Imminent threat means no time for deliberation. Even then, Sterling was given another warning before shots were fired.
All which would be an unnecessary standard necessitating a lethal response by police officers in an imminent threat.
That’s not what I have been discussing here. That shooting is much more questionable, IMO.
Of course, everyone probably falls in the middle ground somewhere.
In other words, controlling Black people by the fear of summary execution is a feature, not a bug.
Sure, when one officer is trying to restrain the legs and the other officer is trying to restrain the left arm, and the dangerous suspect’s free right arm is going for the gun in his right pocket.
1. Simple. Guns should be used as a last resort to protect officer’s lives. This was, clearly, far from a last resort.
2. The officers can trstify to this or that. Whatever. Look at your own statements; you’re giving the officers unquestioning credence. Why? Because you’ve already assumed that they are absoluteky positively in the clear. Anythung they say is the Truth. If your position is “anything the murderers say is right” then the only repsonse is “you’re full of shit, fletcher.”.
3. If this was a white guy it is far more LIKELY that he would still be alive. I’m not going to play insipid games about parallel universes that are different aside from one particular action. The clear, statistical fact is, if Alton Sterling had been white, in EXACTLY the same circumstances, it is FAR less LIKELY that he would have been murdered, and both statistical an anecdotal evidence can back this FACT up.
4. You are trying to justify why a person should die. Why poice, who have already restrained a person, should murder someone. Take a breath, take a step back from the impersonal argument, and take a look at yourself. You are searching, searching, for all the reasons why someone should have, could have, deserved to die. You are trying to tell us, and everyone, and yourself, why this one life deserved to end. Take a look at yourself, and justify to yourself, why he did not deserve to live.
Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says
Funny how that criminal record is more often than not used as a retroactive reason for execution. Which just shows how hopeless the situation is.
There is always a “good” reason. Even when it’s fabricated or know only after the event.
Wow. Do you not realize how fucked up that is? Like, seriously, just stamp “PRIVILEGE” all over that statement. You claim that racism is not the issue, and then demand that black people carry added responsibility for their behavior because they are disproportionately killed.
You should comply with reasonable requests from the police officers, and understand that even if a request isn’t reasonable, resisting arrest puts you at considerable risk and is better fought in court. Obviously, Sterling knew he was in violation of the law by carrying a gun and he felt he had good reason to not comply with a reasonable request.
Yes it does, because the statistics aren’t only a little bit skewed, they are seriously skewed. It’s not just about who gets killed, but who does the killing.
Before I go on, it’s clear the officers are ‘guilty’ because they clearly shot Sterling and he died from those injuried. Why are you using the term ‘guilty’ here, when it’s about the (probably subconscious and unaddressed) racism of the police officers?
That’s true, of course. So. How’s about a comprehensive list? Off the top of your head? Because I could name you five or six black people just from the past couple of years. Don’t seem to recall so many white people making the news in such a fashion (one case does come to mind, though – one).
Guilt by jumpy trigger finger when presented with an unco-operative black man. Want to bet they’ve done better jobs de-escalating with white people?
Same difference, from my point of view. Reasonable to whom? Certainly not Sterling. Certainly not to me. Given the circumstances, the response was pretty fucking unreasonable.
Seriously, how imminent is the threat if there’s two grown men on top of Sterling? Seriously? It only takes a fraction of a second to sit on the arm that is merely going for the gun, since it does not yet have a gun in it, it would make sense to stop it from reaching for the gun.
Actually, it really does kind of matter what constitutes “imminent”, seeing as how people reaching for their wallets have been considered “imminent” threat. It really does matter, having standards about that sort of thing, and training police officers in determining whether the current high-stress situation measures up to those standards. That’s what it means to be a police officer, doesn’t it? Be rational, reasonable, think clearly and evaluate situations even under high stress. That’s the job. Clearly, these officers failed somewhere in their training.
No, you haven’t been discussing Castile, and that’s why I was wondering why (or why not, as it were). So that shooting is much more questionable, in your opinion. Because the man was not a convicted felon, perhaps?
@80: Let me get this straight. Two police officers, who are presumably trained in hand to hand combat and practiced at taking combative people down, can’t manage to restrain one single man. Who has been tased. And who they are sitting on. At the very best, with the most generous assumptions, that’s at least gross incompetence.
That …. right…. arm….. sooooooo faaaarrrrr awaaaaaayyy….. CAAAAANNN’T REEEEAACCCHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
,q.Wow. Do you not realize how fucked up that is?
Yes, I understand how fucked up it is. That doesn’t change the logic behind complying.
No, they carry the same responsibility to comply. They carry, statistically for better or worse, additional risk by not complying.
Just to take this statement as a whole, so you’re perfectly okay and conscience-free about two police officers shooting a black man they’d tackled to the ground at pointblank range simply because they got a bit scared.
You are one nasty piece of work.
@rq We both have our opinions here based on limited information. The investigation will no doubt reveal more relevant information upon which a final decision will be made as to what was or was not reasonable or what imminent danger existed.
You’re sure reading a lot into Sterling’s mind. Were you there? You seem to know everything about his intentions. Obviously, Sterling knew all this – you’re clearly psychic and I should defer to your better judgment since you also obviously know exactly why the officers were justified in killing him, since you can probably read their minds, too.
How about officers being responsible for their own actions and for their own emotions and for their own aggression? They’re the ones trained in staying calm in adrenaline-fuelled situations. They’re the ones with the experience. They’re the ones who should be keeping things from getting close to imminent threat. They failed at de-escalation; they were incompetent. They got scared instead and shot a man – and you’re still justifying this murder. Stop doing that and ask yourself why you’re so invested in Sterling deserving to die.
Let me finish the statement for you so it accurately reflects what I said:
“… of being killed by a potentially dangerous suspect who allegedly already threatened someone with a gun and who was within inches of reaching said gun after nonlethal force had failed to subdue him.”
Yes, that is what I am saying.
You have so much trust in the system. It is amazing.
I don’t. If this investigation comes up with anything other than the usual script, I will be shocked.
Fucking privileged asshole.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Thank you for admitting you are a racist and bigot. You lose. Your word is now toast. You have nothing cogent to say.
PZ Myers says
Since fletch2012 can’t shut up with his transparently racist rationalizations, and since I’d rather never hear from his kind ever again, he has been banned.
There is no situation in which a person lying face down on the ground with two fully grown men sitting on him is an imminent threat to the people SITTING ON HIS GOD DAMNED BACK.
Just like Trayvon Martin wasn’t a threat to the deranged wannabe vigilante who was safely in his car. That Mike Brown was not a threat to the cop who was sitting safely in his car. That Eric Garner was not a threat to the police who had him completely subdued, surrounded and outnumbered 6-to-1 and in a choke hold. Like Tamir Rice was not a threat at 12 years old playing in a park with a toy to two fully grown cops who shot him in 2 seconds. Like Akai Gurley was not a threat walking down a staircase. Like John Crawford was not a threat standing in a Walmart talking on his cell phone to the two cops who rolled up and shot him in the back. And on and on and fucking on because dudes like feltch here keep defending the system that allows cops to murder black people with no consequences.
Fuck you, because I wasn’t trying to reflect what you said. That was my statement, and it stands as I wrote it: “simply because they got a bit scared”. You can use your psychic powers on Sterling all you want, but don’t fucking presume to finish my sentences for me, because I clearly knew what I wanted to write, and I need none of your addendum to finish that sentence because it is already fucking finished.
Yes, the officers failed at non-lethal techniques, because they are obviously incompetent.
Sorry, PZ, should’ve refreshed before I posted. And thank you, he was getting seriously offensive.
Can fletch2012’s white supremacist ass be banned, please? We really don’t need that racist bullshit here.
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
I know I said I’d made my last reply to you but fuckit.
If your split second decision is to go for lethal force when a mere shifting of your weight would provide a no-risk non-lethal solution, then your skill at making decisions in a crisis is seriously lacking, and you should not be considered suitable for a job which puts you in such situations, and most definitely not one which requires you to carry a fire-arm. Furthermore, what sounds, in the video, to be six shots fired in two groups of three, point-blank to the chest, is either not a decision, but rather pure, blind, panic; or is a decision not to incapacitate, but to kill. Either way, the person holding the gun is not one who should be considered fit to do that job.
And again I say it: if two officers working together are not capable of using a minimal-force method (a bloody arm-lock should be good enough) to detain one person, then both they and the people who allegedly trained them to do their job, are total fucking incompetents.
Thanks, PZ. Now I need to find someone else deserving of my venom.
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
Oops. Sorry, I should refresh.
(Seriously, thanks; sorry if the previous came off sarcastic, wasn’t meant to.)
Fletch2012 won’t see this, probably, and can’t reply if he does. However, I just wanted to point this out:
Police no longer have any credibility when they claim a suspect they shot was ‘going for a gun’ or any other action that supposedly justifies shooting them. They’ve been caught lying over and over and over with no consequences whatsoever. They lie on the witness stand, under oath. They lie to the media, they lie to each other, they lie in official government reports that are supposedly a crime to falsify. They get caught, get a slap on the wrist, and keep on being lying, murdering pigs with badges.
Sorry PZ. I should have refreshed.
Look, I’m a fat, middle aged, short, out of shape, completely untrained pseudo-white woman with an orthopedic disability. I’ve faced down possibly armed and definitely threatening men twice my size who were high on PCP without using any violence at all. Admittedly, said men were only threatening, not acting violently, and I had (also unarmed, out of shape, untrained and mostly white) backup, but seriously why can’t police officers who are supposed to be trained in dealing with uncooperative and violent people seem to deal with them without resorting to shooting them at point blank range while sitting on them?
Although the rule is shoot for the body as it is the largest target, I would think at this range the self-preservation instinct would be to shoot at the arm.
That is the first sensible argument¹ for the right to bear arms I’ve ever heard. The NRA should use it!
Thinking of which – they do. Isn’t the second amendment meant to protect civilians from government?
¹ No, not really. Cynicism is a coping strategy.
Personally, if there’s time to pull your gun, there’s time to sit on the arm. But I take your point. I think.
Golgafrinchan Captain says
@ militantagnostic # 107,
Glad I refreshed, I was just about to say that. If the cop really felt the need to shoot him, wouldn’t the arm or shoulder be sufficient? His hand?
Even if a suspect is a felon and has an illegal weapon, and any number of other things, it doesn’t warrant the death penalty. The only time police should use lethal force is when there is no other way to stop the person from seriously injuring someone else (including the officers). Someone lying on the ground being sat on, allegedly “going for the gun”, is not that immediate of a threat.
That’s not even mentioning Philando Castile. I guess add “always carry spare brake light bulbs and check all signals before, after, and during trips” needs to be added to the list of extra responsibilities for black people.
The CBC on Castile, where I would just like to point out one particular sentence:
I guess we sympathize because he didn’t wear a hoodie to a job interview?
Reitplum @108: Well, you can see how effective having a gun for self-defense against the government was.
Even if he had cleared leather and had the gun in hand, I wouldn’t be in favor of shooting him.
If two officers with training can’t subdue a face down, tazed person physically underneath them, gun in hand or otherwise, without killing him, they’re fucking shitty at their job.
Seriously, if someone is pinned to the ground on their back by two people, even if they could reach the gun, I don’t see how they could actually hit anything. It would take considerable effort to bend your arm into a position where you could actually aim for the people who were pinning you, and they’d likely be able to grab your arm before you were able to do that. Even so, I dont trust anything the officers said about what was happening. If police do something wrong, they’re going to rationalize it afterwards to avoid punishment.
Also, it’s telling how this fletch character seems to just accept as a fact of life that black people are more likely to be shot for non-compliance. His solution seems to be that black people need to be super-extra polite and inoffensive so that cops don’t want to shoot them. Apparently, changing the attitude of police officers that leads them to shoot black people more is out of the question.
Marcus Ranum says
I would think at this range the self-preservation instinct would be to shoot at the arm with a taser.
Marcus Ranum says
Remember when there was the big shoot-out at the biker bar in Texas? And the SWAT team only killed 9 of them. If they’d been black, there would have been an airstrike by close-support aircraft, or something. Because cops are really really scared by that many black people in one place.
If you’re taking the tack that people with dangerous histories of violence deserve to be shot, you’ve just declared open season on cops.
@117, the MOVE bombing did happen so it’s definitely possible.
Another thing to note – video just got released of a white teen in Fresno (Dylan Noble) getting shot and I saw a lot of response from BLM activist but very little from the conservative outlets that have been criticizing them.
No doubt, the police across the US need to be trained in more alternative ways of disarming people. But I do not believe these incidents are based on the race of the person. Locally, police have killed two white, who both had mental illness (one in a hospital) and the officiers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Also, we should not jump to conclusions about these incidents when we do not have full knowledge of what happened.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
When somebody dies unnecessarily, then jumping to conclusions is fine. Are you really happy with the present institutional racism, which is what you are defending?
The police, if they do their jobs right, kill nobody, and aren’t killed by anybody either. Look at other countries like Britain. It can be done. But it requires a change in mindset and training.
So I trust you can explain why black people are disproportionately killed by cops? Or why there are cases like Tamir Rice, where cops show up and murder a 12 year old black kid two seconds after showing up?
Those arguing that the victim’s gun was legally owned and therefore should be discounted are part of the problem. It should not be legal to own and carry a gun in normal day-to-day life. While the US continues to have this obsession with guns and the belief that it’s *normal* to want to carry guns in your pocket, this sort of thing will inevitably continue. And it’s not “victim blaming” to point that out.
Idk, I think the point is important that white people get away with walking into crowded restaurants with assault rifles in some states, while black people get shot if they reach for their wallet too fast, much less own a legal firearm.
So, I accept that I could probably spend a few hours looking this stuff up, but I expect people here probably know all about it and could save me a lot of time – what exactly has been done to combat systemic racism in US police departments over the years?
Is it the same situation as the gun control fiasco – people want something done but elements of the racist lobby are in control of the legislators who could sort it out? Or is there greater apathy among the people at large and bills never even get on the table? Is it a federal or a state-based issue, or both? Are there any examples of areas where significant progress has been made?
I ask because a lot of people are saying that Britain is a good example. I’m not so sure we can be too proud – our police (and our society too, to some extent) are still struggling with institutional racism. It’s better than it used to be, and we’ve had all kinds of training initiatives and policies put in place (often consulting with ethnic minority communities and ethnic minority officers’ associations within the police), but there is still dissatisfaction and statistics do show that especially young black people still get stopped and searched at higher rates than young white people. In London at least – I’m not sure what the figures are elsewhere (though London has a much higher ethnic minority population than the rest of the country). But if you read the news over here you constantly hear about new pledges by chiefs of the Met, new guidelines from the Home Office, new initiatives and policies and new consultation papers trying to address the problem. When I read or watch US news there seems to be a lot of highlighting the problem but very little on the steps taken to address it. But that could just be the types of US news that filter down to me, so I don’t want to be unfair.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Some people simply cannot accept that PoC are not treated the same as white folk, as they believe that society is now colorblind for [reasons] *snicker*. I don’t know where they live, or what hallucinogens they take, but there is some powerful delusional thinking going on. Society is still has institutional racism, but it isn’t the same blatant bigotry as it was fifty or a hundred years ago. But it is still there, and till be until, for example, the murder by police rates of whites and PoC are equal.
They weren’t disarmed, you have to be armed first for that to happen.
I live in New Zealand and occasionally we have a debate on whether or not Police should be more heavily armed (I say more heavily because they carry pepper spray and tazers now and more often than most people realise have firearms in lock boxes in nearby cars, officers working solo in the countryside hours from cities sometimes carry weapons on their person on duty).
The issue arises more often because criminal use of firearms is on the rise and there’s a real concern about them (we don’t know where they’re coming from as many are being found that don’t seem to be stolen from legal ownership) and is always re-ignited whenever officers are confronted by firearms.
Sometimes there are gungho officers who say they want them but more usually actual police officers say they don’t want to carry them because they believe it would make their jobs harder – actively driving a wedge between them and the public.
Recently the head of the police officers union said they don’t want to be routinely armed because it would mean officers would be distracted by concern for protecting their weapon, ensuring it was not taken from them or encouraged a reaction that would prevent them from exercising their duties. They believe they are a distraction and aggressive introduction of threat harmful to the performance of their job.
Policing by consent works better than force and educated officers know it.
Speaking of tazers, their use by NZ Police concerns me. The argument for their introduction was that they could be used in place of lethal force reducing the possibility of someone getting shot.
Well, if they exist as an alternative to being shot they shouldn’t be used much more often than firearms were. NZ police resort to firearms a handful of times a year (they’ve shot 29 people in the last 65 years, at a guess about 3 ~ 4 of those were errors that could have been avoided, 1 ~ 2 mistakes that weren’t intended and an overlapping 4 ~ 6 debatable about the justifications – in total not a bad record for such high stakes stressful events).
But tazers are being used dozens of times a year and I’m worried it’s creating a policing by force rather than consent mindset in our police.
I do not see racism as the problem. I would be upset the situation if this happened whether the person is black, white, latino, aboriginal, male, female, Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc. It is bring in better solutions to preventing these circumstances. That is what we should be upset about.
Maybe the response should be the exact opposite of disarming the cops. Maybe the cops nationwide should issue the following statement:
“You know how we’ve been making it pretty clear that the chance of one dead cop is worth fifty civilians? Well, it’s true that’s how we feel, but we don’t want to be racist about it. So from now on, as far as we’re concerned, having a so-called ‘legal’ right to carry a gun will no longer be a protection from us, regardless of what color you are. We see a gun, we’re not going to mess around with any of these ‘registration papers’ any more — we’re just going to drop you on the spot. Black, white, no distinctions. Since our legal system is colorblind when it comes to victims, we expect that there will continue to be no repercussions to us for this expansion of our previous policy.
Oh, and that goes for squirt guns too — we aren’t taking any chances. Sorry kids.”
That would lead to one of two outcomes. Either folks would stop carrying guns around for fear of getting shot, or else the NRA might suddenly decide that black people are also human. So either way, an improvement.
Seriously, though, I think the response of the NRA to the Minnesota shooting will be very revealing. If they don’t say anything, won’t that be iiiinteresting?
You must be a privileged white person then.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
*snicker* Thanks for showing your hand. We know better, and you should too.
I forgot that, although It may not have been in reach after they tackled him. If it was though. a zap to the arm/hand would certainly prevent him from drawing his gun.
When I posted I thought he was face up. Given that he was face down, he couldn’t have done much with his gun.
I think we need to stop pretending these cases are self-defense and recognize them for what they are. Police are losing it when they are dealing with defiant suspects and murdering them in the heat of the moment.
Then you aren’t paying attention. As mentioned, black people are disproportionately murdered by police. Why that, if not racism? Why can white people shoot up a shopping center and get arrested, but a black pre-teen gets wasted on sight for holding an airsoft gun?
ck, the Irate Lump says
No one seems to have mentioned the fact that three out of five black people shot by police were shot in the back. One would hope that we could at least get the cops to stop shooting people in the back, but…
@25. In my country beat cops do not carry sidearms (TFC), although some patrol cars do have them in lock boxes. We have specially trained squads (called Armed Offender Squads – AOS) that are called out to deal with, well, armed offenders.
It makes you feel a whole lot more secure not having all those extra guns on the street in full view. It’s one of the things I hate about travel overseas. So many countries cops wear guns.
Vivec, I have would question whether that stat is accurate as I found a study by University of Toledo criminal justice professor Dr. Richard Johnson would suggest either wise.
Unless, you can provide statements or suggestions made by law enforcement of why they would kill somebody based on race, it is not racist act. But it is a criminal one.
From A year of reckoning: Police fatally shoot nearly 1,000:
Also fuck off with your hyper-skepticism, you don’t need to be a psychic to tell a gross misuse of deadly force against a black man is part of a racist pattern.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Fear of black men is racist, and it was in the two cases in the last couple of days. You haven’t provided one iota of evidence other than a vague referral to any evidence to back up your claims.
You will need hard statistical evidence from a source not obviously apologizing for the racist police.
No links, no evidence, your claims are dismissed.
On ‘resisting arrest’ – I don’t really trust cops to be honest about suspects allegedly ‘resisting arrest’ since it seems to be frequently pulled out of their asses as a post-hoc justification for using violence. With compliance – cops sometimes given incomprehensible or conflicting instructions, frequently to people who are already freaked out by some swaggering, macho cop getting up in their face in the most aggressive manner possible. Cops frequently behave, particularly towards black people, in the most threatening manner possible, and tend to stop black people without cause.
I mean, I’m white, but I have epilepsy, and I live in fear of some thug with a badge kicking my head in because, in the wrong moment, a seizure (flashing lights tend to do that) will be seen as ‘resisting arrest.’ The cop will have no obligation to take a step back and wonder ‘do I need to use force? Could there be an explanation for this non-compliance other than someone looking to compromise my ego?’ When it comes to how cops treat black people, it’s obvious that even compliance can get you killed, or that a cop will just shoot before they even have a chance to comply since black people are immediately a ‘threat’ to cops.
On not arming cops – people can write parking tickets without being armed, you would think they could handle other non-violent crimes the same way.
In my most recent run in with cops threatening violence, I was pulled over for (mistakenly) riding a scooter in a dismount zone on campus in the wee hours of the morning.
I pulled over when he waved me, and he told me it was a dismount zone. I said something like “Oh, sorry, I’m new here. I’ll get off.” and then did such. He was then like “are you resisting? stop resisting!” and took out his baton.
Granted, this was like 6:30, so there was no one around, but he was yelling this. Thankfully, before things escalated, an older dude came by on a bike and started yelling at the officer, until he decided it wasn’t worth the ruckus I guess.
Note that I am a gender-nonconforming middle-eastern person of a fairly dark complexion most of the time, so I have every reason to expect his violence was motivated by some sort of bigotry.
But yeah, I’m tying this in with your post because he was already justifying the future use of violence by the whole “STOP RESISTING! STOP RESISTING!” thing, so if he did wail on me he could claim I was violent about a ticket or something.
I’m sure you’ve all heard: Eleven police officers were shot in Dallas tonight with 3 killed following a demonstration about the killings in Louisiana and Minnesota. As deplorable as the police are, and as understandable as people’s anger…no, rage…may be, shooting police isn’t the right answer either.
John Phillips, FCD says
robro, apart from agreeing with you that it isn’t the answer, it is also extremely counter productive. For it now gives the media, especially Faux News and similar RW scum, all the excuses they need to turn all the attention away from the shootings of the POC and to concentrate on the shootings of the police instead.
Plus, here come the cries of like “BLM/Cameras/People not liking cop violence leads to dead cops!”
John Phillips, FCD says
Vivec, sadly, that too.
McC2lhu is rarer than fish with knees. says
I’m told that typical American police training in de-escalation amounts to a few hours whereas in other countries it’s up to six months of training. There may be a starting point.
Apropos of this website, a lot is wrong with a lot of religions, but the one that absolutely needs to go away first is the adoration of guns and guns as a solution to every fucking perceived American problem. Two better trained officers would have meant two more living men the night before, thus four more living police officers killed in retaliation the night after.
Someone needs to post a pic of that moronic asshole Jeb’s gun, sitting on a map of the US, map and gun splattered with blood with the caption “America.”
Best tweet of last night: “America, delete your account!”
Which is kind of like what happened to Castile – he was told to put his hands in the air, he was told to get his license and registration, he reached for it, and the officer shot him. He was also legally allowed to carry a gun, but frankly, I don’t see how that should matter.
Just so you know, you don’t have to state that your actions are racist if their effect is clearly racist. Nobody’s going to come out and say they killed someone because of their race. But the fact remains that, proportionally, more black people get shot and killed by police than white people (see Vivec @139). One cop shooting one black guy? Nah. But several cases of cops shooting black people at an extremely disproportionate rate? That speaks to implicit racism – and not in individuals, in society and the institution of policing. Unless your Dr Richard Johnson has a seriously solidly researched rebuttal to that statistic (preferably in the form of an easily accessible link, presented to us here), don’t mention him again.
Or rich white people will assume that it doesn’t apply to them and keep doing whatever and will probably be right whereas blacks and probably poor whites will get killed in increasing numbers. Or the Trump/militia brigade will decide that it’s all the blacks fault and this is proof that Obama is an Islamic atheist communist dictator and start a race war for real.
@dianne #112 – So the choice is: getting shot, or getting shot and give the racists another excuse why killing is justified. Man my stomach hurts.
@smrnda #139 – Your fear is justified. How many people with mental illnesses haven’t been killed already for resisting arrest while what they did was fighting demons the cops couldn’t see?
WTF? Yeah, it’s hard to imagine how that was motivated by anything other than prejudice.
Indeed, WTF? It’s fucking scary that you could have been next, Vivec.
Yes, “stop resisting” is the one of the top fucking excuses for using violence against people. They beat innocent people while yelling “stop resisting” which almost guarantees there will be no consequences for the police asshole officer, even if the whole this is premeditated.
Ireland is one of the few countries in the world where we don’t arm our police force (An Garda Síochána). This is partly because we largely based it’s organizational structure on the unarmed UK police but also because the Gardaí were established following a particularly bitter, violent and fractious civil war (which arguably never really ended so much as it slowed down and went underground before resurfacing during the “troubles”). Keeping our police force unarmed was an essential part of fostering trust between them and the divided citizens of our young free state.
Of course not all of our police are unarmed. We do have what’s known as the ERU – the emergency response unit. Since 1990 (a period of over a quarter of a century) there have been a total of ten fatal shootings involving the ERU. In each case major investigations were carried out, and policy changes implemented to fix things to ensure that, next time around, a fatal outcome was avoided.
Granted the process is far from perfect, and the ERU is far from controversial (the shooting of John Carthy is a prime example of that) but still, even given the disparity in population count (the population in the US is about 75 times that of Ireland), in order to match the US Police Force body count in 2014, the Gardaí would have to be killing 14/15 people every year – a figure that would be outrageous to many of us and would demand immediate action to rectify.
But then we don’t live under the Cult of the Gun here. Apart from a few farmers and pheasant hunters I know living out here in the countryside, very few people have a gun. Handguns are all but illegal here (with very few exceptions – competition shooting among them). I know no one – not one person – who doesn’t view as absurd the common US belief that gun ownership is an inalienable right.
A large part of the problem is that your police force is no more immune from The Cult of the Gun than your citizenry is. Add to that a culture steeped in the belief in, and idolization of, righteous violence you’ve got a dangerous cocktail of nastiness there even before you throw in the hand-grenade of deep, ingrained cultural racism (both implicit and explicit). As an outsider looking in it all seems so utterly and pathetically ridiculous. Enamored as they are with the tools of murder it appears that many in the US accept the deaths of thousands of people every year as an acceptable price to pay – sacrifices to the Cult of the Gun.
about the shooting mentioned up-thread
the police stoped the shooter by sending in a bomb on a remote operated machine. A bomb is no one shocked by that? sorry if that is off topic but I could not find anywhere else here to ask.
I’m convinced that this will not change unless we return personal responsibility to cops. That might mean overturning several SCOTUS decisions, which leave me with little hope.
In short, ignorance of the law is generally not an excuse, and this is true for ordinary people, but it’s not true for cops. Whereas, in the proper world, cops should be given equal or less latitude and lenience than the average person, not more. Cops are given special police powers, and therefore they should be held to a higher standard for culpability. Unfortunately, too many people, including many SCOTUS justices, wrongly believe that cops need leeway in order to do their jobs, and that holding them to account for their misdeeds means that they would be afraid to do their jobs for fear of breaking the law. Bullshit I say.
For example, if a cop has a search and seizure warrant but searches the wrong house when the houses are clearly marked, he should be charged with criminal trespass, criminal breaking and entering, destruction of property (as appropriate), theft (as appropriate), assault and battery (as appropriate), etc.
For example, there should be a complete nation-wide ban on “no-knock warrants”. Complete ban. No exceptions. None. If the cops are afraid for their safety, then bring overwhelming force and announce their presence with a phone or bullhorn.
There’s a final problem, which is that government criminal prosecutors are even more corrupt than the cops, so even if cops had proper personal criminal liability, the government prosecutors would not properly prosecute. For that, I endorse the seemingly radical proposal of bringing back private criminal prosecutions. Like American and English common law of as little as 100 years, and as widespread practiced as little as 200 years ago, anyone should be able to open any criminal charges, without standing limitations, subject to proper review by a grand jury (which is government run, but composed of normal citizens). I just don’t see any lesser plans that will actually ensure that cops are held personally accountable for fuckups – except for magically changing the culture and the attitudes of many persons to actually fear the cops and government, etc etc.
I could rant for a while longer, but I won’t, because I know I’m not very welcome here.
I’m with coreyschlueter: unless someone explicitly yells “DIE YOU BLACK DOG” while shooting a black person, or multiple black people, I won’t believe that they are racists.
Everyone knows that a true skeptic and reasonable human being must have clear written and verbal confessions from persons before anything can be said, regardless of trends, statistics, norms, customs, facts and reality.
See, Corey is rational – likely a rational White Man – and his Vulcan mind won’t be swayed by your emotions.
To continue my above point for a sentence of two, we need to radically adjust the standards of appropriate, reasonable, and lawful use of force in arrest situations. And by that, I mean radically limit the lawful use of force in arrest situations. An arrest should be like a cliche movie, where the cop tells you that you’re under arrest, and you have a good 10 or 20 seconds at least to decide if you want to comply, plus enough time to read any warrants, before the cop even lays a hand on you (unless you’re preemptively fleeing, or there’s probable cause to believe you’re an outstanding felon with a history of violence, or the arrest warrant says they can i.e. “armed and dangerous”).
As a general thing, the police are way too quick to escalate the situation, and in these kinds of escalated situations, the other person might freak out, make a mistake, and give the cop an excuse to shoot them. If we draw out this process to at least 10 seconds, preferrably longer, then the other person has a chance to assess the risks, and decide rationally on a course of outcome.
“No knock” warrants are but one example of this rush to escalation, instead of taking their time, being polite, etc.
IMO, the actual cause is more to do with a national culture of fascism and totalitarianism, where many people believe that the police can do no wrong. It’s the same kind of horrible patriotism like “support our troops” / “support our police”. We need a complete culture change, where the police are placed under more scrutiny and second guessing compared to the average citizen, not less.
“The Cult of the Gun” should be and often is opposed to this kind of tyrannical approach by police, but unfortunately Republicans are masters at compartmentalization, so they can be for lots of guns in private hands with no oversight whatsoever in order to enable justified armed rebellion, but simultaneously also hold the opposite position that cop shootings are always justified, and cops should be above the law, and cops shold be granted special leeway for breaking the law in order to catch “criminals” (because racism, xenophobia, patriotism, and nationalism, dontcha know?), and putting scrutiny on cops is unpatriotic, etc.
These cop-shooting apologist fuckers don’t know the first thing about the founders attitudes towards guns and the second amendment. The founders’ gun culture was there precisely because they feared this kind of oppressive police state, but the modern gun nut fuckers cheer on the police state because of their racist, blindly nationalistic, blindly patriotic, bullshit.
This already frequently happens in the United States. It happened to my friend. No knock warrant. It was obscene. Cops breaking down the door out of the blue, with guns drawn, in their police camo, ordering his family to lie flat on the ground at gunpoint. That should never be allowed. Ever. There should be a complete ban on “no knock” warrants.
To Marcus Ranum
No, current police practices evolved after radio AFAICT. In ye olden days, “no knock” warrants were unconstitutional in every case, and police had to show their warrant before arresting or searching, and police could not use unreasnoable amounts of force while arresting or searching, with very strict limits on what constituted “unreasonable”. See my other posts else-thread, and the rest of this post.
Debatable. It seems just as likely that the police arose to an imaginary increased rate in violent crime, just like today’s crime fear-mongers and “tough on crime” people. Even then, for many early night watches and such, their duties for watching for fire and preventing illicit sexual relations were just as important as preventing murders and rapes. Early night watches were very disimilar from today’s police, where today’s police have the assumption of being solely responsible for catching criminals, whereas 200 years ago, it was not the responsibility of the night watch to investigate most crimes, and it was the responsibility of the victim to investigate most crimes and press criminal charges and be the criminal prosecutor.
There is a good case to be made that the early police were about suppressing worker riots and worker unionization as a means of entrenching wealth inequalities and protecting the upper class, and this only became necessary during industrialization where lots of the proletariat gathered together in cities which made more likely riots and rebellions against the ruling classes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the upper classes made up the rumors about increased crime rates as an excuse to create “the police” in the first place.
To A Masked Avenger
AFAIK, in nearly all jurisdictions in the United States, it is always illegal to resist arrest by cops, even if the arrest is flagrantly illegal.
Are you really suggesting changing this state of affairs in order to allow legally resisting some illegal arrests? Color me surprised. Do you really know what that will entail? Here is one of the last cases of justified self defense against cops who tried to arrest illegally.
I doubt you’d embrace a standard where a person could use potentially lethal force in self defense against an clearly illegal arrest by cops. I suspect you actually haven’t thought this through at all.
I have thought about it. I want a return to ye olden standards for arrest, which are loosely as follows. To perform a legal arrest or detention, one of the following must be true. Note that the following make no distinctions between cops and non-cops.
– An arrest is legal when the arrestor has a proper and facially valid arrest warrant. Further, if the arrestor had strong reason to believe that the arrest warrant was issued invalidly, but still used the warrant, then the arrestor is criminally liable for false arrest. However, it would always be illegal to resist arrest of a facially valid warrant. (Unless one had good and specific knowledge that the warrant was forged. Merely being invalidly issued is not sufficient reason to resist arrest when the arrestor has a warrant.)
– An arrest is legal when the arrestor must have personally witnessed the crime or have a witness on the spot who personally witnessed the crime, and the arrest must be an arrestable offense, e.g. not a mere citation.
– An arrest is legal when the arrestor must have good reason, aka probable cause, to believe that the person is an outstanding felon. Arrest can be legal with or without a warrant, and with or without personally witnessing the crime.
– A detention is legal when the detainer personally witnesses a crime, and punishment for the crime is a mere citation, aka ticket. Even then, detention is legal only so long as is necessary to and to issue the citation and to establish proper identification (which might involve bringing the person to a police station).
Otherwise an arrest or detention is illegal.
Except as described above, a person may use a reasonable amount of force in self defense to resist the illegal arrest. Here, normal self defense law would apply. Therefore, shooting someone outright who merely threatens false arrest is probably manslaughter / murder. I still haven’t thought this through enough to know where I stand on the Bak Elk v United States case. It’s a weird mix of the ethics of justified arrest vs the ethics of self defense, and I don’t know where I stand right now as to what the law should be.
Also, when arresting someone with a warrant, at the scene of the arrest, before restraining the person or using force to arrest, you must provide a copy of a warrant and provide a reasonable amount of time to read the warrant, in order to possibly contest the facial-validity of the warrant, and to give the person a chance to decide whether to resist or not and to decide for themself whether the arrest is legal or not.
Of course, in cases of resisting arrest, they can be restrained before fulfilling this duty, but the duty to provide a copy of a warrant must be done at the earliest reasonably possible time, and specifically it should be done at the scene of the arrest where reasonably possible.
Finally, I’m probably ok with issuing arrest warrants that contain legal language “armed and dangerous” which allows an arrestor to preemptively use force before fulfilling the presentation requirement, but the presentation requirement must still be fulfilled as soon as reasonably possible, and specifically it should be done at the scene of the arrest where reasonably possible. The issuing of warrants with the legal language “armed and dangerous” must be based on probable cause, and specifically supported by oath or affirmation.
For a concrete example, I’m super pissed about cases where cops will just tackle someone out of the blue with no warning when doing an arrest. That should not be legal.
Castile was murdered, that’s pretty obvious. But whether or not the cops acted exactly as they should have with Sterling, they were only there because witnesses claimed he was threatening people with a gun. And you would expect the cops to show up then unarmed and what, ask him nicely to stop threatening people with a deadly weapon??????? What the fuck is wrong with you people? Or do you just enjoy seeing dead cops but are too cowardly to admit it lest others accuse you of being the flaming hypocrites you are?
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Make the case for cops needing to be armed at all times. You won’t be able to make it. Cops need to be less aggressive. Then they will start getting the respect they want. They also got to stop their racists profiling.
They can do so. Stop being an asshole. Nobody needs to carry a weapon all the time.
Up until the part where they shot him, the cops seemed to be doing just fine subduing him without guns.
All the guns did in this situation was execute a tazed man that was face down on the pavement with two cops on his back.
If you’re going to argue for the necessity of armed police, this is a bad case to use. Guns added literally nothing to the arrest aside from making it easier to murder a black man.
Can someone show me where Alton was face down with the cops on his back? In the video he was clearly face up when he was shot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckuUk9R5ES0
Yes, actually. De-escalation is a skill that should be mastered by police officers. That requires training in psychology and using your words.
As for your
It’s not like Sterling was wandering the streets and brandishing his gun willy-nilly; he showed it to a homeless guy who kept talking to him when he didn’t want him to. From the article:
And for that, Sterling died.
And this has what-all to do with Sterling and Castile, exactly?
Right, why would cops need to be armed at a peaceful rally? Or when investigating a burglary? Or doing a drug investigation? Or like when investigating a report of a guy with a gun? I’m sure they will be fine no matter what situation they find themselves in in the US.
@162 jackk88702: there are circumstances that warrant carrying a weapon, and some that don’t. Judicious thought and policy, rather than “always a gun, all the time”, is what is needed.
As for the traffic issue, the solution is simple: stop pulling people over except for excessive (dangerous) speeding or drunk-driving suspicions.
Have the cop follow the vehicle just close enough to get a picture of the infraction and license plate, and mail the bill. No stops, no harassment, no need to violate the 4th amendment with an unnecessary search, no need to involve 3 other cars to assert your safety. Just take the picture, send them the bill, and be done with it…
…and if you’re not dealing with a half hour of paperwork after each citation, how many more can you catch in that time period?
Enough for the people to rise up, vote, and demand a more realistic traffic citation policy that doesn’t nickel-and-dime fine people to debtors prison, but rather actually has the real safety of drivers and pedestrians in mind.
“Make the case for cops needing to be armed at all times”
Sorry, I don’t feel like searching through Google to come up with a few of the ten million or so cases where some cop on a regular patrol bumped into a bank hold-up, armed rapist, or other incredibly dangerous situation. Believe it or not, we do live in a dangerous world and it doesn’t always arrive at our convenience.
“De-escalation is a skill that should be mastered by police officers”
No kidding. And de-escalation is essential (and often all that is needed) in dealing with 99.999% of situations a cop might encounter. But an armed and combative individual who had already threatened others is NOT a situation that de-escalates with a few soothing words. I would also like to remind everyone that they did not simply show up and shoot him on sight. They used both physical means and a stun gun to detain him and only shot him when his hand was practically on the trigger.
“The man was persistent, and Sterling showed him his gun”
So let me get this right? A man was annoyed that another was asking him for money so he flashed a firearm at him and that is somehow not threatening others with a deadly weapon? Especially as whenever open-carry comes up here the opinion seems to be 100% that they are dangerous, bullying people who have found a legal loophole to brandish their weapons and instill fear in others. Pot, meet kettle.
“And this has what-all to do with Sterling and Castile, exactly?”
This has nothing to do with the latter who, its pretty obvious, was murdered. But it has everything to do with the former, who could not have presented a better case for lawful use of deadly force then if he was actively shooting people. Please stop pretending as if every black man killed by cops is identical. It is patronizing and self-defeating.
“Have the cop follow the vehicle just close enough to get a picture of the infraction and license plate, and mail the bill”
Not a bad idea. I also think that universal body cameras should be priority #1.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Some data from a police officer.
Most officers don’t need their weapons.
The need is tied to the amount of guns available.
Not only should cops be disarmed, but the general populace too. But the idea of less guns, less gun deaths is too simple for the minds of certain people.
I don’t support shooting him, even if he had the gun in his hand. If two officers can’t non-fatally restrain a guy they already tazed and are already on top of, they’re fucking shitty cops.
treefrogdundee, in the death of Kajieme Powell, the police did indeed show up snd shoot him on sight. They roared up, jumped out of their car, and were shooting in seconds. No discourse, no scoping out the scene, do waiting, just roll in yelling and starting to shoot. They even released the video of them doing that as if it cleared them of all wrong-doing.
WARNING: Link contains an extremely graphic video.
The convenience store owner, Abdullah Muflahi, also filmed Anton Sterling’s murder. You can clearly see the police remove Sterling’s gun from deep in his right pocket after they shot him. He didn’t pull the gun on them.
Mr. Muflahi is now suing the police for unlawful detainment. He’s also claiming that they seized surveillance video from his store illegally, prior to getting a warrant.
He said he secreted the iPhone he filmed the incident with away because he was afraid the cops would take it and that the video would never be seen.
Also, a lot of people seem to be implying that the fact Anton had a gun on him at all was justification enough for shooting him. This is quite strange to me. Louisiana is an open carry state and also issues concealed carry permits. That means that people are more likely to be armed when the police engage with them – the legality of their possession of those weapons notwithstanding. Does that mean police can shoot any of those people with impunity simply by claiming “they went for the gun”? I mean if you have a weapon on you, legally or illegally, and a cop asks you to disarm yourself, don’t you have to “go for your gun” to do so? And if they shoot you then? It’s so utterly absurd.
Bear in mind: the police in who killed Anton Sterling had no idea who he was or, consequently, his legal status with respect to gun ownership, prior to engaging with him.
This highlights the problem with laws that do not adequately* restrict the possession of weapons in public places: it means that the people that police are engaging will be more likely to be armed. It also means that police have no idea whether the person they are dealing with is armed or not (in a traffic stop for example). It increases the risk to officers and thusly makes them more paranoid and jumpy. Throw in all the racism and you get lots of dead black people.
Here in Ireland, if a Garda pulls over a car in a routine traffic stop, they don’t have to worry that the occupant is armed because we have relatively strict gun laws here. Also, the Garda won’t be armed either (because most of our Gardaí aren’t armed), so the person they’re pulling over doesn’t have to worry that they’ll be shot dead by a paranoid, trigger happy, racist ass cop over a broken tail light (at worst they’ll likely get a fine and a bunch of penalty points on their license from a corrupt, over-bearing, racist ass Garda… but not shot dead).
So yeah, get rid of laws permitting public possession of fire arms (open carry or otherwise), restrict fire arm ownership generally, and start making the move towards disarming the police force. Obviously this has to be done in conjunction with making police far more accountable for their actions and tackling institutional racism at all levels. So much needs to be done but I think it is possible to achieve it in the long term.
*In my opinion the only adequate restriction would be complete restriction. Guns serve only to make any situation they are in more dangerous. Society doesn’t need that shit.
Holy shit. I don’t know what else to say.
I featured your full comment at my blog. That is important and fully expected (if infuriating) information. Thank you.
Marcus Ranum says
No, current police practices evolved after radio AFAICT.
Voltaire comments about police brutality and thuggishness. I’m too lazy to go dig up quotes from the snark-mine.
John Peel’s modern police force was an operational improvement on the 1770s French police, who were basically amateurs (though the Chef De Police of Paris invented the idea of making a cross-indexed card catalogue of criminals based on physiognomy, an idea later re-invented and claimed by J Edgar Hoover) … uh, sorry. My dad did a bunch of lectures on the invention of policing, and I got to sit through them and helped index them and some of it stuck…
The “invention of modern policing” I was referring to was the idea of having “beat cops” clocking in around a covered zone, so that they could signal eachother with whistles (or bells) and converge on the sound of the alarm. Other aspects of policing are probably not modern – the first cop is probably the first cop to plant evidence on a suspect. “see? his dagger is out of its sheath!”
So, when are the shitheels upthread that 100% trusted the cop assertion that he went for the gun and had to be shot gonna mea culpa?
@ 169 Saad,
I hear you. I find myself lost for words so much lately with what’s going in the US. Growing up on this side of the Atlantic made it so easy to believe racism in the US was a thing of the past, the preserve of an aging or otherwise diminishing minority, and that America truly was the land of the free.
That’s some mega privilege there I suppose. Learning the truth has been a shocking experience. But that’s nothing. It’s a truth I don’t have to face. A truth I don’t have to live with. It only affects me tangentially. I can hardly imagine what it’s like to be black and live in the US right now. It breaks my heart.
@ 170 Nathan,
That’s cool, Nathan. Cheers.
Oh I don’t think we’ll get a proper mea culpa… not before the heat death of the universe anyway.
Fletch…here’s a thought, even if you’re right (which you aren’t), even if the guy was reaching for his weapon to try and shoot the cops that were behind him on his back (arms don’t bend that way and eyes look forwards on most humans), even allowing for if the cops had time to get their guns out and shoot while on top of the guy, and they are point-blank, again being on top of the guy, why not just shoot him in the ARM?
They KILLED the guy. Let that sink in…they saw no alternative but to kill the guy. Not wound, not stop, KILL. Even with everything happening in seconds (as you claim), they had enough time to get their own guns, chose a target, and pull the trigger. So why did they not chose a target that let him live? Shoot the shoulder and the arm becomes useless. Simple!
…and if you say “they are trained to aim at center mass”, I remind you they are sitting on top of him and that statement applies to distances. Heck, forget the guns, they could have stopped him by pulling on his head FFS.
So you’re stunningly full of it, as you’ve been told by many others here.