This video was submitted by Joe.
Yesterday, my husband came home and told me that he saw a cop who thought that his badge granted him extra rights. The cop was parked in a handicap parking space. His car was running and he evidently thought that he was “just running in” for a few minutes and it wouldn’t hurt anything. Of course, for the rest of us, that results in a minimum of a $100 fine in most places. Of course, we’re actually lucky if we just get a fine. The police in Chicago recently shot a pregnant woman with a taser gun when she parked in a handicap space. Not many details are given in the story, but enough for me to know that there is a double standard in place.
- In New York state, if a person “just runs in” for a few minutes with their kids in the car, they are breaking the law and will be punished if caught.
- If you decide not to leave your kids in the car for fear of being turned in, and you take them with you while you “just run in” to a liquor store or a winery, you could be breaking the law too (depending on where you live).
- If I start my car in my own driveway and “just run in” and leave it unattended for a few minutes, I am breaking the law, and will be punished if caught.
- If I “just run in” to pick up my carry-out order, I am breaking the law if I leave my car running during that time (whether I am in a handicap space or not).
- If I leave my keys in my car because I am “just running in” somewhere (even if the car is not running), I am breaking the law (in many locations) and will be punished if caught.
While I think about all of these double standards, I think I’m going to “just run” my head into a brick wall and hope I don’t have any run-ins with the cops.
March 15 is International Day Against Police Brutality. Cop Block is growing in size, and our support is ever increasing. Even so, there remains a great deal of ignorance with regard to the institution of police and its systemically brutal effects. Over and over again, those who are aware insist the militarization of police is absurd and dangerous. The use of tanks, grenade launchers, tasers, and constant surveillance has undoubtedly ensured the United States’ reputation as a police state.
Those who have been paying attention have noticed the militarization of police for years, but most people and news outlets in the mainstream have not been, and are not paying attention.
While the government has provided no statistics that crime has suddenly run rampant, or is imminently on the rise, police are increasingly armed with state-of-the-art weapons to use upon the populace. Indeed, even if “crime” were running rampant, it would likely be because everything has become a crime in this country – from throwing frisbees, to studying whales with inappropriate techniques, to selling raw milk. The laws are countless; 40,000 were passed in 2011 alone.
Having the wrong books on your bookshelf can get your business raided. Believing in what is perceived as bizarre ideology puts you on law enforcement watchlists. Americans are guilty until proven innocent; in almost all 50 states, it is a crime to resist unlawful arrest, and innocent victims must submit to illegal arrest under the penalty of law (more here).
The year has hardly begun, and already police in the Bronx have murdered a young boy for the heinous crime of marijuana possession (and in a city in which marijuana is allegedly decriminalized, no less).
An Orange County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr., who was sitting in his parked car with his two daughters, also for inexplicable reasons. Police in Culpepper, VA murdered a woman who rolled up her car window in response to an officer’s commands.
Of course, in each case, it does not appear charges have been filed against the murderers. Yet, Cop Block continues to receive naive and downright stupid comments such as the following -
If you really believe that the present laws protect the police and you the citizen are having your rights violated, then you truely are nuts! Police officers have a code of conduct and their job is to uphold the law. When they break this code/law, then they should be judged in a court if law! — Sharon
Well, unfortunately for Sharon, wishful thinking does not reality make. The reality is that the laws do protect police. They have qualified immunity in civil suits. Resisting arrest charges literally allow police to make illegal arrests because innocent victims are not legally permitted to fight off unlawful restraint by a police officer. Assault on an officer and homicide of an officer are treated differently than normal assaults and homicides, meaning the law assumes the person and life of an officer is of more importance and value than that of everyone else. These are just a few examples of how the law most definitely protects police.
Certainly, one can hope police officers “have a code of conduct” and that they report on themselves, keep themselves accountable, charge their friends when they commit murder, and use their fancy tanks, tasers, and dangerous weapons only as needed (i.e. hope that they possess super-human abilities to behave like saints) – just like I can hope that I get a pet unicorn for Christmas this year. However, this is obviously unrealistic, and it is frightening that a grown woman can believe in such impractical and naive fairytales.
To everyone else – thank you for your support of Cop Block. Please think of the many victims of police brutality in America and around the world today. Your awareness is rational, compassionate, and important.
Last week CNN published yet another article claiming that violence against police officers has “spiked”. The mainstream media continues to publish these claims without doin any research to verify whether or not the claims are true.
CNN claims that the number of police officers killed in the line of duty during 2011 has increased by 14% over 2010. That claim is simply untrue. According to Officer Down Memorial Page, with 10 days left in 2011, there have been 158 officer fatalities.** At this time last year there had been 156 officer fatalities. The total number of officer deaths for 2010 was 161. Despite claims to the contrary, 2011 is shaping up to be at least as safe of a year for officers as 2010.
One of the few things the CNN article got right was the fact that officer deaths due to automobile accidents decreased in 2011 when compared with 2010. This drop in automobile accident deaths accounts for the decrease in total deaths. The article then goes on to insinuate that because officer deaths due to gunfire will, for the first time in 14 years, outnumber deaths due to automobile accidents, violence against officers has spiked. This again is simply untrue. Gunfire deaths will outnumber automobile deaths this year, not because there were so many more gunfire deaths, but because there was a sharp decrease in automobile accident deaths. The number of gunfire deaths so far this year stands at 62***. The number of gunfire deaths for 2010 was 59. Hardly the spike in violence towards officers the media would have you believe existed. The most that can be said from the data is that the steady DOWNWARD trend that has occurred over the last 25 years seems to have leveled off the last few years, but two years of data can not tell us whether or not this stalled decline will continue. (Read more about the data for the last 25 years here.)
Steve Groeninger, senior communications director of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, asserts that the imaginary sharp increase in death toll can be attributed to budget cuts. First, as shown above, there is no sharp increase in deaths, but let’s say that there was an increase. Groeninger does not offer a single shred of evidence that it can be linked to budget cuts. Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the fund, makes the outrageous insinuation that violence against officers today can be compared to one of the deadliest decades for police officers, the 70′s. The average number of officers felonious killed each year during the 70′s was 126, more than double the average for the last decade. There is simply no comparison to be made between those two decades, but Floyd would have you believe otherwise. Both Groeninger’s and Floyd’s assertions are nothing more than gross propaganda aimed to drum up more support for the police and more public outcry about the budget cuts that they are facing.
But why does it matter whether violence against officers is increasing or decreasing. Isn’t all lost of life due to violence tragic? Of course. Death due to violence is a complete waste of human potential and is always tragic in my eyes, but the propaganda that is being fed to the public is also being fed to police officers themselves. Combine this with the ever increasing militarization of your local police department, a very dangerous situation is being created for us mere mundanes.
It was recently reported that, thanks to a Defense Department program, known as program 1033, local law enforcement agencies were given almost 500 million dollars worth of military gear in 2011. That is almost double what was given in 2010. The militarization of local police departments, a trend that started decades ago, appears to be accelerating. Police departments are obtaining grenade launchers, helicopters, robots, drones, M-16s, and armored vehicles that the military no longer has use for.
Some police departments are even militarizing their waterways. The Texas Department of Safety has announced that they now have a Navy, made up of a new armored, swift boat complete with six mounted high caliber machine guns. The plan is to have a fleet of six of these boats. There is no denying that the police have been thoroughly militarized.
Of course, the mere possession of this equipment is not necessarily cause for concern. I frankly wouldn’t care if my neighbor had every single one of the above mentioned equipment. Every individual, including police officers, have a right to defend themselves with whatever equipment they deem necessary. The concern is that police departments all too often use this equipment,not in defense while attempting to bring in a violent criminal, but to go on the offense. As police departments have become militarized, we have seen a dramatic increase in paramilitary SWAT raids for everything from low-level nonviolent drug offenses to investigating underage drinking. Over the course of three decades we have seen the number of these paramilitary raids increase from about 2000 a year to more than 50,000 a year. We no doubt will see even more as police departments look for reasons to use their new military toys.
We have already witnessed this mentality. Radley Balko reported in September that a column in Tactical Response magazine encouraged SWAT commanders to “poach work” in order to stay active, even if it meant doing warrant service and drug raids. Balko notes that,
The author is actually suggesting SWAT commanders lobby to have their teams deployed in situations for which they normally wouldn’t be to ensure they’re in good practice. Put another way, he suggests they practice their door smashing, room-clearing, flash-grenade deploying, and other paramilitary tactics on less-than-violent people, so they’re in better form when a real threat arises. Never mind that there are going to be living, breathing, probably bleeding people on the receiving end of these “practice” raids.
The author seems to have no problem advocating the introduction of violence into an otherwise nonviolent situation. You can imagine that police departments will no doubt want to “practice” with all their new toys as well.
Arthur Rizer, a Virginia lawyer who has been a civilian police officer and a military police officer pointed out to The Daily that police officers and the military are two very different things.
If we’re training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers?” he asked.
If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier’s mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not.
We already know that innocent people die at the hands of police officers because “officer safety” is apparently more important than the publics safety, but we don’t know how many. While the Officer Down Memorial Page enjoys a grant from the Justice Department, no such grant exist to collect the number and the names of those needlessly killed by the police. The Innocents’ Project, created by Clyde Voluntaryist, is attempting to do something about this lack of data by tracking those needlessly killed by the police, using the internet. Of course, this method has its problem, but even with limited ability to track all cases, the numbers that have been collected are quite troubling. According to the Innocents’ Project, 34 people have been fatally shot in questionable circumstances, 8 people have died after being shocked with a taser, 6 people have lost their lives in accidental deaths due to SWAT raids, and 6 people have died while in or being taken into custody, including the beating death of Kelly Thomas. How many more died but didn’t make headlines? How many of these deaths were due to cops that were so hopped up on the “War on Cops” propaganda that they were too quick to make their way up the continuum of force? How many more deaths will we see in the future as the propaganda proliferates and cops are even more thoroughly militarized?
That is why it matters whether violence against police officers is really increasing or not. When we combine military tactics, military training, military equipment, and military mentality with the never-ending expansion of things deemed criminal, making it inevitable that more and more people will interact with police officers, then add a big dose of the endless propaganda about “increased violence” towards cops, we are left with a situation where cops are going to be even more taser, baton and trigger happy than they already are. It makes for more dangerous streets, not for cops, but for the public.
**The number of officer fatalities quoted by CNN (166) came from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, whose stated mission ” is to generate increased public support for the law enforcement profession”. The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), whose stated mission is to simply “honor America’s fallen law enforcement”, has reported numbers that have been consistent over the years with the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted reports (LEOKA) while the numbers you will find published by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund have not, so for the purpose of this discussion I use the numbers provided by ODMP as they appear to be more reliable. Also, ODMP has a name and a description of each of the 158 officers that have been killed, while the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund does not have a name and a description for all 166 of officers that it claims to have been killed.
***The number of gunfire deaths that you will find on ODMP for 2011 is 59. One of the officers that is included in this count was shot and paralyzed in 1986. He did not die until this year and the claim is that his death, 26 years later, was due to complications from being shot and paralyzed. While it may be legitimate to claim such a thing, I excluded his death from the total gunfire deaths because his being shot in 1986 does not reflect on the amount of violence police officers are facing in 2011.
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After reading about the atrocities committed by police on this blog, one has happened in my backyard. And just like many of those examples, police, again, get away with murder. Literally.
It began (click here for more) early in the morning of November 6th, 2010 in Mount Joy Borough, PA.. Robert Neill, age 61, called police like a dutiful citizen to report being harassed by neighbors. Somehow he ended up dead.
The government report, which of course is only one side of the tale since the other can’t tell his, reports that he became “combative and aggressive,” and was enraged when they tried to calm him down. Instead of doing the appropriate thing and leaving, they of course try to “do something”. That something lead to his death. He was shot by Tasers, at least twice, as well as being pepper sprayed. The official cause of death was from an abnormal heartbeat (maybe because his heart was shocked with electricity).
I can imagine the scene like this: Mr. Neill calls the cops to complain about noisy neighbors. The cops arrive, find nothing, and try to talk to him. Its the middle of night, he’s already angry about the harassment, and now they don’t get what he is talking about. Understandable that he may have been angry at the whole situation. He walks toward them upset about why they can’t understand his complaint.
A normal person in this situation would try to talk, and barring that, just leave and get out of there. Instead, the cops attack him because they feel “threatened” (AWWWWWW). They get more cops to attack him. Now, does anybody in their right mind expect an angry person who is being tased and attacked to get less angry? Only the protected class of government agents would think this is a good idea. So, he ends up dead because of their actions.
If this happened to anybody but government agents, they would be thrown in jail and charged with manslaughter. But predictably, since they aren’t lowly citizens, they are cleared of all wrong doing by the state Attorney General. (click here for more) There is nothing else released about the incident; no officer names and no justification except “the cops did nothing wrong.”
That is unacceptable in a just society. The cops should be in jail for their actions. Instead, their superiors and cohorts cover for them and the state justice system lets them get away scott free for killing a man, for a reason nobody knows.
I’m disgusted, and I’m going to go protest in front of the police station. Even if there is no official justice, at least I will make this murder uncomfortable for those responsible.
This post was sent to us via CopBlock.org’s Submit Tab.
A mistaken address in the Town of Erin last week ended up with a dog being Tasered three times by a Chemung County sheriff’s deputy who believed he was going to be attacked.
Paige, a 6-year-old spayed white mixed terrier, disappeared after the incident that occurred shortly after noon Sept. 28, said Sue Nowlan, who owns the dog with her husband, Barry. Paige returned on her own about 10 p.m. Sept. 29, Sue Nowlan said earlier this week. The dog was traumatized and is now very skittish.
“She won’t go out the doggie door after dark. She won’t even go outdoors after dark unless my husband or I coax her out,” she said. “In fact, the vet gave us a special collar that emits something to help calm her, and also a canine-calming anxiety control medication to try on her.”
The day after it was first given, the anxiety medication seemed to be helping, she said.
Paige also was being treated for deep burns where the Taser probes had penetrated, she said, noting the sheriff’s office is paying for the veterinarian.
As long as the leads are still connected after the initial shot with the Taser, each press of the trigger gives another jolt for up to three seconds, Nowlan said. Paige was hit with 50,000 volts three times, she said.
How it happened
When the Nowlans were not home, a deputy went there looking for an individual he had a warrant for, but he went to the wrong address. He was trying to find someone on Jones Road. However, the Nowlans’ driveway is a town road called Jones Drive that leads only to their home.
“It was an unfortunate incident,” Sheriff Christopher Moss said. “The dog came through a dog door up on a deck, and the officer said the animal came after him in an aggressive nature and he utilized his Taser.”
Paige went out the doggie door and started barking at the deputy, Sue Nowlan said.
“His claim is that she had him pinned and he felt threatened, and so he Tasered her and then Tasered her again on the deck and then as he was going toward his patrol car, he Tasered her a third time,” she said, citing a copy of the unofficial sheriff’s office report. “I don’t understand why she was Tasered three times.”
Use of the Taser is at the deputy’s discretion, Moss said.
“If he feels that he’s going to be attacked by the canine, then he needs to use whatever means he can,” he said. “At one standpoint, you can look at it and say, ‘Thank goodness this officer was equipped with a Taser and didn’t have to use his firearm to dispatch the animal.”
Nowlan said there has never been an issue with Paige in the six years that they have had her, even with United Parcel Service, Federal Express and U.S. Postal Service deliveries and daily visits by a natural gas well tender.
“She’s not a vicious dog. She’s not an aggressive dog or anything else,” she said, adding that she takes offense at the deputy referring to Paige, who weighs 54 pounds, as a large, vicious pit bull.
“That breed of dog that they want to refer to has a very bad reputation. There are drug people and such out there that raise dogs for the wrong purpose,” Nowlan said.
Suspects sometimes use dogs as a diversion before firing on law enforcement, Moss said.
“There have been times when firearms have been discharged when an officer’s been attacked by an animal,” he said.
Nowlan said if anybody fears for their life, she can understand why a dog would be Tasered, but she maintains that Paige is a family dog.
“She rides on our tractor with us in our buggy. She rides in our boat. She goes swimming in our pool,” she said. “I have a 6-month-old grandson. If I had a vicious dog, I certainly wouldn’t be allowing her around my grandson. My daughter certainly wouldn’t allow the dog around him if she were vicious.”
Moss said the use of the Taser on the canine isn’t being questioned by his administration, but there is an internal investigation of the circumstances that followed the Tasering.
“There are some things that happened that I’m not pleased with on our officer’s behalf,” Moss said. “This should have been expedited a little better. Some further follow-up should have been conducted. So we have an internal investigation going, so I can’t comment at this time.”
According to the sheriff’s office report, the incident occurred at 12:10 p.m. Sept. 28, but the Nowlans did not find out about it until 6 p.m., Sue Nowlan said. A call to the sheriff’s office was returned at 7:45 p.m., she said.
“For 36 hours straight, that’s what we did. We looked for her. She’s not a dog that stays out. She’s not a dog that wanders,” she said. “My husband and I want assurance that this isn’t going to happen again. We lost valuable hours that we could’ve been out there trying to look for her, had we been notified.”
Nowlan said she met Monday with Moss, Undersheriff William Schrom and Capt. Thomas Argetsinger.
“The three people I spoke with down there do seem concerned,” she said. “They do tell me that there is an internal investigation going on within.”
Road name change?
She also planned to meet with code enforcement to file an application for a change of the road’s name.
When she talked with town officials earlier, they assured her that was not necessary. But if something terrible happens because of confusion over the road names and it is disclosed as an ongoing problem, there is an opportunity for someone to file a lawsuit, she said.
“We’ve had at least five incidences where they’ve reported here. At one point, our house was completely surrounded by state troopers. They were getting ready to do a drug bust, but they were supposed to be on Jones Road, and they had us surrounded,” she said.
“We have to do something at this point to prevent this from happening because we don’t plan on moving.”
Meanwhile, they have put up signs that are white with red reflective letters that read “For dog’s safety, toot horn!! Do not exit vehicle.”
“I don’t feel that I need to protect people from my dog,” Nowlan said. “But I do feel that I need to protect my dog from people.”
As Ademo posted earlier, two Fullerton PD officers have been charged in the killing of Kelly Thomas. Prosecutors have begrudgingly dealt a couple of charges to appease the angry masses, months after Mr. Thomas’ death.
Officer Manny Ramos was charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. It should come as no surprise the murdering scum was not charged with first-degree murder (because clearly, when you engage in a gang-like beating of a mentally ill man with 4 of your friends, you did not intend to kill him). Another officer, Police Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, was charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
“The cause of death in this case is mechanical compression of the thorax, making it impossible for Kelly Thomas to breathe normal. In other words, with the chest being compressed, Kelly Thomas was unable to inhale,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters. “Over time his brain was deprived of oxygen.” Or how about, he died because he was murdered by the cops? That’s a little more intellectually honest. Even as he (likely against his will) charges these brave men with heinous crimes, Rackaukas still attempts to act as the ultimate police PR machine by describing a gruesome murder as oxygen deprivation.
Because, you know, when people suffer at the hands of police, it’s never because the police did anything wrong; it’s always the result of bizarre external circumstances. For instance, a family that was brutalized by a SWAT operation gone wrong was “inadvertently affected.” Grandfather Eurie Stamps was “struck by a bullet which was discharged from a SWAT officer’s rifle.” Or of course, the good old excuse used time and time again when people die from Taser deaths – the police officer didn’t do it, the Taser did! The victim just had a terrible and unexpected reaction to the Taser!
Local protester, Merijoe, has been to every Saturday protest since July 30 (see her protest sign to the right). She believes the charges were a good start, but are not enough. She believes all officers should have been charged. “We’re all aware of the fact that if Kelly’s dad, Ron, hadn’t taken those hospital pictures of Kelly and released them to places like the Fullerton’s Future Blog and the Daily Mail in England, which then had John and Ken screaming for days about this horrific murder, it would have been totally swept under the rug,” says Merijoe. She is also angry about the fact that it took 75 days for charges to be brought up, and meanwhile, the 6 officers involved continued to work until August 2nd.
Merijoe feels spokespeople for the FPD continually failed to be forthcoming, and even lied about officers breaking bones when this was not the case. “The fact that all these animals were put on paid leave inflamed us more,” says Merijoe. “Evidently they’re still on this paid leave so tax payers are still on the hook for their salary and they get time accumulated for their pensions.”
Merijoe heard the announcement of the charges on the radio. ”I cried especially when DA explained what happened to Kelly that night, a few people were interviewed after the DA announcement and they were crying.”
“Our work as protesters in Kelly’s army is not done,” says Merijoe, who will continue to be present at the weekly protests. The protesters will be there Saturdays 9-3 in front of FPD, with signs, horn blowing, and the slogan, ” WE WANT JUSTICE AND WE WANT IT NOW!”
The beating and murder of Kelly Thomas has frightened homeless people everywhere in Fullerton. “I heard from a minister to the homeless that they are scared to death they will be the targets of retaliation by the FPD,” says Merijoe. Merijoe also would like to see a push for seminars to educate people, and urges CopBlock to get involved in such efforts. “I’d like to see seminars to advise citizens of their rights so people arent scared of coppers and their big intimidating mouths, so they know they dont have to get out of their cars for no reason just because a cop is demanding it.”
For more background on the Kelly Thomas story see here:
A lawsuit filed recently by the parents of Allen Kephart alleges Mr. Kephart was killed by police after he honked at a patrol car. Mr. Kephart’s parents have filed claims of assault, battery and negligence against three deputies of the San Bernadino County Seriff’s Department.
The suit indicates Mr. Kephart honked when a patrol vehicle turned in front of him. The sheriff’s deputy circled his patrol car behind Mr. Kephart, and proceeded to pull him over. Kephart was ordered out of his car at gunpoint, forced to the ground, and another sergeant and deputy joined in on the gang murder.
The three officers repeatedly Tasered Kephart for about 10 minutes, according to the lawsuit. The victim was heard screaming for help as he was killed by Deputies Ismael Diaz and Michael Gardea, and Sergeant Bryan Lane. A member of the
gang department issued a statement claiming Kephart “became combative and uncooperative” (because obviously, if someone is uncooperative, they deserve to die – more here).
This story clearly demonstrates that from time to time, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the punishment for disrespecting authority is death. Well, let’s be fair. At least one news article claims Kephart had possibly run a stop sign. At any rate, no one, not even the police, claim the appropriate punishment for running a stop sign is death, so it’s fair to conclude Kephart was killed at least in part because of his unfortunate failure to
kiss the ring kiss ass suck cock show respect to the relevant authorities.
Yet, for anyone who has briefly perused the criminal code, this should come as no surprise. The act of punishing people for mere disrespect is not only alive in practice, it is deeply enshrined in American law. Thoughtcrime is not just a looming threat predicted by Orwell; it is an everyday reality of American criminal law.
The California criminal code for example, is rife with Wobblers. These are crimes that could either fall under the category of a misdemeanor or a felony. Similarly, a Wobblette is a crime that could either fall under the category of infraction or a misdemeanor. With both Wobblers and Wobblettes, the sole determining factor of what someone is charged with is prosecutorial discretion.
This means the prosecutor, who was not there at the scene of the crime, and who witnessed nothing, gets to decide how someone is charged. Many times, this is based off of whether (according to the cop’s report) the defendant
properly groveled was respectful, nice or polite – or whether they were “uncooperative” or “combative,” as Mr. Kephart perhaps was. In effect, a defendant is judged and punished according to the manner in which they conducted themselves in relation to the police, even though that conduct is entirely irrelevant to criminality.
For instance, this attorney describes laws regulating yard sales in San Bernadino County. Yard sales are allowed only on the third weekend of each month, and signs are not allowed on public property. These laws are purportedly wobblettes. If you are having a garage sale (god forbid!) on the second weekend of a month instead of the third, and the police catch you, and you apologize profusely and beg forgiveness for your severe transgression, you will probably be charged with an infraction. But if you are angry that you aren’t allowed to conduct a goddamn garage sale in your own goddamn property in the so-called land of the free, and tell the officer to fuck off, you might be charged with a misdemeanor instead.
Such is also the case for urinating in public. If a person urinates in public, gets caught, but obediently grovels at the feet of police, an infraction will likely be in order. But if the unfortunate defendant instead has unkind words for the arresting officer, he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor.
Violating yard sale laws is usually an infraction. Urinating in public is usually an infraction. But after examining the other circumstances that may exist – such as failing to show respect for an officer, or telling an officer to fuck off, prosecutors frequently decide these infractions are to be misdemeanors, even though the acts of disrespect and saying “fuck off” are not themselves crimes.
Prosecutors will claim that they take a variety of circumstances into consideration, such as the defendant’s past criminal history, when deciding on such charges. There are two problems with this kind of reasoning. Either someone committed a certain offense or they did not. Pointing to offenses of the past, which the defendant purportedly already paid his debt for, is not a logical reason for more severe punishment. Either a defendant peed in public or he didn’t. Either he stole $500 or he didn’t. Either he conducted an illegal garage sale, or he didn’t.
The fact that the defendant may have peed in public, stolen, or conducted illegal garage sales on prior occasions, doesn’t alter the amount of damage or the harm done in this particular instance. Any way you twist it, when it comes to wobblers/wobblettes, prosecutors have the power to charge a defendant with the worse offense based completely on hatred, prejudice, or just because the defendant said something unpleasant.
The effect is the law punishes failure to grovel, and penalizes free speech with criminal sanctions. These are characteristics we have been told are only found in monarchies, dictatorships, tyrannies and other forms of government allegedly less free than the American brand. Yet it is difficult to imagine what kind of free society can tolerate the criminalization of bad attitudes, rude behavior, and disrespect.
In late June, I posted about a Helena Police Officer who shot Brian Temple in the chest for disrespecting authority and fleeing the police, even though he had committed no crime at that time. Helena, Montana is in the news again, after 41-year-old Roger Chandler was Tasered at least twice for being “unruly” and died as a result.
These two instances of police brutality have given the mainstream media the opportunity to concretely demonstrate their bias. Although I am frequently accused of bias, I am honest. I never claim to be presenting things in a manner that depicts both sides in a favorable light, nor do I claim to be neutral in my opinion.
In my post regarding the Brian Temple shooting, I interviewed the victim’s father, and read multiple news sources (i.e. government propaganda) for the very reason that I was certain there was more to the story than was reported by the news. With these stories, it’s never enough just to read the news because they tend to only quote police, prosecutors, other law enforcement personnel, and essentially act as the PR mouthpiece of the offending police department (and I am the one accused of “bias”).
In this latest Tasering execution, just as was the case with the shooting of Brian Temple, the news is quick to point out that Mr. Chandler had an “extensive criminal record.” Because, you know, that definitely means he deserved to be killed here. After all, police are totally supposed to serve the role of police, jury, judge and executioner. Haven’t you heard? Judge Dredd is no longer just a thing of fiction.
The officers involved allegedly received reports from neighbors that Chandler was screaming and had possibly kicked down a door. Later, officers purportedly learned Chandler may have pushed someone. The responding officers claimed they were concerned Chandler was harming himself, and Chandler suddenly was “acting uncontrollably” and “attempted to flee from law enforcement.”
“Officers felt he could harm himself or others because of his erratic behavior,” Sheriff Leo Dutton said. Dutton went on to say it was possible that Chandler had been using drugs (more here).
That someone should be painfully subjugated, tortured, and killed for his own safety and to prevent him from harming himself sounds absurd, but it is an excuse used over and over by police. For instance, an elderly cancer patient was Tasered for his own safety. A young child was Tasered for the purposes of effecting proper hygiene. In many states, it is illegal for innocent people to resist unlawful arrest because legal experts and courts believe people should be arrested for their own protection (more here and here.) The entire War on Drugs rests on the premise that people should be beaten, jailed and/or killed in order to protect them from drug use. Time and time again, police claim that beating, torture and murder are committed in furtherance of the protection and safety of an individual.
This was not self-defense. This was not defense of another. The police killed Mr. Chandler. They killed him using a weapon that has killed people on numerous other occasions. Self-defense is generally defined as the use of reasonable or necessary force to defend oneself or another. Tasering or killing someone in response to screaming and (possibly) pushing is neither reasonable nor necessary.
In other words, if these killers were not police officers, they would be in jail and they would be charged with homicide. But because they are police officers and have the benefit of the
injustice system and the propaganda machine news on their side, they have managed to portray this as some twisted act of heroism.
Finally, as was the case with Brian Temple, the true reason Chandler was violently attacked by police becomes apparent upon an honest examination of the situation. He was killed because he attempted to flee from law enforcement, and would not bow to authority. Police hate disobedience. They will secure humiliation and subjugation of a target at all costs – even death, because their end goal is obedience, not safety. If the end goal were safety, Chandler would be alive.
If this is too harsh of a conclusion, the other logical alternative is that Chandler was killed for using drugs, screaming and pushing someone and effectively, the penalty for being a petty miscreant in America is death. So there are the options – the cops are not in fact trained and employed to protect and serve, or America is a tyranny because it is legal for police to kill someone for screaming and using drugs with no recourse or penalty. Or both. Take your pick.