And you may be feeling helpless right now. You may have no idea what to do with your rage and sorrow and pain. If, like me, you’re white, you may not know what do to with the power invested in you by the color of your skin.
Another day, another black man being roughed up by police for existing while black. Tony tells us the story, and he’s got some great questions at the end for those white folks who are all, “Don’t do anything wrong and you won’t have to worry!”
They say if we follow those easy to remember rules, then we won’t face extreme violence from police officers. Well, what handy-dandy tips do they have for us when we’re engaged in the same activities that everyone else does in the course of a day? When you’re minding your own business in public, where you have the right to be, and you’re walking, which you have the right to do, and you’re attacked by cops who think you look like this *other* black person they’re looking for and don’t even bother to ensure they have the right suspect? How do we avoid that? I mean since we’re talking about the steps white people think black people need to take to avoid cops choosing to use excessive force on us. Heaven forbid we talk about cops modifying their behavior so that they don’t brutalize black folk.
And, y’know, white folk who think black folk bring police violence on themselves: encouraging cops to use maximum force in every confrontation in which they feel the least bit uncomfy, or in which they want to assert their authority over a potential “thug” (y’know, someone not wearing a tailored suit and who happens to be an older straight white cis dude), or in which they feel disrespected, or in which they encountered the person they wished to talk to while they were having a bad day, or in which they had a shiny new baton or taser or gun, or… well, I shouldn’t have to continue painting you pictures, now, should I? If you encourage the cops to use force rather than non-violent, non-confrontational techniques to approach people they wish to talk to who are darker-hued, they’re going to start using those techniques on lighter and lighter people, until everyone is subject to unreasonable force by a militarized and highly belligerent gang of assholes with a badge and a taste for blood.
We are going to have to stop telling people of color how perfect they must be in order to survive an encounter with police unmolested, and start a revolution in policing. We need to take the military toys away from our cops, fire the racists and bigots and misogynists, fire the ones who put on the badge and the gun for the rush they get from their power, and train the remaining cops how to serve the public. We need a universal ethos of protect and serve. Not “protect and serve the rich white guys while fucking over the poor and the dark.” Not “protect our own police lives at all costs, even if that means taking the lives of an endless stream of unarmed people, and roughing up the ones we don’t kill.” We need police to value the lives of everyone in the community – yes, even the criminal ones. We need to imbue our police with a social service mentality rather than a siege one. Of course there will be times when they must use force, but that should be the last resort, not the first – and for any cops who think otherwise, we must be willing to kick them out of our police forces.
Otherwise, we will continue to see the use of force escalate, until no matter how rich you are, how famous, how talented, how innocently standing still doing absolutely nothing wrong, we will be at risk of assault or death at any moment from a police force that thinks of us all as vermin. Black folk already know what that regime is like. Ask them what sort of quality of life it offers.
Tony is still looking for work, and could use help if you’ve got it to give. He just needs to raise $290 to make it through this month. If you’ve got a little to spare and would like to support his excellent blogging, you can donate here. If you’re in the market for mint-condition comics and DVDs, he’s also got an Ebay store where you can find some very sweet stuff. If you haven’t any filthy lucre to spare, signal boosting this request will help, too. Thank you, my darlings!
On Tuesday night, I went to a boating party. It was full of liberal white folk, so of course the conversation turned to Black Lives Matter. One of the guys thought they shouldn’t build a movement around Mike Brown, cuz “he attacked a cop, and when you do that, you’re going to get shot.”
I was so flummoxed by that, I forgot to mention that Black Lives Matter actually started with Trayvon Martin, a kid with some tea and Skittles. (My friend wouldn’t have said anything like, “But if you try to keep some maniac with a gun and an outsized ego from assaulting you, you’re going to get shot,” and declare Trayvon disqualified as well. But I know there are people in this country – even some in white liberal circles – who would claim that, yep, Trayvon brought it on himself by not immediately prostrating himself before George Zimmerman and begging for his life to be spared. I hope they all come to understand just how deeply fucked up they are, and change accordingly.)
My friend is a Science Facts Guy. We’ll call him SFG. Evidence matters to him. And he just couldn’t get past the fact that Mike Brown had supposedly attacked Darren Wilson. I say “supposedly,” because in this white supremacist society of ours, one in which so many cops have claimed that they were attacked by that unarmed black dude, only to have evidence turn up that no, actually, they weren’t, that I remain skeptical of those results. But perhaps they scuffled. Let’s even concede all the worst facts we can find: that Mike smoked weed, that he shoplifted some cigarillos, that he was walking down the middle of the street, and mouthed off to an officer of the law, and attacked him. Let’s make it look really, really bad. Continue reading “But A White Guy Who Attacks Cops Would Get Shot, Too, Right?”→
Are we happy, white Americans? This is the country we’ve made. Remember all that tough-on-crime talk that’s kept us electing people who’ve promised more cops with more powerful weaponry? Remember how we all panicked after 9/11 and decided it was okay if our police were turned into paramilitary units? And how we’ve put all this heavy weaponry in the hands of white people who disproportionately target black people?
I want you to look at what’s happening in Ferguson, to the people who are peacefully protesting a black teenager’s murder.
This is what America’s Finest are up to these days:
Note the technique: the insouciant stoll, the pepper spray held at a casual yet effective angle, the expression that says he could just as easily be spraying cockroaches as students, because they’re equally vermin to him. Note that his safety and the safety of others is in no way imperiled by a bunch of students sitting on the ground, yet he feels it necessary to spray them full in the face with a chemical weapon because they were, y’know, protesting. Defying his authortay. Can’t have that.
Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood. [emphasis added]
Actions like this are truly disgusting. This is an outrageous way to respond to people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. But it also shows how terrified those at the top are. They’re terrified enough to make their precarious position even worse by attacking students for the crime of sitting in front of tents.
Note to police departments that think intimidating bloggers will help cover up their corruption: you’re only guaranteeing we all find out about your supreme dumbfuckitude.
This is becoming an old story. Blogger gets fed up with an out-of-control police department and starts exposing their actions to the public, police department proves the blogger right by trying to prosecute the blogger for vague crimes that really amount to “saying bad things about powerful people.” But in this case, the police actually raided the blogger’s home and seized virtually everything.
In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.
Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.
The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment – which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.
The warrant apparently listed “petty theft” and “computer tampering with the intent to harass” as the probable cause for the warrant, neither of which would justify seizing so much material. And the petty theft charge is truly absurd:
The allegation of “petty theft” against Pataky stem from photos he posted on his blog of police name plates that appear to have been taken from within the department. He said he actually made the plates himself.
Interestingly, almost everything he gets on the department comes from good cops within the department blowing the whistle:
“We were going to shut down the website after that but then all of a sudden all these good cops started hitting the site and sending us tips,” he said.
He said they would also deliver all kinds of internal documents from within the department exposing everything from a cop with multiple DUIs to another cop whose son was a child molester and was trying to get on the force (and was eventually arrested).
“We have about 50 to 100 retired and active cops who provide us information,” he said.
Phoenix has a serious problem. And now they’ve ensured their dirty laundry’s aired far and wide. This may be news to them, but there’s too many bloggers on the intertoobz to intimidate us all, or even enough.
Apparently, being treated as some sort of redneck hero for dying jail underwear pink and creating tent cities has rather gone to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s head. He was always an authoritarian bully, but he’s been getting crazier and crazier over the years. This year, it appears, he’s finally tipped himself right over into fascism:
I’m spending my Christmas vacation in lovely Maricopa County, AZ, this week with my in-laws. And I have to tell you that, thanks to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his gang of thugs deputies, I’ll be somewhat relieved when I leave.
After all, how would you like to live in a place where law enforcement actually arrests you for applauding briefly at a public county council meeting? Where they threaten and intimidate you just for showing up in the first place?
That’s what’s been happening here.
It all has to do with an anti-Arpaio group called Maricopa Citizens for Safety Accountability, which formed last spring in response to investigative reports and studies demonstrating that Arpaio’s insane obsession with illegal immigrants was destroying his office’s ability to actually deal with real law enforcement work.
MCSA’s members have been turning up at meetings of the county Board of Supervisors and trying to speak, but the board refuses to let MCSA do so except for brief comment periods at the end of its meetings. Moreover, the board meetings are now patrolled by a huge contingent of deputies who treat the citizens who attend like criminals.
And, of course, deputies and security agents at the Board of Supervisors meetings have begun to arrest spectators. That development came Wednesday.
During the meeting, Board of Supervisors chairman Andy Kunasek warned spectators that they were being disruptive by applauding speakers, but deputies neither dismissed nor arrested spectators who applauded an animal advocate or a public transportation advocate who sang a birthday song for Kunasek.
The scene was different when about 15 spectators stood and clapped for 20 seconds after a Maricopa Citizens group member spoke critically of Arpaio during her turn at the lectern.
Deputies arrested Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sandschafer and Kristy Theilen on allegations of disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Deputies made the arrests in a clear attempt to intimidate people associated with Maricopa Citizens, said Carlos Calindo, who attended the meeting.
“It is incredible the way they behaved,” said Calindo, who is not a member of the citizens organization. “You come in there and the atmosphere is incredibly oppressive. They yell at you. They scold you. They try to intimidate you. It is improper.”
Bush Illegally Turns Army Inwards – Urge Moderators to Raise Issue During Presidential Debates
For more than 200 years, federal laws have protected the American people against the use of military forces on our own soil. Strengthened in 1878 by the Posse Comitatus Act, these laws have guaranteed that the federal government could not use the military for domestic law enforcement purposes.
Without such protection, the federal government could use the might of our army to violate state and individual rights. Moreover, minor incursions by the military into domestic law enforcement activity could lay the foundation for the imposition of martial law at a moment’s notice. This is one slippery slope we don’t want to start sliding down.
That is why we should all be deeply disturbed by the news that President Bush has assigned the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team to be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army component of Northern Command (NorthCom). According to an article in Army Times, the soldiers could be called upon for a variety of tasks, including quelling “civil unrest.” They are apparently engaged in training with shields and batons, beanbag bullets, and Tasers.
We need to raise awareness about this threat to our liberty immediately. The American Freedom Campaign believes the best method available at the moment is to send an email to the hosts of the next two presidential debates, urging them to ask the candidates whether they would fully enforce the Posse Comitatus Act.
Click on over and let the media know it’s time to get the word out. Especially after what’s happened with Denver and St. Paul, I’m not willing to let Bush play with turning the military on the citizenry come election time. The more public this is, the better chance we have of preventing abuse.
Not that I think a public spotlight will stop this regime, but it couldn’t hurt.
I found this originally through AOL’s comedy video channel, but it’s not comedy – it’s real terror, and it’s a stark reminder of just how out-of-control our police agencies got during the RNC.
These people were being herded. This didn’t seem like crowd control – it seemed like a cruel game, police drunk on their own power letting their inner thug loose, knowing the crowd was too weak to strike back.
This is our country if the Republicons stay in power. This is just a taste of what they consider appropriate.