Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Police Become a Law Unto Themselves
Police are specialists in violence. They are armed, trained, and authorized to use force. With varying degrees of subtlety, this colors their every action. Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter. Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.
Police State, subjected as we are to government surveillance, body scanners, militarized police, roadside strip searches, SWAT team raids, drones, and other trappings of a police state, “we the people” do not live in a free society any longer.
Not only are we no longer a free people but we have become a fearful people, as well, helped along in large part by politicians eager to capitalize on our fears. Now thanks to an increasingly militarized police force and police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, we’ve got one more fear to add to that growing list, and with good reason: fear of the police—local, state and federal agents.
Who wouldn’t be afraid of police officers who go around shooting unarmed citizens, tasering women—young and old alike, and forcing law-abiding Americans to the ground at gunpoint? Such was the case when a Missouri police officer shot and wounded an unarmed panhandler. Texas police, during a raid on a home where music was reportedly being played too loudly, repeatedly tasered a 54-year-old grandmother, kicking and punching other members of the household. A 20-year-old Florida woman who was tasered by a police officer while she was handcuffed ended up in a permanent vegetative state and eventually died. And then there was the homeless man who was shot and killed by Albuquerque police for squatting on public land.
If it were just a few “bad” cops terrorizing the citizenry, that would be one thing. But what we’re dealing with is a nationwide epidemic of court-sanctioned police violence carried out against individuals posing little or no threat of violence, who are nevertheless subjected to such excessive police force as to end up maimed or killed. The toll such incidents take on adults can be life-altering, but when such police brutality is perpetrated on young people, the end result is nothing less than complete indoctrination into becoming compliant citizens of a totalitarian state. The message is clear and chilling: any deviation from what is “allowed” will be punished severely.
Thus, when a 9-year-old Portland girl got into a fight at a youth club, instead of the incident being resolved by staff members and reported to her family, police showed up at her home, arrested the young girl, took her down to the station, fingerprinted her, and had her mug shot taken.
Similarly, when 13-year-old Kevens Jean Baptiste failed to follow a school bus driver’s direction to keep the bus windows closed (Kevens, who suffers from asthma, opened the window after a fellow student sprayed perfume, causing him to cough and wheeze), he was handcuffed by police, removed from the bus, and while still handcuffed, had his legs swept out from under him by an officer, causing him to crash to the ground.
In Missouri, a 7-year-old child was handcuffed because he was allegedly upset about being teased by his classmates. The inconsolable child, who was screaming in class because of the taunting, was taken by the school’s security officer to the principal’s office and handcuffed until his father arrived at the school.
In the absence of any credible scenarios that would hold the police accountable to abiding by the rule of law—our U.S. Constitution—and respecting the citizenry’s right to be treated with respect and dignity, the police have become a law unto themselves.
Clearly, the master-servant relationship upon which American government was based has now been reversed. Government agents in general, and the police in particular, now seem to believe they are the masters and we are the servants. It’s definitely time to reestablish us, the American citizenry, as the masters of our government—even if it means showing the oppressors that we will no longer wear their chains.
Where we go wrong is in painting our oppressors—whether it be the police, the courts, Congress, or the president—as absolutely evil and ourselves as powerless to resist.
In other words, there comes a time when law and order are in direct opposition to justice.
This tension is at the heart of the issue over police brutality, carried out by individuals who may not themselves be evil but are merely following orders, marching in lockstep with a government machine that views us as less than human. So how does one achieve justice without resorting to violence, given that violence only leads to more violence? The only recourse left to us, is mass civil disobedience of the nonviolent sort.
Freedom is never voluntarily given up by the oppressor; it must be demanded.” Fight back if in the right, after all it’s your life!