Friday, December 5, 2014

Beyond Ferguson: It's a Nationwide Problem

So now we've got the Garner case in New York City, where the video shows four cops jumping on one unarmed man -- whose main crime seems to be "resisting arrest" by hollering "Don't touch me!" and swatting a cop's hands away -- grabbing him in an outlawed choke-hold and pinning him down until he died, and getting acquitted by a local Grand Jury.  In Ferguson the chief problem was stupidity all around, but this is a clear case of cop bullying, blatantly excused by the court system.  In this case the protests have been very well organized and self-controlled -- but then again, NYC is used to hosting protest marches.

One thing that even the most ambitious Black politicians have admitted is that it's not just a Black/White problem.  We've all seen examples, several posted on YouTube, of cops attacking and killing unarmed Whites, Spanish, Asians, et al -- and not just White cops doing it.  All that the victims had in common is that none of them were visibly rich, powerful, armed, or had many friends around them.  In short, they looked like easy victims -- exactly the sort that robbers would normally pick on.  Now it's the cops doing it too. 

In fact, the problem is the corruption and militarization of our police forces over the past 20 years and more. It started with the "asset forfeiture" laws, under the excuse of the War on Drugs, which encouraged cops to steal (and discouraged the use of cash US currency).  It grew worse with the recent custom of the military handing off its used heavy hardware to police forces instead of the National Guard, which has encouraged a general War on the Poor.  What else can explain, for example, sending a whole SWAT team to arrest a small shop full of barbers for the crime of letting their barbers' licenses lapse?  Is it coincidental that such cases have increased as marijuana has gained in legality?

There's no excuse, really, for all these kill-the-unarmed cases.  It would be hard to find a cop in the US today who doesn't carry a taser and/or hand-stunner (along with tear-gas spray and club);  why haven't the cops bothered to use these weapons first?  Why go first for the gun or the gang-up choke-hold?  Where have cops gotten the idea that the unarmed are that dangerous?

Well, the first step toward reversing the trend is to insist that cops wear body-cams as well as carrying tamper-proof cameras mounted in their cars.  The next step, obviously, would be some thwacking great lawsuits aimed at those cops who used an outlawed choke-hold on Garner.  In fact a lot of deprivation-of-civil-rights cases would also tend to make the cops more circumspect.  And in any case, get those tanks and heavy artillery away from them, and send them to various National Guard armories, before the cops take it into their heads to go after civilians with those, too.

--Leslie <;)))><   )O(               


Joel C. Salomon said...

Minor correction: The choke-hold was barred by police procedure (with some exceptions, which this case seems not to have fallen under) but is not illegal under state or NYC law. The City Councilman representing my district has proposed making it illegal:

Leslie Fish said...

Wow! See if you can get a petition up on to support the law.