Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SEASON'S GREETINGS!





Happy Hannukah, Jolly Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyful Sir Isaac Newton’s Birthday, Happy Kwansaa, Jolly Eid al-Fatr, Happy Bodhi Day, Merry Boxing Day, Joyful Ganesha's Birthday, Lusty Saturnalia, Happy New Year, Jolly Hogmanay, Merry Twelfth Night – and a partridge in a pear tree!

--Leslie <;)))>< Fish   )O(

Friday, December 12, 2014

Solutions to the Cop Problem

Going into detail: yes, we have to make sure (even if it takes federal laws and funds) that every cop in the US -- federal, state, county, and municipal -- wears a bodycam when on duty.  The cameras must include good microphones and be designed so that the wearers can't turn them off or censor them.  They must have sturdy batteries that can run for 12 hours without a recharge, powerful enough to transmit constantly to local receiving stations that will store all the records on computers, regardless of structures in the way.  They must also be on a part of the uniform that's never covered up.  And yes, give the cops bullet-proof vests so they won't feel In Fear For My Life so readily. 

Second, likewise make certain that every cop in America is supplied with a taser, as well as a hand-stunner, and that the cops get extensive training in their use.  Tasers need redesigning for features like reloading quickly, longer and sharper prongs to get through layers of cloth, and multiple-shot capacity.  When stun-guns are as reliable as lethal guns, cops will be more likely to use them first.

Third, get the military, which has the records, to come take back all the tanks, rocket-launchers, armed helicopters, fighting vehicles, etc. that it handed out to various police departments, and give that hardware to the state National Guard chapters, where it belongs.  If the cops find themselves in a situation where they need military hardware, they can always summon the local National Guard -- which has specific training in the use of such.

Finally, yes, go after the cops who killed those unarmed civilians with Deprivation of Civil Rights charges, lawsuits, and anything else that will stick.  Nothing will change the thuggish attitudes of cops, but the certainty of getting legally stomped if they have too much fun at the citizens' expense will at least make them more circumspect.

To use an old phrase, cops who aren't thugs at heart will have nothing to worry about;  if they're innocent they have nothing to hide.  Right?

--Leslie <;)))><   )O(      

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(