Friday, September 30, 2011

Sometimes the Name Fits

The gratuitous brutality on display by New York police during a Saturday march that was part of this Wall Street Occupation action, and the hundreds of wrongful arrests, the excessive police presence, the countless beatings of young people who are doing nothing but expressing their disgust with the nation’s economic ruling elite, the battering of people with cameras who try to exercise their First Amendment right to videotape police officers abusing others, the spraying of toxic chemicals into the eyes of young women who are just standing behind police lines doing nothing, that went on that day and through the night, and the automatic justifying of all these atrocities by police authorities and the office of the mayor, are, to put it gracefully, the actions of pigs.
~ from Heroes to Pigs: The Shapeshifting of New York's Cops Took Only 24 Hours of Porcine Behavior by Dave Lindorff ~
As Lindorff aptly points out in his essay -- I urge you to read it in its entirety -- he's certainly NOT saying that all police officers are pigs; just a good number of them. That charge is not borne out of this one incident. There are examples in the press almost every week of the year and the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg.

Having worked closely with the police when I was a state child abuse investigator, I understand it's not an easy job. It is when officers letdown their guard that they often are placed in harm's way.

As a mitigation investigator, I worked a case in which an Oregon state trooper failed to pat down 2 of the 3 suspects he placed in the back of his patrol car. One of those men had a handgun and, while the officer was in the front seat filling out paperwork, the suspect shot him at pointblank range in the back of the head. The officer's failure to follow procedure AND commonsense, sadly, led to his own death.

So, I understand why the police often feel it is better to be more aggressive than passive, but I also know that a lot of brutes go into police work because they get a kick out of abusing people from behind the badge. It is these kinds of police officers who give all police a bad name.

The worst part of this whole situation is that these brutes KNOW they stand a good chance of getting away with almost anything they do. Since the police wield so much power in any given community, most politicians don't want to mess with them -- they don't want the police to scrutinize or hassle them. So, it's not uncommon that the politicians and civil authorities end up rubber stamping the most grievous offenses and mumbling about doing things differently in the nebulous future.

When cops brutalize people and yet don't face any serious recriminations, it makes them feel empowered AND untouchable. It grants them a license to be more brutal in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.