The Pathos of Politics (112-9) US Policing continued 1


The US federal government is unconcerned how many people are killed by state and local law enforcement. Their own statistics grossly understate the slaughter.

Beyond the killings, at least 1/2 million Americans suffer violence at the hands of the police every year. The victims of the police are predominately disadvantaged ethnic minorities. Throughout the country, there are periodic reports of white police savagely beating black men.

Women also inordinately suffer from the criminality of police. Women seldom report sex crimes, as they set themselves up for further abuse by doing so, and such crimes are seldom prosecuted. (One rape victim in Texas was imprisoned indefinitely for fear by the police that she would refuse to further testify after the women broke down during her first testimony in court.) Further, the police themselves are frequently sexual abusers.

Why are you Americans killing black people, shooting them when they already on the ground? ~ Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016

The obscene proclivity and license for violence in American law enforcement is well illustrated by plainclothes police. In cities across the country, police departments created squads of plainclothes police to tackle the worst crime areas.

What happened, time and again, was an unleashing of violent crime effectively sanctioned by the state. The US Justice Department found in 2016 that plainclothes officers were “particularly aggressive and unrestrained in their practice of stopping individuals without cause and performing public, humiliating searches.” Severe beatings by plainclothes police upon hapless citizens are common, particularly white officers bashing black and Hispanic men.

It takes these spectacular abuses to get any kind of accountability. ~ American public policy scholar Lawrence Grandpre

In hundreds of police departments across the nation, whites outnumber blacks on the police force by over 30% than the racial ratio in the community.

Even if police officers of whatever race enforce the law in relatively the same way, there is a huge image problem with a department that is so out of sync with the racial composition of the local population. ~ American sociologist Ronald Weitzer

American policing reflects the deep-seated racism that permeates the working class. The difference is that police may express their disdain in a fatal fashion without being held accountable.

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There is no federal requirement for states to track murder by police. Only a few states require it.

In California, blacks are killed by police at 8 times the rate of other residents. California’s attorney general noted “clear racial disparities.”

A police officer should not be the judge, the jury, and the executioner. ~ American Tia Gonzalez after watching police gun down a young black man in cold blood

Police killings are simply the most spectacular events that punctuate a routine of harassment and brutality. Blacks on the street and in cars are stopped considerably more frequently than whites. The hostile relationship long ago became mutual, and only exacerbates the problem, as police are more likely to immediately act violently.

So many minority families and communities are struggling. So many boys and young men grow up in environments lacking role models, adequate education, and decent employment – they lack all sorts of opportunities that most of us take for granted. A tragedy of American life is that young people in “those neighborhoods” too often inherit a legacy of crime and prison.

Something happens to people in law enforcement. Police officers in our nation’s cities often work in environments where a hugely disproportionate percentage of street crime is committed by young men of color. After years, officers can’t help but be influenced by the cynicism they feel. A mental shortcut becomes almost irresistible and maybe even rational. ~ James Comey

 New York City

We are the safest big city in America. ~ New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015

With one of the world’s largest natural harbors, New York City was an easy port of entry into the New World. Discovered in 1524 by Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, the city was founded in 1624 by Dutch colonists, and called New Amsterdam in 1626.

In 1664, the English conquered the area and renamed the city. At the time, 40% of the population comprised African slaves.

New York City grew into an economic and political center. In 1789 it became the 1st national capital.

For the past 2 centuries, New York City has been the largest and wealthiest American city. Its 2017 population was 8.6 million. New York City has long been the most ethnically and culturally diverse city in the world.

It many ways, New York City is an apex of human civilization. Its policing is exemplary of those across the nation.

Established in 1845, with nearly 50,000 employees, and an annual budget of $5 billion in 2015, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest urban police force in the US. With such credentials, one may comfortably consider New York’s Finest to be among the finest police departments in the country.

In the 5-year period of 2009–2014, the city paid $400+ million to settle over 12,000 lawsuits for police misconduct: corruption and brutality.

In 2011, NYC police officers stopped nearly 700,000 people on the street. ~90% of them were black or Latino men, who make up 26% of the population. 94% of the stops were pure harassment. Beyond the illegality of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice, the experience understandably generates resentment and alienation.

They’re supposed to serve and protect, but all they do is patrol and control. ~ American computer technician and Brooklyn resident Eric Togar on being stopped and searched by NYPD for no reason whatsoever

The litany of NYPD brutality is practically endless. Police punch, choke, bludgeon, and gun down civilians in the city on a daily basis. The NYPD even employed on-duty serial rapists who went undetected for years. Narcotics officers plant drugs and guns on people to make arrest quotas.

That NYC police generate far more crime than they solve is an easy axiom. That is not to say that New York City is a safe place to be, with or without police, mayor de Blasio’s assurance withstanding.

On 9 September 2015, biracial, retired professional tennis player James Blake was standing in the lobby of the midtown Manhattan hotel where he was staying, waiting to be taken to a corporate appearance at the US Open tennis tournament. Out of nowhere, white plainclothes NYPD officer James Frascatore grabbed Blake by the neck, slammed him to the ground, put handcuffs on Blake and arrested him. In the course of everyday brutality, it was an instance of mistaken identity.

Frascatore had an extensive record of violence in the line of duty. Yet nothing was done about him.

Malfeasance is systemic in the NYPD, which the department does its best to cover up. Corrupt prosecutors compound the damage that police have done. The NYPD even lies about city crime statistics.

It’s a terrible epidemic. ~ American civil rights lawyer Joel Berger on crime by the NYPD

 Chicago, Illinois

Incorporated in 1837, the city of Chicago grew as a transportation hub between the eastern and western states. With 2.7 million people in 2015, Chicago is the 3rd most populous US city, behind New York and Los Angeles.

We have something special for niggers. ~ Chicago policeman before torturing an innocent black man who was later exonerated after 7 years in prison on false charges

Chicago has a long history of police savagery, especially against blacks. One Chicago police practice has been to take victims to detention facilities and torture them, including sadistic sex abuse. Many thousands have been brutalized at these facilities; some for infractions as simple as driving without a seatbelt.

This practice has been quite successful in forcing confessions and ruining lives. Human rights finds no shelter in the Windy City.

The Chicago police department’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color. Stopped without justification, verbally and physically abused, and in some instances arrested, and then detained without counsel – that is what we heard over and over again. ~ US Department of Justice in 2017

Chicago law enforcement is not shy about using lethal force. Every year, many hundreds of innocent civilians are maimed and slaughtered by Chicago’s finest. In 2012 alone, Chicago police killed 500 people.

Chicago police shoot people for no reason. They instantly shock people with Tasars simply for not obeying them.

One 16-year-old black girl was beaten with a baton and then shocked into writhing on the ground for not leaving school when she was found carrying a cellphone. A 12-year-old Latino boy was forcibly handcuffed for refusing to explain why he was riding his bicycle near his father.

Officers shoot at vehicles without justification and in contradiction to department policy. Officers exhibit poor discipline when discharging their weapons and engage in tactics that endanger themselves and public safety, including failing to await backup when they safely could and should; using unsound tactics in approaching vehicles; and using their own vehicles in a manner that is dangerous. ~ US Department of Justice in 2017

Scant consequence awaits police brutality. Between 2011 and 2015, 6,931 Chicago police officers were accused of misconduct. Just 469 were penalized in some trivial manner.

The Chicago police department has severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems. ~ US Attorney General Loretta Lynch in 2017

To top it all off, Chicago police are no good at doing their jobs. 74% of all murders go unsolved. If the victim is not white, there is little investigation.

If a police department can’t solve the greatest crime, the most egregious crime affecting society, what faith would you have in that police department? ~ Omaha, Nebraska police chief Todd Schmaderer

Lawrence Crosby

On the evening of 10 October 2015, civil-engineering doctoral student Lawrence Crosby was driving to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois, just north of Chicago. He stopped to repair his car: the molding on the roof was making a noise; so, he pulled out a metal bar to fix it.

Some uppity white woman called the police, telling them that she thought a black man was stealing a car. “He had a bar in his hand, and it looked like he was jimmying the door open,” she told the dispatcher.

Once Crosby got underway, the woman followed him. Crosby got spooked at this.

I think this person is still following me. I think they’re trying to play some games. You know how it is with black people – they think we’re always trying to do something wrong. I’m about to go to the police station now. ~ Lawrence Crosby, on the phone to a friend at the time

Crosby did not make to the police station under his own power. Two blocks short, 2 Evanston policemen in a cruiser stopped Crosby. Then more showed up; altogether an adrenalized gang of 5. The policemen proceeded to brutalize Crosby while he protested that he owned the car (which he did).

Having temporarily sated their lust for violence, the police arrested him, charging Crosby with disobedience and resisting arrest. A judge later threw out the charges.

None of the police who beat Crosby were charged with a crime, or even disciplined. Instead, the police department made clear that this behavior was “in compliance with our procedures.”

 Cleveland, Ohio

The police in Cleveland have the mind-set that they are above the law. ~ Cleveland resident Gregory Love

Cleveland had a prime location as a transportation hub on the Great Lakes when it incorporated in 1836. The city’s prosperity peaked in the years following the 2nd World War, when it was home to over 900,000 and was over 90% white.

By the mid-1960s, Cleveland’s decline was apparent. Racial unrest had driven many whites to the suburbs, leaving an impoverished black population.

2 major incidents in the city demonstrated what easy access to guns and racial tensions can achieve.

The July 1966 Hough riots were instigated by white racists and helped along by police heavy-handedness. 4 blacks were killed and 30 critically injured.

The July 1968 Glenville Shootout was started by black snipers targeting police. 7 were shot dead, including 3 policemen. 15 others were wounded.

Cleveland has had its firsts. It was the 1st major American city to elect a black mayor, in 1967. By the end of 1978, Cleveland was the 1st major US city to go bankrupt.

Economically, Cleveland bottomed out in the early 1980s. By the 21st century, with a population under 480,000, Cleveland had managed a remarkable revival.

In all those decades, there has been a constant: a police force that oppressed the black population. Some things never change.

  Tamir Rice

In November 2014, it took police all of 2 seconds to kill Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy, as he reached to retrieve a toy plastic gun from his waistband. The call that triggered the police response made clear that the gun was “probably fake.”

We’ve got 2 officers that were out there protecting the public that just had to, you know, do something that nobody wants to do. ~ Cleveland police deputy chief Edward Tomba

When the boy’s 14-year-old sister came running to her brother’s assistance, police shoved her to the ground, handcuffed her, and threw her in the back of the police car while her younger brother bled out. The police did nothing to prevent their shooting from turning into cold-blooded murder.

The policeman who slayed Rice had resigned from another Ohio police department after a “dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training. Cleveland police had not bothered reviewing that department’s personnel file before offering Rice’s killer a job.

A subsequent investigation by the local prosecutor’s office found the quick-draw death of Rice by police “objectively reasonable.” It was merely “a perfect storm of human error.”

No charges were filed. Those without a vested interest considered that a whitewash.

There’s strong evidence to believe, in the aggregate, the actions were unreasonable. ~ American civil rights lawyer Craig Futterman on the police assassination of Tamir Rice

  Gregory Love & Brandon Vason

In March 2013, Gregory Love was in his car in downtown Cleveland when a policeman came up and pointed a gun at him. Love put his hands up. The officer instantly shot him in the chest.

Brandon Vason, who knew Love and was in the area, walked up and remonstrated. Other police immediately punched Vason in the head, then threw him to the ground, where they kicked him, cuffed him, put him in the back of a patrol car, and drove him away. Both Love and Vason are black.

Vason was subject to a brief and justified detention for officer safety and safety of others due to Vason’s aggressive and unlawful actions. ~ court-filed police statement

In the aftermath, Love was fined $100 and costs for an illegal right turn. Vason was released without charges. The policeman, Vincent Montague, was suspended from work for a day.