The Pathos of Politics – Police

Police

There’s a lot of law at the end of a nightstick. ~ American politician Grover Whalen

Police ostensibly act to keep order and apprehend those who violate property rights, especially violence against persons. In modern states supposedly governed by rule of law, policing illustrates the nature of a nation. The illustration of law and order painted by the police is seldom flattering.

Police feed the system with accused criminals; a minority of whom are convicted, but all of whom are traumatized and economically spent by the experience.

Meanwhile, most crimes go unsolved. The epidemic of violent sex crimes that plague all societies show how useless the police are, especially for the fairer gender. The frequent crimes perpetrated by the police are never even recorded.

By not solving crimes and creating more crime than they prevent, police are societal parasites: harassing and brutalizing the populace, particularly the underclass and dark-skinned; and filling their coffers through seizure and extortion, most frequently by stopping motorists for insignificant or imagined infractions.

Who will protect the public when the police violate the law? ~ US Department of Justice official Ramsey Clark

Despite the harsh critique, few doubt that their society would be better off without a police presence. That the police are as much a criminal element as they are the supposed solution does not detract from the fact that societies are rent with criminality, even as most people are law-abiding to a great degree.

The police are simply symptomatic of a much larger problem: societies are not organized to produce humane, orderly people. Capitalist economies acting as inequity machines is largely the culprit; pathetic parenting with regard to morality is another factor, though it pales in light of a global culture ridden with greed as its main modus operandi, incentivizing crime. That societies function at all owes to ill-founded perpetual optimism, and resignation when hope falters.

To state that the socialization process is insufficient underwhelms the issue. People may be largely institutionalized, but they remain insufficiently civil. The shortcomings of the police reflect the inadequacies of humanity generally.

In some ways, it is misleading to talk about the criminal justice ‘system.’ The word system suggests a certain amount of order. ~ Lawrence Friedman

History

The earliest policing was by neighborhood vigilantes, specially appointed to watch over property. In Roman times, the army served a policing function for the state, in addition to privately sponsored bands of vigilantes. The vigilante tradition continued throughout Europe through the Middle Ages.

England had a long, rich history of high crime, harsh laws, and political and policing corruption. The English people and parliament were adamantly opposed to a powerful central government that might use violence to deprive citizens of their money and civil rights. Brits were more tolerant of crime than amply demonstrated police abuse.

Up until the 19th century, the “police” of cities and towns consisted of a motley crew of constables and night watchmen – a rather loose and inefficient system. Respectable people considered this totally inadequate in an age of urban violence. ~ Lawrence Friedman

Prior to 1750, London had no formal law enforcement. When riots occurred, the government called in the military to quell the disturbance. Once this was accomplished, troops withdrew. Ongoing, the wealthy bought private protection, whereas the general population was left to fend for themselves. While the 1st modern police department was created in London in 1829, it took decades for Britain to establish a police force throughout the country.

France had the 1st centrally organized police force. Louis XIV created an agency to ensure law and order in Paris in the 17th century. The success of the Parisian model influenced other nations to develop similar forces.

The evolution of policing in the United States followed a similar path to that on the European continent.

The vigilante system was employed in Boston and New York in the 17th century, and Philadelphia in the early 18th century. These were generally ineffective, and so supplemented with constables, who answered to the community leaders that hired them.

Waves of immigrants came ashore America in the early 19th century. Crime surged. The middle class clamored for better policing.

In 1833, Philadelphia established the 1st centralized police force. New York City followed a decade later, and soon after other cities.

Early police forces in the US were closely connected to local politicians, and often controlled by them. Police corruption was the norm, and law enforcement the exception.

The evolution of police in the Deep South was distinct from the North. Southern policing is a vestige of “slave patrols,” who originated as white vigilantes that protected the interest of slave owners.

After the Civil War, slave patrollers were recruited into police forces, as they had experience enforcing order. Their interest in serving whites over blacks remained.

Throughout the history of US and UK, citizens have occasionally taken to the streets to express their grievances, braving arrest and physical abuse by police. Many times, heavy-handed police practices have incited riots.

Boston Bread Riots

In the early 18th century, the city of Boston had little arable land. Most grain was imported. Local grain merchants had a penchant for hoarding to drive up prices, and to sell local grain in more lucrative markets. By 1709, Boston had a serious food shortage, and skyrocketing bread prices.

As ever, the working poor were hardest hit. Not owning land meant that they had no vote. Governmental indifference left protest as their only recourse. Uprisings ensued.

In April 1710, the rudder was broken of a ship loaded with wheat being exported. 50 men intending to loot the ship were arrested, but public support for their action resulted in their release without charges.

There were several other protests between that incident and May 1713, when Boston Common was thronged with over 200 people protesting high food prices. A mob broke into warehouses looking for grain and shot the lieutenant governor when he tried to interfere. The police were overwhelmed.

The 1713 bread riot led to laws prohibiting exports during times of shortage, fixing prices at more reasonable levels, and establishing a public granary. This helped somewhat, but periodic food shortages repeatedly provoked rioting and looting into the early 19th century.

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In the 1713 Boston bread riot, police were overwhelmed. The lesson was learned and was seldom the case in succeeding riots.

In the May 1866 Haymarket protest in Chicago, the police provoked a riot, and gave as good as they got when the violence started. The Haymarket affair was a significant milestone in the organized labor movement, and in American police brutality.

 Minorities

Racially motivated violence is a worldwide phenomenon. The police often contribute.

At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups. ~ FBI Director James Comey in 2015

 United States

The policing of black Americans is racial harassment funded by the state. ~ American law professor Paul Butler

The US civil rights movement, where blacks endeavored to overcome entrenched white racism, was often a bloody struggle, as the authorities violently strove to maintain oppression. The 7 March 1965 protest near Selma, Alabama was exemplary.

The demonstration was peaceful until 600 demonstrators crossed the county line, where they were met by a phalanx of local police, who immediately began beating the marchers. Unlike the Haymarket affair, the protesters were nonviolent. The black community termed the event the Bloody Sunday.

There were innumerable such encounters for those supporting civil equality for minorities in 1950s and 1960s – at times involving racist vigilantes whom the authorities tolerated.

Negroes must either submit to the heels of their oppressors or they must organize underground to protect themselves from the oppression. ~ Executive Board of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in the wake of Bloody Sunday

 England

London has a long litany of riots, beginning with the Massacre of the Jews in 1189. Upon a false rumor that freshly crowned King Richard I was going to have all the Jews killed, the people of London took it upon themselves to do the dirty work. In the aftermath, Richard punished the perpetrators.

Though some violent protests were solely over economic or political grievances, many riots in London, and elsewhere in England, were racially motivated. One example is the 1958 Notting Hill race riot, where white working-class “Teddy Boys” attacked West Indian residents without provocation.

England suffered harrowing race riots across many cities in 1981: spontaneous outbursts incited by racial tension and urban deprivation, with an underlying distrust of the authorities.

Police violence sparked the 1981 riots. This has been a pattern throughout modern English history.

The 4 main riots in 1981 were in Brixton (London), Handsworth (Birmingham), Chapeltown (Leeds), and Toxteth (Liverpool). The affected areas had a history (from the 19th and early 20th centuries) of poor housing, chronic high unemployment, and racial tensions among residents.

The Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, elected in 1979, was squeezing the working class. The level of unemployment in the riot-affected areas was nearly as bad as during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Racial disadvantage is a fact of British life. ~ Lord Leslie Scarman in the official government report on the 1981 Brixton riots

Major riots erupted again in 2011, in many of the same areas as 1981. They illustrated how little had changed. But the 2011 riots were over economic repression and police oppression, lacking the element of racial strife among residents that had afflicted previous riots.

 Vietnam War Protests

Deterioration in relations between the American citizenry and the police was exacerbated by the many protests over the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago brought counterculture protest groups in direct contact with police. The results were sadly predictable. In his speech at the convention, Senator Abraham Ribicoff protested police “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.”

One of the more memorable war protests was the 4 May 1970 Kent State massacre, where Ohio National Guard troops unleashed a deadly volley of bullets at a peaceful protest of 500 people at Kent State University. 4 students were killed. 9 were seriously wounded.

In its wake, hundreds of schools closed through the nation as sympathetic students went on strike. 5 days later, 100,000 people demonstrated in Washington, DC, against the war and the massacre of unarmed student protesters.

Kent State was not the only such slaughter on campus. On 14 May 1970, police wantonly killed 2 students and wounded 12 during an anti-war protest by 100 people at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi.

 US Civilian Firearms

To tackle gun violence where it is overwhelming communities with the extraordinary loss of lives at an alarming pace, we must deal with it as a social disease and health issue. ~ American sociologist Ronald Holt

Though there is no excuse for brutality, the ability of the citizenry to strike a lethal blow at law enforcement affects the rapidity of police violence, at least according to the police.

The United States is unique among the most-developed democracies for its proliferation of firearms among the populace. There are more guns in the US than there are residents. With less than 5% of the world’s population, Americans possess nearly half of the world’s civilian-owned guns: well over 360 million.

This is a political choice that we make. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. ~ President Barack Obama about civilian gun ownership

Despite the ongoing slaughter owing to the ease of owning firearms, the National Rifle Association gun lobby in the US has thwarted effective attempts to staunch the blood flow. This successful intimidation by lobbyists poignantly illustrates American tyranny of the minority: how democracy dysfunctions in the face of a well-moneyed force. Politicians everywhere serve their own perceived self-interest, not those of society at large, or even their constituents.

While most guns in the US are owned by ostensibly law-abiding citizens, their abundance makes it easy for the criminally inclined and insanely angry to be packing heat. It is no wonder that US police are skittish about confronting someone who looks to be committing a crime. The fear inherent in racism makes police especially trigger-happy in this gun-toting land.

A primary factor driving gun violence aimed at strangers is economics: a lethal expression of frustration. This is particularly true of mass shootings at schools.

Consider how important schools are to American ideas about economic opportunity and upward mobility. Schools are focal points of violent responses to increased unemployment. ~ American sociologist John Hagan

Despite the plethora of firearms in the US, other countries take the cake when it comes to gunning people down. Men in the Caribbean islands, and Central and South America, tend to be especially murderous. The macho culture of violence in those countries has much to do with it, as the does the ready availability of firearms.

Urban violence is socially regressive because it mostly affects the poor, and fighting crime devours a portion of the public budget, which could instead be invested to eradicate poverty. ~ Columbian politician Rodrigo Guerrero Velasco

United States

Law enforcement work is undeniably difficult. Regrettably, crime reduction has often come at a significant cost to the vulnerable communities in greatest need of police protection. Reports of alleged police brutality, harassment, and misconduct continue to spread throughout the country. ~ US Commission on Civil Rights in 2000

In 2018 there were ~18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, employing around 900,000 police: roughly 1 for every 260 people. In contrast, there were ~244,000 police in Britain: 1 for every 273 people. While the number of American police continues to rise, British police force numbers are gradually declining.

Police departments are frequently not good at their core function. ~ American policing scholar Eugene O’Donnell

Because brute force is easy and getting a decent haircut is difficult, American police receive far less training than many states require of barbers, interior designers, and manicurists.

Though not well trained, police in the US are well equipped, to put it mildly. As in most countries, their power to act as they see fit is effectively unchallenged.

Police are a source of violence and injustice. ~ American sociologist Alex Vitale

 Militarization

The pervasive culture of militarism in domestic law enforcement is largely the result of the militarization of local police forces, which are increasingly militaristic in their uniforms, weaponry, language, training, and tactics. ~ American attorney John Whitehead

American police have been endowed with Pentagon-supplied hand-me-downs for decades: the tools of war delivered for application on the local citizenry.

The Posse Comitatus Act became law in 1878 and is still in force. (Posse comitatus is Latin for “force of the county.”) The law prohibits the nation’s armed forces from being used as a police force within the country. Police departments are so heavily armed that the principle behind the Posse Comitatus Act has been eviscerated.

In 1964, Philadelphia had a rash of bank robberies. The police department there responded by forming a 100-man squad to react quickly with superior firepower. SWAT was born. (SWAT is an acronym for Special Weapons And Tactics.)

On 11 August 1965, a black motorist was arrested for drunk driving in Watts, a predominantly black neighborhood of Los Angeles. A minor roadside argument set off 6 days of looting and arson. Local police had to call in the National Guard to restore order.

The tinder for the rioting that ensued had been laid by oppression of minorities (black and Hispanic), which included regular police harassment and brutality. Like much of the country, the Los Angeles area had a history of discrimination in every way, including education, employment, and housing.

The Los Angeles police militarized for crowd control in the wake of the Watts riots. SWAT teams soon became de rigueur in urban police departments across the country. The 1996 sniper murders by Charles Whitman in Austin, Texas were catalytic to militarization, as the police in Austin found themselves poorly equipped to deal with the situation.

After World War 2, federal military assets were transferred to police and other government departments until 1949. On the heels of the Cold War ending, a 1990 federal law revived the practice, which expanded in 1997.

Billions of dollars in military hardware were given for domestic law enforcement. The practice continues. For “security reasons,” the program “is not subject to public review.”

This is kind of a secret world within a secret world. ~ American criminologist Tom Nolan

Concerns grew as militarized policing became the norm, to no avail. In the wake of 9/11, the government seemed less bothered about civil rights or civilian deaths than it was about its own sense of security. This was not a change of mind; it was instead having been handed an improved excuse.

There’s a pattern of excess in the ways search warrants are executed. ~ American attorney Michael Trost

Drug raids have been a popular pastime for SWAT teams, affording both asset seizure and recreational ultraviolence. As with other police violence, raids are largely conducted on minorities and supposed miscreants in the lower ranks of the underclass.

As a small example, in 2014, a Georgia infant was seriously injured when an invading SWAT team fired an explosive stun grenade into his crib. Alas, the police raided the wrong house. As usual, the cops were not held accountable for the incident. Meanwhile, the family of the wounded toddler incurred $1 million in medical bills. This is just one of innumerable such stories of wanton disregard for safety by marauding police.

It’s intoxicating, a rush. Dressing up in body armor and provocative face coverings and enhanced-hearing sets, a cyborg 21st-century kind of appeal. And instead of sitting around and waiting for something to happen twice or 3 times a year, you can go out and generate it. ~ American criminologist Peter Kraska

In 2014, Maryland was the only state that require law enforcement agencies to track their activity. Its data (2009–2014) showed 4.5 SWAT raids per day in the state; 90% of the them to serve search warrants. 67% of the raids used forced entry. Half of the raids were for nonviolent crimes. Something was seized 85% of the time (that is, police looting almost always occurred), but no arrests were made in 1/3rd of the raids. Of those arrested, only a miniscule percent involved felony charges.

(The Maryland law expired in 2014. As of 2018, only Utah requires annual SWAT statistics. Utah’s numbers align with Maryland’s earlier stats.)

There’s a real misimpression by the public that aggressive police actions are only used against hardened criminals. But there are many cases where a no-knock warrant is used against somebody who’s totally innocent. ~ American attorney Cary Hansel

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 Tasers

The idea of using electricity to incapacitate is, frankly, a beautiful idea. ~ Rick Smith, taser manufacturer CEO

The taser is an electronic weapon that delivers a paralyzing shock to its victim. Though advertised as non-lethal, tasering can be deadly: well over 200 Americans have been killed by tasers (law enforcement is not bothering to keep count).

American police use tasers for the slightest provocation, beginning with being split-second slow to obey an officer’s command. Besides the ordinary citizen in the wrong place at the wrong time, tasers have been indiscriminately used on children, drunks, the blind, pregnant women, the peaceable but manifestly mentally ill, and the elderly. Serious injuries caused by falling upon being tasered are common. Police gratuitously use tasers on suspects already handcuffed and obviously subdued, just to see them writhe in pain. Taser use in American prisons has become common.

Deployment of tasers, rather than minimizing the use of force, may dangerously extend the boundaries of what are considered ‘acceptable’ levels of force. ~ Amnesty International

 Asset Seizure

Increasingly, the American justice system has come to rely on fines, fees, and forfeitures to fund law enforcement agencies rather than having to answer to elected officials for their budgets. ~ American attorney Scott Bullock

As a result of the distinct American legal regime, civil forfeiture has in recent decades become widespread and highly profitable. ~ Justice Clarence Thomas in Leonard v. Texas (2017)

All of this is fundamentally at odds with the US constitution. ~ American lawyer Brad Cates, former director of the Justice Department asset seizure program

American police are little more than uniformed gangs of thieving savages. Every year they illicitly steal well over a billion dollars of innocent peoples’ property. Because they are law enforcement, they get to keep the loot.

The widespread problem of lawlessness in law enforcement will become exacerbated under a system where police learn at the police academy how to clandestinely burglarize the premises of Americans. ~ American law professor Donald Wilkes Jr.

Under the pretext of thwarting the financing of illegal enterprise, American ‘law enforcement’ can seize any assets they can get their hands on from anyone they can get their hands on. Even innocent folks’ homes have been seized.

No conviction, or even arrest, is required. No evidence of illicit activity on the part of those looted is needed.

All that is necessary is a whim. If the police decide you deserve a legendary bad day that leaves you destitute, they can deliver it.

Forfeiture laws allow agents to seize property and hold it indefinitely without ever obtaining a court order, let alone holding a hearing. ~ American attorney Anya Bidwell

Civil forfeiture laws are inherently abusive. No just system would allow law enforcement to keep property for years without some kind of hearing before a judge. ~ American attorney Robert Everett Johnson

From 2007 through 2016, US governments’ theft of innocent’s assets – those not even charged with a crime – totaled ~$4 billion. The total take – including those charged (but not necessarily convicted) of a crime – was over $28 billion.

The federal government, which itself participates in capriciously stealing citizens’ property, does not monitor these seizures; nor do state governments. In most cases, asset seizures are made without any authorization or overview by the courts.

When seizure does not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution. ~ US Department of Justice in 2017

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On the road, American police practice highway robbery. Taking cash on hand during traffic stops is a popular police heist. This is organized crime at its easiest. There are continuing education seminars for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials on how to maximize the profits of their perfectly legal but morally reprehensible grand larceny.

Using asset forfeiture dollars to purchase equipment and training to stay current with the ever-changing trends in crime fighting helps serve and protect the citizens. ~ American police spokeswoman Julie Parker on the importance of being trendy

Seized assets, if not kept, are auctioned off, affording the police more resources to steal even more. There is no stopping them.

It’s a gold mine. ~ Las Cruces, New Mexico city attorney Harry Connelly in 2014 on the city’s asset-seizure program

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If not robbing cash on hand or bothering to loot residences, American police in many states hand out tickets for minor and imagined infractions like candy on Halloween. The victims are almost always in a minority group.

Louisiana runs an exemplary extortion racket. Roughly 2/3rds of state income comes from punitive court fees and fines, including traffic offenses. The Bayou state is not alone. The milking of poor communities by police and the courts has been a factor in civil unrest in cities around the country; Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 is but one recent instance.

With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice. ~ American lawyer Lisa Borden in 2012

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The police are not the only ones looting the citizenry. Federal tax authorities (the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) can and do regularly pilfer the financial accounts of taxpayers. All that is required is suspicion of illegality – and the IRS is a very suspicious syndicate.

One woman who ran a cash-only restaurant in Iowa had her bank account emptied out by the IRS simply because she repeatedly deposited less than $10,000 at a time; an activity viewed by authorities as trying to avoid triggering required reporting to the government. This is a common ploy the IRS use to rip off small businesses, who cannot afford to legally fight back (especially after the theft).

They’re going after people who are really not criminals. They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law. ~ American attorney and former federal prosecutor David Smith on the IRS asset-seizure program

The 8th Amendment to the US constitution prohibits “excessive fines,” but the constitution means nothing to the oppressive government, which only play-acts at legality.

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Other countries, including Britain, Canada, and nations in the European Union, have legally sanctioned asset-seizure programs. Only a few of them require proven criminality on the part of those whose property has been taken. The EU directive on asset seizure allows confiscation without criminal conviction.

 Policing

An officer may use deadly force under certain circumstances even if the suspect is fleeing. ~ US Department of Justice

In the early 21st century, American police summarily execute well over 1,000 residents annually. Most incidents are nothing more than cold-blooded murder. Besides capriciously killing, American law enforcement specializes in terrorizing the populace, especially minorities and the poor.

(Black males, which are 6% of the population, account for 22% of those murdered by police. White males are 44% of the kill tally, and Hispanic males 18%. 25% of police shootings involve mentally distressed people. 88% of those killed had wielded some kind of weapon, which may have been planted on them by police after the fact to keep the situation looking copasetic.)

(Police officers have been fired for not slaughtering citizens when their bosses thought that murder was called for.)

The US Supreme Court supports the police state, letting police do as they will.

All claims that law enforcement officials have used excessive force – deadly or not – are properly analyzed under the 4th Amendment’s “objective reasonableness” standard, rather than under a substantive due process standard. The 4th Amendment “reasonableness” inquiry is without regard to underlying intent or motivation. The “reasonableness” of a use of force must allow for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. The “reasonableness” must be judged from the perspective of an officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. ~ SCOTUS in Graham v. Connor (1989)

Graham v. Connor is the floor, and not the ceiling, for supporting shootings that are lawful but awful and morally unacceptable. ~ American criminologist and policing expert Chuck Wexler

Juries are very reluctant to convict officers who testify in their own defense that they perceived an imminent threat, whether their actions were objectively reasonable or not. As soon as the officer takes the stand, it seems that all the work the prosecutors have done is disregarded or given less weight by the trier of fact than the officer’s own testimony. ~ American criminologist and policing expert Philip Stinson

  Dustin Pigeon

I will fucking shoot you! ~ Oklahoma City police sergeant Keith Sweeney, moments before doing so

On 15 November 2017, multiple Oklahoma City police officers responded to a call about a suicidal person: 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon. When police arrived, they approached Pigeon, who had doused himself with lighter fluid, and was sitting by himself on his lawn, holding a lighter. Pigeon momentarily refused Sgt. Keith Sweeney’s order to lay down on the ground, so Sweeney shot Pigeon to death: peppering him with 5 bullets from his handgun.

Dustin Pigeon was unarmed and not a threat to officers when he was shot by Sgt. Sweeney. Deadly force was not justified. ~ Oklahoma City police investigator in a court affidavit

  Jordan Edwards

He was a good student who was very well liked by his teachers, coaches, and his fellow students. ~ Mesquite High School (Balch Springs, Texas), on Jordan Edwards

Jordan Edwards was a high school freshman: a young man with a bright future until ruthlessly murdered by Texas policeman Roy Oliver.

On 29 April 2017, someone called the cops about a disturbance. Police showed shortly thereafter. Oliver immediately took out his AR-15 rifle and made multiple shots through the passenger-side window of a car, killing Jordan.

At first, the killer and his partner claimed that the car Jordan was sitting in was backing down the street toward them in an “aggressive manner.” Video camera review instead revealed, as the Balch Springs police chief explained, that “the car was moving forward, not backward, and away from the officers, not toward them. There was no altercation.” Unsurprisingly, Jordan was black and Oliver white.

In the instance of Jordan Edwards, Oliver was later charged with murder, and convicted. The legal action against Oliver was exceptional.

For an officer to be convicted of murder resulting from an on-duty shooting, the facts of the incident have to be so bizarre that there is no rational explanation for the officer’s actions. I think that shooting into a car full of teenagers as they slowly drive down the street away from the officer fits that pattern. ~ Philip Stinson

Murderous police are hardly ever prosecuted for their crimes, and conviction is exceedingly rare. At their own expense, families of those slaughtered may seek justice for a civil rights violation, but it is outrageously expensive and seldom successful, as the courts uniformly favor law enforcement as their on-the-street henchmen.

  Francisco Serna

We thought we were dealing with an armed subject. ~ Bakersfield police chief Lyle Martin

In the early hours of 12 December 2016, Bakersfield, California police received a call that a man armed with a gun was in a certain neighborhood. When police arrived, the woman caller pointed to a stooped 73-year-old man in a driveway across the street. So, a policeman promptly pulled out his pistol and shot the elderly man 7 times; an instantly lethal dose of alacritous lead.

Francisco Serna, the victim, was unarmed. To protect the guilty, the murderous officer was not identified.

Days later, after a public uproar, police claimed that Serna had a crucifix on him that was mistaken for a gun (though they did not see any crucifix until they searched his corpse). Police also asserted that Serna was shot 6 meters away as he approached while ignoring commands to take his hands out of his pockets. (A shuffling old man with his hands in his pockets is doubtlessly an imminent lethal threat.)

The police did not notify the family that they had slaughtered Serna. Instead, the family found out watching the TV news.

  Stephon Clark

He was at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own back yard? ~ Stephon Clark’s grandmother Sequita Thompson

On 18 March 2018, after dark, Sacramento, California police got a call about a man breaking vehicle windows. The 2 policemen who responded thought they had a suspect, whom they tried to follow in a frantic foot pursuit. The police ended up behind the back yard of Stephon Clark, who is standing on his covered patio, having a conversation on his white iPhone. Clark heard a commotion and took a step toward the noise.

Cowering behind a wall, a policeman yelled: “show me your hands,” and then declared “gun, gun, gun” – whereupon Clark is shot down in cold blood as the police unload 20 bullets at him. From verbal confrontation to murder took 6 seconds.

The police later lied to cover up their tragic mistake. The county coroner tried to cover for the police by wrongly analyzing the bullet wounds. Clark had been shot in the back. As is the norm, the murderous police were not charged.

  Justine Damond

Justine Damond was an Australian meditation instructor and life-coach: a petite, white woman, living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On the night of 15 July 2017, she called the police to report a crime. Instead, she became the victim of one.

When the police came, Damond approached the police car in her pajamas. Seeing her coming while sitting in the passenger side of the patrol car, 31-year-old Somali-American policeman Mohamed Noor opened fire, shooting Damond multiple times, killing her on the spot.

Usually, people who call the police in their pajamas are not ambushers, especially spiritual healers and pacifists. ~ American criminal defense attorney Bob Bennett

Citizen complaints had previously been lodged with police about Noor; to no avail. The Minneapolis police chief, Janee Harteau, defended Noor by explaining that he was well trained; which is to say that Noor’s homicidal reflex is what should be expected of American police.

This officer completed that training, very well, just like every officer, he was very suited to be on the street. ~ Janee Harteau

As expectable, after public outrage, the police lied about what happened, trying to justify the homicide.

In a highly unusual aftermath, a jury found Noor guilty of murder. It helped that Damond was a gentle, attractive white woman and Noor was a swarthy Somali.

  Daniel Shaver

Please don’t shoot me. ~ a sobbing Daniel Shaver, futilely begging police for his life

On 18 January 2016, guests at a La Quinta Inn in Mesa, Arizona reported seeing a man with a rifle in the window of a 5th floor room. Like crows, a murder of 6 police officers showed up.

Policeman Philip Brailsford ordered Daniel Shaver to exit his hotel room, lay face-down in the hallway, and not make any sudden movements. Shaver complied and begged the police not to kill him. It was obvious that Shaver was unarmed.

Then, rather than cuff Shaver, Brailsford ordered Shaver to crawl toward him. Shaver again complied. When Shaver twisted slightly on the floor, raising his elbow, Brailsford opened fire with his AR-15 rifle. The 5 bullets pumped into Shaver killed him on the spot.

I saw the individual doing everything he could to comply with what the officer was asking. And so the officer’s actions then were inexplicable. ~ Chuck Wexler

Brailsford had inscribed “You’re Fucked” on his rifle, against department regulations prohibiting profanity on weapons. The judge in Brailsford’s murder trial refused to let that salient fact into evidence. Brailsford got off Scott-free.

(Both Brailsford and Shaver were young white men. Shaver was married, with 2 young children. Brailsford was single. Shortly after the shooting, Brailsford was fired from the police force for multiple departmental violations, after serving for over 2 years.)

Mesa, Arizona police refused to issue the shocking video footage they had, only doing so after Brailsford was acquitted for slaying Shaver.

Mr. Shaver certainly didn’t deserve to die that night. ~ Philip Brailsford’s defense attorney, Michael Piccarreta, after the trial verdict

I just don’t understand how anybody could watch that video and then say ‘not guilty,’ that this is justified; that Daniel deserved this and that Philip Brailsford doesn’t deserve to be held accountable for his actions. ~ Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet

  Andrew Finch

He took such good care of family. ~ Lisa Finch, Andrew Finch’s mother, about Andrew

In the early evening of 28 December 2017, 28-year-old Andrew Finch, a father of 2 young children, heard movement at the front of his house. Finch opened his front door and was immediately shot dead by a Wichita, Kansas policeman. The killing was straightaway: no questions asked, no confrontation. Police blamed their trigger-happy, homicidal ways on a false report made to them.

This was the irresponsible actions of a prankster. ~ Wichita deputy police chief Troy Livingston

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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.

◊ ◊ ◊

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 Tasers 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.

○○○

In November 2012, after a car chase, police immediately fired 137 rounds into a car with an unarmed black man and woman inside. The driver took 23 bullets in the summary execution; the female passenger 24. 104 of 277 Cleveland police on duty that night came to savor the moment.

Cleveland is just one of several cities that has had to pay millions to recompense for unlawful murders by law enforcement officials. Upon belated investigation, the US Justice Department found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force that violate basic constitutional precepts” by the Cleveland police department. For American police, that is par for the course.

 Ferguson, Missouri

Yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. ~ Barack Obama, in reference to Ferguson

Ferguson is a town near St. Louis. In 1990, Ferguson was 75% white. By 2010, 65% of Ferguson’s population of 21,000 was black.

Meantime, the racial composition of the Ferguson police department had not much changed. It was 95% white and distrusted by the majority who lived there.

There were numerous incidents of police abuse before events put Ferguson on the national news. At the time, the white mayor did not think there was any racial divide in his town.

Between 2012 and 2014, 93% of the arrests were of black people. 90% of the force used by police was against blacks. All bites delivered by police dogs were to black residents.

85% of drivers stopped by police were black and were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched. Yet black drivers were 27% less likely to possess illegal substances.

Black drivers were much more likely than whites to be cited for driving offenses via police observation rather than detected by radar or similar technology.

Ferguson police and court staff have been fond of entertaining one another by sending racist emails. This includes senior officials. So far, so typical. Then a policeman executing a young man ignited the black community.

On 9 August 2014, Darren Wilson, a white policeman, gunned down Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. The encounter was over in 90 seconds.

That is some bullshit. How does it justify 6 bullets in him? It’s just wrong. ~ Ferguson resident Nestlé Webster

Wilson then confronted Ferguson resident Mike Arman, who filmed the shooting while sitting on his porch. Wilson ordered Arman to stop taking pictures, telling him “I’m gonna lock your ass up.”

When Arman refused, Wilson made good his threat. Charges were ultimately dropped, as filming police officers carrying out their duties is protected by the 1st Amendment.

That evening, residents made a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles on the spot where Brown died. An unidentified policeman let his dog piss on the memorial, which police vehicles later crushed.

The police have no respect at all for the community. ~ Ferguson resident Sierra Smith

The next day, a peaceful memorial gathering turned riotous, with vehicles and stores looted and burned. Riot police responded savagely, further inflaming residents.

Protests followed the next several days, whereupon riot police brutalized protesters, including forcibly stopping journalists from recording the proceedings before abusively arresting them.

Militarization of the police escalated the protesters’ response. ~ St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson on the Ferguson riots

State politicians expressed dismay at police handling of the protests. 65% of black Americans thought the police went too far; only 33% of whites agreed.

Within days, policing of Ferguson was taken over by the state highway patrol. Its black captain joined in a peaceful protest march on the evening of 14 August.

Still, the riotous pillaging continued. Law enforcement response was more military tactics, which is all they knew to do. The National Guard was called in, but they too were ineffectual in quelling the rage against the racist government in Ferguson.

In the months that followed, Ferguson police further militarized. There was no effort by law enforcement to establish a dialogue with citizens that might reduce tensions.

In November 2014, the decision to not indict the policeman who killed Brown initiated further protests.

The furor continued for over a year after the initial murder. Police continued to commit violence against black residents, both physical and economic.

Ferguson’s court is running a debtors’ prison. ~ American civil rights lawyer Brendan Roediger

The white-run city continued its long-standing practice of preying upon minorities by maliciously ticketing and arresting them to extort monies, with the local judiciary playing along. This racist predatory pattern is not limited to Ferguson. It is standard operating procedure throughout St. Louis county, and in many towns across the country.

In the aftermath of the riots, a Justice Department investigation found that Ferguson’s police department and court system “reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias.”

Seen in context – amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided practices – it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg. ~ US Attorney General Eric Holder

○○○

  Student Clockmaker

This episode is a good illustration of pernicious stereotypes. Ahmed’s teachers failed him. ~ White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

Irving, Texas high school student Ahmed Mohamed was 14 years old when he got his 1st real civics lesson.

Ahmed made an electronic clock from parts, then took it to his school to show his engineering teacher. The teacher was impressed but warned Ahmed not to show his clock to other teachers.

Alas, the clocked beeped during English class. Ahmed was forced to reveal his clock when the English teacher demanded to know what was going on.

The clock was in an aluminum case, with a digital display on the outside. Opening the case revealed the contents: a circuit board and a small AC/DC voltage converter (for powering the board).

The English teacher and school administrators, too stupid to recognize the nature of the device, were unwilling to believe Ahmed when he told them what it obviously was. So they called the police.

The boy was arrested, handcuffed – “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” according to the local police chief – and taken to the police station for hours of interrogation. Police constantly brought up Ahmed’s last name (Mohamed), as if it was somehow meaningful (which, of course, it was to them).

Ahmed was not allowed to call his parents, nor was offered the right to any legal counsel.

It made me feel like I wasn’t human. ~ Ahmed Mohamed

Law enforcement officials finally figured out that they had made, in their own words, a “naïve accident” over a “suspicious device.” They still illegally kept his clock. The police chief refused to answer why Ahmed had been denied his legal rights.

No charges were filed against Ahmed. The town mayor said she did “not fault the school or the police,” but then admitted that she would be “very upset” if the same thing happened to her own child.

For his studious ambition, Ahmed was suspended from school for 3 days. Ahmed subsequently withdrew from the school in disgust.

It would not have occurred if he did not have a Muslim name and have a heritage from the Muslim world. ~ Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations

 Brutal Spray

The court was profoundly disturbed by some of the testimony it heard. ~ US district court Judge Abdul Kallon

Police at Birmingham, Alabama public schools – whose students are predominantly black – sprayed ~300 students with noxious military-grade chemical spray in 110 incidents between 2006 and 2011. Many of dousings were for non-threatening infractions, such as verbally questioning authority.

The spray used was Freeze +P: a mixture of pepper spray and teargas designed to have “strong respiratory effects” and “severe pain,” according to the product manufacturer. One victim described the effects on her face as feeling “like someone had cut it and poured hot sauce on it.”

In 1 instance, a 15-year-old student who was 5 months pregnant was sprayed without warning for crying. The girl had already been handcuffed. She vomited upon being sprayed. There was no threat from the pregnant girl. She was 5′ 4″ tall, 130 lbs. The policeman who wantonly sprayed her was 6′ tall, and weighed 200 lbs.

The court is especially taken aback that a police officer charged with protecting the community’s children considered it appropriate and necessary to spray a girl with Freeze +P simply because she was crying about her mistreatment at the hands of one of her male peers. ~ Judge Kallon

Once subdued, police did nothing to alleviate victims’ pain, even as there were facilities to wash the toxins off.

An Alabama federal court found that students’ civil rights had been violated. The Birmingham police department declined to comment on the matter.

○○○

Racist police brutality regularly occurs throughout the US. Black teens are 21 times more likely to be gunned down by police than white teens. Blacks are more than twice as likely to unarmed when murdered by police as whites.

Most whites do not recognize the systemic racial bias, and so do not comprehend the resentment of blacks against oppressive, white-run, state power.

Communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. ~ President Barack Obama in 2016

  Danièle Watts

In 2014, Danièle Watts, a black actress, was abusively handcuffed (bloody wrists) and detained by Beverley Hills police for kissing her white husband in public. The police, who also threatened her spouse, had trouble disabusing themselves of the notion that Watts was not a prostitute. The police department refused to apologize for their violent misapprehension.

As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong. I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that ‘authority figures’ could control my being. ~ American actress Danièle Watts

○○○

There appears to be a relationship between reduced motivation as a result of negative publicity and less willingness to work directly with community members to solve problems. ~ American criminologist Scott Wolfe

In 2015, waves of public indignation against police brutality drew a response. Like a bully playing the victim at being chastised, American police whimpered to the press about their law enforcement efforts not being appreciated.

 Body Cameras

In response to public frustration with police violence and unaccountability, police officers were increasingly equipped with body cameras in the early 2110s. Police agencies quickly lost their enthusiasm, because those darn things just cost too much. As of 2017, fewer than 25% of officers on crime duty wore cameras.

Even when body cameras do record gratuitous police violence, it seldom results in accountability. The supreme court has ruled that juries must respect an assertion by police that their violence was justified because they felt threatened.

Studies have repeatedly shown that people are on their best behavior when they think they are being watched. This is a hoary tenet. The invention of an omniscient, moral god was devised with this mind. Evidence shows that body cameras make no difference in police conduct.

We are unable to detect any statistically significant effects. ~ American sociologist David Yokum et al, in 2017, concluding from a large-scale study the effect that body cameras had on police behavior

  Alex Wubbels

People need to know that this is out there. ~ American nurse Alex Wubbels, on police bullying and brutality

On 26 July 2017, University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit head nurse, Alex Wubbels, told Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne that he was not allowed to draw blood from a badly-burned patient. Detective Payne did not have a warrant, and the patient was not conscious, so he could not give consent. Without that, the detective was barred from collecting blood samples by basic constitutional law. The supreme court affirmed in 2016 that warrantless blood tests were illegal.

Still, Payne insisted that he take the blood, telling the nurse that she would be arrested and charged if she refused. Wubbels politely stood her ground.

Payne snapped: seizing Wubbels, shoving her out of the building, and roughly cuffing her behind her back. Another officer arrived and told Wubbels she was obstructing justice. Police cameras recorded Payne’s lawless assault.

In the aftermath, Wubbels was released without charges. Payne was fired, and his commander demoted. The city paid Wubbels $500,000 in settlement for its criminal acts.

The police have to police themselves. ~ Alex Wubbels

  Keyarika Diggles

Body cameras worn by Jasper, Texas police showed 2 white officers grab Keyarika Diggles, slam her head on a counter, pull her hair and then drag her across the floor by her feet. Diggles, a black woman, was in jail for an unpaid $100 traffic ticket, which she had been paying off in installments. The arrest that had jailed her had been illegal.

City officials later settled a civil rights lawsuit by Diggles for $75,000. The 2 policemen were fired, but no criminal charges were brought against them.

  Sattar Ali

They didn’t say why or what happened or what did we do. We had no idea what the arrest was for. ~ Sattar Ali

In September 2017, Iraqi-American Sattar Ali tried to deposit a check for $151,000 into his account in a Wichita, Kansas bank; the proceeds of the sale of his family’s home in Michigan. Ali supplied verification documents to the bank, but the bank called the cops nonetheless. Police duly came and arrested Ali, slapping him in handcuffs, along with his weeping wife, 15-year-old daughter, and 11-year-old son. Ali was grilled for 3 hours before the police released him without charges.

The police publicly lied about their abuse and mistaken arrest. The bank publicly congratulated itself on its racist misconduct. It’s the American way.

Does Wichita not welcome any foreigners? Then tell us. Be up front and forward with people and say, you are not welcome in our city. ~ Sattar Ali

  Mary Hawkes

6 officers were on the scene – wearing body cameras – when 19-year-old Mary Hawkes was shot down in cold blood by an Albuquerque, New Mexico police officer. The body camera of officer Jeremy Dear was not recording as he pumped 5 bullets into Mary Hawkes at point-blank range.

Police said that none of the police body cameras on the scene recorded anything relevant. Albuquerque custodian of police records Reynaldo Chavez said it was routine for officials to delete, alter, or refuse to release footage owing to “political calculations.” That moment of truth got him fired.

Police body cameras are just a façade for the public. ~ Mary Alice Hawkes, mother of murdered Mary Hawkes

○○○

American police throughout the nation continue to abuse citizens on a daily basis, especially blacks: beating, maiming, and killing without accountability. Beyond occasional empty words of regret, government indifference means there is no end in sight to police brutality.

The refusal of juries to convict or even indict cops in the face of the most damning evidence only reinforces the fact that police have endless system accessories for remaining above the law. ~ Kali Holloway

Japan

With its absence of brutality, Japan is a notable exception in the world of policing. The Japanese are a uniquely orderly people, with ingrained politeness, and prone to obey authority.

It greatly helps that the Japanese are a relative homogeneous people. The sizable Korean population there do their best to fit in.

Crime in Japan is roughly 10% of that in other rich countries. Muggings are rare; gun violence nearly unheard of.

Japan has a low crime rate partly because of its tolerance for organized crime (yakuza), which largely involves gambling, prostitution, protection rackets, and drugs.

(Illegal drug abuse is treated harshly in Japan, as it historically has been to the lower-class and minorities in the US: the white wealthy typically being able to exempt themselves from the savagery of such laws. Some yakuza syndicates forbid drug dealing by its members, whereas at least 1 syndicate specializes in it.)

Organized crime in Japan sometimes is just organized. Following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011, the yakuza quickly sent hundreds of trucks filled with food and needed supplies to help people in affected areas. Such largesse is in keeping with the yakuza code of honor to help those in need.

Shoplifting by the growing population of elderly on stringent pensions is an ongoing issue. But Japan’s biggest crime problem is bicycle theft. Only Holland has a worst predicament with bike snatching.

○○○

There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice. ~ Montesquieu

Police corruption and brutality are dark stains on any government which tolerates it, as these are most profound violations of rule of law. That stain is upon practically all countries.

The brutality of American police is by no means novel. In much of the world, police are not much more than thugs sanctioned by the state. Corruption is tightly woven into the social fabric.

Police brutality is as common as water. ~ Nigerian human rights activist Justus Ijeoma

In general, the more murderous the country, the more deadly its police. American cops shoot more mostly because more people shoot at them. They are 36 times deadlier than German police officers, but also 35 times likelier to be killed on the job.

In many countries, the authorities encourage extrajudicial executions, either to suppress crime or to get rid of dissidents. Voters often applaud them for it. Such as been the case in recent years in the Philippines, Thailand, El Salvador, India, and Pakistan.

Men with a feeling of entitlement to authority are naturally given to violence when frustrated, especially when accountability is sorely lacking, as it is so often with police. As America illustrates, lack of social cohesion and biases inflame the potential for brute force. American culture is crude in its celebration of violence, as are many others.

Unlike other governmental agencies, law enforcement has violence at its instant disposal. Lethal force makes police corruption particularly potent.

There is another unique aspect to the police. They are the domestic enforcement arm of the state. Their essentiality means that the state never emasculates the police force. On the contrary: police are empowered to suppress dissent when the state feels threatened.

The police are the public face of the state. Their behavioral norms are the beating heart of the state, and by that token signify the soul of a society’s morality.

What are the police powers of the State? They are nothing more or less than the powers of government in every sovereignty to the extent of its dominions. ~ SCOTUS in License Cases (1847)

US Homeland Security

Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be hard to get there.” This is very much the case for the Department of Homeland Security. ~ American military officer, national defense and security specialist Steve Bucci in 2014

Police departments are not the only dysfunctional law enforcement arm in the United States. The federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US border patrol are riddled with corruption, including theft, bribery, and human trafficking.

The waste inside DHS is tremendous. An example illustrates. The agency spent over $430 million dollars for a secure-channel communication system that only 0.2% of its employees know how to use. 72% of DHS workers don’t even know that the channel exists. Another 25% knew of it but couldn’t find it.

For years, DHS workers have voted their own department the worst federal agency to work for. A survey found DHS people the least engaged in their work of all federal employees.

The dysfunction, turf battles, and inherent limitations in an entity that does so much are exacerbated by the fact that, in many cases, the activities DHS engages in require enormous coordination with entities embedded in other federal departments. ~ DHS official Matt Mayer

Port security is a major facet of homeland security, but you would not have much trouble shipping a weapon of mass destruction into the country, as container screening is nothing like it should be.

The electrical power grid and municipal water supplies are also easy targets for terrorism, as they are rather unprotected. Further, DHS has accomplished nothing when it comes to cybersecurity.

We have spent billions to protect against cyber-attacks, yet even White House computers have been susceptible to hacking. ~ US Senate Committee on Homeland Security in 2015

In short, the federal department responsible for America’s everyday internal security is grossly incompetent.