Thursday, December 04, 2014

Bang Bang... "Stop or I'll shoot."

Two EMT's are called to see after a man who is sprawled on the sidewalk outside a bar.  When they get there they see that the man is already dead. There is nothing they can do and it is almost time for them to be off work.  One EMT says to the other,
"Let's go have a drink inside before we have to haul this guy to the morgue."
"What do we do with the stiff?"
"We leave him right here.... he ain't going nowhere,"
They go inside the bar and have several drinks.
After awhile a  Cop comes along and sees the man lying there and says, "Hey buddy move it."
The stiff does not comply.
"I told you to get out of here buddy" and he pokes him with his baton.
The stiff doesn't move.
"Don't make me get all up on your ass. Move on."
The stiff is still noncompliant.  With that the officer throws a choke hold on the guy puts his knee on the guys neck and starts to handcuff him.
At this very moment the EMT's walk out of the bar.  They see the Cop wrestling with the corpse. They run up,  pull the Cop off the guy and say, "Officer he's dead."
The Cop says.... "I had to kill him....he pulled a knife."

I used to think that was a funny joke.  Perhaps not so much any more. There is a lot of speculation about how to interact with the police these days. Excessive and lethal force being used against unarmed non threatening people seems to be the rule. I am hearing on the news that I should just "do what the policeman tells me to do" and I won't get shot.  I am not persuaded.  This "compliance" theory is only as good as the trust I have in the Cop telling me what to do.  A Cop's desire to be a control freak does not negate my rights as an American and a human being. What about the cases we know about when officers have made women strip naked for their mug shots.  Or the recent case of deputies sodomizing a detainee with a broom stick.  Are we simply supposed to "comply" to those orders to avoid being beaten or shot? Seeing the underbelly of society so much of the time a Cop can start seeing everyone as a perp. Instead of seeing each encounter with the public as a unique situation, the public becomes objectified as criminals who have not been caught... yet. 
What you hear a lot is: "Well, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to be afraid of."  That is the stupidest reasoning ever, and usually comes from people who have had little or no interaction with the police.  Innocent people are the victims of mistaken identity more times than not. To a Cop everyone is a suspect.
The idea that as Americans we are innocent until proven guilty is completely not true.  Every time you go to the airport you have to prove to the TSA that you are not a threat.  You are a terrorist until you submit to invasion of your privacy so they can determine you are an innocent traveler.
It is the same if you are detained by the police.  You are not innocent in his eyes.  You are guilty until he says you can go free. 
Routinely people who are stopped by an officer are handcuffed for "YOUR SAFETY and MINE" says the Cop.  It has nothing to do with YOUR safety.  You are restrained so the officer can control and dominate you until he decides how to proceed. No matter what the reason for the stop, when a policeman detains you there are hundreds of laws he can use to justify your arrest.  There is only one way you will be let go;  the policeman has to determine he has nothing on you that will stick. 
I don't want to be a policeman. I appreciate someone who takes charge of a dangerous situation and has the training to defuse it.  But Cops think they are in the detain and arrest business, when they are actually in the "trust" business. If Cops worked harder to develop our trust in their snap judgements we would be safer, freer and ultimately happier. But until Police know they will face swift and just punishment for their abuse of power the bad apple cops will continue to abuse their badge. 
Rodney King said, during the worst of the LA riots,  "Can't we all just get along?"  Sounds easy enough and simple enough but how can I get along with a Cop who needs to cuff me behind my back before we have a conversation or if I am struggling to say I can not breath under the weight of his boot on my neck?  When Cops are not made accoutable they become a gang of bullies with badges.  "If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear?"  That is never true with bullies.
As you were,

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