Police brutality and the right-wing's willingness to paint the victims and protesters as the villains.

police brutalityThere is an incredible problem plaguing America’s police forces. Police brutality is now a more pressing matter than ever. As attention draws us toward the Ferguson protests, more and more dots are being connected as to why the police in America are getting out of control. Lately, the public has been seeing stories of extreme police brutality across the country, enough to propel many communities into outright protest. Yet, the right-wing in this country are once again too willing to blame the victims.

It must be understood that many police forces in America have been dogged with brutality complaints for generations. Cities such as New York and Los Angeles have long had issues of police brutality under the belt. But there is an increasing singularity in the way in which situations are handled, and the way in which these actions are defended.

For one, America’s policing system is not unitary. While many nations in the Western World contain national police forces, America’s system is broken up between the states, the federal government, and local municipalities such as counties, towns etc. Many police departments act with different attitudes depending on location and circumstance. The police force of small-county USA used to have different attitudes than the LAPD, but this seems to have changed to a degree.

My grandfather used to tell me stories of a time when the police would be willing to simply take a man drunk in public to his house, rather than to a jail cell. A time when police were looking for ways to de-escalate confrontations, rather than ramp them up. Things are very different today. We now see how local police are more uniformly brutal and militarized. Their attitudes and actions toward the citizens they are supposed to protect is terrible.

According to conservative media, the problem with police brutality is the fault of those the police act against. Throughout the entire Michael Brown shooting affair in Ferguson, the right has striven to paint Brown as a thug worthy of death and the police as innocent actors under siege by a marauding band (black people).

I won’t waste time debating Brown’s character. Bottom line: he did not deserve to die. Regardless of what he partook in, no police officer reserves the right to execute someone on the spot for any offense. The reason I won’t debate Brown’s character is because that is exactly what the right wing wants.

The fact is, the police have grown far too militarized and staffed with trigger-happy people who are not trained well in handling situations without resorting to extreme violence. Certain conditions today have created police forces unfit for protecting our communities. In fact, many of the police today pose outright threats to our communities rather than protection.

Because of a Pentagon program, local police forces have been equipped with military grade equipment with people all too willing to take their toys for a spin. Why a small town like Ferguson would need an army of APCS and military grade assault equipment is beyond me. Maybe Al-Qaeda planned to strike there one day?

Also, since the financial crisis of 2008, pay for cops has been abysmal. One acquaintance (a former cop by coincidence) explained that because pay and benefits are low, most of the people he say signing up for the force were hothead, as he called, “kids” looking to shoot something. They were “wannabe Rambos” who had “no idea how to defuse an argument or calm a crowd, but who knew how to shoot a gun and beat the crap out of someone.”

Despite the mountains of stories floating around about the scourge of police brutality, Fox and its cohorts pretend as if there is no problem. Of course, its all the damn minorities fault (again). Fox was very quick to defend the actions of Cliven Bundy who stood up to federal agents while breaking the law. A relatively innocent black community standing up to local police brutality however warrants a different response. Let’s also not forget the brutal crackdown of occupy wall street protesters, at the time Fox News was behind the police.

While anyone could understand the grievances and anger the community of Ferguson (and others) experienced at the hands of police violence, the right pretends that it’s the black community’s fault. Peaceful protests are categorized as “riots” and protesters as “looters.” Even the mainstream press is picking up on this language, which further paints the Ferguson protests as merely violent riots.

The systemic problem with police in this country has to be curbed. If it is not, the anger of many communities across America will not subside. Instead, it will only boil over into situations that even police brutality cannot cover up. Ferguson is only the beginning.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Kid, obviously you were absent during the Sixties througth the Eighties; I was there, police brutality is on the decline and you don’t know what you are talking about. Reuter is right, but your biases made you misread him as defending police brutality. You tarred all of law enforcement with the same brush because of what a few highly-publicized badge-heavy bullies have done. Accusations of brutality are not evidence of it any more than arrests are evidence of criminal guilt. News media inundate the public with the worst stuff they can find because sensational sells subscriptions, Nielsens, market share, clicks and ads. True progressives recognize the biases and limitations of the media, as well as their own, and keep their logical fallacies to a minimum. I write this after 29 years as an attorney, including over a decade of criminal prosecution and three years as legal advisor to a task force of federal, state and local agencies investigating organized crime in Florida, followed by private practice representing the accused. I prosecuted cops, but the opportunities to do so are rare indeed.

    • Sir, don’t talk down to me.

      Pointing out a disturbing trend does not paint all police with the same brush, like you are painting my position. Please show me the statistics that say police violence is down. Oh, right, you can’t because a majority of complaints go investigated, therefore we have no accurate way of determining how much of any given claims are true or false (because they are not investigated). No data is available, so right off the bat I know you are being overwhelmingly biased and disingenuous with your statement that violence by police is declining. Fellow QM columnist lays out the stats better than I could. And here’s an article, well cited, from Information Clearing House, https://partylesspolitics.com/2014/07/16/police-brutality-statistics/ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36807.htm

      Furthermore, we are not dealing with accusations in several important cases. Michael Brown was shot, and killed (unarmed) by a police officer. No matter what wrong Brown may have committed, it does not grant any police officer the right to execute him. Brown is not the only case. Clearly you do not pay attention to news. There are many cases that seem to be showing a vicious cycle of violence by police that you cannot merely brush away.

      In no way did I say ALL police act this way, and like many who disregard police brutality today, immediately resort to assumptions that have no basis in anything I wrote. I am quite used to this behavior by now, and will say that your credentials sound very impressive. I guess I will just never understand the way things are unless I sell my soul and become a lawyer with a cushy job who can then tell poor communities in this country that police brutality are just exaggerated by bad bloggers and people who don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess then I can tell Michael Brown’s family that their concerns are exaggerated.

      If police brutality is a non-issue for you these days, then you are not among the unfortunate to live in inner-city neighborhoods and deal with the cruelty and suspicions dealt on them by many on the police-force. This does not say ALL police are guilty, it says that the problem exists that cannot be ignored.

  2. Julian,

    Victims look like losers because they’ve just lost something, a confrontation, or a right, or a meeting with a thug or a bully.

    The physiological basis for right wing politics is the hormonal make-up of the bully. The right winger looks for losers to pick on, and victims qualify, at least to a first approximation.

    Major policy need: fewer donuts, more protein, for cops. A cop with a sugar spike, or a between-snack bad bad temper, is a dangerous machine to have running around on the street.

    -dlj.

  3. This particular blog is not progressive, liberal, informative or honest, but rather exaggerated with hyperbole. It is equivocal, and willing to suspend criticism of undesirable behavior, behavior relevant to the search for the truth of the matter, and recognition of the unfortunate consequences of that behavior. Your view does not represent my view and I consider myself a “staunch progressive” as much as the author claims for himself. I just disagree, and that does not automatically excommunicate me from the progressive tent.

    • Please explain why you disagree, and why my points are so terrible. I can’t take you seriously unless I know what your position is. If you defend the actions of police brutality, I would like to know why. Please explain?

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