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