America’s Police Brutality Pandemic

by Paul Craig Roberts

Bush’s “war on terror” quickly became Bush’s war on Iraqi civilians. So far over one million Iraqi civilians have lost their lives because of Bush’s invasion, and four million have been displaced. Iraq’s infrastructure is in ruins. Disease is rampart. Normal life has disappeared.

Self-righteous Americans justify these monstrous crimes as necessary to ensure their own safety from terrorist attack. Yet, Americans are in far greater danger from their own police forces than they are from foreign terrorists. Ironically, Bush’s “war on terror” has made Americans less safe at home by diminishing US civil liberty and turning an epidemic of US police brutality into a pandemic.

The only terrorist most Americans will ever encounter is a policeman with a badge, nightstick, mace and Taser. A Google search for “police brutality videos” turns up 2,210,000 entries. Some entries are foreign and some are probably duplications, but the number is so large that a person could do nothing but watch police brutality videos for the rest of his life. A search on “You Tube” alone turned up 2,280 police brutality videos. PrisonPlanet has a selection of the most outrageous recent cases.

Police brutality has crossed the line from using excessive force against a resisting Rodney King to unprovoked gratuitous violence against persons offering no resistance, such as the elderly, women, students, and elected officials. Americans are not safe anywhere from police. Police attack Americans in university libraries, in public meetings, and in their own homes.

Last week we had the case of the University of Florida student who was repeatedly Tasered without cause for asking Senator Kerry some good questions in the question and answer period following Kerry’s speech. Two days after the Florida student was gratuitously brutalized, Senate Republicans defeated Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy’s bill to restore habeas corpus protection.

A UCLA student was Tasered by police without cause for studying in the university library without having his student ID on his person. Following police orders to leave, the student was walking toward the door when police grabbed him and repeatedly Tasered him.

On September 19, 2007 a young woman was repeatedly Tasered without cause by a large brutal cop in a parking lot outside a night club in Warren Ohio.

On September 14, 2007, Roseland, Indiana, city council member David Snyder was ejected from a council meeting by dictatorial council chairman Charlie Shields. Snyder had protested being limited to one minute to speak. Police goon Jack Tiller escorted Snyder out, and as Snyder exited the building, Tiller, following behind, pushed Snyder to the ground and without cause began beating Snyder in the head with a nightstick. Snyder was hospitalized.

Local TV news stations throughout the US offer an endless stream of police brutality videos, which are then posted on the stations’ web sites, often with an opportunity for citizens to express their opinion of the incidents.

There are many disturbing aspects to police brutality cases.

One disturbing aspect is that the police always arrest the people that they have gratuitously brutalized. There was no justification whatsoever to arrest councilman Snyder, or the UCLA student, or the University of Florida student. The cops committed assault against innocent citizens. The cops should have been arrested for their criminal acts. Instead, the cops cover up their own crimes by arresting their victims on false charges that are invented to justify the unprovoked police violence against citizens.

Another disturbing aspect is that no one tells the police to stop the brutality. “Free” Americans are so intimidated by police that on February 19 of this year male customers in a Chicago bar stood aside while a drunk cop weighing 251 pounds beat a 115 pound barmaid, knocking her to the floor with his fists and repeatedly kicking her, for obeying the bar rules and not serving him more drinks.

Yet another disturbing aspect is that a minority of citizens will justify each act of police brutality no matter how brutal and how unprovoked. For example, WNDU.com’s poll of its viewers found that 64.2% agreed that Snyder was a victim of police brutality, but 27.8% thought that Snyder got what was coming to him. “Law and order conservatives” and other authoritarian personalities invariably defend acts of police brutality. Perhaps the police brutality pandemic will bring the day when we will be able to say that a civil libertarian is a law and order conservative who has been brutalized by police.

The most disturbing aspect is that the police usually get away with it.

I remember decades ago when civil libertarians in New York City tried to stop police brutality by establishing civilian review boards to introduce some accountability into the police’s interaction with civilians. Law and order conservatives at William F. Buckley’s National Review went berserk. Accountability was “second-guessing” the police. The result would be a crime wave. And so on.

Police forces have always attracted bullies with authoritative personalities who desire to beat senseless anyone who does not quake in their presence. In the past police could get away with brutalizing blacks but not whites. Today white citizens are as likely as racial minorities to be victims of police brutality.

The police are supreme. The militarization of the police, armed now with military weapons and trained to view the general public as the enemy, against whom “pain compliance” must be used, has placed every American at risk of personal injury and false arrest from our “public protectors.”

In “free and democratic America,” citizens are in such great danger from police that there are websites devoted to police brutality with online forms to report the brutality.

Nine years ago Human Rights Watch published a report entitled, “Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States.” The report stated:

“Police abuse remains one of the most serious and divisive human rights violations in the United States. The excessive use of force by police officers, including unjustified shootings, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and rough treatment, persists because overwhelming barriers to accountability make it possible for officers who commit human rights violations to escape due punishment and often to repeat their offenses. Police or public officials greet each new report of brutality with denials or explain that the act was an aberration, while the administrative and criminal systems that should deter these abuses by holding officers accountable instead virtually guarantee them impunity.

“This report examines common obstacles to accountability for police abuse in fourteen large cities representing most regions of the nation. The cities examined are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Research for this report was conducted over two and a half years, from late 1995 through early 1998.

“The brutality cases examined, which are set out in detail in chapters on each city, are similar to cases that continue to emerge in headlines and in survivors’ complaints. It is important to note, however, that because it is difficult to obtain case information except where there is public scandal and/or prosecution, this report relies heavily on cases that have reached public attention; disciplinary action and criminal prosecution are even less common than the cases set out below would suggest.

There is no way to hold police accountable when the president and vice president of the United States, the attorney general, and the Republican Party maintain that the civil liberties and the separation of powers mandated by the US Constitution must be abandoned in order that the executive branch can keep Americans safe from terrorists.

Even before the “war on terror,” federal police murdered 100 people in the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, and no one was held accountable.

Who is a terrorist? If the police and the US government have the mentality of airport security, they cannot tell a terrorist from an 86-year old Marine general on his way to give a speech at West Point. Retired Marine Corps General Joseph J. Foss was delayed and nearly had his Medal of Honor confiscated. Airport security regarded the pin on the metal as a weapon that the 86-year old Marine general and former governor of South Dakota could use to hijack an airliner and commit a terrorist deed.

In America today, every citizen is a potential terrorist in the eyes of the authorities. Airport security makes this clear every minute of every day, as do the FBI and NSA with warrantless spying on our emails, postal mail, telephone calls, and every possible invasion of our privacy. We are all recipients of abuse of our constitutional rights whether or not we suffer beatings, Taserings, and false arrests.

The law makes it impossible for Americans to defend themselves from police brutality. Law and order conservatives have made it a felony with a long prison sentence to “assault a police officer.” Assaulting a police officer means that if a police thug intends to beat your brains out with his nightstick and you disarm your assailant, you have “assaulted a police officer.” If you are not shot on the spot by his backup, you will be convicted by a “law and order” jury and sent to prison.

No matter how gratuitous and violent the police brutality, a “free” American citizen can defend himself only at the expense, if not of his life, of a long stay in prison. Osama bin Laden must wish that he had such power over Americans.

September 26, 2007

Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury’s Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He is also coauthor with Karen Araujo of Chile: Dos Visiones – La Era Allende-Pinochet (Santiago: Universidad Andres Bello, 2000).

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There are a lot of non-believers out there. Oh, the media and the internet is FULL of “Police Corruption” stories from all over the place, (…try signing up for a “Google News Alert” for “police corruption” and see what you get…)but STILL there are the die-hards who simply feel that they are far too “intelligent” and “right” to allow themselves to admit to what is right in front of them. Their amazing intellect leads them to have views such as the following:

    “Don’t let the little green men get you, watch out for bigfoot if you go camping, tell Elvis I said hi, and keep up on that investigation about the fake moon landing. Hopr you get some stronger meds. I know Calhoun County has little to do, but pleeeeeeas!”

    or

    “I thought you morons would like to know that I just saw bigfoot. He was walking past Foodland with Elvis and Lee Harvey Oswald. They were going to a national convention of The Order of the Skulls to decide the fate of the nation. They are rumored to be planning yet another 911 staged terrorist attack to keep the poor democrates from winning the next presidential election. Woooweee, you back woods hicks are funny!!!”

    or

    “Oh my God!!!! The state police is invading Calhoun County!!! Hide your pot! Hide your moonshine! Hide your criminal activities!!! It’s a military state!! The bad apples are coming! Misconduct, misconduct, misconduct!!!!! POLICE MISCONDUCT!!! What to do!!! Whoa is me!!! No more incest!!!! They are going to use the ray guns stolen from the aliens at Roswell to remove Calhoun County from the face of the earth….It’s hot outside today, must be a trooper’s fault!!….It’s raining outside, must be President Bush’s fault!!…..These messages brought to you by…. Citizens for a ban on further births from idiots that live in Calhoun County and promote moronic online rags such as this…”

    ———————

    A little humorous diversion in an otherwise very serious issue.
    ——————–

    At any rate, I took a RANDOM sampling of Headlines a couple days ago from a good internet news source. Read it an believe. We ARE headed in a very serious direction, and by the time genius’s like the aforementioned finally get their heads out of “but…” it will be far too late to do anything but bend over.

    ————

    Wheelchair-Bound Woman Dies After Being Shocked With Taser 10 Times
    “One, she’s in a wheelchair. Two, she’s schizophrenic. Three, they’re using a Taser on a person that’s in a wheelchair, and then four is that they tasered her 10 times for a period of like two minutes,” Alexander said.

    FLASHBACK: 60 Minutes: Shelving a Story to Boost Bush?
    In an outrageous politicization of journalism, CBS announced it would not air a report on forged documents that the Bush administration used to sell the Iraq war until after the November 2 election

    U.S. Banks Brace for Storm Surge as Dollar and Credit System Reel
    This is what a good old fashioned bank run looks like. And, as in 1929, the bank owners and the government are frantically trying to calm down their customers by reassuring them that their money is safe. But human nature being what it is, people are not so easily pacified when they think their savings are at risk. The bottom line is this: The people want their money, not excuses.

    Dan Rather admits government shapes the news you watch on ABCNNBBCBS

    George W. Bush’s Thug Nation
    It’s said that over time Presidents – especially two-termers – imbue the nation with their personalities and priorities, for good or ill. If that’s true, it could help explain the small-minded mean-spiritedness that seems to be pervading the behavior of the United States these days, both at home and abroad.

    Greenspan Admits Fed Is Not Beholden To Any Government Agency

    Wal-Mart threatens to sue independent lab that found toxins in its toys
    Wal-Mart Attacks Lab Tests that Found Lead, Chromium in Pet Toys

    Federal Approval To Travel WITHIN The US Soon?
    Beginning in February 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement their ¨Advance Passenger Information System (APIS),¨ the gist of which is that you will need permission from the United States Government to travel on any air or sea vessel that goes to, from or through the U.S. The travel companies will not be able to issue a boarding pass until you are cleared by DHS. This applies to ALL passengers, US citizens and visitors alike. And how do you get said permission to travel? That´s for your government to know and you to never find out.

    Remember that cop who shot the Air Force veteran three times for obeying his order? He was acquitted on all counts.
    In the video, Carrion is seen raising his left hand toward Webb at least twice and then Carrion appears to use his right hand to gesture as he tells Webb several times, “We’re here on your side” and “We mean you no harm.” Webb tells Carrion to keep his hands on the ground and then appears to tell Carrion to “get up.” When Carrion says, “OK, I’m getting up,” and starts to rise, Webb shoots him three times.

    Case Dismissed?
    The nation’s biggest telecommunications companies, working closely with the White House, have mounted a secretive lobbying campaign to get Congress to quickly approve a measure wiping out all private lawsuits against them for assisting the U.S. intelligence community’s warrantless surveillance programs.

    Congress Wants Military Draft Reinstated
    Once again the possibility of reinstating a military draft is being discussed in Washington, and while the idea seems remote, it is not unthinkable….

  2. Here is more:

    Tennessee Cigarette Police State
    James Joyner | Friday, September 28, 2007

    Tennessee revenuers are waiting at the borders to arrest people with cigarettes.
    Starting [Thursday], state Department of Revenue agents will begin stopping Tennessee motorists spotted buying large quantities of cigarettes in border states, then charging them with a crime and, in some cases, seizing their cars.

    School Guards Break Child’s Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake
    The incident occurred last week at Knight High School in Palmdale and was caught on a cell phone camera by another pupil who was then also assaulted by the security guards

    N.C. man charged with ‘coughing’ assault
    Morrisville police have charged a man with assault on a government official after an officer said the man coughed into his face during a traffic stop.
    Kauffman said he developed a cough after his dog died last week. He said Gill put him in handcuffs and threw him into the side of the patrol car.
    Gill pulled Kauffman over Tuesday for not wearing a seat belt. He now faces a misdemeanor charge and, if convicted, could spend up to 60 days in jail.
    Posted Sep 28, 2007 11:06 AM PST

    Court rules school officials acted properly in forcing 13-year-old to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area
    Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
    Posted Sep 28, 2007 11:03 AM PST

    (What drug were they looking for that justified stripping the girl? Marijuana? Nope. Crack? Nope. Ice? Nope. LSD? Nope. They were searching for ibuprofen. Headache pills! And, it appears they did not find them.

    GALLUP: Trust in Federal Government, On Nearly All Issues, Hits New Low — Even Less Than in Watergate Era

    FLORIDA Police To Carry Sub-Machine Guns
    “(It’s) a simple concept: Where there’s drugs, there’s going to be guns,” Orange County sheriff’s Cmdr. Al Rollins said…
    Posted Sep 28, 2007

    ————-

    Law Enforcement: This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

    Cops planting drugs, cops stealing drugs, cops stealing and doing drugs, cops stealing drugs and money — just another week of drug prohibition-related corruption. Let’s get to it:

    In Milwaukee, an apparent rogue cop is accused of beating or planting drugs — or both — on at least 10 people, but has so far gone unpunished by the Milwaukee Police Department, even though the courts have taken note of the repeated allegations by people he has arrested. Sgt. Jason Mucha has been repeatedly cleared by the department’s internal affairs unit, but at least four Wisconsin judges have acted on accusations against Mucha by defendants he arrested, in one case allowing others with similar allegations to testify and in another stating there was no reason Mucha should be considered more reliable than the defendant. In at least four cases involving the allegations, charges have been reduced or dismissed, but the Milwaukee Police Department promoted him nonetheless, leading to a rising outcry for reforms within the department and for a definitive investigation of the allegations against the one-time member of the “Night Train,” a Milwaukee police unit routinely accused of excess and brutality by residents of the poor and minority neighborhoods in which it operated.

    In Baltimore, a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer was indicted along with her boyfriend on September 21 on charges they dealt crack cocaine from the Curtis Bay home they shared. Officer Angela Green, 25, and her boyfriend were both charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The indictment comes three weeks after county police raided the home, finding 29 grams of crack in two safes. Green, who has three years with the Transportation Authority Police, is now suspended without pay pending trial.

    In Dearborn Heights, Michigan, a now-former Dearborn police officer has been charged with using a controlled substance. Former officer Edward Sanchez, 30, admitted taking marijuana from suspects and baking it into brownies, which he shared with his wife, who was also charged. He achieved internet infamy last year when a tape of a 911 emergency call he made after eating the brownies began circulating. In it, Sanchez could be heard saying: “I think we’re dying. We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do.” The city of Dearborn declined to prosecute, but neighboring Dearborn Heights decided to go after the couple earlier this month. They face up to 90 days in jail.

    In South Bend, Indiana, a former South Bend police officer has pleaded guilty in a case where he stole drugs and money during a traffic stop. Former officer Haven Freeman, 31, pleaded to one count of using his official position to unlawfully demand property from a person and also to possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Freeman admitted in court that he stopped a vehicle in the summer of 2005 knowing that it was carrying drugs because of information from an informant. He told the vehicle’s occupants that if they gave him their drugs and money, he would not arrest them or separate one of them from her child. He obtained several thousand dollars in cash and about 100 grams of heroin, which he turned over to his informant for resale. Now, Freeman faces up to 40 years in prison, but has been promised a more lenient sentence because he “accepted responsibility” with his guilty plea.

  3. OK, so, that electromagnetic mind control machine they use to turn cops into brainless evil robots? Somebody must have turned it up a couple notches. Expect things to get worse. Much worse…

  4. I will post something tomorrow. Nice to have been here.

    🙂


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