Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“Broken Windows” Liberalism
August 9, 2014 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Bill de Blasio has reduced the use of stop-and-frisk, but he still supports the kind of policing that led to Eric Garner’s death. New York City cops are fuming. On Tuesday, union officials gathered to publicly denounce “police haters” and defend the conduct of police officers involved in the apprehension of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who was killed while being placed under arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Last week, the state medical examiner’s office said Garner died as a result of being put in a chokehold — a tactic banned by the New York Police Department.

But the problem, as union officials see it, is that the video of the arrest heightened anti-cop hysteria, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected with progressive support and ordered an investigation of the incident, acquiesced to this irrational outcry.
posted by whyareyouatriangle (172 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not really hysteria if the cops really are going around killing people for selling cigarettes.
posted by ryanrs at 6:28 PM on August 9 [116 favorites]


No matter how you look at it, no one deserves to be choked to death for selling untaxed anything.

The police are out of control in this country, and NYC is no exception. The NYPD act like an occupying army here. Somewhere someone old them "serve and protect" only referred to other humans in possession of badges.
posted by nevercalm at 6:28 PM on August 9 [18 favorites]


I really have a problem with the lede "[de Blasio] still supports the kind of policing that led to Eric Garner's death." Cracking down on small crime, and killing people for committing small crimes and/or resisting arrest, are not the same thing.
posted by phaedon at 6:35 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


New York City cops are fuming.

Fuck 'em.

Police in this country are eventually going to push things too far, and someone is going to retaliate. Then shit is going to really get bad.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:41 PM on August 9 [13 favorites]


"How dare you investigate us. you're only doing it because people are irrationally pissed off!"

This seems like one of those ones, like "I don't get it can you explain it?" as a response to a racist joke, where they're just asking to be given all the rope to hang themselves here.

Like, how do you respond to "So someone being arrested over a misdemeanor being killed doesn't deserve an investigation?" without digging yourself into a world record breaking hole to rival the Kola?
posted by emptythought at 6:45 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


An unarmed black 17-year-old, Mike Brown, was just shot and killed by police in the middle of the street while walking to his grandmother's house today in my hometown. From what I'm seeing, he was set to start college on Monday. Afterward, as more than 100 upset neighborhood residents peacefully gathered and wept and/or protested (there were some cries of "Kill the police," but there was no actual violence from onlookers), area police rolled in with paramilitary gear—huge armored vehicles and M16s—and stood breast-to-breast around the crime scene, where the boy's body remained for as long as four hours. Afterward, when the crime-scene tape was taken down, distraught residents washed the spot where he'd lain for the previous several hours with soap, then laid down flowers and candles, surrounding the victim's parents and crying with them.

Things like this keep happening. There's a reason why people are upset. I'm friends with some police officers who are good people, genuinely trying to do the right thing and just make it through until they hopefully can retire from a hard career. But too many officers across the country have been using excessive force and ramping up displays of paramilitary might. It's a trend, and it's disturbing. There must be checks and balances. The efforts of groups like Copwatch are becoming increasingly important.
posted by limeonaire at 6:56 PM on August 9 [80 favorites]


But the problem, as union officials see it, is that the video of the arrest heightened anti-cop hysteria

How can someone even assert that with a straight face? He forgot his Sunday school lessons: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
posted by sbutler at 6:57 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Two police shootings today made the news. The other was the man at Wal-Mart holding the BB gun.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:00 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Go ahead and blame the cops or the unions if you like, but I blame taxpayers who want superior services without paying for them. In most municipalities, we're pretty much getting the quality of cops we're paying for. If you pay cops more, you get better cops, and you can fire the bad ones.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:02 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


If we stop buying MRAPs for local police, we can hire even more cops.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:04 PM on August 9 [25 favorites]


RobotVoodooPower: If we stop buying MRAPs for local police, we can hire even more cops.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was that the militarization that happened in the wake of 9/11 usually came from federal funds that were earmarked for militarizing the cops with MRAPs and such, not hiring more of them. Equipment is a one-time purchase, whereas paying more cops requires an ongoing commitment.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:08 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


If we stop buying MRAPs for local police, we can hire even more cops.


As citizens we've already paid for the MRAPs.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:08 PM on August 9


Anyone remember their Union protesting officers being indicted for ticket fixing? Just a gang of thugs in uniforms.

It's worth it to follow groups like Cop Block (twitter, facebook, previously), FilmingCops (twitter), or Police the Police (twitter, facebook), Police State USA (facebook, twitter), the Free Thought Project, etc.

Related : The NYPD drone poster artist Essam Attia cleared of charges last March
posted by jeffburdges at 7:12 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


American cops are overpaid by the standards of most countries I've lived in. And we've far more cops than we need already.

We should thin the police force, let go anyone with a hint of steroid use, violence, mental instability, etc. And spend a bit more on social programs that actually prevent crime.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:19 PM on August 9 [18 favorites]


Also, after the video blew up both the guy who shot it and his wife were arrested on unrelated charges in what must be the coincidence to end all fucking coincidences.
posted by StopMakingSense at 7:24 PM on August 9 [76 favorites]


It seems like strange and misleading editorializing to say that De Blasio "acquiesced to this irrational outcry" when the irrational outcry in question is a claim by the cops that the medical examiner's decision was shoddy and politically motivated, whereas De Blasio says that he has full faith in the medical examiner.

It also seems like strange and misleading editorializing to say that De Blasio "still supports the kind of policing that led to Eric Garner’s death", when the kind of policing that led to Eric Garner's death was cops choking people, and De Blasio having repeatedly said in no uncertain terms that this is (obviously) unacceptable.

What he "still supports" is the idea that cracking down on minor crime is a good idea. You or I may or may not agree with that, but the seemingly intentional conflation of that support with outrageous positions that are the opposite of the positions he actually holds seems, again, strange and misleading.
posted by Flunkie at 7:25 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


American cops are overpaid by the standards of most countries I've lived in.

Time to rethink public sector unions?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:33 PM on August 9


Fucking guns. Why fucking guns, you ask? Because it is the pervasiveness of them that leads to cops being constantly on edge and feeling under siege. That constant stress leads to the othering of the rest of the citizenry and then to stupidity like choking a guy for selling loosies.
posted by wierdo at 7:33 PM on August 9 [14 favorites]


jeffburdges: American cops are overpaid by the standards of most countries I've lived in.

I don't know where you've lived, but I'd imagine if you gave those countries our Second Amendment, you'd find you needed to pay your police officers more. American cops, especially in the big cities where a lot of these high-profile abuses happen, face a lot of dangers cops in other countries don't.

It's pretty simple. Taxpayers don't want to pay for services, but the services absolutely must exist, so the pay goes down, which in turn means the quality of the officers goes down, and the police union, looking out for its members, sticks up for the shitty cops, because the promise of job security has replaced the loss in pay. Pay the cops more and the unions would happily accept concessions to make it easier to get rid of the shitty ones.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:39 PM on August 9


I only get my news from The Post so I was under the impression DiBlasio had disbanded the police force and ask the Black Panther Party to run the show. So this is a surprise to me.
posted by JPD at 7:39 PM on August 9 [17 favorites]


IndigoJones: Time to rethink public sector unions?

No.

This has been simple answers to simple questions.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:39 PM on August 9 [59 favorites]


I wonder at what point there's going to be some kind of country-wide reform. There are tons and tons of stories about police abuse, and for once, reading comments under the articles, is highly instructive. Years back, you would get mostly pro-cop commentary. Then gradually it became more and more cop-criticism. These days, the overwhelming majorities of the comments - including from conservatives(!) - are strongly critical and cynical.

I don't know, but it seems like gradually the police are losing public confidence. Of course, they lost the confidence of minority communities a long time ago. But it seems now the disaffection and anger has reached into the mainstream even of the more privileged groups.

Are we at some kind of tipping point? Will there come a time when there will be a powerful backlash and there will be some kind of hearings held and substantial reforms? It seems like there would be enough backing from voters to end this 'occupying army' approach to policing. At this point the policing seems highly adversarial in its approach - is it possible to switch to more community oriented policing? Or am I just a deluded lefty?

Anyhow, it does seem to me the number of reflexive police defenders has been dropping - it's hard to defend the cops when egregious stuff seems to be happening on a daily basis.

Anyone have a sense of whether there's enough momentum for reform?
posted by VikingSword at 7:46 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Will there come a time when there will be a powerful backlash and there will be some kind of hearings held and substantial reforms?

Probably around the same time that their behavior affects the upper echelons of society in the same way that it does the low-income and minority members of society. So, uh. Never.
posted by elizardbits at 7:55 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Time to rethink public sector unions?

I dunno, are the teachers and social workers murdering people too?
posted by griphus at 7:59 PM on August 9 [47 favorites]


Public sector accountability in this country is atrocious. It isn't just cops.

Are we at some kind of tipping point?

I don't know, but I'm not optimistic. I live in the town where Oscar Grant got killed, and there were riots in response.

A few years later, at a protest, a cop shot a kid named Scott Olsen in the head with a beanbag round, giving him permanent brain damage. There were a lot more anti-police riots.

Last week, the cop who was fired for shooting Scott got his job back, due to a binding arbitration in the Oakland Police Association contract. This happens a lot.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:00 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: Public sector accountability in this country is atrocious. It isn't just cops.

Private sector accountability, of course, is coming up aces.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go, because a bank is foreclosing on my house despite the fact that I've never missed a payment, and an energy company is dumping fracking fluid into my drinking water.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:03 PM on August 9 [38 favorites]


It seems like there would be enough backing from voters to end this 'occupying army' approach to policing.

This is almost literally what the NYPD is and they know it and they know the only way to get an army out is with another army so they have no fear of anything except poor public perception because that's the only thing you can't win by intimidation.
posted by griphus at 8:07 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I dunno, are the teachers and social workers murdering people too?

No but incompetent or downright negligent ones are hard to fire. And they do exist, and they aren't rare. I see plenty of eyerolling from smart young teachers when they talk about their tenured, "lifer" colleagues.

My two cents, the right way forward is to keep the good benefits and retirement plans for public sector workers, but make it relatively easy to fire them for misconduct or incompetence. Pay teachers more. Pay cops about what they're making in NYC, which is a lot less than they make in many West Coast cities.

Private sector accountability, of course, is coming up aces.

Corporate accountability is fucked too. But in other situations, there's way more accountability. One of the neighborhoods in my city hired private security patrols recently. There were some concerns from some of the folks in the area that the guards might hurt somebody or do something negligent. The guy organizing it all responded: "If that happens, we can fire them. We can't fire cops if they screw up." And sure enough, he crowdfunded that private patrol contract in a matter of two weeks.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:08 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: We can't fire cops if they screw up.

Again, police unions would gladly trade job security away to get paid more. It would have to be significantly more, but if you want to get rid of the bad cops, you can't really do it while you're using job security as a form of non-cash compensation.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:10 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


No but incompetent or downright negligent ones are hard to fire.

Yes, that's just like murder.
posted by elizardbits at 8:13 PM on August 9 [12 favorites]


Again, police unions would gladly trade job security away to get paid more.

So not true. And where I live in the Bay Area, cops are already making 6 figures within a few years of getting hired. Paying them more isn't an option anyway.

But no, a police union that has a binding arbitration clause in it's contract is not going to give that up. It's a third rail of local politics to even mention taking that away. Even in the liberal Bay Area, you will not find an incumbent politician who dares to say anything about it, even though they know damn well that it's a huge problem. A huge riot-causing problem no less.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:16 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


From the link:
"The cause of Garner's death was "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police," said Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. The death was ruled a homicide.

Acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were listed as contributing conditions"
I maintain that this is different - in a morally significant way - from "strangled to death". I think that headlines saying "Garner killed by choke hold" are fundamentally dishonest. It may very well be that an investigation and trial will end up in that cop or cops getting fired/sued/prosecuted, I don't know. But I really, really wish we'd be more careful to be factual about the language used.

I won't try to suggest alternative approaches to that arrest because I don't have that experience.

I think maybe it wasn't worth a custodial arrest for selling loose cigarettes, but I also think we have to acknowledge that if we say that then we're accepting that there's some threshold at which we're not enforcing laws about who can and can't sell cigarettes. A cost of that decision is going to be that, as long as you're selling apparently small numbers of cigarettes, you won't need to be licensed, pay tax, or card your customers. Maybe as a society we're fine with that, but again, I think we should be honest about what it means.

---

Regarding the guy in the walmart, this is the air rifle he was holding. Rounds fired by a rifle like that punch right through body armor, and assault rifles can fire a lot of rounds quickly and accurately with fast reloads. Further, there have been numerous cases across the country recently with open carry advocates walking around, waving 100% real assault rifles in peoples' faces. The cops also came to that walmart because someone made a 911 call for a man with a rifle. In the absence of video, it's possible that it was a bad shoot, but the reality is that when someone calls 911 and says there's a guy wandering around a walmart with an assault rifle, someone's got to come. The cops that got that call couldn't just turn it down, and they didn't have psychic abilities to determine that it wasn't a firearm.

---

There haven't been too many facts about the Ferguson shooting released. People are upset about the large numbers of cops on scene with long guns, but at least one local station reports audible gunshots during the demonstration. The scene of that shooting needed to be kept as controlled as possible to maintain evidence, so if it was a bad shooting the investigators have a chance of determining that. Again, they had to control the scene, and they had to do so in spite of an enormous and extremely angry crowd while worried about the possibility of someone shooting at them.

I agree with VikingSword that basically everyone seems to hate/distrust/dislike/fear cops, and that that's a problem for a country where we need to have rule of law. But it would really help talking about this sort of thing if we restricted ourselves to the best factual information we have available.

FWIW, police reform has been and continues to be an ongoing thing over the past several decades. Some police conduct that used to be unremarkable has entirely disappeared.

"are the teachers and social workers murdering people too?"

It might be worth remembering that many social workers work closely with police in order to try to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I heard a really great presentation from a detective yesterday on sex trafficking and how to combat it, what to remember when the victims aren't happy to be contacted by the police, what life is like for the victims, what survival sex is, and so on. Actual cases he'd worked and why it's probably a bad idea to just send a runaway back to their parents, why he needs to earn their trust over a long period of time.

"Fuck the police," ok, fine. But someone's got to do that work. So if we want it done better, please can we actually try to be as close to objective as is possible? Like, if you say "murder" you're saying that the guy intended for Garner to die, which I don't think even you believe to be true (unless you do, in which case that's great, have fun). Choked/strangled to death is a lot different from what happened, which was a combination of stress, physical trauma, preexisting conditions, and positional asphyxiation.
posted by kavasa at 8:16 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


It's amazing how my cynicism gets justifed. Said cynicism being that any liberal stance/movement, like "cops need to be held accountable and punished for brutality" can immediately be turned into an excuse for busting unions.
posted by emjaybee at 8:17 PM on August 9 [28 favorites]


"I maintain that this is different - in a morally significant way - from "strangled to death". I think that headlines saying "Garner killed by choke hold" are fundamentally dishonest."

That's probably true. For starters, in the video he's yelling "I can't breathe". And you can't yell "I can't breathe" if you can't breathe. But that doesn't change the fact that it was likely excessive force and that they didn't act quickly when it was apparent Garner was in really bad shape.

Like, if you say "murder" you're saying that the guy intended for Garner to die.


Yeah, people overuse that, it's not appropriate. Voluntary manslaughter at worst.

And as for the man with the rifle, yeah, airsofts and bbguns cause officer involved shootings all the time. But it seems to happen way way more often to non-white suspects.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:22 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


We've had guns forever but cops have gone out of control over the last few decades. Yes, guns cause problems, but not this problem. Actual causes are no transparency, gang-like mentality, cops never get prosecuted, steroid abuse, etc.

We need all the internal communications of police departments, district attorney's offices, etc. to be published electronically after a couple years. It'd better expose the 'occupying army' gang mentality of what've basically become criminal organizations and compel more prosecutions of officers.

Ain't union busting that'll fix this. It's reliably busting the bad officers as well as their bosses who cover for them. We need to be sending hundreds, or nationally thousands, more cops to jail every year for the crimes that they commit.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:24 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: So not true. And where I live in the Bay Area, cops are already making 6 figures within a few years of getting hired. Paying them more isn't an option anyway.

I didn't say there weren't any outliers. Oakland is well-known as being on the extreme high end when it comes to base salary and total compensation. Still, except in unusual circumstances, if you pay more, you get better candidates, and it's very much the case that unions have responded to decreasing pay by insisting on other non-cash benefits, one of which is increased job security.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


"and that they didn't act quickly when it was apparent Garner was in really bad shape."

I disagree with this really strongly. They called for EMS response and placed him on his side immediately. He was still breathing and had a heartbeat at the time, so that's literally all they could do. I talked about this in the last thread, but it's worth saying again: putting a breathing, unconscious person on their side is known as the "recovery position," and is what's trained to treat people until EMS arrive. EMS arrived and transported him to the hospital, and the hospital is where he died about an hour later.

I'm not qualified to say whether the force was excessive or not, especially without access to the full array of evidence. I will say that I'm sure that guy regrets putting his arm around Garner's neck.

I was actually surprised that the air rifle guy was black. From the initial article I saw of "guy with a gun in a walmart," I'd assumed white, maybe because of the last guy? I dunno.
posted by kavasa at 8:31 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I think that headlines saying "Garner killed by choke hold" are fundamentally dishonest. [..] Like, if you say "murder" you're saying that the guy intended for Garner to die, which I don't think even you believe to be true

Hey, if I put a choke hold on a fat, asthmatic cop and he died, what do you think I'd be charged with?

(And don't say that it's different because the cops were legally restraining him. The choke hold wasn't legal.)
posted by ryanrs at 8:38 PM on August 9 [41 favorites]


In the original thread about the choking death, several people with asthma/respiratory problems verified that you can, in fact, gasp out some words while still having a dangerous attack and being in danger.

The Ferguson teen was named Michael Brown.

The Ohio man killed for carrying around an air rifle was John Crawford.

It's interesting how the articles emphasize the report of gunshots heard in the first case causing the officers to be there (without any follow up as to the validity of the report) and how "realistic" the air rifle looked in the second (despit the recent spate of white men with actual rifles walking through retail establishments and not getting shot).
posted by emjaybee at 8:41 PM on August 9 [23 favorites]


In Nashville, TN, in 1994, I was with a couple of friends driving to a low-income project to pick up another friend from his apartment. A cop car, continuously parked near, had replaced the slogan Protect and Serve printed along its front side panel with Weed and Seed.

Its import never left me-- a wit wrapped around a temerity inside a peril.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 8:46 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Weed & Seed apparently some US DOJ program
posted by ryanrs at 8:49 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


ryanrs, that's... really not a correct comparison.

First, the trauma to the throat was just part of it. It was 4 or 5 cops working to get him handcuffed, and the pressure on his back while he was in the prone position was part of the death, according to the ME. So it would need to be you and 3-4 friends vs. this fat, asthmatic cop.

Second, they were legally authorized to use force. It seems likely that one part of the force that was used will end up being out of bounds, but the use of force to arrest him generally was authorized.

So, if you and 3-4 friends had some sort of legal reason to use force against a cop, and there was video, and it seemed that your goal was to bring him under legally authorized control, and you did so and then put him in the recovery position and called for EMS once it became clear that he was unconscious... Well. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to how that would turn out.

My goal here is to get people to talk about things as accurately as we can. I'm really, really not going to agree to oversimplifications.

--

emjaybee, there's no follow up because that information isn't available yet. Investigations are painstaking and time consuming when done correctly.

I'm just waiting for one of the white guys with rifles to get shot, because I'm pretty sure it's coming if they keep pulling these stunts. And again, with the Crawford situation, there's quite possibly video from inside the walmart. We do not have the facts about what commands were given or what he did in response. It may turn out bad, we don't know, but I think it's way too early to write that one off as bad.
posted by kavasa at 8:50 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


MassCopBlock.org on the difficulty of determining just how many people have been killed by police, using official estimates, and efforts to do so via media reports instead.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


kavasa, what on earth are you talking about? Issuing tickets to people is quite different than "not enforcing the law." Not enforcing the law would be walking past and ignoring it. Laws can be enforced without tossing someone in jail.
posted by wierdo at 9:00 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


(and I'm going to bed, so I'll stop posting after this one) per Twitter user @WyzeChef, witnesses in Ferguson are reporting harassment, an execution-style killing, and confiscation of video evidence by the police.

I mean, yeah, maybe they are all lying/exaggerating. That's the fallback response for these things. People just "misunderstand" why so many unarmed black kids, and parents, and grandmothers, and babies end up dead at the hands of police. It's always a misunderstanding, or stress, or bad training, or something the victim should have/could have done. A misunderstanding that overwhelmingly affects black people and other vulnerable groups, over and over and over again. Just bad luck and unavoidable coincidence.

After a while, you might think it goes deeper than that. At least, if you worry about being the next person face-down on the pavement, bleeding out while your hands are being cuffed behind your back. Or mourning your loved ones and knowing their killers will never, ever be punished.
posted by emjaybee at 9:05 PM on August 9 [40 favorites]


weirdo, he had numerous previous citations for the same offense. I would suspect that NY has a similar provision to my state, where you can arrest for a misdemeanor if certain conditions are met. In this case, if it's unlikely that the person is going to respond to a citation. And a guy with several previous citations, who's out doing the same thing, is pretty unlikely to respond to another.

It's pretty clear that Garner didn't care about tickets, so if all you're going to do is write tickets, you may as well not bother. Nothing is going to come of them, so writing them has the same real-world effect as not enforcing the law at all.
posted by kavasa at 9:06 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I'm not qualified to say whether the force was excessive or not, especially without access to the full array of evidence. I will say that I'm sure that guy regrets putting his arm around Garner's neck.

Doesn't this demonstrate a convenient reasoning? Technial details elude you, but you believe you know the internal motivations/feelings of another human being?
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:08 PM on August 9 [23 favorites]


they were legally authorized to use force

Kavasa, you're not the only person I've ever heard say this, of course, and you're probably not a bad person,. That said, this sort of statement is appalling. I do not care who has "authorized" who to kill me or use force or whatever. Oh, I mean not "kill", but "be the cause of death for" or something euphemistic. A person died at the hands of an organization of reactionaries, brutal by design with a long history of racism, and more, but...

We do not have the facts

The classic refrain of police departments under fire. I'm sure they were just following procedure. *$)%

On preview: he had numerous previous citations for the same offense

Oh, then I guess we're getting worked up over nothing. He might have been a bad guy. *eyeroll* *leaves thread*
posted by moink at 9:10 PM on August 9 [38 favorites]


Before the union/anti-union rabbit hole swallows us all:

a. (some) Police/Law enforcement have a *maximum IQ* for the job, supposedly to ensure better following of orders and lower job turnover.

b. Amongst white people, support for criminal justice reform goes down when you tell them that the problems mostly don't affect them.

there's a lot more going on in this ecosystem than union/anti-union.
posted by DGStieber at 9:12 PM on August 9 [15 favorites]


Cops seem to be mostly bullshit lately. Our Seattle cops like to shoot deaf Native American homeless guys in the back, and stomp handcuffed women. And Seattle cops are likely not as corrupt and horrible as NYC cops.
posted by Windopaene at 9:12 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


DGStieber, I was going to say it's probably not fair to apply that (the "maximum IQ" thing) to this, but reading the original article (dated 2000), now I'm wondering, really, if it isn't. Wow. Just... wow.
posted by JHarris at 9:16 PM on August 9


I was just thinking ... over let's say the last decade, the NYPD has probably killed more civilians than Hamas, right?
posted by crayz at 9:17 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


We're no longer only talking about police malfeasance impacting minorities, elizardbits. Ain't exactly "upper echelons" yet, but the resources I linked upthread show largely white victims.1 In part, we've simply shrunk the upper middle class who posses the economic means to sue police forces, resist reprisals in court, etc., so now we discuss lower class problems like police more.

At present, our main stream media spares absolutely no expense to make people afraid and make law enforcement appear useful, VikingSword, well this keeps us from paying attention to numerous real issues too. We'll find the momentum for reform when the main stream media gets overpowered by internet media. Along the way we might wind up with cops no longer being believable witnesses to jurors.2

1 I suppose minorities do not complain about police malfeasance nearly as easily as whites. If cops shoot your dog in front of your kids, then you fear police reprisals for raising a stink more if you're black than if you're white. And you're likely happier to escape with your lives in the first place.

2 Amusingly one police glorification effort might've made ordinary officers less believable witnesses.

posted by jeffburdges at 9:18 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


The police apologia strikes the same chord in me as the corporate apologia which so often accompanies it: to deny the legitimacy of the status quo is to abandon the tribal identity that's been so deeply impressed in all of us since childhood. Apple pie and baseball, the team, the family, the idea, the concept, the righteousness, must be defended at all costs. This is the hill our souls keep dying on.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:19 PM on August 9 [14 favorites]


I love how "Wow, I think the police are getting increasingly out of control, because they have virtually zero checks and balances. Maybe we should look into this?" turns into "Fuck the Police."
posted by Sphinx at 9:19 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Is there any data on increase or decrease of killings by police in recent years? Is the outrage we're seeing because it's increasing, or because it's increasingly visible on youtube?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:21 PM on August 9


"Fuck the Police."

No one has written that but you. Great song though. Oh WAIT, someONE did...o noes
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:23 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


If you want a reality check, use Batman. What I mean is, we've had real vigilante justice before, it's useful to get past prejudices about the validity of violence when used by agents of the state. Imagine some rape or murder is happening and Batman comes in and in the process of being subdued Batman chokeholds the criminal and he dies. Find the tiny violin.

Now, imagine Batman choke-kills the guy selling untaxed cigarettes. Maybe then kinda more like "fuck Batman"?
posted by crayz at 9:28 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I do think some people here are essentially saying "fuck the police", just not in those terms, but I think that's totally understandable given the number of high-profile preventable deaths there have been recently. I haven't read any of the angry comments here as saying that all cops are terrible -- just that there are some terrible fucking cops in the news right now, and we expect better.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:28 PM on August 9


Also, why is it that just about every day it seems that there's a story about the police killing someone, but if a police officer is killed, once a year or so, it's time to have a fucking memorial procession? Oh, yeah, the people the cops killed were criminals...
posted by Windopaene at 9:28 PM on August 9


Rest in Power Mike Brown
via #Ferguson via emjaybee's @WyzeChef link
posted by jeffburdges at 9:30 PM on August 9


In this case, if it's unlikely that the person is going to respond to a citation. And a guy with several previous citations, who's out doing the same thing, is pretty unlikely to respond to another.

I used to be this obtuse. Honestly. Racial prejudice does not exist; the law is clear, and it applies equally to everyone. Authorized means authorized. People get what they deserve for resisting. That sort of thing.

Then you wake up and realize that you went to college and nobody kicked down your dorm room door to bust you and your friends for using a bong or snorting Ritalin, and putting them in choke holds or shoving broom sticks up their asses. Statistically white people on average do more drugs than black people, and yet blacks are systematically incarcerated and brutalized at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. Are the laws racist? Of course not. Are the arresting officers racist? Of course not. And yet the cumulative result is in fact racist. Speaking from personal experience, I don't think there's any denying that. And I am not one to play the race card.
posted by phaedon at 9:32 PM on August 9 [41 favorites]


emjaybee, assuming video evidence was actually confiscated, it should have been inventoried and should be available to the investigators. Again, I'm not saying anything about that case other than we don't know.

lazycomputerkids, really? The nationwide firestorm of outrage over Garner's death centers on the chokehold and you think I'm doing some sort of cognitive dissonance dance when I say I'm sure the guy regrets using it? Get real.

"I do not care who has "authorized" who to kill me or use force or whatever"

Think about what you're saying. There are licensing laws for the sale of cigarettes. We've determined as a society that we don't want people under 18 buying cigarettes and that we're going to levy high taxes on those sales to pay for the healthcare and education costs. In order for those regulations to matter, they need to be enforced. It's a misdemeanor, which means that generally the enforcement response is to write a citation.

So what happens when the citations are ineffective?

Either we do something else, or we decide we don't care that much about that law.

So, JHarris, as a society we've decided that for certain conditions, custodial arrests can be made for misdemeanors. For example, in my state, you can be arrested for misdemeanor domestic assault that the police didn't even witness!

Some people don't want to be arrested. We've decided, as a society, that the police need to be able to arrest people and take them to jail even if they don't want to go. The only way to do that is with force. That force is governed by statute and the 4th amendment to the constitution.

The reality of force is that any force - any force whatsoever - is occasionally going to kill someone. That's why we have policies and investigations to determine whether it was appropriate, because if we want police that can use force, we have to have a way to determine if it was ok or not.

All of which is why it's important to try to be objective. So again, maybe you think that there's some level at which you just don't care about enforcement of cigarette sale licensing. Fine. Let's be honest about that and actually discuss what the costs are. It's not "oh he was a bad guy," it's "we were at the threshold where citations are irrelevant and our choice is either don't enforce the law or use force." You have to engage with the actual questions. If you think it's worthwhile to enforce that law even when citations are ineffective, then you have to try to evaluate the use of force on its merits and not just declare it categorically bad.

---

Agreed that no one actually said "fuck the police," but I think it's fair to say that the general metafilter atmosphere is unfriendly at best to police.

---
"Also, why is it that just about every day it seems that there's a story about the police killing someone, but if a police officer is killed, once a year or so, it's time to have a fucking memorial procession?"
So far 34 officers have been murdered in the line of duty in the U.S. this year. FWIW none of those were posted to this particular site as an FPP.

---

phaedon, yeah, I granted all that long ago in my life, but thanks for calling me obtuse, super helpful. So what do we do here? What's your practical advice for the cops on the street to try to offset the institutional racism of the CJ system? What should these guys have done instead of arresting Garner, given the facts of the situation?
posted by kavasa at 9:39 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Well, with four cops against one fat guy with athsma, I guess they could have just asked him to walk to the police station with them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:44 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


...and you think I'm doing some sort of cognitive dissonance dance when I say I'm sure the guy regrets using it? Get real.

Exactly...your expressions are articulated by cliches. "Get real" isn't refutation; it's assertion.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:46 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


For starters, in the video he's yelling "I can't breathe". And you can't yell "I can't breathe" if you can't breathe.

Well, you can't yell "I can't breathe" if you can breathe, but you can yell it out while you're being choked to death. A truly effective choke doesn't need to cut off air...it cuts off blood flow through the carotid arteries. Since it's hard to communicate that effectively while it's happening, he might have just been talking about how he was feeling light-headed etc.

I don't even know. I really don't want to watch a video of NYPD choking a man to death. It's very upsetting. Police brutality disgusts me like little else. It's like the purest form of bullying in the world.
posted by Edgewise at 9:46 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


As citizens we've already paid for the MRAPs.

Yea, and the shit deal here is that they're "free" to the cops, but now the city is on the hook for the custom parts, expensive maintenance, etc for those stupid vehicles designed for transporting troops in a hectic warzone full of IEDs

And really, it gets into my biggest problem with that sort of thing. A lot of cops are veterans, a lot more are just dick-swingers.

You put them in a military vehicle, designed for a warzone, and it's psychologically inherently antagonistic. How hard do you really think it is to drop into the mindset of "if anyone does anything that remotely seems like a danger to us, light 'em up" like you would in fucking Baghdad?

Are we at some kind of tipping point? Will there come a time when there will be a powerful backlash and there will be some kind of hearings held and substantial reforms? It seems like there would be enough backing from voters to end this 'occupying army' approach to policing. At this point the policing seems highly adversarial in its approach - is it possible to switch to more community oriented policing? Or am I just a deluded lefty?

This is so cute. I seriously don't mean to be a dick, but i used to think this. Hah. No and No. A lot of now disilllusioned college kids thought this at the beginning of the occupy movement. Then they got maced and beaten by the cops. No one who can effect any meaningful change cares enough, and some are actively pushing against the people who do.
posted by emptythought at 9:47 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


for starters, in the video he's yelling "I can't breathe". And you can't yell "I can't breathe" if you can't breathe.

Holy shit can we NOT DO THIS AGAIN. It was already debunked thoroughly in the last thread that this is simply not true. There's no point in going over it again, because it's crap.
posted by emptythought at 9:48 PM on August 9 [24 favorites]


Joe, they tried that for several minutes. You can watch the video. He was 100% crystal clear with them that he wasn't going.

lazycomputerkids, I've explained my thought process to you. Which part are you struggling with? Because what it looks like is you're trying to score lazy, bad faith rhetorical points by nagging on a straightforward supposition. Maybe the guy doesn't regret it, but I would be pretty surprised because it's the focal point in a nationwide firestorm of outrage. Either way, maybe try to drop the superior attitude and actually engage with literally anything I've written.

"A truly effective choke doesn't need to cut off air...it cuts off blood flow through the carotid arteries."

Those are two different things. The latter is commonly referred to as a "neck restraint," and is in fact no more "effective" than cutting off the air, just less prone to killing people. I'm pretty sure there aren't any departments that authorize pressure across the front of the throat outside of situations where deadly force is justified, but neck restraints are commonly authorized.

The video doesn't show them choking Garner to death. Depending on how you count it, he has an arm across the front of his throat for 5-18 seconds. I personally thought it was 18, but some people see 5. He's unconscious but breathing after the arrest, and doesn't die until about an hour later while he's at the hospital (obviously not on video).
posted by kavasa at 9:58 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Pretty high signal to noise ratio in these comments. Union gripes, public sector accountability, shootings in other states. There's really enough meat to chew on if we stick to the specifics of the case and avoid straw man arguments and non sequiturs.

Good for De Blasio. If the cops are angry at you, you must be doing something right.
posted by dry white toast at 10:01 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Maybe the guy doesn't regret it, but I would be pretty surprised because it's the focal point in a nationwide firestorm of outrage.

Having given interpretation (and motivation) to my comments, I'll reciprocate:

"The poor officer, full of regret and a victim of outrage, can be a focus too. Because we don't have all the facts, and because my voice is a minority on this thread, my comprehension of police procedure is technically correct."

The past thread gained more insight: escalation is dangerous and common and cops, by presenting the inherent danger of their task, too frequently and quickly kick ass when an attitude displeases them. Compliance and conflict resolution don't yet share a significant vocabulary. When death is a result, an outrage is warranted.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 10:18 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Youtube tells me "This video has been removed by the user."
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:20 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


In this case, if it's unlikely that the person is going to respond to a citation... Nothing is going to come of them, so writing them has the same real-world effect as not enforcing the law at all.

kavasa, I'm not going to pour a ton of energy into arguing with you. Unauthorized chokehold aside, maybe this is a hot issue for people for reasons beyond your understanding. Maybe people are sick of seeing poor, disenfranchised minorities slammed to the ground and arrested over frivolous offenses. And beaten if their arm or leg isn't pointing the right way. Potentially killed if they "don't look like they want to get arrested for a few minutes." Maybe there's a big problem in play that you're not willing to talk about, with a good solution, and now that there's video, people have an opportunity to shout and be heard and ask for change, instead of being silenced by a system that will "occasionally produce casualties, sorry about that, it's in the nature of having 'policies'." Fuck your take on that, by the way. I fully support the police, and yet stop-and-frisk is both immoral and unconstitutional and done solely in the name of hitting "crime targets."

There are divergent criminal justice experiences for the privileged and underprivileged. Eric Garner had a long rap sheet for selling cigarettes. I cannot believe that you would insinuate that he has ignored a citation one too many times and finally deserves a good public beating. You clearly have no understanding of the law. It has not been served in this case. Period.
posted by phaedon at 10:23 PM on August 9 [28 favorites]


I completely forgot about that maximum IQ business when replying to the silly police pay claims. lol  We don't have better cops because our political masters don't want better cops. Instead they want a gang who keeps the pleebs from protesting too much.

Just slightly off topic but @KashannKilson has great stuff in #Ferguson :
- So my question would then be if stealing candy is good for 10 bullets, then when do we nuke Wall Street?
- Do you realize the inhumanity it takes to put 10 bullets into another person? You have to learn that. That's taught.

posted by jeffburdges at 10:27 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Regarding the guy in the walmart, this is the air rifle he was holding. Rounds fired by a rifle like that punch right through body armor, and assault rifles can fire a lot of rounds quickly and accurately with fast reloads

You linked to a BB gun.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:28 PM on August 9 [16 favorites]


The Garner arrest was a huge cockup, no way around it. And the people responsible should be at least fired, and really, tried.

That having been said, it's not like they just picked Mr. Garner at random off the street. If you are going to allow that any measure of policework requires judgement, then you have to allow for incorrect judgement as well as correct judgement.

But it is sort of laughable to point to an increasingly bad police force. It smacks of no understanding of history at all. I mean, you know 20 years ago, the Garner incident wouldn't even have been news. 20 years before that, they woulda gotten a commendation.

Society improves in fits and starts. Sometimes it lurches backwards. But it has never, in the past 1000 years, failed to improve over time. Police work can be done well. Many cities are known for their good officers (Madison, WI, fer instance).

As for the shooting in the walmart.... well, if some dude openly carries a gun, I may just shoot them myself. A good guy with a gun, a bad guy with a gun - I do not give a fuck as long as they are dead first.

Welcome back to the wild west.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:32 PM on August 9


I want to add, beneath a macro analysis of societal ills and controls, what's been related to me from well-intentioned LEO's (as Reddit loves to abbreviate) is a micro-decision: Does this person have enough money to hire a lawyer? If NO, lean hard.

Which has been addressed in this thread in broader terms.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 10:35 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


What's your practical advice for the cops on the street to try to offset the institutional racism of the CJ system?

They could start with not killing people.
posted by spaltavian at 10:42 PM on August 9 [8 favorites]


Journalist Stalked by Law Enforcement, 100 Officers, 28 Agencies, Accessed His Records 200 Times

Related HipHop track : This is What Happens When You Call the Cops by Rob Hustle.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:44 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


twists and turns, read my first comment in the thread where I quoted what the ME said. "Died an hour later from a combination of things" is different from "here is a video of a man getting choked to death". Also back up your last sentence, not cool.

lazycomputerkids, nope, I neither thought nor said any of that, nor that outrage is unwarranted. Just that I bet the cop wishes he'd done something different for that arrest.

Keep in mind, again, that they talked with him for several minutes before the arrest. I couldn't find a continuous video so I'm not sure how many, but it was at least 4-5.

phaedon, what?

This wasn't stop and frisk, and I agree that stop and frisk was bad policy for a whole raft of reasons, not least that I personally think it violated the 4th amendment. So... why are you bringing that up?

I've already said I agree that the CJ system clearly has strong institutional racism, so why are you saying that again?

When did I insinuate he "deserves a public beating"???? Because let me state explicitly that:
1) I do not believe that
2) That is not what happened, seriously, there was not a single strike used

Which part of what I did say is confusing? Seriously? I'm not an attorney, but I do have some understanding of the law, and I've laid out the reasoning for custodial arrests for misdemeanors, as well as given an example of another reason a custodial arrest for a misdemeanor might be authorized. Where's the breakdown in my understanding? Where is the part where I'm advocating public beatings? Seriously?

I also don't know what to tell you about some death being unavoidable if you allow use of force. That's part of why it's so important to be honest with ourselves as a society about when we're going to say force is legal. If we let police take people to jail, injuries are going to happen. Garner is not the first person to die from trauma in custody. Deaths from excited delirium happen. People fall and hit their heads on concrete. Use of force is chaotic and inherently, unavoidably dangerous. It's not in the nature of "having policies," it's in the nature of the use of force, period. If the police are allowed to use force ever, eventually someone is going to die during or as a result of an arrest, regardless of the policies that cover it.

You've said you don't want to put a bunch of energy into arguing with me, which is great, because so far you have not put any in. You have made incorrect assumptions about my beliefs, called me obtuse, and accused me of implying things that I haven't implied. Pretty crappy.

Pope Guilty - yes, the BB gun that looks like a real rifle. I'm not a gun guy, but apparently it's a look-alike for a weapon called "FN SCAR". I also explained why police might be worried about a weapon that looks like that. The word "like" was right there in your quote.

spaltavian, pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase read the hundreds of words I've already written about the full implications and context of the situation, arrests, and use of force. Please. PLEASE. It is not that simple.

Anyway. Obviously I'm commenting WAY too much in this thread and need to step away so I'll do that. But PLEASE could people at least try to read and actually think about the stuff I'm writing here? If your response is a seven-word sentence, you're probably not doing that.
posted by kavasa at 10:47 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


It is not that simple.

Yes it is. I've read your comments here and in the previous thread. The sheer volume of your excuse making and apologia failed to convince me that it was okay for the police to use excessive force and kill a guy. You're clearly quite impressed with your own intellect, but you can refrain from reminding me to "think" in the future.
posted by spaltavian at 10:50 PM on August 9 [32 favorites]


Aggh I'm really leaving I promise, but you have memail disabled spaltavian, so: I'm not "quite impressed with my own intellect." I'm frustrated because from my perspective, it feels like people are skipping over everything I've written, picking one little tidbit, and responding to it with a zinger instead of answering the things I've actually said. Like I don't think Garner's death was "ok". I also think comments like the first comment in the thread are untrue and really harmful to a healthy discussion about use of force, so I've been expending a lot of effort to try to move discussions beyond "the cops murdered him for selling loosies" etc. But seriously, bailing. Need to actually close the tab. Ugh.
posted by kavasa at 11:11 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


@kavasa- the cops that you're apologizing for are willing participants in a fucked up system. this is their job, that they applied for, that they trained for, that they get paid for. they are more willing participants than us civilians? i can't opt out of being policed, Eric Garner can't get away. Mike Brown couldn't opt out.

by asking: What should these guys have done instead of arresting Garner, given the facts of the situation? you're attempting to shift the discussion away from "this thing is really fucked up" (which is the discussion that we're all here to participate in) to "well what would you do in their shoes?", which is an entirely different question, and one that I'm not obligated to answer, because I'm 100% committed to never being in their shoes, because I fundamentally disagree with where their shoes are placed.

and, that doesn't actually respond to the "this thing is really fucked up" conversation that we were having before.

and and, you say "So if we want it done better, please can we actually try to be as close to objective as is possible? Like, if you say "murder" you're saying that the guy intended for Garner to die", followed by: "So far 34 officers have been murdered in the line of duty in the U.S. this year." (emphasis mine). That seems to include these three car accident deaths.

you can spout all the "You've said you don't want to put a bunch of energy into arguing with me, which is great, because so far you have not put any in" you want, but you're misinterpreting everyone's reaction to your points. you're not bringing revelatory new info to a discussion, you're repeating status quo defenses for the status quo, which we're familiar with, because it's the status quo.
posted by DGStieber at 11:12 PM on August 9 [27 favorites]



where I quoted what the ME said. "Died an hour later from a combination of things" 


The ME says that the actions of the police were the cause of death. In the part you quote.

I have personally violently subdued people, people significantly larger than me, and used force to constrain them. I managed to do so multiple times without applying any choke holds or strangulation. I will certainly accept, though, that my training was superior to the NYPDs.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 PM on August 9 [19 favorites]


kavasa, all I want to say is, whether you realize it or not, you are conflating the complexity of the situation with maintaining the status quo. Not everybody feels that way. I am personally old enough to be sick of this bullshit. The method of arrest was excessive, unnecessary and ultimately lethal, and therefore in my mind immoral. The fact that the arrest was justified does not immunize the arresting officer to take any kind of violent action that suits him. I don't perceive the need to be told by someone else that this makes sense, or that it is an acceptable loss, or that I just need to look at the bigger picture. This would be fine in class, but I am also a member of a community.

You asked for practical suggestions and I say don't use unauthorized chokeholds, the most obvious problem with this arrest. You say it wasn't the chokehold that killed him, it was the knees to the back? Then don't put ten knees on some big guy's back and head. Better yet, don't do both. If that's what arrests are going to look like, have EMS and a fucking priest on the scene before you do anything.

The reason I brought up "stop and frisk" is because that was also a policy that "made a lot of sense" to the bureaucrats because it "brought down the numbers" by roughing "suspicious" people up even if they weren't committing a crime. I believe this policy was eventually repealed, so the conversation between what is appropriate and what is not is constantly going back and forth, I'll give you that. So along those lines, I personally think this was a bad takedown, even if it was in some totally theoretical sense "by the book." I don't even think the NYPD is calling this a necessary evil.
posted by phaedon at 11:18 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


Agreed 100% with "[kavasa], you're repeating status quo defenses for the status quo, which we're familiar with, because it's the status quo." As a society, we need these violent thugs with badges to do hard time at Riker's Island or similar. That goes for the guy doing the pseudo-strangulation, the guys trying to break his back, the guys standing around backing them up (conspiracy), and likely some superiors backing them up now (conspiracy after the fact).
posted by jeffburdges at 11:36 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


there were some cries of "Kill the police,"

[citation needed]. It's an unsourced item from one AP reporter being repeated endlessly. Suffice it to say that "no justice, no peace" might sound like that if you aren't listening. Regardless, I'm skeptical until video/audio surfaces.
posted by rhizome at 11:38 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


kavasa: Deaths from excited delirium happen.

Yeah, I'm not so sure.
posted by rhizome at 11:42 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


kavasa, out of curiosity, is a family member or another loved one a cop? Because you seem extremely dedicated to the idea that cops are all Barney Fifes, good to a person and never at fault.

Your comments in this thread are exactly the same as those in threads about sexual harassment where until we know the exact details of the incident we cannot possibly decide if there was actually one--indeed it was probably just a misunderstanding, and while being harassed is bad, imagine being accused of it! Slicing a situation thinner and thinner until there is nothing left except complete absolution for the aggressor. It's a pity dead men cannot apologize, because that's what will demanded next.

Everything you need to know about this incident is the outcome, which was inexcusable.

A cop's #1 job, full stop, is to deescalate a difficult situation into a workable one (or in a sane society, it would be, anyway). Police should not view the communities they serve as the enemy. Police should be social lubricant--an impartial, helpful presence mitigating small disputes and helping those who ask for it. For many, many people, a police officer is the only government official they come in contact with, and as such they should be a resource as well as an authority.

And I am not convinced there are any good cops. Good cops shouldn't stand for this kind of bullshit.
posted by maxwelton at 11:44 PM on August 9 [22 favorites]


[One comment deleted (check your mefi mail). Folks, we need to back off personalizing this discussion; please discuss the topic rather than make this all about one poster. (We also have a whole still-open thread about Eric Garner, so rather than re-hash exactly the same discussion here, it might be worth opening this up to discussion of policy/politics around the situation, as addressed by the main article linked in the post). ]
posted by taz at 12:14 AM on August 10


"Fucking guns. Why fucking guns, you ask? Because it is the pervasiveness of them that leads to cops being constantly on edge and feeling under siege. That constant stress leads to the othering of the rest of the citizenry and then to stupidity like choking a guy for selling loosies."

This. Frankly, I don't know how cops do their job without losing their minds or dangerously burning out. It is tragic and wrong for citizens to die unnecessarily at the hands of the police; and, there are police who are dangerous and should be removed from street duty (at the very least).

About the tragic shooting of a kid (mentioned up-thread) who was wielding a BB gun at Walmart: I have seen those BB guns (not at WalMart; I refuse to shop there) at sporting good stores. They are most often *exact* replicas of real rifles. A kid was shot by police in Santa Rosa about a year ago when he failed to put down his BB gun. To a cop who does not know it is a BB gun, there is the fear that it could be an assault weapon whose bullets can penetrate a car. So, why do we still allow the sale of these pretend weapons?. It seems to me that we should simply forbid their sale.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:50 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


What should these guys have done instead of arresting Garner, given the facts of the situation?

They didn't arrest Eric Garner, they murdered him.

What should they have done instead, given the facts of the situation?

First they shouldn't have approached Mr. Garner in a way they knew would inflame him.
They'd rubbed up against this guy before and they knew he wasn't dangerous, and they sure as shit knew how to set him off.

If they'd been good cops, meaning police who understand their mission, and how the street works, they would not have deliberately antagonized him.
Competent police operate with capital D discretion -- a philosophy of low intensity, because they're confident with their authority,
and know when it's time to crank up the volume, and exactly how loud.

Good cops know they've got eight hours in front of them, which is all the time in the world.
They know the Job isn't their their friend. Capital D.

Good cops know that the guy selling loosies, who most probably has some unfinished business hanging fire, might also be a good CI.
You don't fuck with him, you cultivate a relationship with this man because he'll drop the knowledge on you that prevents or solves serious crimes.
If there comes a time when you have to take him in, you let him vent. You stand there with the pose that says you're just along for the ride.
And then he comes in. He might holler throughout the arrest and booking, but he's no danger.

And oh yes there's the shit. EDP calls, especially when your PSA is in the Projects. Massive shitstorm ratfuck calls. Details you don't want to see ripped wide open you must somehow resolve.
And all the goddamned fuckers who want to fuck with you. Young black mens who give you shit whether you're white or black or whomever.
Citizens who toss bricks, old cans of vegetables, radios, whatever at you from the upper decks. Petty ratfuck domestic disputes you get plunged into. Life at it's basic worst. And more.

Plus you have a sergeant, your boss, who doesn't know their ass from a hole in the ground.
S/he hates you and does everything to make your work harder. Fuckface political climber.
Guess who loses vacation days if you don't absolutely follow the Patrol Guide?
The people you protect hate you and the Job is not your friend.

OK.

Regardless, the police here deliberately provoked Eric Garner then murdered him.
They ignored every rule of good policing and escalated a situation that should not have happened in the first place.
They used forbidden choke holds which killed Mr. Garner surely as if they had shot him.

I'm not sure how to wind this up except I've met many good police because of my job - men and women who get to see the ugly can of worms opened and just continue being good people.

Policing is a hard, thankless job. Let's weed out the brutes.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:06 AM on August 10 [26 favorites]


I have personally violently subdued people, people significantly larger than me, and used force to constrain them. I managed to do so multiple times without applying any choke holds or strangulation.

posted by the man of twists and turns

Eponysterical?
posted by univac at 1:46 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


First they shouldn't have approached Mr. Garner in a way they knew would inflame him.

Exactly. Everything about this situation seems to have been an attempt to escalate the encounter. That's not how good police are supposed to behave.

This guy wasn't exactly a highly trained assassin about to get away forever. At some point in the process, ideally before unauthorized choke holds were used, when it became clear that a great deal of force is going to have to be used on someone who was selling untaxed cigarettes, why not just give up for the moment? Let the overweight asthmatic guy run away. You've cited him plenty of times before, so odds are pretty darn good you'll know where to find him again tomorrow, when maybe you can try a different approach and convince him to come willingly. If the point is to serve the community, you might do something like that. If the point is to show that the police are in charge and anybody who resists them is going to get what's coming to them, you might end up killing a man.
posted by zachlipton at 2:13 AM on August 10 [15 favorites]


Regarding the chants of "kill the cops" being reported - it might be worth comparing the death of Ian Tomlinson in the UK, who was beaten to the ground by a Territorial Support Group (basically riot police) officer in 2009 during a protest and died of internal bleeding from the resulting injury. Police reports said that police medics had attempted to give him medical care, but were driven back by thrown objects from protestors. Video footage showed that to be a fabrication - and eyewitness statements reported that he had in fact been surrounded by riot police officers, who prevented civilians from giving him basic medical attention while he died.

Claims like these will be repeated by media hungry for reportable information, and by civilians seeking to downplay the significance of the death or excuse the police for their own purposes. If proven untrue or hugely over-reported, they can then be quietly retracted as misunderstandings by the media in the heat of the moment, or an unauthorized statement by an unidentifiable officer, once things have calmed down and the media focus has moved on.

I would suggest a degree of skepticism about claims of angry mobs or shots being fired until some actual evidence is presented. The St Louis Post-Dispatch describes demonstrators "swarm[ing] the streets" chanting "we are Michael Brown" as "acrimony", which seems to me be setting a very low bar for acrimony, and indeed swarming.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:36 AM on August 10 [17 favorites]


when it became clear that a great deal of force is going to have to be used on someone who was selling untaxed cigarettes

Judging from the videos and what I've read, he wasn't even selling loosies at the time. He had in the past been arrested for it, and on this occasion, when some cops decided to give him some grief because of his history, he tried to walk away from them.

Some crime.
posted by rifflesby at 3:59 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


(And I think that some of the comments above are really useful for illustrating that, while the term "racism" is often limiting and controversial, white supremacy, in the bell hooks sense, is absolutely in play across every level of this discussion. White supremacy, in those terms, absolutely allows for sincerely thinking of the death of black people as tragic, or saying sincerely that it sucks that they have been killed, but also to pull up hard at the idea that those specific officers responsible for the death should actually be held to account - or that the bar for accountability should be anything other than incredibly high - or that the powers of the police should be circumscribed more generally.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:37 AM on August 10 [16 favorites]


De Blasio is a major improvement over Bloomberg but then he went and hired that fucker Bratton.
posted by angrycat at 5:20 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


All of which is why it's important to try to be objective.

Okay. Objectively, placing suspects in choke holds is illegal, because of the risk of death. Objectively, a choke hold was used. Objectively, the Medical Examiner has ruled that he died as a result of police action.

Those are objective facts, dispassionate and provable. So I'm kind of stuck as to why and how any defence of these officers can exist, as they were acting illegally, in a much more dangerous and severe way than selling some cigarettes illegally.

There are tragic echoes here of the murder of Sammy Yatim by cops here in Toronto. Or to be more accurate, the savage murder of Sammy Yatim by one cop, who is going to trial shortly.

What's needed is an institutional change in police mindsets. They need to learn and internalize a few very simple things:

- "To Serve and Protect" isn't just a feel-good slogan, it is the entire raison d'etre for the existence of police. Cops need to understand that their job is to serve the public, and to protect the public from danger. This goes for good cops (who I personally believe there are more of than there are uniformed thugs) who look the other way; they're neither serving nor protecting. Which leads inexorably to:

- The thin blue line mentality needs to be erased. All law enforcement needs to eradicate the us-vs-them idea. There's only us; being a person sworn to uphold the law means doing so even when--especially when--the person breaking the law is wearing the same uniform as you are.

- Recording, both audio and video, of police activities needs to be 100% protected by law when it comes to civilians, and mandated by law when it comes to police forces. Police need to learn that having their actions recorded (and recordings kept for a period of years, subject to public review at any time by civilian oversight boards) is a good thing. Any cop objecting to same needs to be removed from field duty immediately.

- Accountability. Unions are good. They are necessary. That is without doubt. But cops who break the law in the course of their duties, particularly when such law-breaking results in death, need to know that they will lose their jobs, pensions, and benefits. Period.

- Use of force must be proportional to the situation. There is no reason whatsoever why cops should be allowed to use lethal or even dangerous force unless the suspect in question is actively dangerous, with weaponry. If it was so important to arrest this guy, there's no reason whatsoever that they couldn't have just waited him out; unless I'm mistaken he was not offering physical threat to anybody nearby. So just wait it out until calm has been restored.

- Civilian oversight boards need actual teeth.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:51 AM on August 10 [18 favorites]


(And yes I know I didn't address racism. That's a much larger societal problem and is going to take a lot longer to fix.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:53 AM on August 10


We need an end to official and qualified immunity so that cops, prosecutors, etc. actually suffer consequences when they violate laws. In particular, cops who cover up wrongdoing by other cops should face conspiracy charges.

We also need strong transparency laws that make it hard for police to keep malfeasance secret. All emails, phone records, GPS records, financial records, network logs, etc. should be published online after a few years, so that journalists and activists can peruse them as leisure and deploy algorithms that attempt to detect corruption.

There is imho a role for law enforcement, but they've proven themselves to be a criminal gang, so our laws should evolve to treat them like one.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:10 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Anyway. Obviously I'm commenting WAY too much in this thread and need to step away so I'll do that.

Good. Because things like "The video doesn't show them choking Garner to death" and "Choked/strangled to death is a lot different from what happened" are horrible, horrible lies. Eric Garner was choked to death, and it's really, really offensive to say he wasn't.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:25 AM on August 10 [12 favorites]


Whenever stop & frisk or this kind of heavy-handed policing is discussed around the job or relatives homes, I inevitably hear claims to the effect that crime is on the rise and is deliberately underreported by the lib media to prevent their lib politicians from looking bad. Similar thinking with terrorism: if you knew about a fraction of the plots and horrors foiled by the intelligence apparatus, you wouldn't even think about criticizing the spying mechanism and torture that makes it possible To Keep Us Safe.

The message is clear: they're all out to get us and you're a soft headed liberal moron if you think otherwise. Fear sells. Big time.
posted by dr_dank at 8:30 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Eric Garner had a history of selling loose cigarettes on the street and being ticketed for it, you say? Well, I'll be. You know else has a history of past bad actions? Daniel Pantoleo, the cop that killed Eric Garner. He's got a bad habit of harassing black men, and has been sued twice for wrongful arrest/civil rights violations. One of those cases has been settled in favor of the plaintiffs, at a cost of a $30,000 payout from the city. He strip searched and groped those plaintiffs in the street, without cause, before taking them to the station for further harassment. The other case is still being decided, but in that case it appears that the officer also did not have cause to arrest and falsified his reports. Filings for both of those cases can be found here.

Sure, fine, whatever, selling loosies is "bad" and "wrong". (I actually give zero rat's asses about selling loosies. Seems like it should be absolute lowest priority on the big bad crime scale, you know?) Call me crazy, but I feel like continually making false arrests and falsely imprisoning and abusing black men is actually worse, and more wrong, than selling some smokes.
posted by palomar at 9:12 AM on August 10 [32 favorites]


I don't understand the part about the cigarettes being "untaxed." Where did he get the cigarettes? I'm going to guess he bought a pack at a convenience store and paid the tax like anyone would. Then he committed the "crime" of meeting market demand by re-selling already-taxed cigarettes one-by-one to people too poor to buy a whole pack.

If a hedge fund manager or other B-school grad came up with a plan to do something like this on a much grander scale, they would most likely be celebrated. He was preventing double taxation--get this guy into law school and let him have at larger-scale problems!

And of course, even if what he was doing was a serious crime, he doesn't deserve to be choked and pushed into the sidewalk until he dies. But the "crime" doesn't even seem wrong to me.
posted by EvelynU at 9:18 AM on August 10 [17 favorites]


EvelynU: If a hedge fund manager or other B-school grad came up with a plan to do something like this on a much grander scale, they would most likely be celebrated.

Quoted. For. Truth.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:21 AM on August 10 [8 favorites]


You know else has a history of past bad actions? Daniel Pantoleo, the cop that killed Eric Garner.

No, see, that doesn't matter because the "broken windows" theory only applies to people who are stupid enough to not be cops. There are no small problems that signal bigger problems in policeland, only in civilianland, where they must be crushed quickly and definitively by the inhabitants of policeland.
posted by rtha at 10:05 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


A few people have criticized the government for backing down in the Bundy situation. I think he's a criminal asshole who should be in jail but I don't really mind that they backed down. There's another day, you know? The world doesn't end if you don't arrest this guy right now. Law enforcement exists to protect people, even bad people.

This is one of the problems with our current law enforcement. The police just can't let anybody go, not because they are a danger to society, but because it's a challenge to their authority. "Resisting arrest" is not the worst crime, it's a totally understandable one. That doesn't mean it deserves a pass, but it isn't worth killing over.

Police should think of the people they arrest as their children. Even if you know they have to be arrested for their own good, it has to be done with care and a respect for life. It puts the police in more danger for our sake, and they already take on a lot of risk for us, but it still has to be that way.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:32 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


The cops that got that call couldn't just turn it down, and they didn't have psychic abilities to determine that it wasn't a firearm.


And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting
posted by Drinky Die at 11:44 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


That particular incident makes no sense at all, and seems totally implausible until you get to the last paragraph:

A relative told the paper the family had contacted the NAACP


.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:47 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


That particular incident makes no sense at all

Can you clarify what you're talking about?
posted by palomar at 12:08 PM on August 10


White guy in WalMart with a BB gun...I don't see how he could have ended up shot to death by cops. Black guy...all too easy.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:34 PM on August 10


Police are supposed to be a shield to protect the public from danger and keep the peace. If we're going to continue to be a free country I believe we'll have to come back to that being the most common attitude among both police and the public.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:56 PM on August 10


Drinky Die, I'm confused. Are you saying that you assumed the shooting victim was a white man?
posted by palomar at 1:23 PM on August 10


Time to rethink public sector unions?

>No.

This has been simple answers to simple questions.


Simple is as simple does. You miss the point I suspect because you are sentimental.

Here are few cites giving the case against them, some from a progressive POV. Plenty more where that came from. Feel free to disagree, but do admit that there is another side to the story worth consideration.

American cops, especially in the big cities where a lot of these high-profile abuses happen, face a lot of dangers cops in other countries don't.

In New Jersey, the highest paid cops are not in Newark or Camden, they're in the leafy 'burbs.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:12 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the part about the cigarettes being "untaxed." Where did he get the cigarettes? I'm going to guess he bought a pack at a convenience store and paid the tax like anyone would.

I listened to an interview on the CBC (probably As it Happens) with Eric Garner's pastor and he said Eric would go to some other state with much lower taxes, buy lots of cigarettes, then return to NYC to sell them. Then he went on to say that the reason Eric was doing this was because he had a criminal record and thus couldn't get hired for a regular, aboveboard job. The pastor's take on it was that the cops hated Eric even more because he wasn't letting having a criminal record destroy his life.
posted by carolr at 2:33 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


From your resident protest singer here at Metafilter Music: Eric Garner Is Dead.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:39 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


" Eric would go to some other state with much lower taxes, buy lots of cigarettes, then return to NYC to sell them." Plausible. And no doubt illegal. But it's hard to see how the cops accosting him on the street corner could tell this by looking at him. Maybe they know, somehow, that this is his MO. In business school, I believe this is known as arbitrage.
posted by EvelynU at 4:13 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Very nice song, flapjax at midnite, thank you.

Interesting links on public sector unions, IndigoJones.
NYC Police Union Commissar : If You Resist, You Should Expect to Die
posted by jeffburdges at 4:45 PM on August 10


I looked up some of the coverage in the Walmart shooting. This is one of the stories carried by the local broadcaster, WHIO:
No proof suspect took bus to Walmart Social media was abuzz early that RTA leads to crime in Beavercreek [...]

To be fair, this story was presumably written before the facts were known, when the reporters thought the victim was a criminal. None the less, the implication is that if he took the bus it was because he was poor; if he was poor he was likely a criminal; now people can say that they were right to oppose the bus line - look, it brings criminals into the heart of our community!
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:58 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Remember when liquor stores had a cigarette singles tray on the counter?
posted by telstar at 5:02 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I think of this Mefite story every time I hear about the underground loosie cigarette business.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:53 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I'm saying fuck the police. Fuck. The. Police. It's just a job. They deserve no more, or less, respect than anyone in any other job. But, here seems to be this pervasive attitudes that police deserve more leeway than a regular citizen because their jobs are dangerous. That is utter bullshit. Taxi drivers have a dangerous job. Delivery drivers have dangerous jobs. Convenience store employess have dangerous jobs. No one would make any excuses for a delivery driver who killed someone because the driver thought they were dangerous (unless maybe if the murdered person were black, but that's a whole other issue). Police may have an important role to play in the functioning of a community or society, but it's no more objectively important a role than played by the sanitation or utility worker. Police don't deserve extra respect or special immunities any more than the guy who picks up your trash. (Here I see that equating police to those who "pick up trash" may have unwanted implications. None are intended). Again, I just don't understand why anyone makes excuses for police who kill unarmed civilians.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:52 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Reports on twitter that police have fired into the crowd at a Mike Brown vigil.
posted by idiopath at 7:11 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


New heartbreaking Twitter hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, has folks posting pictures of themselves partying AND pictures of themselves in graduation gowns, military uniforms, or doing community service; "If they gunned me down, which picture would the media use to portray me?"
posted by emjaybee at 7:34 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


idiopath: “Reports on twitter that police have fired into the crowd at a Mike Brown vigil.”
This appears to not actually have happened. The situation in Ferguson is getting out of control, there's been some looting, the cops have brought out the dogs, again, but so far the police haven't killed anyone tonight. God willing they won't.

KSDK News reporters Elizabeth Matthews and Christina Coleman, and producer Rob Edwards are tweeting from the protest. There are a couple of people who appear to be in the crowd like 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French, rapper Tef Poe, and Michael Skolnik. Another good person to check in with is Goldie Taylor, who's from St. Louis and is deeply invested in this story.

And I get 11 national and international news channels on my television and not a goddamned one of them are reporting on this. I'm a little angry that I have to try and piece together events via Twitter feeds of sometimes unknown provenance.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:59 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Live stream from KTVI TV 2 News in St. Louis. [via Goldie Taylor]
posted by ob1quixote at 9:03 PM on August 10


Although for the love of God turn off the chat.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:06 PM on August 10


I don't know, I would call those "blows", not "punches":
LA woman punched by patrolman speaks

With video!
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:54 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, worth revisiting this on the shooting of John Crawford III.

Further, there have been numerous cases across the country recently with open carry advocates walking around, waving 100% real assault rifles in peoples' faces.

Amazingly, not one of these people to my knowledge has been shot by police, despite their guns being totally real and not air rifles firing BBs. More amazingly, this includes an armed encampment of people who are openly stating their intent to fire on federal agents if their demands are not met. Also amazingly, these people have been overwhelmingly white.

Again, it makes perfect sense within the framework of white supremacy that it should be the case that a black man holding an air rifle should be shot dead by police, and that this is an appropriate thing to do and simply the police doing their job (although tragedy, terribly sad etc), and that the presence of white people openly carrying around actual cartridge-firing rifles without police interference makes the shooting of black people more reasonable, not less. Because it is a reminder to police that guns in the wrong hands can be terribly dangerous.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:54 AM on August 11 [12 favorites]


I can't remember the last time I agreed with a republican congress thing but this is different.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:34 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


That seems pretty good on the face of it; is there some sort of poison pill in there?
posted by spaltavian at 5:57 AM on August 11


yeah no. Its same old same old "jack booted thugs from the ATF" meme. It does nothing about the militarization of police forces or even the DEA

Prohibits federal agencies, other than those traditionally tasked with enforcing federal law is the tell.

When NOAA kicks down your door...

So basically it does something that should be done, but explicitly does nothing to deal with this problem.
posted by JPD at 7:26 AM on August 11


Purposeful Grimace: “I can't remember the last time I agreed with a republican congress thing but this is different.
spaltavian: “That seems pretty good on the face of it; is there some sort of poison pill in there?”
It certainly seems reasonable on it's face, but I wonder how much of it is motivated by thinking federal regulatory agencies are de facto illegitimate, fear of "Agenda 21," etc.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:28 AM on August 11


I mean for FFS look at the hashtag #disarmregulators

Look at one of the examples they cite: Serving a search warrant on a raw milk seller. Now reasonably one could argue that the raw milk regs are silly. But they are regs, and you would need to serve a warrant.

Or investigators going into a mine to investigate clean water act abuses? We don't want that?

Or read the WP piece on the student loan raid where we learn that it was actually a criminal investigation and did not involve a swat team - because the DoE does not have a SWAT team - as outlined in the appended headnote.
posted by JPD at 7:32 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I think its funny that the repubs are all pro-open carry but are a bunch of shrinking violets when it comes to the men expected to inspect small scale mining claims in Alaska. I mean I've never even thought of touching a gun, but if you asked me to do that I'd want body armor, a weapon, and an armored personnel carrier.
posted by JPD at 7:35 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


One of my Facebook feeds that usually handles the local Texas police blotter/weather stuff is saying "Rioting! Burning down the QT! Looting!" and I'm just waiting to see what the fallout is. The Twitter feeds above do mention looting, though I didn't see anything about the QT on fire.

I hope everyone is safe. Insurance will cover the property damage, but you can't replace people. I know lots of folks will point to theft and damage as a "look, see what they're like!" kind of thing, and continue to ignore what fueled that anger.

Also on Twitter, several commenters noting that if the rioters were white and protesting having to pay fees for their cattle, well; they'd be heroes.
posted by emjaybee at 7:43 AM on August 11


It does nothing about the militarization of police forces or even the DEA

Okay, but it would stop the spread of those tactics to other agencies, right? I'm explicitly looking for the catch here, so I don't really need this "yeah, no" stuff. But so far all you're giving me is that a Republican is pushing seemingly reasonable legislation with traditional Republican themes. If a Republican campagined against mandatory minimums on the basis of deficit reduction and countering correctional officer's unions, I'd recognize that he's playing to his base, even though those aren't reasons that reasonate with me.

Look at one of the examples they cite:

Sure, but look at another:

•On May 7th, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s OIG released a solicitation for submachine guns.

My layman impression is that the Dept of Agriculture doesn't need submachine guns, but maybe there's a totally valid reason for it, which is what I'm more interested in than reflex reactions to small government messaging.

Or read the WP piece on the student loan raid

That's more a long the lines of what I was wondering. Of course, it appears it was originally reported that there was a SWAT team, so I can see that making into the rationale for the bill. Corrections get less ink. And it does appear that the execution of the warrant was unnecessarily rough. Before I throw this bill out as just another attack on the legitimacy of the Department of Education, I would want to know what the training is for these DOE cops, if these "non-standard" law enforcement units have any greater incidents of excessive force, etc, and why standard law enforcement units are not used for these investigations.
posted by spaltavian at 8:03 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: “The Twitter feeds above do mention looting, though I didn't see anything about the QT on fire. ”
The QuickTrip definitely burned to the ground last night.

I watched KTVI for several hours last night, and what I'll say is this: If police turn up to a protest about police violence with attack dogs and riot gear they're goddamned lucky if all that happens is a few smashed windows and stolen tennis shoes.


spaltavian: “I'm explicitly looking for the catch here, so I don't really need this "yeah, no" stuff.”
For what it's worth, I think that there must be a catch, but I didn't find it on the page you linked. I'd have to dig into the backgrounds of the bill's author, sponsors, etc. If I get a chance, I will.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:10 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


My layman impression is that the Dept of Agriculture doesn't need submachine guns

I'm confident that the real story is something much less dramatic and sinister.

Yes - the catch is that there are tasks those agencies do that require being armed
The repubs refusal to enforce even reasonable gun control created the circumstances that require regulators to be armed, then prohibited the regulators from being armed.

Do you have a problem with a federal officer being armed when they go to serve a Warrant? I mean I wish I could say it was unnecessary but the reality is that it might be.

Of course, it appears it was originally reported that there was a SWAT team, so I can see that making into the rationale for the bill. Corrections get less ink.

The article was from three years ago as was the DoE response linked in the headnote. Its just more mendacity.
posted by JPD at 8:17 AM on August 11


"I don't understand the part about the cigarettes being "untaxed." Where did he get the cigarettes? I'm going to guess he bought a pack at a convenience store and paid the tax like anyone would. Then he committed the "crime" of meeting market demand by re-selling already-taxed cigarettes one-by-one to people too poor to buy a whole pack.

If a hedge fund manager or other B-school grad came up with a plan to do something like this on a much grander scale, they would most likely be celebrated. He was preventing double taxation--get this guy into law school and let him have at larger-scale problems!
"
Public Heath doesn't suddenly become unimportant when we're talking about poor neighborhoods or non-white people, and parasitic capitalism that preys on the lungs and resources of the poor doesn't suddenly become laudable when done at a small scale.

Loosies are the visible tip of a massive, lethal, and largely ignored public health crisis. While they should not be thought of as a criminal justice issue, except with regards to established businesses or whatever hypothetical bullshit you have in mind that are not so resistant to law enforcement and have no excuses, they are still a big deal worth a hell of a lot more attention and understanding.
Buying and Selling “Loosies” in Baltimore: The Informal Exchange of Cigarettes in the Community Context
Since the release of the first Surgeon General’s report, the proportion of adult smokers in the U.S. has been reduced by half (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). This success has not, however, been equally felt across all social strata. Recent survey data from Baltimore show considerably elevated smoking rates within urban, African-American communities. Of particular concern was that in some communities, over half of the young adults (18–24 years old) smoke cigarettes. As yet, there has been little focus on understanding or preventing cigarette smoking among young adults, particularly for those seeking entry into the workforce rather than being engaged in higher education. In this paper, we explore community factors contributing to high young adult smoking prevalence. Our analysis is based on data from four focus groups conducted in 2004 as part of a community-based participatory research project with two urban education and job training organizations. The focus group data reflect the experiences and opinions of 28 young adult program participants (23 smokers and 5 nonsmokers). The data highlight a normalized practice of buying and selling single cigarettes (“loosies”) within the community, with participants describing buying loose cigarettes as a preferred acquisition practice. We apply theories of informal economy and suggest that this alternative purchasing option may influence the smoking behavior of these young adults. We argue that public health efforts need to more closely consider the impact of community structures on program implementation. Overlooking key community characteristics such as the availability of single cigarettes may serve to intensify health disparities.

The prevalence and correlates of single cigarette selling among urban disadvantaged drug users in Baltimore, Maryland
Background: Selling of single cigarettes, also known as loosies, is a public health concern. Loosies allow for those with fewer resources to buy cigarettes without having to purchase a pack. Selling of loosies may cue smoking behaviors. In the US, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations have high rates of smoking and illicit drug use and the selling of loosies appears to be linked to the urban informal economy. We examined the proportion and frequency of cigarette selling and roles in the informal economy associated with selling loosies among a sample of urban drug users.
Methods: There were 801 participants, recruited by community outreach, assessed at baseline, who were enrolled in an HIV prevention intervention for drug users.
Results: Most (89%) smoked cigarettes in the prior 30 days, of whom 92% smoked daily. Self-reported selling of cigarettes was common with 58% reporting that they had sold cigarettes within the last six months; 20.4% reported selling cigarettes a few times a week and 7.4% reported daily selling of cigarettes. In a stepwise regression model, four sources of income were associated with frequent cigarette selling: providing street security (OR = 2.214, 95% CI 1.177–4.164), selling food stamps (OR = 1.461, 95% CI 1.003–2.126), pawning items (OR = 2.15, 95% CI 1.475–3.135), and selling drugs (OR = 1.634, 95% CI 1.008–2.648).
Conclusion: There is a high rate of selling loosies among urban substance users. The wide availability of loosies may promote smoking. Smoking cessation programs with drug treatment and economic development programs may help to reduce economic pressures to sell loosies.
Incidentally, loosies are traditionally purchased in states that have lower taxes on cigarettes and smuggled into cities for tax-less sale.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:22 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


The repubs refusal to enforce even reasonable gun control created the circumstances that require regulators to be armed, then prohibited the regulators from being armed.

I have little faith in the true motives behind this bill, but this isn't what it says. It says they can't be armed with machineguns, sawed-off shotguns, grenades and grenade launchers - basically, anything here in (a). It doesn't mean they can't have regular sidearms and long guns and even shotguns.
posted by rtha at 8:28 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


That's a fair point.
posted by JPD at 8:30 AM on August 11


We've had guns forever but cops have gone out of control over the last few decades.

I'm not actually sure that cops have gone any more out of control over the last few decades. I think it's entirely possible that cops have been terrorizing the underclass for as long as there have been organized policing departments. A look at even 1930s movies shows that the cops being willing to beat homeless people with their nightsticks was common enough to make it into movie stereotype, while not the focus of the picture. One particularly memorable one had the cop reaching to grab the guy and shake him, finding the purple heart pinned inside his sleeve, and it was shocking not because the cop was grabbing the guy to rough him up, but because the guy was a veteran of WWI.

I think it's just new - and largely due to cellphone cameras and the like - that people are aware of what goes on.
posted by corb at 9:09 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


I don't understand the part about the cigarettes being "untaxed." Where did he get the cigarettes?

Military bases and Native reservations do not have state tax.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


corb: “I think it's just new - and largely due to cellphone cameras and the like - that people are aware of what goes on.”
I agree, but I also think it cuts both ways sometimes.

cf. “Michael Brown case: Black shooting victims face trial by social media,” Adam Serwer, MSNBC, 11 August 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 11:10 AM on August 11


I think the attempt to remove/minimize the ability of non-law enforcement agencies to have their own investigative or security departments is part of the ongoing "drown it in a bathtub" plan. It's basically intra-governmental privatization because those agencies will then be expected to outsource those tasks to other agencies. Over time costs will rise and there will be instances where the FBI or whatever agency they contract to decides to take a moral objection to the goals of the contracting agency and decline to work with them, which will be used as a stake to the heart of that agency's goals. I'm guessing that the EPA will be the primary focus.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:34 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


I still think that police should have the legal ability to take forceful action as needed. But what's missing is the awareness that this is a tool to dissolve situations with the least harm, and the accountability for when police fail to do so.

I'm also reminded of the Vimes quote from Night Watch, and the hedge argument scenario. Cheap police are not trained well on handling civil disagreements, when that's really what should be the primary aspect of their job; keeping the peace.
posted by halifix at 1:36 PM on August 11


I'm basically saying that the difference between "what a policeman should be doing" and "the quickest, dirtiest way of dissolving a situation (other than, you know, WALKING AWAY because the police are causing it)" has disappeared from police mentality.
posted by halifix at 1:38 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


where we learn that it was actually a criminal investigation and did not involve a swat team - because the DoE does not have a SWAT team - as outlined in the appended headnote.

Way aside the point, but FYI:
The DoE most certainly does have a SWAT team.
posted by ctmf at 2:29 PM on August 11


Oh, you meant E as in Education. Whoops.
posted by ctmf at 2:34 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Well, what do you know?
Following the slaying of Brown, various media outlets falsely reported that protesters were chanting, “Kill the police,” but if you followed the social media accounts of those at the protest, they verified that the protesters were shouting not “Kill the police” but “No justice, no peace.”

Source.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:43 PM on August 11 [7 favorites]


Mm, yeah, thanks for posting that update, running order squabble fest. I'd meant to make it back here for that, but it's truly been crazy and heart-wrenching to be a former resident of north St. Louis County the past two days. I still have friends, family, and property up there, and it's been heartbreaking to watch this all unfold, while we wait for justice for Mike Brown. I found out last night that my mom, who's been active in our community over the years and has supported Ferguson's revitalization, actually met Brown and his mother at events in Ferguson. She says he was a good kid with good parents, and neither of us believes the police's official account of things thus far. We're definitely mourning up here and hoping people can keep it together while we wait for answers.
posted by limeonaire at 3:57 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Reading over St. Louis 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French's Twitter timeline, police in Ferguson seem determined to escalate until their deployment of inappropriate weapons and tactics is justified.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:55 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


a vine from Antonio French being posted on twitter:

https://vine.co/v/MYZZnHvrlq6


many similar pictures going around. horrifying.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:13 PM on August 11


and this and this. https://vine.co/v/MYZmwD9Dqhu
https://twitter.com/Nettaaaaaaaa/status/499016327948824576
posted by ghostbikes at 7:23 PM on August 11


I'm pretty happy with Rep. Stewart's bill, obviously I'd prefer the demilitarized the DEA, FBI, and why not the ATF too, but hey.

And "yeah no" is definitely unhelpful. There isn't going to be any social progress in this country without either corporate or right-wing buy-in. We've fared well with corporate buy-in for gay rights, but corporations will fight reform that requires government giving less money to corporations.

Is there no separate Ferguson thread yet?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:34 PM on August 11


jeffburdges: “Is there no separate Ferguson thread yet?”
I gave it a shot by cribbing links from a couple of Vox articles — “Outrage in Ferguson” and “This St. Louis alderman is offering a terrifying inside look at the chaos in Ferguson.” However, I didn't think a few links to news sites or Vox made a good post, and I couldn't tamp down my anger enough to write an objective narrative. There's a ton of good links in those articles if anybody else wants to give it a shot.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:29 PM on August 11


Just a summary : NYPD Officer Chokes Man To Death; Cops Blame Cellphone Recordings And People 'Feeling They Have More Rights'

Related :
DOJ Report Details The Massive Amount Of Violence Committed By Rikers Island Staff Against Adolescent Inmates
NYPD "Puts Terrorism On The Run" By Ordering Twitter To Turn Over Parody Account User Data 'Linked' To Brooklyn Bridge Flag-Switching
posted by jeffburdges at 6:49 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


yeah, no. If you think that's conservative buy-in to anything remotely progressive or even on the path to de-militarizing the government I have a bridge to sell you.
posted by JPD at 7:33 AM on August 12


That's patently false. Yes, Republicans aren't interested in progress, but truthfully the Democrats aren't actually interested either, they just aren't cowed by racist christian wackjobs when other people make it social advantageous to go along. It's right-wing folk who do not identify at Republicans who sometimes favor some progressive measures,

Journalists Threatened By Police While Covering Michael Brown Killing
posted by jeffburdges at 9:38 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


And obviously conservative is not at all the same thing as right-wing, just like left-wing is not synonymous with liberal or progressive.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:40 AM on August 12


FAA bans all flights below 3000 ft over Ferguson, MO

A cynic might say this is to prevent news helicopters from filming police riot suppression tactics.
posted by indubitable at 1:41 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


ArtW did yeoman's work and there's a post about Michael Brown and Ferguson now.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:35 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Mother Suing After Cops Tasered her 8-Year-Old Daughter
posted by jeffburdges at 9:04 PM on August 12


There is a protest (via) on Sunday over the LAPD's murder of another unarmed black man named #EzellFord last Monday night.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:21 PM on August 12


Man Arrested After Beating Cops in Donut Eating Contest
posted by jeffburdges at 8:54 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Old : This Is Why We Will Never Have “Good Cops” (via facebook)
posted by jeffburdges at 12:57 PM on August 15


LAPD Cops Fatally Beat Father of Three During a Traffic Stop a Week Before They Killed Ezell Ford
posted by jeffburdges at 1:38 PM on August 16


Missed this one when it happened, but it seems relevant: 19-year old dies of gunshot wound in presence of police officer in South Carolina. Police claim he committed suicide.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:14 PM on August 17 [1 favorite]


Eric Garner Death Case Will Go to Grand Jury, Staten Island District Attorney Says
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:25 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


What's with people and articles saying that he "screamed" or "yelled" that he couldn't breathe? He said it in a quiet voice, each time getting a little quieter. I finally watched the video of what happened for the first time today after hearing about it on the radio for the last few weeks. For some reason, I didn't expect to be as moved by it as I was. I guess radio anchor descriptions of what happened don't do it justice.

I'm not usually one to have bad things to say about the police. I've never had a negative interaction with an officer and I've never had a personal reason to fear them. And I normally try to avoid watching videos that show people dying, but for some reason I watched this. Man. That guy didn't look or sound threatening at all and did absolutely nothing to deserve that. Even if he hadn't died as a result.. he did nothing to deserve being thrown to the ground like that and having his face shoved into the sidewalk. How are these police officers trained that one would think that was an appropriate move in that situation?
posted by wondermouse at 3:50 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


« Older If you visit the Humans of New York website or on ...  |  "Novels are no use at all in d... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments