"Not so tough without your camera."
March 13, 2019 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Fearing for His Life: Ramsey Orta filmed the killing of Eric Garner. The video traveled far, but it wouldn't get justice for his dead friend. Instead, the NYPD would exact their revenge through targeted harassment and eventually imprisonment — Orta's punishment for daring to show the world police brutality.
posted by allkindsoftime (11 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I know there are fellow MeFites who are in law enforcement, and I’m truly sorry that you’ll be subjected to another round of venting about LEOs, but the situation in the US is looooooong past a case of “a few bad apples.” Law enforcement in the US, the entire thing, from beat cops, to prosecutors, to judges, is nothing but one gigantic orchard of rotten, worm-ridden apples. There’s nary a nibble of palatable fruit throughout the acres and acres of apples.

It doesn’t help matters either that the general population (i.e. middle class and up white folk) of the US somehow remains in awe of the whole “First Responder” holy vestment cops wrap themselves in (mostly to hide their actions from prying eyes.) It makes getting real justice nigh-on impossible.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:35 PM on March 13 [32 favorites]

Why is video evidence not enough in any of these cases? How is it that we can argue and erase what can be plainly seen with our own eyes? History has repeatedly given us the answer: America’s protected ideal is power, not justice. State power is consolidated by maintaining the authority to determine what counts as an appropriate use of force. For police, this near-total authority is protected by our judicial system.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:41 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]

In case it's tl;dr for anyone...this article details Orta's accounts of systemic abuse of power by Correctional Officers with the (claimed) stated objective of getting him to kill himself in prison, which he is in for a dubious gun charge, from the same police department that was responsible for Garner's homicide.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:44 PM on March 13 [10 favorites]

"If you're not cops, you're little people". (Blade Runner)

Turns out this is as true in our reality as it is in dystopian science fiction.

You can't demand justice if you're dead.
posted by dbiedny at 2:37 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]

Jesus, that is an ugly read. As a lawyer, I'd really like to know whats up with Orta's lawyer not returning his calls but remaining counsel of record, but that's just a small point of personal connection to a story that just has so many goddamned terrible elements to it. What those cops and corrections officers are doing is inhuman and inhumane.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:52 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]

That was far more brutal and hopeless than I'd expected. The mass rat poisoning incident sounds like an account from a soviet gulag. And I also wonder whether what's up with Orta's lawyer. I could see him being willfully complicit and I could also see him being threatened into it. I don't see much difference between the forces that are doing this to Orta and organized crime and I wouldn't be surprised if the targeting extends to the journalist who wrote this, Orta's immediate family, and his girlfriend. This was so infuriating and heartbreaking and disheartening to read.
posted by treepour at 3:14 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]

Wow. I hope that human rights organizations do something to help him.
posted by larrybob at 4:14 PM on March 13

Different orgs have been on the US' case for a while:

  • Amnesty International: The Shocking Abuse of Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons
  • Amnesty International: USA: 17 years later, Guantánamo prison remains a threat to human rights
  • American Civil Liberties Union: The School to Prison Pipeline
  • The whole agenda of The Prison Policy Initiative and The Equal Justice Initiative
  • Human Rights Watch: Prisons in the United States of America
  • Center for Constitutional Rights: Solitary Confinement: Torture in U.S. Prisons

  • posted by Harald74 at 2:24 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

    I had assumed grand juries don’t indict cops because the jurors reflect the racism and authoritarianism in society. For the first time I’m now wondering if the jurors don’t indict because they’re afraid of retaliation. Maybe it makes me naive never to have thought of this.
    posted by eirias at 3:55 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

    I had to stop reading partway through. I've been the victim of police abuse. I've got a bunch of messy scars and trauma. People having video of the event kept me from going to prison for a bunch of crap misdemeanor charges. Video is one of the only ways the rest of us can fight back, and reading this is just bringing back a lot of the horror and the awareness that white privilege is probably a lot of why it wasn't worse for me.

    I wish I had any reasonable hope that any justice will be served here.
    posted by bile and syntax at 8:49 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]

    Almost any prison is a blink away from being the Stanford prison experiment. With no way to end it. The rat poison incident (settled by the city) was also allegedly a retaliation for prisoner behavior. Horrible: that stuff is too cruel to use on rats, (sounds like it is the anticoagulant / capillary bursting variety that makes you bleed to death internally.)
    posted by TreeRooster at 10:06 AM on March 14

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