I’m not the only one changing my mind.
Not long ago I was a very pro police jingoist.
Then the internet happened. The more I learn, the more I have come to realize that prohibition is the wrong way to deal with pretty much any problem. The monopoly of violence that the police enjoy leads to horrifying corruption. We are up against a unified system where the police, the prosecutor and the
judge are all on the same side with plenty of time and money to defeat us one at a time. There is just so much wrong with our entire system.
It turns out that the United States, which is billed as the “land of the free, the home of the brave”, is anything but that. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than five times higher than most of the countries in the world, according to prisonpolicy.org
Throughout history, it is always the police that turn on the people of their own land, for the sake of “just laws”. They are always “just doing their job.”
For the last couple of decades, we have been consuming a steady diet of glamorizing Law Enforcement shows like Cops, CSI and a host of others. At the same time, the mainstream media is always very careful to portray law enforcement in a positive light for fear of loosing access to future stories.
Democracy has decided that we need to wage an endless, nebulous War on Drugs and Terrorism, transferring vast wealth and most of our individual power under the auspices of safety and security. Our whole lives, we have all been taught to not question “authority”.
Thankfully, the Internet has brought us new media. Sites like CopBlock.org and thefreethoughtproject.com and a slew of others cover stories of our police shooting dogs, kids, the elderly and other innocent people as well as general police state and police brutality stories that we will hardly ever see on the 6 o’clock news, even though it is clearly happening on a daily basis. There are even Facebook groups, such as the Tribute to survivors of child sexual assault by law enforcement officers that show a dark side most of us probably have never even considered.
There is a culture of impunity among law enforcement. When an officer is accused of a crime, typically only an internal investigation is conducted while the officers in question go on what amounts to a paid vacation. Even with damning evidence, the officers involved are typically cleared by the internal investigation, return to work, often receiving a promotion. It appears they rarely suffer any serious consequences. Its seems if there were good cops, they would arrest the bad ones. The problem is that the evidence strongly suggests that the bad cops end up aggressing against the good cops for trying. Are we are
starting to see the outrage?
In 2015, indictments against murderous police have tripled, according to a Washington Post article. The article points to the effectiveness of cameras in holding police accountable.
Americans Killed by Cops Now Outnumber Americans Killed in Iraq War There are over 40,000 military style “knock and announce” police raids a year. You are 29 times more likely to be murdered by a cop than by a terrorist! The US Department of Justice reports that an average of 400-500 innocent civilians are murdered by police every year. Here is the kicker – they actually do not even keep records of homicide by police*. Militarization of the police is a growing phenomenon. From the National Drug Strategy Network: “It’s a very dangerous thing, when you’re telling cops they’re soldiers and there’s an enemy out there,” said Joseph McNamara, former chief of police in San Jose and Kansas City. McNamara, now a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, added, “Despite the conventional wisdom that community policing is sweeping the nation, the exact opposite is
true.” Kraska observes that SWAT teams attract a different kind of officer — less a “social worker” and more a special operations soldier. “The SWAT teams love this stuff,” says Kraska. “It’s fun to fire these weapons. It’s exciting to train. They use `simmunition’ — like the paint balls and play warrior games. This stuff is a rush.”
Lots of SWATing.
USAToday.com – Critics knock no-knock police raids The roughly 3k swat raids per year in the ’80’s has risen to 50k raids in 2012 according to Peter Kraska, criminal justice prof at Eastern Kentucky University. Wrong door no-knock-raids put innocent lives at risk. Here is a nice interactive map of botched Paramilitary Police Raids by the Cato Institute.
Where is the danger?
Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in the Country: Police Officer is NOT on the List Another story shows Law Enforcement Fatalities Dip to Lowest Level in Six Decades 33 officers killed in firearms-related incidents is the fewest since 1887. “Officer fatalities unrelated to firearms or traffic saw a 33 percent increase in 2013. Thirty-two officers died of other causes in 2013 compared to 24 in 2012. Job-related illnesses, such as heart attacks, increased substantially in 2013 with 18 officer deaths compared to eight officers in 2012.” “Firearms-related fatalities peaked in 1973, when 156 officers were shot and killed. Since then, the average number of officers shot and killed has decreased from 127 per year in the 1970s to 57 per year in the 2000s. The 33 firearms-related fatalities in 2013 represent a 42 percent decrease over the average of 57 per year that occurred during 2000-2009.” It doesn’t help that: “Of the 31 automobile crashes in 2013, 18 were multiple-vehicle crashes and 13 were single-vehicle crashes.”
Why should you care?
If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear, right? Did you know, in 2005, a Supreme Court decision declared that it is NOT the duty of any police force in the US to protect the citizens, but to enforce the laws. Those laws are practically arbitrary now. Each of us commits several crimes every day in our normal, harmless lives. Victim less crimes may not involve you, but they could. Are you a gun owner, a pot smoker, a raw milk drinker, a front yard gardener, a lemonade stand operator? These things are all likely illegal, but harm no one. Prohibition has another nasty creature the government likes to use to bolster its coffers. Civil Asset Forfeiture allows government to take your money and property with not even any charges, much less a conviction. They just need to suspect the property has been used in a crime.
We have the tools to change this. Now.
Even with all this apparent doom and gloom, we have never had better tools to make changes. We have to realize a few things, though:
- The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” is a war against its own citizens. It needs to end. We should heed the lessons learned during alcohol prohibition. The profits and violence of prohibition always leads to corruption.
- Cognitive Dissonance is a huge problem. People have a very hard time believing there could be any trouble with law enforcement even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Realize this and get over it.
- Police should be held to an even higher standard because they wear a badge and a gun, not allowed impunity. Law enforcement must be held personally responsible. They should not get away with paying off settlements with tax payer money.
- We can use Open Source accountability to bypass and make the mainstream media irrelevant. We have cameras and the Internet to film our public servants. Websites like youtube.com, CopBlock.org, benswann.com and plenty of others are available to broadcast your story.
- If there is no victim, there is no crime. Just because there is a law, doesn’t mean its a just law. Nobody likes scummy politicians, yet we follow their laws. So, when arrested for a victim less crime, don’t take the plea deal.
- If you are a juror, understand and use jury nullification for victim less crimes.
- Know your rights.
A mini introduction to the Glick decision and relevant issues.
How did we get here?
- 1994, a law passed authorizing the Pentagon to donate surplus Cold War era military equipment to local police departments.
- P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act I, II & III (2001, 2004, 2010)
- Enhanced Border Security, Visa Entry Reform and Immigration Deportation Act (2002)
- The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (2004)
- Military Commissions Act (2006, 2009)
- The FISA Amendments Act (2008)
- The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)