Posts Tagged ‘Militarization of police’

What #BlackLivesMatter is asking for

August 25, 2015

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A section of #BlackLivesMatter called Campaign Zero has come up with a 10-point program to improve policing, following criticisms that #BlackLivesMatter was merely a protest movement that lacked a positive program.

Campaign Zero translated its 10 general principles into detailed policy demands on local, state and federal governments.  BLM members should not longer be at a loss for words when asked what they really want.

Most of these principles should be self-explanatory.  You can get details by clicking on the icons on the Campaign Zero site.

“Broken windows” policing is based on the theory that minor crime and disorder should not be tolerated because it creates an atmosphere in which major crime seems more normal.

“Policing for profit” refers to practice of local governments using fines, fees and asset forfeitures as a source of revenue.

“Fair union contracts” refers to provisions in police union contracts which give police officers extra-Constitutional protections when accused of misconduct, such as cooling-off periods before being asked to testify.

Campaign Zero also has tracked the positions of the presidential candidates relevant to these issues.

The three major Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have all taken positions relevant to most of these 10 points.  Interestingly, the one point on which all three have been silent so far is the police union contracts.

Among Republicans, the only candidate who has taken a relevant position is Rand Paul, who opposes asset foreiture.

I think the Campaign Zero platform is a practical program for protecting the civil liberties not just of African-Americans, but, as a collateral benefit, the civil liberties of all Americans.

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Clothes really do make the (police)man

August 26, 2014

MAD

What you wear affects the way people perceive you.  I remember once somebody in one of these Robocop get-ups got on an elevator with me.  I smiled pleasantly and asked, “How’s it going?”  I found that there was a human being underneath the visored helmet and the other gear, and we had a brief but civil conversation.

What you wear also affects, in a mysterious way, the way you feel.  The time when I went through Army basic training was the first time I wore boots rather than shoes on a regular day-to-day basis.  I’m not an especially aggressive person, and I wasn’t back then, but there was something about wearing boots that made me feel that, if I wanted to, I could kick the world down.

Hat tip for the MAD magazine drawing to Bill Elwell.

Badges and guns: Links & comments 8/26/14

August 26, 2014

What I’ve Learned from Two Years of Collecting Data on Police Killings by D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News and Review, for Gawker.

Killing of civilians by police is a serious national issue which is being covered up.  Nobody knows how many Americans are killed by polilce in a given year, still less what justification is given for them.  No doubt some of them, and maybe most of them. were necessary to protect human life.  But this information ought be available.  Police are the servants of the people, not their masters.

What Black Parents Tell Their Sons About the Police by Jasmine Hughes for Gawker.

Whatever the number of Americans killed by police in any given year, it is no doubt less than the number who die from other specific causes, such as auto accidents.  That is not the issue.  The issue is that so many law-abiding Americans, especially black Americans, live in justified fear of the police.

What I Did After Police Killed My Son by Michael Bell for Politico.

This is not just a problem of black people.  Michael Bell’s blonde, blue-eyed son was shot in the head by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with his hands handcuffed behind his back.  He campaigned successfully for a law calling for independent investigations of all killings by police.   That’s a good law.  So would be a law requiring videotaping of police interactions with the public.

Militarized cops’ scary new toys: The ugly next frontier in “crowd control” by Heather Digby Parton for Salon.

The U.S. military is developing new technologies for crowd control, which no doubt will soon be available to police departments.   As Parton pointed out, they are designed for use against unarmed or poorly-armed crowds.  What does this say about how the military, and the police, see their mission.

 

Afterthoughts about Ferguson

August 21, 2014
  • All the military gear given to the police in Ferguson, MO, has not enabled them to protect shopkeepers from looting, arson and rampaging mobs.  I hope it goes without saying that I do not think that being a victim of injustice entitles you to a free robbery.
  • The facts about the events leading to the killing of Michael Brown are more ambiguous than I originally assumed.   The shooting of unarmed young black men in the USA by police for no good reason is common.   I don’t claim to know exactly what happened in this particular case.
  • If Attorney-General Holder wanted to do something for racial justice, he could initiate proceedings to reclassify marijuana so that possession is not a federal drug crime.  Minor drug offenses are a major cause of the mass incarceration of young black men.

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Why so much military equipment to give away?

August 20, 2014

Why is it that the U.S. Department of Defense has so much surplus military equipment?  So much that they have no better use for it than to give it away to local police departments?

It is hard to believe that there have been so many radical improvements in armored personnel carriers, sniperscopes and the like that the old armored personnel carriers and sniperscopes have become obsolete.

Could it be that the DOD has a problem with its procurement process?  Could it be that DOD bureaucrats regularly order more equipment than they need in order to maintain their shares of the DOD budget?

I think the armed forces should be well-armed and well-equipped, but if they have more equipment than they know what to do with, then that is a problem.

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The passing scene: Links & comments 8/15/14

August 15, 2014

Policing Protests Like Soldiers Makes Everyone Less Safe—Even Police by Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic.

Turning Policeman Into Soldiers: the Culmination of a Long Trend by James Fallows for The Atlantic.

People in the military, as one officer once put it, are trained to kill people and break things.  This is the opposite of the job of the civil police, which is to protect lives and property.

Troopers are supposed to kill or subdue the enemy.  That is their mission.  The mission of the civil police is to take people into custody when there is reasonable cause to believe they have committed a crime, which is very different.

The arming of the police as if they were a military force, and recruitment of police out of the military without further training, generates a police force whose mission is not to protect and serve the civil population, but to cow it into submission.  I would like to believe this is unintentional.

Why Did the Americans Get the Drugs? by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.  (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Two American doctors got a potentially life-saving drug for the Ebola virus from which hundreds of Africans already have died.   This looks bad, but Josh Marshall pointed out this is not necessarily because American lives are regarded as more valuable than African lives.   The experimental drug may not work,  it may have lethal side effects and Africans have bad memories of pharmaceutical companies testing dangerous drugs without informed consent.  Better for American physicians, who understand the risks, to use themselves as guinea pigs rather than Africans.

What Would Hamas Do If It Could Do Whatever It Wanted? by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic.  (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Lest we forget, Hamas is an anti-Semitic movement, whose exterminationist rhetoric and belief that Jews secretly control the world is an echo of European fascism of the 1930s.  But what Hamas would do to the Jewish people of Israel if it had the power is not much different from what the Israeli government is doing to the Arab people in Palestine in reality.

Here are the job descriptions for Gannett’s newsroom of the future by Jim Romenesko.  (via Naked Capitalism)

I worked for the Democrat and Chronicle, the Gannett newspaper in Rochester, NY, for 24 years.  I’m glad I was able to retire when newspaper reporters were still thought of as “journalists” rather than “content providers”, and when there was still a separation between the newsroom and the marketing department.

Getting Sucked Into Obamacare Is a Lot Like Being on Probation by “Lambert Strether” on Corrente.

I would have thought President Obama would have taken the trouble to ensure that his signature policy would work well, but evidently not.

Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop

July 23, 2013

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Radley Balko has good web log, The Agitator, about the abuse of police power.  Now Balko has written a book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop: the Militarization of America’s Police Forces, which was published his month.  Salon ran some excerpts.  They’re worth reading.

‘Why did you shoot me?  I was reading a book’

‘Oh, God, I thought they were going to shoot me next’

‘There’s always a good time to use a Taser’

Police confront demonstraters, then and now

December 15, 2011

Double click to enlarge

Hat tip to zunguzungu.

 Click on Riot Gear’s Evolution for the source of the chart.  [3/4/13]