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Police Brutality - The Life and Thoughts of Zach — LiveJournal

Aug. 19th, 2004

07:15 pm - Police Brutality

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I just watched this incredible documentary on PBS called "Every Mother's Son" about 3 mothers fighting for justice after their innocent sons were all separately killed by the NYPD. The sons were Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez, and Gary (Gidone) Busch. All of them were completely innocent people, attacked and killed by cops. Baez was thrown to the ground and strangled to death by a cop (who has a record of choking suspects) after some kids that he was playing football with accidentally hit a cop car with the football. Diallo was shot with 41 bullets by a group of cops who claim his wallet looked like a gun. Busch was a holding a jewish prayer hammer, watching some cops respond to a noise complaint, when he was pepper sprayed in the face; when he ran in pain they shot him with 12 bullets. All of these police was tried and they were all let off on technicalities.

About 10 minutes into the film I started crying. I don't mean just the kind of "choked up about something sad" crying. I mean literally out loud snot running tears flying verbal crying. Every time I got it under control so I could pay attention to the rest of the story they'd show one of these mothers. And it didn't matter if she was sad or outraged or spirited or holding it all in or what, I just lost it. I looked at her and I thought of the situation and I couldn't escape the grief and pain. I couldn't escape the FEAR. Here's these people who are supposed to be your last defense against things that go bump in the night and if they come to your neighborhood they might just shoot you dead.

I don't think I've really cried in at least a year.

A few years ago a man, Greg Brown, was beaten to death by 17 Champaign police officers. His only crime was that he was lurking in an alley. They found him in that alley because they were responding to a missing person's report from his family. No police were charged in this incident. The coroner found that the man died not of a beating but of a heart attack caused by the stress related to the beating.

New York City had a citizen's police review board until Giuliani got into office. He campaigned on a platform of eliminating that body.

Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: mournful silence


Date:August 20th, 2004 12:36 am (UTC)
I know many people think my dislike of police officers is based on an unreasonable instinct but we have given these bastards far too much power and not enough oversight. It's only getting worse with the fascist policies of the Bush administration. There are serious attempts at disenfranchising American citizens by expanding the powers of search and seizure that police officers have and by now giving some police authority to question the immigration status of suspects. That may not seem like much, but how about having a pig ask for your "green card" or id just because you "look like a foreigner"? That type of invasion doesn't scare the shit out of you?

Learn to defend yourself and loved ones. Hold each one accountable every second of every day. The cops are just people, prone to making bad choices like everyone else so put the safety of yourself and loved ones first. Nuke them all from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
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Date:August 20th, 2004 02:48 am (UTC)
The police FIRED 41 shots at Diallo; only 19 hit.

Does it matter? Gee that's probably why they got off. :(

My friend Dave the cop told me that (at least here) no cop fires warning shots or shoots to wound anymore. The cops shoot twice, look, (presumably to see if they NEED to shoot again, but will usually) shoot twice again. So if each of those four cops fired twice, then twice again, they would have only fired 16 shots.

One cop in the Diallo incident "tripped" and the others thought that, despite not hearing a gun shot, he was down, so they opened fire. The clumsy officer got back up and started firing, figuring he was missing out on the fun.

At my old bookstore, a professor brought in his book about the best mayors, and I don't remember if Giuliani was on the list but I mentioned him and the Diallo case (which had happened recently) and the prof said that Diallo's case was unfortunate, but at the time the city of NY had 1000 less murders than the year before after the start of their crackdown. One of those "big picture" things, where the Diallo case should be overlooked as an asterisk to the benefit of the city? Probably not, but 1000 less murders...or does murder by cop count on that list, and it's really only 997?

After 9/11 few people want to point out the detractions against the police and especially the firemen of that town, the latter of which apparently had taken the time to throw in some "free" clothes from the shattered window displays of the Gap into their truck before running into the doomed WTC.
(read about it here: http://www.wnbc.com/news/1793079/detail.html )

Are these the same heroes? The cops who protect us, lowering the yearly homicide count by 1000, or the same bunch of people who rape confused immigrants with broom handles? The firemen who selflessly rush into harms way, or guys who lounge around watching state-paid-for-cable, before "doing their job" to THEN attempt to save people after taking "free" jeans?

Dave patrolled many of our fine housing projects and told me of the Bucket Boys, a gang or a family or something of INBREEDING city folk (reread that) who refuse to use or pay for regular plumbing, so they use buckets. Inbreeding. In my city. Oh, if someone is shot by a police officer here, and even if the cop was in the right to do so (self-defense, stopping an ACTUAL criminal), the city still has to pay out some sort of settlement to the "victim"'s family, again even if the "victim" in question was trying to kill someone, including the offending officer.

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Date:August 20th, 2004 05:49 am (UTC)
The interesting argument about Diallo that is brought up in this documentary is that those cops should never have gotten out of their car in the first place. They say he fit the description of a suspect but they never radioed that in. Cops are always supposed to radio in when they're checking something out that is potentially dangerous. The suspect in question hadn't committed a crime in 9 months so why would they even have that suspect's description on their radar as they're randomly driving around?

The reality is that these cops were part of a special unit that went around New York stopping random people and frisking them for guns without probable cause. Their mandate was to remove guns from the streets and they trampled on the rights of innocent bystanders all the time to achieve that mandate. I think they were just out on a fishing trip, hassling Diallo like they hassle everyone else in the neighborhood and then they freaked out and made a HUGE number of mistakes. Sure maybe they were really scared when he pulled that wallet and that fear justified shooting but what the hell were trained professional cops doing putting themselves in a scary situation that they couldn't control?

Apparently cities like San Diego have seen a _greater_ reduction in violent crimes with much more sensitive programs like community policing where you have cops living in the community that they police so they know who belongs and who doesn't, what's suspicious and what isn't, etc.
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Date:August 20th, 2004 11:27 am (UTC)
wow that sounds wicked powerful...

and it shows the folkie in me because i was like "ooh Any Mother's Son is a Chris Smither song".

then you had to go and mention a man named Greg Brown :P

sounds like something i would totally get into though...
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