Everyone has his version of the truth but seldom share it. Whether it’s the taste, the smell or whatever, the ugly thing can help you lose friends and create bitter enemies. I wonder if it’s because once acknowledged, the truth will not leave until you do or stop doing, a particular wrong. Our criminal justice system is an apt example.
Let’s take the current situation in Missouri. Not that it’s unique. Far cry. But because it is active, makes that a good example, willing to say a textbook case of what leadership is not. Step back with me a bit.
Jay Nixon was a two-term Democratic governor when Ferguson managed to make world news. That was due to the police killing of Michael Brown and the conduct of the entire criminal justice system in Missouri. As Gov Nixon and Ferguson Mayor Knowles went into hiding for four days, the police were left to “pacify” peaceful protesters. No one could have imagined police management to be that inept, or any criminal justice system is so inbred and corrupted.
The current governor Eric Greitens is a Republican. He never went into hiding, but nothing says “I don’t know what to do”, like readying the National Guard to control a relatively small number of cooperating protesters. So far, more than 150 persons have been arrested for petty misdemeanors, especially not moving when told by the police.
Both dealt with protesters as the problem. Neither appeared capable of confronting and addressing the root of the problem. But quite willing to talk tough and use force.
No civic-minded person supports lawlessness. So let’s agree conditionally: lock them up if their behaviors are imminent threats to public safety. Not because the police told them to move. Do we have a Constitution or not? If the answer is doubtful (as it’s becoming) repeat next year and the years afterward. Finally, both the state and protesters would be locked in an increasingly dysfunctional, dangerous way of life. The state CANNOT win. That would be despite being a police state, as America already is.
Right now, both Blacks and Whites, males and females are being threatened and arrested. How long do the state and local governments think that they can keep this up? I’ll hazard a guess. When you stop seeing truth as the enemy.
A few days ago I saw a graph of citizens fatal encounters with police in the United States. Compared with any country of similar standing in the world, our record is appalling. What is interesting is that we either still think the incidents are aberrations or we don’t give a damn. After all, the brunt is bourne by groups we have ascribed pejorative labels.
I got to understanding the phenomena of brutality perpetrated by police officers. They are the contact point for the systematic subjugation of people regarded as non-white and undeserving. The privileged, NEVER affected, pretend there is complexity to police conduct across this country. In fact it is as simple and evident to anyone willing to do even cursory reading of our history. The real history of privilege and how it was set up to benefit only wealthy, White males. Yes, not All Whites, only certain propertied, White males. That group co-opted all the institutions ensuring that competition, objections and other pesky barriers were removed….Legally!
Do you not think it odd that data is collected on the killing of alligators and bears, but not on police use of force? Is it well-known that you can be denied employment based only on an arrest, not necessarily a criminal conviction? Every time an officer chooses an arrest rather that a citation, he is ensuring your elimination from hire. Do you know of any democracy where you expiate for your crime and still lose your right to vote, so fundamental to a democracy?
So if we know this, it cannot be surprising that people like George Will; people of questionable character like Rudolph Giuliani and the echoes at Fox News, would do cognitive contortions to defend a system that top to bottom has no regard for anyone’s constitutional rights. The most ill-advised comment being that “this would not have happened if he/she had complied with the officer’s (illegal) instructions” and then challenge the grounds for arrest in a court of law. That is the most stupid, cruel joke I have ever heard. Try Pro Se. You annoy the judge who then moves you along the escalator with more time in the for profit prisons. Ask Marrisa Alexander of Florida who refused a plea bargain and now faces sixty years in jail for firing one shot into a wall during a domestic violence incident- the so called DV advocates and Feminists say peep.
I say to all those of the pacification camp. When Eric Garner said “It stops today”, he was saying what the well-heeled White could never comprehend, that is, I should not in a democracy, be expected to cooperate in my own debasement. I have a duty to resist injustice and I know I may have to lay down my life for my own dignity and that of others.
No democracy tolerates what we are experiencing. No citizen should be bullied by the Police Benevolent Association whose support is narrowing to the Ku Klux Klan. Every law abiding citizen, including policemen should be very concerned.