After unfounded and illegal arrest of Freddie Gray and causing his death while in their custody, Baltimore police are now trying to make it look like his death was due to a simple oversight and mistake in order to pave the way for their claim that there was no intentional brutality or malice. They issued a statement the other day saying that they failed to fasten his seat belt and that’s why his spine was severed leading to his death. But, as a former police officer admitted on CNN the other day, it’s common for police officers to put handcuffed “suspects” in police van unbuckled and “bang them around to intimidate them and let them know who’s the boss”. The practice is known as “rough ride”. They have also admitted that they failed to call for medical attention for Mr. Gray. The cellphone clip clearly shows he was injured and was screaming of pain even before he was placed in the van.
When asked why he was arrested in the first place, they said because “he made an eye contact with an officer and ran”. As for probable cause for arrest, they said they “don’t need a probable cause”. These statements tell much more than the carefully prepared statements expressing sympathy for the murdered young man. The fact is the police in the US thinks of and treats the population as “the enemy” and feels no sympathy for them. Six officers have been suspended WITH PAY, while a fake “investigation” is supposedly in process.
Two years after a lawsuit was filed against Palm Beach police Department, a police dash cam video was finally obtained by WPTV and The Palm Beach Post the other day that shows an incident on September 13, 2013, in which a Palm Beach Sheriff’s Deputy, Adam Lin, drove his cruiser on the lawn of several homes, pulled behind 20 year old Dontrell Stephens, who was riding his bicycle in a South Florida neighborhood, and ordered him to stop, without any reason that has ever been given either at the time or since. When Dontrell put his bicycle down and turned and faced the officer, as anyone would to see why he stopped him, the officer opened fire and shot him multiple times paralyzing him from waist down. In his report, the officer said that he saw him pull something out of his waist which looked like a weapon. The video however shows clearly that he never reached for his waist and all he had in his hand was his cell phone the entire time. And get this: they don’t know yet if they will open an investigation about the case when clearly the officer should be charged with a first degree attempted murder, aggravated assault and filing false report. “Internal affairs” completely ignored the discrepancy between the officer’s report and the video. Lin returned to work four days after the shooting and the state attorney’s office called the shooting “justified”. The only reason the video came out was because a lawsuit was filed. How many young men have been beaten, severely injured and killed with the officer being exonerated by an “internal investigation” and going back to “work” the next day?
The only time the police investigate unjustified police misconduct or shooting is when there is a video of it and they only charge the officer with any crime is when there is a persistent and large protest. But, that’s usually the furthest it ever goes. In vast majority of these cases, the officer is either not charged or if charged he’s acquitted, especially by white juries. And, if there is a civil lawsuit that ends in the victim’s advantage, it doesn’t affect the officer. The monetary damages come out of the city’s budget, which taxpayers pay for.
What’s also noteworthy is that many of the arrests that end up in the beating or killing of the “suspect” turn out to be completely baseless and unjustified, as illustrated by the two cases cited above. In other cases, the arrest is for very minor violations such as in Eric Garner’s case who was choked to death for selling cigarettes without a business license.
At least two video clips surfaced recently show police officers nonchalantly dropping incriminating “evidence” on their victims, one of them in the presence of his colleague, which clearly shows a common pattern, rather than a rarity. In many cases, all it takes for the police to shoot and kill is someone running from them or not complying with their commands fast enough, which may be due to not understanding the command. The 12 year old Ohio boy Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun, was shot and killed within a second after the patrol car pulled up to him, despite the fact that they had been told by the dispatcher that what he had in his hand might be a toy gun. They shot him as soon as – within a single second – they arrived on the scene.
Police brutality isn’t limited to the time of arrest or transport to prison. Newly released surveillance footage from Rikers Island, New York shows prison guards beating and abusing a teenaged inmate. The footage, obtained by The New Yorker, shows 16 year old Kalief Browder being slammed to the ground and beaten by a Rikers Island guard in one incident and then being beaten by other inmates in another. Browder, who is now 21, spent three years at Rikers Island, two of them in solitary confinement while waiting for a trial over stealing a backpack in May 2010, a charge that was dismissed in June 2013. His family didn’t have $3,500 to post bail.
There are a few facts that stare us in the face about all these police Attacks on and abuses of innocent people:
1. Without the existence of video taken by people, police officers who commit brutality and murder don’t get investigated seriously and aren’t charged for their crimes.
2. Placing dash cam on patrol cars or on the officers is not the same as the existence of privately filmed video since the former leaves the possession of such incriminating evidence in the hands of the police, which they can choose to keep to themselves as the case of Mr. Stephens shows.
3. Trusting the police to investigate themselves makes as much sense as asking violent street gangs to investigate themselves. Cases of police brutality and murder cannot be left to the police to “investigate”. This also applies to FBI, which investigates its own murders and every time finds itself innocent! As reported by New York Tines: “from 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 ‘subjects’ and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified, according to interviews and internal F.B.I. records obtained by The New York Times through Freedom of Information Act”.
4. Despite incidences where the police also attack and kill innocent white people, there is a clear bias in police brutality and shootings against minorities, especially blacks and Hispanics despite the hiring of black officials.
5. Although much of police brutality can be attributed to their lust for power, sense of entitlement and the desire to play God, as Mark Furmann, one of the officers involved in beating Rodney King boasted, and despite the fact that “not all officers are the same”, the problem of police brutality in the US is institutional, systemic and nationwide, rather than limited to certain individual officers or precincts or due to insufficient training.
6. A simple retraining of the officers or making them wear body cams will do nothing to change the situation. Many already have dash cams and some even the body cam and still continue their violence. As for retraining, it will neither change the warrior and racist mentality of US police who are trained to view the population as “the enemy”, just as they do in battle fronts overseas, nor would it reverse decades of militarization of the force in tactics, methods and in use of weaponry. Using the pretext of “war on terror”, the militarization has accelerated in recent years and has created an opportunity for soldiers who commit war crimes overseas against defenseless people to bring their violence and psychopathic tendencies to the home front against “domestic enemies”. An email correspondence by Ferguson police in fact referred to the protesters as “the enemy”. But, their actions speak louder than even those words.
7. Lastly, the needed reform and change will never come from the top, no matter how many more innocent men are shot and killed or injured. And it matters not if the mayor or police chief or police commissioner is black. They are hired into a corrupt, unjust and racist system and must do and say what’s expected of them by the military industrial complex that’s serving the billionaire class of the 1%. It’s no coincidence that the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X remain on the streets and those like Obama end up in high office. The only thing that can have any effect and cause any change is a campaign of nonstop street protests that shut the cities down throughout the nation. What forced the resignations in Ferguson, Missouri, including of the police chief, after the murder of Michael Brown, was the consistent and endless protests. The authorities know and are afraid of this. That’s why they keep warning of “outsiders” who might travel to join protests. While they use the National Guard, the FBI, the NSA and the CIA and even the military, they want protests to remain local to prevent a nationwide movement which is the only hope for fundamental change. The Civil Rights movement of 1950’s and 60’s didn’t win victories by pleading to authorities for change. They won them through a persistent campaign of protests that resulted in a nationwide movement by brave men and women who stood up and said “ENOUGH”!