We Need to Stop Worshipping Cops

If you protest police brutality and you don’t protest police deaths, then you’re a hypocrite.

That’s what conservatives have been saying ever since two New York City cops were murdered Saturday in an apparent revenge attack for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Probably the best example of this kind of thinking comes from Mike Barnicle, who writes in the Daily Beast today that,

“Unlike other professions—doctor, lawyer, teacher, journalist, sales clerk, stock broker—when a cop makes a bad mistake it could mean someone is dead…Now, two of them are dead…. who will hit the streets to galvanize support and express rage over the execution of two young men killed because of who they were and what they did for work?”

Mike is really missing the point. No one disagrees about whether or not it’s wrong to murder cops. Murdering cops is obviously wrong. But just because something is “wrong” doesn’t mean it’s worthy of protest.

Let me explain. As Mike Barnicle himself pointed out in his piece for the Daily Beast, it’s dangerous to be a police officer. And as awful as it is to say, this means that on-the-job deaths are part of the equation when it comes to working in law enforcement. We should do everything we can to avoid them, but ultimately, they’re probably going to happen, especially in a country like ours that has such lax gun laws.

The murder of unarmed civilians like Michael Brown and Eric Garner, on the other hand, is not just “part of the equation.” Police officers are supposed to protect people, not kill them. This is why people are so upset about the Garner and Brown cases. They’re angry because those cases show why the system is broken

And that’s a really important point. People don’t protest when tragic things happen to people who willingly put themselves in harm’s way; they protest when they don’t think the system is working the way it should.

So no, the protesters who took to the streets after Eric Garner’s killer escaped a murder charge are not hypocrites if they don’t protest the deaths of two New York City police officers. They’re just doing what normal people do when they see injustice in their world.

Anyways, the idea that people should protest the murder of police officers and that they apparently shouldn’t protest police brutality is just the latest sign of a dangerous trend in our society. And that’s the knee-jerk worship of authority figures like police officers.

At some point in our recent history - and I would argue it was after 9/11 - we, as Americans, decided that we weren’t going to have a thoughtful conversation about the proper role of law enforcement in our society. Instead, we decided that we were going to label all police officers “heroes” and ask questions later. Never mind the fact that it’s actually more dangerous to be logger or a fisherman than it is to be cop. If someone wore a badge, we made them into gods in uniform.

Make no mistake, there’s a direct line leading from our hero worship of cops to the arming of local police forces with weapons war and to the killing of Michael and Eric Garner. We basically told police officers they were beyond the law, and they’ve acted accordingly.

This is really dangerous for our democracy. In every single authoritarian society in human history, the march towards dictatorship began when people started worshipping authority figures and treating them as if they were superior to normal mortals. Ever so slowly, the police and military grow in power and influence, until it’s too late and they can do whatever they want when they want.

America is not yet an authoritarian state, but if we want to avoid that, we need to keep these dangerous trends in check. There’s a very real problem in this country right now with police violence and police brutality, but we’ll never fix that problem if continue to talk about cops as if they’re heroes and not public servants.

And, let’s be honest, when conservatives say that people angry about police brutality should be protesting the murder of police officers, they’re not actually trying to raise awareness about how dangerous it is to be a cop. They’re trying to shut down debate about the proper role of police in our society.

That’s a debate we need to have, and it starts with one thing: recognizing that the police are hired to serve us, and not the other way around.


stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 8 years 13 weeks ago

Unfortunately, many police agency's have developed a "Shoot first and don"t answer questions later" attitude; and that's fueling the hatred toward cops, which, in turn, is further increasing the "shoot first..." attitude.

All police agency's need to have a civillian oversite committee, and all members of that committee would have term limits and be elected, NOT APPOINTED. It's the only way we're going to return sanity and civility to the law enforcement profession.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 13 weeks ago

I have had several conversations with friends about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and they all basically say the same thing, "Good riddance. One less thug in the world."

Though none of them like to hear it that statement reeks of racism of the lowest order. Despite the fact that Mr. Brown was caught on tape roughing up a store clerk and Mr. Garner was caught resisting arrest, the people I have spoken to know nothing about these two men other than the fact they are black. Everything implied in these statements indicate that they don't need to know anything else.

About 30 years ago a brother of a good friend of mine had a rather spectacular encounter with the local police. It made the local TV and paper news. At first, the police thought he was crazy or on PCP. He smashed a storefront window and started destroying private property with his bare hands. Several police tackled him and he threw them all off like dolls. He broke one officers nose and another officers arm. Finally, after waiting for backup to arrive, 10 officers managed to subdue him and place him in custody. He was rushed to a psychic ward for evaluation. He survived the encounter, unlike Mr. Brown and Mr. Garner, despite having putting up a much greater fight, and posing a much greater threat. One difference in the two cases however, he was not a black man.

As it turned out my friend was a pre diagnosed schizophrenic. After several months in the psychic ward and several attempts at medication they finally stabilized him. He has lived a normal and productive life ever since. I cannot help but think that if he were black, he would never have survived the encounter and his life would have ended before his 20th birthday.

If it is possible for the police to subdue even a very large, dangerous, strong, and violent mentally ill young man they certainly could have subdued Mr. Brown and Mr. Garner without ending their lives. That is exactly what they train to do. That is what we as a society are paying them to do--to protect us--every single one of us. Thom is absolutely right on this one! Our society and more notably, our police, simply do not value the lives of black men. That has got to change.

-Richard's picture
-Richard 8 years 13 weeks ago

One distinction that gets lost is that the protests were about the lack of an arrest and trial for the killers of the young black men. You can bet that if the killer of the policemen had not taken his own life, he would have been immediately arrested, tried for murder and executed.

All killings are tragic. The justice system handles kilings of policemen, but not killings by policemen. That's why there are protests about one kind of killing and not the other.

ikeberltersen's picture
ikeberltersen 8 years 13 weeks ago

Mr. Barnicle's article is one more example of the asinine false equivalency being propagated by the Right, and also one more attempt to make a partisan black/white liberal/conservative issue out of this, when police brutality should be everyone's concern. By all accounts this shooter was mentally unstable and acted alone. The suggestion that people should organize a protest against the actions of this killer is simply ludicrous. What would that accomplish? How many violent acts are committed every day by people with mental problems? Mr. Barnicle is really attempting to link the shooting to the protests against police brutality when there is none.

Police are not the only people who can kill somebody when they make a 'bad mistake.' The same can be said for doctors. That is why governments issues licenses and hold the profession of medical doctors to certain standards. If some demographics start dying at bizarrely high rates while under a doctor's care then it is realistic to expect an investigation. Police, as professionals, must also be held to standards, although the guidelines are usually inconsistent, in fact it is usually up to the community and not the state to issue guidelines for behavior and training. The people have a right to expect that their police forces, being a so-called professional organization, should be held to some sort of standards. This is a responsibility that any police officer should assume when he or she puts on the badge. Any profession must shoulder expectations from the public for it's behavior and skill. We have expectations of the police that we do not have of the average 'civilian' and for good reason. When an organization fails those expectations we the public have a right to ask why.

dorfman 8 years 13 weeks ago

People like Giuliani say it is the fault of Obama, Democrats, protesters of police brutality, etc., that the two cops were murdered. I ask, how is it that somebody with a history like that of the killer was able to get a gun? I blame the NRA for the murder of the two cops, and thousands of other deaths per year.

Lloyd Lutterman's picture
Lloyd Lutterman 8 years 13 weeks ago

Who's to say it wasn't yet another agent provocateur attack. Also if the elite really wanted gun control, they would simply stop manufacturing the weapons

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 13 weeks ago

It is a sad day when I agree with Mike Barnacle and Rudy Guiliani and disagree with Thom. My mother and father were police officers so I take it personally when police officers are killed. I will always support the police.

Johnnie Dorman's picture
Johnnie Dorman 8 years 13 weeks ago

One thing is for sure, and that is that the unconstitutional drug war is the main thing that puts our country in danger where the dangers of our society becoming an authoritarian police state is concerned. It's the main reason that our police have become so militaryised, and so abusive toward average citizens. The drug war has led to the abuse of powers and why so many black people and also people of other races are in prison. Richard Nixon was a criminal, and there is no reason why we as Americans should still be under the thumb of laws that were created by criminals like Nixon. There is no doubt in my mind that if we do away with the drug war now, most of the societal problems we are facing today will automatically disappear. The rich fat cat monopoly loving corporations are at fault for all these problems, and one way or another, we as citizens must do something about their tyranny that they have established over us.

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 8 years 13 weeks ago

POLICE used to take oaths to "Protect and Serve the masses." Now it has become "Enforce the Law and save yourself when you have an inkling that you might be in danger." Black people and people with darker skin are more likely to be mistaken as someone likely to be carrying a weapon, but sadly most are not held responsible for being afraid for their lives. We seem to be training a bunch of wussies, instead of training Law Officers to stay strong, wear their vests, and not shoot people you only suspect of having a weapon. A lot more of us will die because of fear from those who are supposed to be well-trained. America is going nuts. Where on earth are the brave officers who take more than 3 seconds to make a wise decision?!

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 8 years 13 weeks ago

You have no way of knowing this, but I come from a family of police and firemen. I never remember Sheriffs or police (or firefighters!) ever shooting anyone just for suspicion... The only things they shot when I was young were helpless o'possums trying to safely transporting their young, clinging to their bodies, trying to safely cross a road... THAT really pissed me off. For them, it was just "fun target shooting" to a defenseless animal who never wanted to harm anyone. I detested that kind of behavior, and I still do. When did they go from shooting defenseless wildlife for sport, to shooting people out of fear? There'ssomething entirely wrong with this kind of behavior. I'm so glad I never followed in the steps of my uncles, cousins, and friends...

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 13 weeks ago

To say "why is no one protesting the cop murders?" is racist and stupid. Who would be the target of the protest? The killer? He's dead. If there had been vidio and then he had been caught and then not charged by a grand jury, that would be a reason for a protest. Then the protesters would likely be made up of cops and mostly white citizens. That would never happen because the cops likely would have murdered the shooter so he could not go to trial and plead insanity even if he tried to surrender. The cops would have their stories (lies) together. The protesters are not to blame. The media is not to blame. Let's put blame where where it belongs. First the lone shooter is to blame. Second is our supreme court who interprets the second amendment, that was designed to protect our country from a foreign invasion with the help of a citizen army, by saying that it says that everyone can carry guns, nevermind the part about a "WELL REGULATED MALITA". Has it occured to anyone in our government that this amendment is obsolete and should be changed because now we spend billions of dollars every year on a standing military to protect us and now there's no chance a private citizen is going to be called upon to protect this country with his HUNTING RIFEL? Third is our system of how we police the police, When a police officer stands accused of violating a citizens rights, HIS FRIENDS, the prossicutor and fellow officers most often will make sure the officer will not be charged with any crime, no matter what the officer has done or who the officer has murdered unless it's another cop. Cops harrass and illeagaly search people every day, not all cops, not all police forces, but in some places it's routine, usually where there are a lot of black targets to choose from. This has to stop. Cops trying to find reasons to arrest people for the sake of getting a big number of arrests on their record has to stop too. Most cops are very good people but in some police forces they need to do a better job of acting like their job is to protect everyone, even the people they must arrest. The fourth reason the two cops were murdered is OUTRAGE caused by a rash of vidios of cops shooting and killing people when they didn't have to.

FuzzyBoo 8 years 13 weeks ago

A New York City Police Union opportunist is trying to blame PEACEFUL PROSTESTORS exercising their rights to FREE SPEECH (and the NYC MAYOR) for the recent tragic murders of TWO COPS.

And, I'm pretty sure that FOX NEWS is doing it too, but that would be neither FAIR nor BALANCED.

It would probably be more accurate to blame the NRA, the GOP, and their TEA PARTY FRINGE for the brutal executions of those TWO LAS VEGAS COPS.

But I would never do that. Or would I?

eatraum 8 years 13 weeks ago

I have enjoyed reading most of what Thom Hartmann has proposed and elaborated upon in the past even though I have disagreed with some of it but this is a poorly directed and shallow document. Thom and most responders who have agreed with this premise have failed to recognize the complexity of the issue.

Yes, police officers can be heavy handed and their should be public input into the regulation of their behavior and practice. However, there has been no mention of the difficulties faced by police officers nor an exploration of the differences between big city officers and small town officers. There has been no recognition of the heroism that officers display every day for the public.

They do a job that none of the responders (nor Thom) have have chosen to do. At least, none have stated it as their profession. Therefore, none have any idea what it is like to be charged with enforcing law that the public has chosen to legislate through the electoral process. Worse, none of the responders sound as thought they have experience with street combat, which is what officers face every day. Most people turn their backs and run (wisely) in the face of aggression. Police officers do not have that luxury. Furthermore, none appear to have any experience with combat (armed or unarmed) and the celerity with which it occurs nor with the speed with which a blow to the head can change your life.

I state this because it is obvious that Thom and his supporters are sitting upon some very high horses. You are failing to recognize the changes that come to one's mind and body when facing these situations. There is no way to avoid these changes and the only way to adapt to them is to require counseling for the officers and ongoing training. Granted, this is a tough thing to require in their culture but, require it non the less.

But, back to the idea of heroism. I have personally seen police officers reach into burning cars to pull out children still strapped into car seats after a crash. I have seen them come out of burning buildings before we firefighters run in with all our fire gear. I have seen them beaten up and bloodied after fighhting and subduing a drug induced psychotic black man who was threatening the public (they did not shoot him).

They have a different mentality than most of the general population and they live by a VERY different code than the vast majority of us. Do we need to continue with the efforts to deepen civilian control over the putative emergence of a police state? YES.

But to naively state that police should not be seen as heros is shallow and, quite honestly, weak.

They do a job that Thom has opted NOT to do. More importantly, we all benefit from the fulfillment of their duties and we need to show them respect and appreciation for that daily. After my time in the Peace Corps I can say with confidence that, without their efforts and blood, our country would be no better than any other third world country with its concomittant chaos and corruption. If you really want to fight against oppression then fight agains corporate control of government because THAT is the most corrosive agent of democracy. That is the coming oppressor of your freedoms.

csavage's picture
csavage 8 years 13 weeks ago

Thanks for mentioning that docs can kill people with their mistakes. People also die despite our best efforts as well. As a doc and as someone who has had patients die under my care, you ALWAYS second guess yourself. Imagine my disgust when I hear cops who've killed in the line of duty proclaim they have no regrets and "would do it again"....I think, in many cases, THAT is what the protestors are protesting and, until everyone understands that, we aren't going to have the conversation we need to have as a society. Heck, even Frank Sinatra has regrets....

FuzzyBoo 8 years 13 weeks ago

eatraum, I agree with some of what you've written, but CHOKING ERIC GARNER until he was UNCONCIOUS and then NOT DOING CPR (or letting bystanders do it) is pretty cold & unforgiveable. Or, did we all miss something?

And, I GENERALLY ADMIRE & RESPECT COPS, honest cops that is.

But, we all know that cops are using TASERS and PEPPER SPRAY on OLD LADIES now. So, if a TRUST has been BROKEN, just WHO BROKE IT?

And yes, cops have "chosen" their careers. They also choose to be in UNIONS. And, then choose to keep other unions, the working poor, and the middle class in their place.

They choose to blindly enforce laws that CORPORATIONS (and their LOBBYISTS) have BRIBED obviously CORRUPT POLITICIANS to pass.


Who indeed.

But, CORPORATE CONTROL of our "democracy" IS ALREADY HERE. They own the Supreme Court and most of our politicians. And, corporate lawyers are literally writing the bills that politicians introduce.

Corporate operatives "lead" the government agencies that are supposed to protect us.

Corporations and their employees spy on us on behalf of the government, and in their own interest.

Corporations build electronic voting machines and design the rigged "proprietary" software they run on.

And, corporations own the "mainstream" news media which parrot GOP talking points and knowingly lie to us on a regular basis.

So, in 2014, most eligible Americans were apparently either too stupid or lazy to vote.

Or, perhaps they've peeked behind the curtain and finally decided (in exhaustion) to stop participating in such a rigged game.

TPP will be the last straw.

Then, it's Game Over.

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 8 years 13 weeks ago

I long for days when policemen were professional, like Sargeant Friday and his various partners. The would get a report of something or other, get to scene of the crime and investigate, ask questions, check out what happened "The facts ma'am, just the facts", after a half an hour of good police work, the thief, or the murderer, or whatever was supposed to have occurred, was solved.

Today, in order to take down one criminal it requires a truckful of "men in black", their faces covered over with ski masks running about the scene like... (the name of those things that they look like escapes me). It's not clear what sort of crimes will be treated this way in the wake of the legalization of pot--nobody to raid. If the accounts I see in the social media, the search for the "250" by the NYPD on the streets of that city as resulted in more violations of human rights that the prevention of crime, or promoting the "rule of law". The demonstators of the Occupy Movement know all too well how, when they wanted to speak freely, they were bullied by NY's finest into submitting to their authorities, some of them were even placed in jail, for "resisting arrest".

If that weren't enough the social media has revealed how plain ordinary citizens that live along state borders in the Southwest, discover a officer of the border patrol stopping to ask them all sorts of "questions", and if the answer is "there is a sale on household appliances in the mall across the state line" is not enough. They are required to stop and be investigated for something or other. For the record, many places of business along the state borders, and up close to them have experienced downtown in their business activity,the result of road blocks. People are not driving along those roads from fear of being "stopped and frisked".

There is something very wrong with the United States of America. Heck, in Tel Aviv, two summers ago, people that were dissatified with the lack of affordable housing took to the parks, and "camped out". Some of them were removed, but only after quite a while--the mayor didn't "send the cops" to remove them. In fact across from the Central Railroad Station, the people that camped out two years ago, are still there, and likely there are other places in Tel Aviv, where people continue to "camp out". No police, no violence, in the "troublesome Middle East", while people in the Big Apple risk being greeted by policemen, being told to "get out their cars", or "on their knees", for not showing them the respect they deserve, or something like that.

Yeah I wonder what Jack Webb, or his alter ego Sargeant Friday would say if they were brought down from Heaven, reincarnated as policemen. Would they understand all the loss of life and limb that goes on today? I think not.

nadinbrzezinski's picture
nadinbrzezinski 8 years 13 weeks ago

Tom I love you, but the miltiarization of the police goes much farther back than 911. And I mean much farther back, like you can tenously place it anywhere between WATS and war on drugs. Experts on this will qubble as to exactly where it started. Suffice it to say, Daryl Gates truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Regardless, the legal background for a lot of this goes also much father back than 911, like to the early years of the Warren court.

911 is the day that many people finally noticed, but seriously, I would expect you to know that this goes much father back.

Can it be reversed? Yes, and I think we are starting to see signs that peopel both within and outside law enforcement realize change is needed. There will be a lot of resistance too, but the kinds of changes needed will be rather scary. The first step is truly learning how miltitarized the police has become, and it is not just the MRAPs, though the local one meant for a school district, was returend after we broke how miltiarized the local police was.


We could not find where the MRAP went to, local public station did, and they were forced to give it back.


editor reportingsandiego.com

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 13 weeks ago

The march to authoritarianism is well under way. Most Americans approve of torture and have worshipped cops - or at least foolishly idolized them - for some time already. Since Ronald Reagan most presidents had been Republican father figures or big brother figures in the image of the strong man most Americans seem to wish for - and are very willing to give extraordinary "emergency" power to to "protect" us with.
Most Americans - and perhaps most people - are not capable of democracy. They abhor authoritarianism or tyranny - if it contradicts their own values. They laud and support authoritarianism or tyranny if it upholds their personal values. They abhor tyranny if it isn't THEIR tyranny but if it is they're all in favor of it.
That includes lefties like Thom - or at least he's not as immune to that inclination as he seems to think.

eatraum 8 years 13 weeks ago


I agree many of your points as well. We are most definately in a complex pickle as a society. But, to our discussion I go.

There are many details and examples of injustice , brutality and over reaction on both sides. However, generalized reactionary and vitriolic animadversion will serve no one but the profferers of discord. Leaders must be calm and strategic. They must stand above the fray and look at the battle, searching for a way to end the conflict with mutually beneficial potential. To do this a leader has to be able to see the positives in his adversary and work with those just as he or she fights against the negatives.

I still disagree with Mr. Hartmann's contention that officers should not be seen as heroes in our society.

I think you would agree that, while many officers are overreaching in their use of authority, most are disciplined and hard working risk takers who see their duty as that of holding society to the laws that have been passed by our legislators. I certainly agree with you that corporations have gained control of our government and that police officers are tasked with enforcement of those laws generated on their behalf. History has shown that this slow descent into fascism will continue until the pain becomes so great that the majority of the populace is moved to action. VOTING is our best action and we have to take accountability for the lack thereof. Contiuing to focus on the actions of the police is a tactical mistake. By vewing the police as our adversaries we cannot concentrate on the true adversary, which is, of course, the corporations and their owners; the 1%.

I have been on the street for many years and I know the risks that police officers take. Criticism is certainly due but they are heroic to me and I, personally, think it is the weak of character who live the life we have in America but become censorius of all officers due to highly publicized actions of a small percentage of them.

My main, tactical point in our discussion is that we need to recognize the benefits that police bring to our lives and appreciate the risks they take. My strategic point is that it serves us to see the police as a representation of us as a society and that we need, as you expertly described, to focus on the true source of our growing dilemma; fascism. Enmity divides. Patience and strategic empathy unite.

Thank you for challenging my in my comments. I appreciate your input and thought.


Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 13 weeks ago

Not everybody's on the same page. The cop murderers must've thought they were "getting even".
Violent methods almost always harm a nascent movement. They turn people against it and make them less likely to join it and serve as a justification for violent repression by the authorities - so much so that reactionary authorities often anonymously commit acts of violence and blame them on the movement or send provocateur infiltrators to goad the movement's members to adopt violence.
The protesters perhaps should denounce the cop killings more publicly and more vocally.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 13 weeks ago

Reply to posts #13 & #19: Eatraum, you’ve repeatedly pointed out the obvious: that policing is a difficult job, one that most of us have not elected to do. Nobody’s going to argue those points, least of all me. BUT what is also true is the fact that no one is forced at gunpoint to enter that profession either. And what these various murder-by-cop incidents have proven, time & again, is that (1) We still have a race problem in America, and a class war, simultaneously influencing how police work is practiced in our communities; (2) Whatever "training" these officers-in-training received was inadequate; (3) Policing, as a profession, is attracting people with the wrong attitude and temperament for the job; and (4) Too many racist bullies with loose trigger fingers are wearing the badge. These guys are clearly not “serving” or “protecting” those they are supposed to be serving and protecting. Intimidation and control is more like it. And there is no reason why any unarmed person should EVER have to be shot. There are plenty of non-lethal means cops could be using to apprehend their subjects, so why aren’t they using them?

The obvious solution to item #4 is to have police officers serving the communities they live in, where they have a rapport with the residents of those communities and a personal stake in the outcomes of their own police work. I’ve heard and read this point made up, down and sideways, via more sources than I could possibly recall. So why haven’t policies like this been established? A question worthy of further scrutiny.

Beyond that, there needs to be a much more rigorous screening process for policing candidates, to weed out predators of all stripes: the racists, the misogynists, the perverts, along with standard, run-of-the-mill bullies and control freaks. These types of personalities are attracted to policing for obvious reasons. They are the ones giving policing a bad name. The militarization of police departments doesn’t help either. Decked out and armed like military invaders, these guys act as though they were occupiers in a foreign country, and tend to treat people accordingly, more as enemy combatants than as citizens... ESPECIALLY in communities of color. This is enormously destructive to the society at large. It plays a major role in what is poisoning race relations in this country. Keeps those old xenophobic attitudes reinforced on both sides of the proverbial tracks. I believe this benefits only a small elite class of kleptofascists whose interests are best served by keeping the "masses" divided, at each other's throats and therefore, too distracted to recognize the magnitude of what is being taken from us and destroyed.

The behavior of the police often is what triggers any violence that occurs. I’ve seen it over and over again at peaceful protests, where no crimes are being committed prior to police attacks. It is disgusting. But it is worth remembering that stirring up trouble at peaceful demonstrations serves the same interests as stop-and-frisk type policies. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, in person as well as on video, where people get attacked by police officers, with little to no provocation. Between that and racial profiling, and the stop-and-frisk types of policies and practices targeting people of color (decided by city legislatures, by the way, not by the public; often not with the public's best interests in mind), we see ample opportunity for bad cops to abuse the power entrusted to them. And what about the horrible crimes committed by those men wearing the badge, who should never have entered that profession in the first place?! And why should the blemishes bad cops leave on policing’s public image surprise anyone paying attention to all this?

What’s going on in our country today is a class war in which racism helps fuel the flames. Unfortunately these militarized police forces have played a major role in that ongoing drama, where real lives are destroyed on a daily basis and often arbitrarily; where ramming down people’s doors in the wee hours of the morning, terrorizing and shooting them in their own homes constitutes business as usual. The seizure & forfiture of people’s personal property by the police, often without evidence, let alone charge or trial, is indefensible. This sort of "police work" would be unacceptable in any genuinely decent, civilized society. It constitutes theft with impunity on the part of “law enforcement”, further eroding the credability of the police in the eyes of the policed. It clearly is an abuse of power. This kind of shit has got to stop if there is ever to be a relationship of trust and mututal respect, between police and the communities they “serve”.

Abuse inflicted on the public by bad cops, however many or few there are, is a reality we ignore only at our peril if a free & open society is what we really want. I’m talking about murders, rapes and torture committed by police officers, on prisoners of both sexes, hardly unheard of in this grrreat country. I’m talking about unarmed black men arbitrarily executed in the streets, usually in broad daylight, with no indictments let alone prosecutions ever forthcoming on these trigger-happy cops. Is our outrage over that not justified?

When your answer to that, eatraum, is to defensively remind us that good cops exist, you’re not telling us anything most of us don’t already know. And it’s not helpful, because the problem persists despite the fact that good cops exist. Yes there are good cops performing their duties well, even with heroism, in behalf of others caught in some of the most perilous circumstances imaginable. But the fact remains, there’s enough bad policing going on to make its presence known, thus showing by example that as a society, we have a problem. The so-called “war on drugs” (translation: war on drug users, especially in poor communities of color) has been a major factor in that equasion.

The solutions to such problems don’t seem all that complicated. But as usual, politics gets in the way. I believe these kinds of issues involving the police are symptomatic of something much larger, but I’ll save that for another conversation. - AIW

ChicagoMatt 8 years 13 weeks ago
The obvious solution to item #4 is to have police officers serving the communities they live in, where they have a rapport with the residents of those communities and a personal stake in the outcomes of their own police work. I’ve heard and read this point made up, down and sideways, via more sources than I could possibly recall. So why haven’t policies like this been established? A question worthy of further scrutiny.

Because that's re-segregation, and no one wants to admit that the de-segregation policies of the 50s and 60s failed.

First, you have to have entire cities with populations of a single race, since police are hired at the city level. While there are several small towns that are all one race, there are few cities like that.

Then, you have to hire police officers based on their race. The definition of racism.

And why stop there? Why not the other public workers, like firemen, teachers, garbagemen, etc. All the same race - the same race as the population.

Might as well go ahead and form different countries and be done with it.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 13 weeks ago

Oh bullshit, Matt. Pre-segregation, my ass. How about people's right to representation? Communities are best served by those living in those communities. Like I pointed out already, this generates rapport and a sense of trust between the officer and those under his (or her) watch. A community needs the presence of law enforcement officers with a personal stake in that community. It’s a win-win for both the police and the policed. By dragging firemen, teachers, garbagemen and so on into this, Matt, you are only watering down the focus of the discussion. Firemen, teachers and garbagemen don’t go around armed with pistols in holsters, nor do they have the power to arrest and detain people on the streets. Gimmie a break.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 12 weeks ago

ChicagoMatt ~ Your argument shocks me. What is so complicated about AIW's suggestion. We here in the Bay Area have the same problem and want the same solution. This has nothing to do with segregation at all. You simply draw a line around a police precinct. The only officers that are eligible to work within that line must also live within that line. This has nothing at all to do with race. This has to do with basic geography. As far as your suggestion about other public workers like firemen, teachers, and garbage men goes, I think the answer is a no brainer--yes. Nothing to do with racism, all to do with common sense. People need to live closer to their places of work. We need to cut down on our dependance on oil; and, the only way to do that is by putting peoples residences closer to their locations of work. It is better for the worker, for the community; and, ultimately, for the planet.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 12 weeks ago

So, when was the last time people protested when people are killed by criminals? So, Joe Blow down the street was murdered by another Joe Blow who broke into his home and raped his family then killed the occupants. How many people are going to block traffic over that? What about the many thousands of people who get murdered by guns, knives, clubs, poisoned, etc? If it were not for the police, there would be absolute chaos with many more victims. We would all be huddled in fear. The biggest and most brutish would rule us all. There would be no enforceable laws.

I don't worship the police but I realize that without a police force that will strike fear in the minds of criminals, they are very close to being totally irrelevant as a protector of the people. Some criminals just don't respect anyone of authority if they know that all they are going to do is to ask them nicely to obey the law. And when many of those criminals, or would-be criminals, get all psyched up with rap music that has lyrics about killing cops and raping women then how do you think they will turn out?

Most law-abiding people don't have to worry about police brutality or being killed by them. But the criminals just love it when they can get the police to be on the defensive. It serves the criminals very well. Just a moment of hesitation might mean that the criminal can kill that officer before the officer can kill him/her. And that criminal will stay on the streets to possibly rape, rob, or kill other victims. If you don't mind having so many criminals lurking out there then don't even bother about calling the police. You don't like the police...remember?

It's easy for someone to say that a cop should be like Mr. Rogers..."oh, won't you be my neighbor?". Or, like a frustrated and conflicted parent trying to correct an obstreperous child with useless and unheeded pleas of submission and guilt. Perhaps they will even try the old Santa Claus or God is watching you trick...great ways of introducing paranoia in a person. Hit them with the old superstitions where the antagonists are never seen or heard but imagined. But, the fear of the paddle is way more effective and is a more realistic lesson that will be useful later on in life.

If you are a law abiding person, you won't challenge the police in any way, not sassing them, acting smart, acting like you are guilty and have something to hide, etc. The police pick up on that right off and it is usually a sure sign that the person is a criminal. It is their duty to catch criminals. So they have to look for the signs that criminals typically show. If you have a problem with the police, signing a traffic ticket for example, then don't be stupid and try to argue with them or refuse to sign the ticket. If you escalate the tension with the police, it will never work out in your favor. Take it up in court later.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 12 weeks ago

Palindromedary asks: “When was the last time people protested when people are killed by criminals? So, Joe Blow down the street was murdered by another Joe Blow who broke into his home and raped his family then killed the occupants. How many people are going to block traffic over that?”

C’mon PD, Eric Garner & Michael Brown’s cases didn’t ignite mass protest all over the country just for being tragic and wrong. What drove people out to the streets was how these cases typified a pattern in our society directly related to racism, classism and an imbalance of power. They drew our attention to an issue of social and political significance, involving white cops and black male civilians. Few if any muggings, burglaries or murders share the distinguishing characteristic of profiling issues related to social justice, even if such crimes are themselves symptomatic of socioeconomic inequality.

“If it were not for the police”, you go on to say, “there would be absolute chaos with many more victims. We would all be huddled in fear. The biggest and most brutish would rule us all.”

If it were not for the police, Eric Garner & Michael Brown would still be alive. If it were not for the police, most if not all these peaceful mass protests would have remained peaceful.

Are we denying the need for a police force in this, or any, society? Absolutely not. It’s the racists and bullies among them we’re objecting to. It’s their abuses of power we want no part of.

You don’t think the biggest and most brutish are ruling the roost already, PD? Fascists like the KKKoch brothers own our government now. Directly or indirectly, the police are protecting the property and interests of the elite, at everyone else’s expense. Their fascist media poisons the air with xenopobic garbage, keeping people scared, distrustful, alienated from each other and therefore, easy to control en masse.

Shooting unarmed individuals is indefensible and criminal. It also is a cowardly act. When you are armed yourself, and in the presence of someone who isn’t armed, that’s a huge advantage in your favor in the event of a violent conflict. Your life will not be in danger under most circumstances.

Aside from that, were you to put white folks in the same situations so many blacks are now living in, under the same conditions, with the same socioeconomic limitations and so on, those white folks would act out in the same ways conservatives are perpetually whining about from their little moral pedestals… You know, the black-on-black crime argument and so on. So stale, it's not even funny. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 12 weeks ago
Quote Palindromedary:If you are a law abiding person, you won't challenge the police in any way, not sassing them, acting smart, acting like you are guilty and have something to hide, etc. The police pick up on that right off and it is usually a sure sign that the person is a criminal. It is their duty to catch criminals. So they have to look for the signs that criminals typically show. If you have a problem with the police, signing a traffic ticket for example, then don't be stupid and try to argue with them or refuse to sign the ticket. If you escalate the tension with the police, it will never work out in your favor. Take it up in court later.

Palindromedary ~ Why don't you just hand over your dick to the nearest law enforcement professional? What ever happened to the Palindromedary who wanted to fight fire with fire? What ever happened to the Palindromedary who wanted to let the authorities know that they are treading on thin ice? What ever happened to the Palindromedary who had balls?

You want us to believe that everything will be fine as long as we cooperate with law enforcement? Than what is the problem? We've been cooperating haven't we? You and I, the white people. What do we have to fear? We know how to behave, don't we? Or, do you???

We are all in this boat together! We will either float together, or sink together! You be the judge. I'm gonna swim for the side who floats. Adios, Pendejos!!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 12 weeks ago
Quote AIW:You don’t think the biggest and most brutish are ruling the roost already, PD? Fascists like the KKKoch brothers own our government now. Directly or indirectly, the police are protecting the property and interests of the elite, at everyone else’s expense. Their fascist media poisons the air with xenopobic garbage, keeping people scared, distrustful, alienated from each other and therefore, easy to control en masse.
You got me there, AIW! Tis true, we do have bullies that may not be big and mean and threatening us with guns in our homes. But it is more of a subtle bullying and robbery of us all. Where it gets really rough is for those who try to get some back...problem is that those getting some back are stealing from those who can least afford to be stolen from. I'd sure love it if we could take those Koch Roaches and others like them down a bunch of notches...like thrown penniless into a dark dank cell somewhere. But there are those of us who want and need protection from the other bullies and criminals roaming the streets. Having big bullies and criminals running our government is certainly no fun but neither is being confronted on the sidewalk and sucker punched and then have something of value stolen form us is definitely no fun either. I believe that most cops are honest but there are some who aren't. They are just as bad, if not worse, than the punk criminals because they almost have a license to kill in any dispute but we don't have that same license to defend ourselves against those crooked cops. Most of us have gone our whole lives never having had a run-in with the police except, perhaps, for a very rare traffic ticket once in a while. And during those brief moments, after being stopped, I have never had a problem with the police. They were always very polite because I was always polite. You get what you sow. And those people, who have had problems with the police, probably acted in a way that was not a normal, calm and non argumentative demeanor. And especially if you slug a policeman sitting in his car, you are just asking for the consequences.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 12 weeks ago
Quote DAnneMarc:What ever happened to the Palindromedary who had balls?
LOL --I still have them swingin' in the same sack where they've always been in. ;-} But, you know, people can talk big and tough and others might be fooled into thinking that they are big and tough but I think that it is much safer to be pragmatic about things. It's one thing to be full of fury, signifying nothing, and another to see how things really are...very dangerous, if one takes one's belligerent attitude right up to the cop's face. That's just plain stupid. But there are a lot of very stupid people that will never learn. You can't fix stupid! But stupid will get them killed or at least beat up.

The fact is that there are very few people, of all skin colors, who suffer rough treatment by the police unless they have done something to deserve it. But those few who are roughed up by the police makes all police look bad especially if there is a concerted effort by some people to make them all look bad based upon what a few have done. And the criminals just love it!

In effect, the people demonstrating against the police are helping out the criminals that have victimized, or will one day victimize, them. And what are they going to do then? Call the police? It will backfire on them! Most law-abiding people know that the MB case, but not so much the EG case, was a bad example of police brutality. There have been much better examples of police brutality. And when the demonstrators go out and block the streets, so people can't go home after work, they will lose any hope of support from those that are being blocked and those of others seeing it on TV.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 12 weeks ago

Reply to #28: Palin, I was pleasantly surprised by this post because there is so much in it that we agree on. But we part company where you say, towards the end: “And those people, who have had problems with the police, probably acted in a way that was not a normal, calm and non argumentative demeanor.” That’s too broad a stroke, my friend. What’s more, it is presumptuous and simplistic.

Every situation is unique in such encounters between law enforcement and the public. Like you, Palin, I’ve been very polite wtih police officers and have had no run-ins with them. But the fact remains that if your skin is black or brown, you might as well be living in a different country. A black or brown man cannot count on politeness to keep him out of trouble with police officers. This is a disparity you refuse to acknowledge, PD, but refusing to acknowledge something won’t make it go away.

We happen to live in a society and culture that nurtures extreme inequality, providing a virtual paradise for a privileged few while so many live out their days in paycheck-to-paycheck purgatory, never quite making ends meet, or left out in the cold. Long as we tolerate this, we will have petty thieves sucker-punching and robbing us in the streets, scamming us, burglarizing our homes, stealing our identities and so on. This is because socioeconomic inequality generates crime. From my perspective, crime is only a symptom, not the disease. The same could be said about white collar crime such as the Wall Street mob, banksters and insurance hacks are known for. Seems worth pointing out that white collar crime maims, kills and impoverishes way more people than the types of crime mentioned in Palindromedary’s posts.

I suppose we each have a certain amount of personal baggage that gets triggered in these forums occasionally. I don’t know what kinds of experiences you’ve had, Palin, that would feed into the attitudes expressed in your posts whenever issues like this are addressed. But I get the feeling you’ve had bad experiences with black people at one time or another, that left you with an attitude of antagonism and hostility towards blacks. I could be wrong of course; but that’s how you’ve come across, at least to me.

My final comment is in response to post #29, where you describe how you think protestors hurt their causes by annoying and alienating the public.. Regardless of the issue being addressed, the whole point of a protest is to disrupt things! That’s how protests draw attention to themselves, which is what they are meant to do. I don’t have a problem with this. And I question whether they are as self-defeating as you claim they are. They might not be the be-all-and-end-all for social change, but they have their place, just like these forums. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 12 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ (Post 28 and 29) You make a few good points; and, I'm glad to hear they're still hanging. However your remarks are somewhat presumptuous at best. I think you discount the recruiting effort that I've already mentioned in several posts that go into the officer selection process. Essentially, I have heard under the table though reliable sources that violent tempered people are the ONLY candidates that qualify for police work. They are the ONLY people the department hires. I've also experienced this first person myself; and, I'm probably whiter than you.

Where we used to live I had many an opportunity to get to know the beat officers. One in particular was very helpful in helping us to deal with some rather dangerous former neighbors. He was very nice and we got to know each others names. Whenever I'd see him I would approach him and chat. He even once helped us round up a missing neighbors cat. Under most circumstances, he was quite a gentleman. However, one day, I saw him outside with other officers and I thought I'd say hello. I called him by name and asked him how he was. He spun around and growled at me to "Get Back!" He reached for his gun. I got back. He then went back to casually chatting with the other officers. I waited for him to finish politely, thinking maybe he didn't recognize me. So when he finished, I called his name again. This time I identified myself and where I lived. I told him he knew me. Again he spun around like a beast and screamed at me. I did not know this man. His demeanor was completely different than ever before, more like an angry lion in a zoo. I decided to abandon the effort and cut my loses. I went home.

I never forgot that encounter. That officer had no reason at all to be upset. I did not want to find out how much more upset he could become over nothing. Yet, without a doubt, in his calmer state he was easily one of the friendliest officers I have ever met. What really concerns me is that all this encounter proves is what I have learned a long time ago. You have to be a psycho in order to qualify to wear a badge.

I think that the point you are missing, PD, is that these people don't only carry guns, but now military grade equipment. Sure, it is easy to justify that since this violence is directed toward a minority and "not you", they "probably" deserved it; and, it will never happen to you. Yet, this is wishful thinking at best. Even YOU, just admitted that there ARE better examples of police brutality than the Michael Brown case. You have just admitted that there is indeed a problem. Why must you then insist there isn't? The fact of the matter remains, whenever anyone is denied justice, everyone is denied justice. The way this system is currently rigged, we are ALL potential victims. That is why we should ALL be outraged.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 12 weeks ago
Quote AIW: I don’t know what kinds of experiences you’ve had, Palin, that would feed into the attitudes expressed in your posts whenever issues like this are addressed. But I get the feeling you’ve had bad experiences with black people at one time or another, that left you with an attitude of antagonism and hostility towards blacks. I could be wrong of course; but that’s how you’ve come across, at least to me.

Actually, AIW, I've never had a bad personal problem with any blacks ... and I've known, went to school with, and worked with quite a few over the years. And none of them, that I know of anyway, has ever been in trouble with the police.

But, I do watch the news. When I see a surveillance video of some guy approaching people on the sidewalk...even women...and they sucker punch them and steel their iphones or purses or jewelry. I wouldn't be upset if that guy was beaten up himself or hit by a car trying to get away. And given time, they'll most likely shoot each other anyway...hopefully before they victimize more people. I wouldn't mind it if all those gang members and worthless individuals who do such things end up shooting each other so the cops don't have to. But even if it were whites doing these things I would not care a whit if they suffered the same fate. It's not the color of their skin...it's the criminal activities they commit. But it is easy to see who is committing most of the crimes.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 12 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: Well, I guess I can now see why you are so much against policemen. You've been personally shunned by someone you thought you were pretty buddy-buddy with and he turned on you for whatever reason at the time.

Policemen experience things that most of us never will. They frequently see the very ugly side of things and can develop very human emotions and biases. Their lives depend upon being able to analyze possible threatening situations before they happen and taking the necessary actions to prevent being victims themselves. They can suffer the same kinds of PTSD that our soldiers fighting in wars can suffer. Once you see a child with his guts hanging out or ripped in two whether it is from a bomb in a war or an automobile accident at home it affects people, even tough and 'trained' professionals like policemen. Or, when he sees friends die when it could very easily have been him, it changes and hardens a person to an extent most family members or other civilians, who never has gone through that, can never understand. When people are put under a constant stress in life or death situations they can often snap...perhaps make the wrong decisions...all things they have to constantly worry about. There is no amount of training that can overcome that reality even though some seem to think otherwise. But then, they are not the ones who have to constantly experience what the police have to go through.

A cop's job is tough enough even without having antagonists challenging or mocking them or resisting arrest all of which usually leads to an escalation that usually never turns out for the good of the antagonist. But, I guess if people are dumb enough to cause an escalation with the police they will suffer the consequences. The police have a job to do and if someone gets in the way of them doing their job they will pay the price. I don't feel sorry for them. They usually deserve what they get. And in the case of MB attacking Wilson, I most certainly don't think MB deserves any sympathy. He caused his own problem.

Yes, I believe that there are a few cops that just can't wait for someone to escalate a problem and even some psychopathic killers out there. But, I don't believe that they are all like that. I think most of them want to serve and to protect the non-criminals...but not the criminals. It's their job to detect and apprehend the criminals...and they have to analyze characteristic behaviors of people in that endeavor. If a person acts like he is guilty of something he may very well be.

Most non-criminals will not escalate a problem by being disrespectful, argumentative, excessively nervous, or resist being arrested. It never does any good anyway. It's like the jaws of a trap..the more you struggle...the more the teeth dig in.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 12 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ Again, you miss my point. Allow me to retell my story. I have a very close friend who applied to become a policeman back in the 80's. He went through all the training and passed every exam except for the psychological exam. He was told he wasn't police material. Another friend of mine is a bartender in a very popular police hangout right across the street from the Police Department. In a casual chit chat with the Police Chief he learned that my friend flunked the exam specifically because he was TOO EVEN TEMPERED. THEY ONLY WANT TO HIRE PSYCHOPATHS! DO YOU UNDERSTAND!! They specifically want psychopaths so much so that they give them a vigorous psychology exam designed to filter out normal dispositions. I got it straight from the horses mouth. This nonsense about attributing this dangerous behavior to PTSD and other on the job experiences is false. These people are certifiable natural psychopaths--to one degree or another--before they are ever even given a badge. They are all ticking time bombs; and, thanks to the Military Industrial Complex, they now all have access to weapons of mass destruction.

You can not be held responsible for the behavior of a psychopath. That behavior depends upon which way the wind blows. Anything, and everything, can set them off. It could be the color of your skin, your tone of voice, the type of shirt you are wearing, or how their Donut tasted that morning. Sadly, you will probably never get it until it actually happens to you. Seeing is believing. For your sake, I hope that never happens.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 12 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: I hope so too! Until then, I'll continue trying to keep my temper and act normal and respectful and do exactly what they tell me to do and not argue with them so that it minimizes the possibility of triggering any psychopathic tendencies they may have. I'll also continue to think that anyone else that fails to do those things are just asking for trouble. What would you do?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 12 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ No argument there! I think you know exactly what I'd do. I already told you what I did do. Of course, knowing what I know both about how police recruit as well as personal experience how can I act any different? Yet, you and I are smarter, better educated, and far more experienced than most--certainly more so than poor kids in the ghetto. They have no idea what they are up against until it is too late. It only takes a small spark to ignite a powder keg. I know that even an even tempered, well mannered, innocent and well meaning young man can easily bring death upon himself with nothing more than a poorly chosen split second bad decision. Everyone makes mistakes, especially young people. I for one do not want to live in a society that devalues life so much that they would allow such senseless murder to occur. Do you? Really?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 12 weeks ago

Yeah Marc, a society that devalues black human life so much that jaywalking brings a death sentence. Or playing with a toy gun in a public park, or walking through a Walmart store with a toy gun, or selling cigarettes on a public sidewalk, or getting high, or just (GASP) wearing a hoodie and walking in a "white" neighborhood. Shocking, heinous crimes!

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 12 weeks ago


2nd Amendment

A well regulated militia- meaning a militia formed of and by the people, not a militia that is formed by the government.

Being necessary to the security of a free state- meaning that is militia is formed for the purpose of opposing a corrupt or otherwise oppressive government or other threat of hostility.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms-meaning that the general public shall be allowed to own and use said arms to defend their freedom and way of life against said oppressive government or threat of hostility.

Shall not be infringed- meaning exactly what it states, shall not be infringed or rights that shall never be taken from the people.

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 12 weeks ago


Dispatch didn't tell the officers in Cleveland that the gun was a BB gun. Shame on the child for altering the gun to look like a real one and shame on the parents for letting him do it! If a gun is aimed at you could you tell if the gun was real or would you wait until you were shot to realise that hesistating cost you your life or would you shoot first and ask questions later ?

He was instructed to raise his hands and instead he chose to pull a gun from his waistband. I don't care what color you are or whether you are rich or poor you can agree that pulling a gun on police officer is not the brightest thing to do.

In August of 2014, an unarmed white teen was shot and killed by a black police officer in Salt Lake City Utah. The officer was not indicted by a grand jury. Where were the riots and the stop traffic protests?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 12 weeks ago

Tarheels, I’ve got no stomach for this “blame the victim” paradigm you and various conservative bloggers keep peddling here. Shame on YOU for joining that chorus. How do you know the toy gun was aimed at the cop; were you there? Did you see a video of the incident? According to what I’ve heard, that cop shot the kid two seconds after exiting his car. How do you instruct anyone to do anything in two seconds?!! The cop could have told that kid to set the toy gun down and step back, then gone over to investigate, in which case he would have determined that it was a TOY. If it was a BB gun, posing a danger to anyone, it could have been confiscated without bloodshed. Instead the officer stepped out of his car and— BLAM-BLAM! Another dead black kid. For nothing.

You conservative white dudes are forever minimizing, trivializing and outright denying the disparity between how whites and blacks are treated by police, all around this country. Your pro-police bias has been made crystal clear in your posts, ever since you began participating here.

Every time another black kid is executed by a cop, we get two versions of the story: one from corporate media and the law & order crowd, the other from noncorporate media and those with no allegiance to law enforcement. From my perspective, the version deserving of my attention is a no-brainer.

Okay, so an unarmed white teenager was shot and killed in Salt Lake City by a black cop last August. It doesn’t change the fact that statistically (according to MY sources) a black teenager is over thirty times as likely to be executed by the police compared to white teenagers. Isolated incidents don’t generate mass protest while a pattern of such fatal encounters most certainly does. And I challenge YOU, Tarheels, to prove to us that killer black cops are as common as killer white cops, in proportion to their numbers.

I’ll be listening! - AIW

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 12 weeks ago

Still listening!

rickfromflorida's picture
rickfromflorida 8 years 12 weeks ago

Thom I admire and agree with much of what you say and do on your show but this post is way off base. "Worshipping Police"? I'm a retired police sergeant from South Florida. I won't even get into the worship comment but I will say police officers most times feel people like or worship them about as much as they do their dentist. That is to say they don't want to see them unless they need them. But what I really want to comment on is the Garner case. I will hole heartedly agree that there are racial and brutality issues that need to be addressed in this countries law enforcement, but the Garner case is not an example of excessive brutality and if you read further I will explain why. Much of the public believe by shear training police officer can do amazing things. Some think we have some magic move that allows us to take resisting suspects, who maybe much large then ourselves, into custody without hurting them or ourselves. There is no doubt that Mr. Garner was resisting a lawful arrest. He had been arrested for the same violation in the past and for other numerous violations some involving violence. In reality having been involved in hundreds of physical altercations with criminals that don't want to be arrested the confrontation is always a total free for all. It’s absolutely nothing like you see on the TV cop shows. People have an unreasonable expectation of what police officers can really do. (In that way you maybe right about the worship thing.) You may say well there were multiple police officers involved, well in reality no matter how many officers are there only two or at most three of the officers will be able to actually physically get their hands on the suspect. You may also say that three trained officers should easily be able to restrain a suspect. Unless you have been involved in physically arresting a resisting suspect you really have no idea of how hard it is to do, especially with a person as large as Mr. Garner. It really is a total mayhem! You may say what about the illegal choke hold. The move was in fact a head lock type move not a choke hold. If it was a choke hold Mr. Garner would not had been able to even speak to say the words he could not breath. I will say that from personal experience usually once the suspect is subdued the reason why he is subdued is because he and the officers are physically exhausted from the altercation. Unfortunately Mr. Garner had some medical issues that came into play when he expended so much physical exertion resisting arrest. You may also say why didn’t they get him medical treatment sooner. From the video’s I have seen I can not tell how long it was before medical assistance arrived. The one area that should be addressed is the fact that most officer have very little training in providing medical assistances. Officers are expected to be in good physical shape so they are less likely to succumb to health related issues during an altercation as Mr. Garner did. You may say you’re a retired cop so your backing up your buddies, all I can say to that is you don’t know me. If you did and you talked to those who knew and worked with me most would say I’m a very honest hard working person. My adult son has gone as far as to say I’m sometimes to honest. The Garner case is no doubt a tragedy but it was a perfect storm of events that lead to Mr. Garners tragic death. The facts are the police officers involved had no intent to harm or kill Mr. Garner which is why they were not indicted.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 12 weeks ago

Rickfromflorida, when you're preventing someone from breathing, and he has to tell you eleven times "I can't breathe" and you STILL won't allow him to breathe while you ignore his pleas for air, and then he dies as a result, how can you claim not to have intended harm?! Of all the things we can't live without, oxygen tops the list. I don't really care if you call that a headlock or chokehold; the guy is dead. Over something very, very petty, that posed no threat to anyone.

I watched that video too, and it didn’t look like much of a struggle to me. I saw a group of men jump on Mr. Garner in unison, and it took less than a minute for them to drag him down to the ground. There was no long, drawn-out struggle. Most of Mr. Garner's resistence was verbal, not physical.

What many of us are so angry about is how cheap human life seems to have gotten in this increasingly run-down, third world country of ours. And there is no human life cheaper than black human life, it seems. A twelve-year-old black kid, playing with a toy gun, gets ambushed and executed in broad daylight; a young black man is executed in Walmart for walking around the store with a toy gun, just a piece of store merchandise! No questions asked; just BLAM! A black teenager gets massacred by a racist vigilante, just walking home from the store, and the cops don’t even bother arresting the killer. The officer accosting Michael Brown and his friend yells “Get the fuck off the sidewalk!” before the altercation leading to MB’s death. (How's THAT for professionalism?!) And let’s not forget Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old, murdered by BART police at that Fruitvale BART station in Oakland! Oscar was shot in the back while lying face-down on pavement, completely helpless, with his hands held behind him by another cop. Is that your idea of “serving” and “protecting”, sir?

I watch video after video where cops are verbally abusive bullies, going out of their way to provoke their targets. They harass black men who are doing nothing wrong, without the slightest provocation. They beat up homeless people, with little or no provocation.

Aren’t there any means of apprehending someone other than asphyxiating or shooting him to death?

Another blogger, DAnneMarc, has a friend who applied for enrollment at a police academy and was turned down, for being too even-tempered! According to Marc, they want recruits who are psychopaths, bullies and control freaks. And that is the problem with police. They pick the troublemakers for recruits, and we end up with thugs in uniform. This is what has landed your profession's public image and reputation in the toilet, Rick. Don't blame Thom Hartmann; blame yourselves. - AIW

rickfromflorida's picture
rickfromflorida 8 years 12 weeks ago

Alicefromwonderland Mr. Garner died from cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The head lock or supposed choke hold did not kill him. He died from a heart attack because he was in poor physical condition. The video is very decieving, unless you have been involved in such a struggle you do not realize the amount of exertion being expended during an altercation. No doubt there are officers that should not be police officers but statistacally they are a very small percentage. You never hear about the thousands of thousands of resisting suspects who are arrested with little or no injury to them. You very rarely hear of the many officers that are hurt, many times severely, by resisting suspects. The officer's that should not be officers should be dealt with appropriately but the large majority of police officers in this country are good cops doing a very hard job. That's all I can say today, the wife has a "Honey do list" a mile long. Got to get to work. LOL

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 11 weeks ago

Well gee Rick, you don't think the stress from asphyxiation triggered that heart attack, after no oxygen entering Eric’s bloodstream all that time? I’m well aware that Eric died in the ambulance after geing asphyxiated, but you don’t see a connection? None at all?!

it puzzles me that such drastic measures were necessary to apprehend this man. He was hardly the picture of health. Couldn't that have been taken more into consideration? Eric didn't appear to be stupid enough, in his condition, to try outrunning or fighting off these fit young men, especially outnumbered to the extent that he was. I saw no evidence of this on the video. I don't get what's so deceiving about it.

Correction: It was “Get the fuck off the street!” not the sidewalk, what Officer Wilson said to Michael Brown and his friend when he first accosted them.

You don't seem to have taken my post personally, sir, despite the bluntness of my comments, which I appreciate and openly acknowledge. But here's the bug up my ass. It just seems to be the consistent pattern that time after time, an unarmed, usually male, young black person is dead... and the case doesn't even make it past the grand jury, let alone to trial, and the killer walks. No indictment, no trial, no nothing. The message this sends the public at large is that anything goes if you’re a police officer, especially if you’re a white police officer and the dead person is black. You'd think the lives of these people were dispensible, that they meant nothing at all.

I will not argue your point that each day, thousands of arrests are carried out in this country without death or injury, even when resistance is involved. How small the percentage of bad cops there are in proportion to the overall numbers probably varies by area. I have had only one bad experience with police that was noteworthy enough to remember, and it happened over forty years ago, back in my Berkeley days. But I’m a white gal.

In the twenty-plus years since my husband & I moved to Oregon, I’ve been stopped two or three times, while driving through town. Each time it was for a perfectly legitimate reason: forgetting to turn on my headlights at night, after exiting a well-lit parking lot or street. So each time I was very polite to the officer, to the point of apologizing profusely for my blunder, and they in turn were polite to me. Each time the officer checked me out, the way officers are supposed to do, and determined that I was sober enough to drive, and let me off the hook without penalty or incident.

However many or few the bad cops, they are having a hugely negative impact on race relations in this country, something I don’t appreciate. People have a hard enough time getting along without this 21st Century version of public lynchings, one after another, and without consequence for any of the killers.

It is my humble view that humans are a quarrelsome species of primate. Granted, some of us are a lot mellower than others! But as a species, we’re constantly fighting and at war with each other, on a grand scale as well as one-on-one, up close and personal. I really wish police academies would pick the even-tempered, cool-headed candidates who would be most inclined to handle volatile, potentially dangerous situations without bloodshed. Many such incidents could be diffused with an assertive but respectful, calming demeanor on the part of the officer, whether or not he needs to make an arrest. If the officers treated these young men with the sort of respect I believe all of us owe one another, in any civil society, most if not all these dead young black guys would be annonymous to this day, and still be alive. If Marc is right, and if they make a point of picking macho men, racists and psychopaths for police training instead of balanced, stable personalities, I don’t see this situation getting better; it’ll just keep growing worse, while the USA becomes more and more of a combat zone. This stupid war on drugs and drug users has not helped the situation any, and has been a tool within easy access for racists wearing the badge. I've heard and read that young black men currently are seven times as likely to be busted for drug use and over thirty times as likely as their white counterparts to be executed-by-cop. This leaves no doubt in my mind that a serious disparity exists in how citizens of different skin tones get treated by law enforcement in our society.

As Thom points out, -- and I agree -- we need special prosecutors having no shared interdependence with or special allegiance to the police; prosecutors who, in these kinds of cases, have no vested interest in any particular outcome and can be impartial without any conflict of interests. Without that, it's all pretense, just empty ritual of no intrinsic value. And thus, from much of the general public's point of view, it's a joke what’s passing for “justice” these days in America. Dead unarmed black man after dead unarmed black man with NO indictments, no trials, not a single one among those several incidents cited in my last post! Outrageous. Indefensible. Unacceptable.

Hopefully by the time you read this, Rick, your mile-long, to-do list will be down to the last half mile. Thanks for your patience with me. Not a pleasant topic, but a good one for discussion. It isn't every day I get to debate a retired police sargeant. Thanks for your input. Whether or not I agree with all of it, I respect where it's coming from and know it adds something of unique value to this thread. - AIW

P.S. Please read posts #9 & #10 by Ms. Metcalfe, if you haven't.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 11 weeks ago

Continued from posts #39-#41: Still listening, Tarheels!

rickfromflorida's picture
rickfromflorida 8 years 11 weeks ago

Alice, well of course the partial blockage of Mr. Garner’s airway played a role in his demise, it was part of the physical struggle and stress that caused his cardiac arrest. But the facts are the officer did not physically choke Mr. Garner to death and the officer had no intent to do so.

I must say that when I first started police work we had no idea what positional asphyxiation was but now days it is regularly taught to police officers. I’m certain that the officer that had Mr. Garner in the headlock knew about positional asphyxiation from his police training. I have personally used the same type of head lock move numerous times, when taking resisting suspects into custody, with no adverse effects. It’s a very effective move as long as you are careful to get your arm on, or just under the suspects chin and not on his throat. From what I saw on the video the officer that put Mr. Garner in the head lock move used the move properly and did not recklessly endanger Mr. Garners life by using the move.

Getting back to what I said about the video being deceiving let me better explain myself. On the video the struggle may appear to have been very minimal but all parties were expending a tremendous amount of physical energy. In fact everyone’s adrenaline is flowing at full capacity. All parties are using all their might, the police to subdue Mr. Garner, and Mr. Garner attempting to break away.

To give you an idea of what I mean, in the police academy, in order to simulate a physical confrontation, we were required to box with one and other. We were given head gear and boxing gloves and we proceeded to box with some one of similar size and weight. We were told to continuously punch the other person for an entire minute. I was 23 years old and in good physical shape and at the end of that one minute I was totally exhausted. Most confrontations with resisting suspects are more like wrestling matches then a boxing match but in both you expend a tremendous amount of physical energy.

I can tell you from personal experience having been in hundreds of physical altercations with resisting suspects, that even a short physical struggle expends a tremendous amount of physical energy. I have no doubt that the exertion and stress from the physical struggle coupled with his poor physical condition caused Mr. Garner’s heart attack and unfortunate demise.

You say you think drastic measures were taken to apprehend Mr. Garner, I say what other way could he have been taken into custody? Mace or taser? I’m not sure if they were available but they could have caused similar distress to Mr. Garner’s heart as well and they don‘t always work.

In this particular case, with the limited knowledge available from the media and internet, I would have to say the grand jury made the right decision not to indict in the Garner case.

On the Michael Brown case I do lean toward some type of indictment. Again the only facts we have are from the media and the internet. I do not have all of the facts as they were presented to the grand jury or if they are out there, I have not had the time to find and read them. I personally lean toward an indictment in this case because there appears to be to many gray areas, it’s not as “black and white” as the Garner case.

One of the first things you are taught as an investigator, is that there are three sides to every story, the two stories presented by the two parties involved and some where in between both those stories is the truth. And to be honest with you peoples memories of events can become easily tainted. It’s why witnesses are immediately separated from one and other. They can actually change each others minds as to what occurred. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten completely different accounts of the same event from people who all witnessed the same thing. In almost all cases involving several witnesses there will be a pretty big discrepancies between the witnesses accounts of what occurred. This also gives you an idea of how really hard it is to conduct criminal investigations. Because humans are humans and their memories are far from perfect many times the physical evidence is the most important evidence of any case. As you conduct an investigation and put all the pieces together the case some times becomes more “black and white” hence my earlier statement. Other times there remains a lot of “grey”. Now I’m just rambling, sorry about that.

Getting back on point I can tell you exactly what’s wrong with our current system it is the Grand Jury system. Thom is right we do need a better system then a grand juries. I do have some idea of how a grand jury works but I don‘t know the full process. From the little that I know it’s a very flawed system. I would have to do more research on grand juries to correctly explain what I mean by a flawed system.

That’s all the time I have right now. I fully agree with your comments on us being a quarrelsome species of primate. I’m very into history and our history is rife with conflict. I’ve enjoyed our debate, if I can find the time I hope to continue the conversation.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 11 weeks ago

Quote rickfromflorida:You say you think drastic measures were taken to apprehend Mr. Garner, I say what other way could he have been taken into custody? Mace or taser? I’m not sure if they were available but they could have caused similar distress to Mr. Garner’s heart as well and they don‘t always work.

rickfromflorida ~ Why not just grab the man my both arms with one officer on each side. Surely he isn't stronger than two young men who are athletic and work out? Why not use a taser; or, simply threaten to use a taser before grabbing him in the first place? Finally, why don't police carry tranquilizer guns. That's what's used routinely to take down such dangerous creatures as mountain lions and grizzly bears whenever they wander into a urban setting. There simply is no excuse for any officer not to have such weapons at their disposal at all times. If we shot mountain lions or grizzly bears instead of hitting them with tranquilizers the SPCA would raise hell. If we use deadly force to apprehend suspects that we claim are acting like animals, why can't we treat them with the same humanity that we treat animals? If such countermeasures caused a fatal heart attack on the suspect then there would be no doubt that police misconduct was ever an issue. We are resorting to physical and lethal force far too frequently; and, that places both the Officer's and the suspect's lives in jeopardy for no reason.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 11 weeks ago

Continued from posts #39, #41 and #46: Still listening, Tarheels!

rickfromflorida's picture
rickfromflorida 8 years 10 weeks ago


Until you have actaully tried to take a resisting subject into custody you don't realize how difficult it can actually be. Mr. Garner was a very big man, his size alone made him a very strong man. Once his adrenaline got going he was even stronger. All I can say is some times it is not as easy as it looks to take a resisting subject into custody. Tasers and mace do not always work. Many times the taser electrodes don't make contact with a subjects skin and mace affects both the subject and the officer.

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