Friday, June 5, 2020

End Police Brutality


On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street. The murder of George Floyd triggered massive protests in the US and around the world.

Murder of George Floyd

The police response to the unrest has been very aggressive. There have been so many examples of wanton police violence against mostly peaceful protesters and the media covering them in so many different cities that it's clear the problem is a lot bigger than rogue cops killing unarmed black men without consequence -- as if that weren't bad enough. The shocking brutality meted out by cops when charging at innocent protestors of all ages is being captured on video.


Respect the Police...or Else?

Too many Americans are authoritarians who love it when cops bust a few heads in response to a protest. Even during normal times, if you are questioned by police and "mouth off" to a police officer, you can expect them to "teach you a lesson" about "respect for authority" and authoritarian Americans will happily cheer them on. That needs to end.

Here's a clue for all the authoritarians who think disrespecting the police should be a capital offense. A cop can question you, but you don't have to answer any questions, you don't have to be polite, and you don't have to stay and listen to them, unless you are being "detained." So if you want to leave, you should ask, "Am I being detained?" A detention is defined as a  “brief and cursory” holding and questioning of someone by a law enforcement officer. If you refuse to answer questions they should move on quickly. If they take that as a challenge that results in your arrest, they won't be able to prove "probable cause" unless you do something stupid.

If a cop gets in your face, he's invading your space, so if you decide to stand up and leave, you're not invading the cop's space and it doesn't justify any restraint. And finally, if a cop grabs you for no reason and your hand happens to brush their arm, that's not an assault on a police officer. If officers decide to manhandle you or beat you, anything you do to resist will be used by them to justify the beating.

The above is all good until you are arrested. Once arrested, do not resist and do not answer questions, other than requests for your name, address, and birth date. Do not volunteer any information. Do not agree to them going through your phone. Anything you say, no matter how innocuous it might seem at the time, WILL be used by cops to prove that your arrest was justified. Once released, contact your lawyer or Legal Aid.

The toxic cop culture in the US has to change.

Here are some suggestions from #8cantwait and a couple of additional ideas:

1. Requiring officers to de-escalate before using force;

2. Using guidelines defining the types of force that can be used to respond to specific situations;

3. Restricting or banning choke holds and strangleholds;

4. Requiring a verbal warning before using any force;

5. Prohibiting officers from shooting at moving vehicles except in extreme circumstances;

6. Requiring officers to exhaust other options before resorting to deadly force;

7. Establishing a duty by officers to intervene if one of their colleagues is using excessive force;

8. Requiring officers to report all uses of force or attempted use of force.

9. Law enforcement violence should be addressed as a public health issue.

10. Prosecutors should charge more cops with crimes and juries who are always reluctant to convict cops who abuse their power, have to put aside their automatic deference for members of law enforcement and put a lot more in prison.

11. Police unions are currently an obstacle to meaningful reforms. They will dig in their heels and make all kinds of threats to punish politicians who try to enact reforms. We can't control the unions but we can control the politicians if we keep up the pressure on them.

There will have to be a lot more protests and demonstrations before any meaningful changes are made, and remember;

Non-violent Protest is Best

John Lennon and Yoko Ono March for Peace
“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”
-- John Lennon

"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

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