Saturday, June 6, 2020

Law and Disorder: Worst Sequel Ever

By Scott V. Sandford
Spy Justice Correspondent with
Nellie Bly in Buffalo

One hundred years ago [Surely, last week? – Ed.] we reported on an epidemic of police violence against peaceful demonstrators and suggested that a culture of police impunity compounded by ridiculous protections negotiated by racist police unions had made police brutality impossible to control.

But after another week of unwarranted police violence against innocent protesters and members of the press doing their constitutionally-protected jobs, we can report that things have turned around.

Nah, we're just f***in' with yah.  The evidence of out-of-control police continues to mount.  While the Times op-ed page was publishing fascist propaganda from an individual who had absolutely no way to express his views except by going to the floor of the Senate and speaking any time he wanted to, the news pages were actually committing acts of journalism.  Here's the intrepid Ali Watkins, reporting from what was a peaceful demonstration on an open plaza bordered by impregnable government buildings:

It was about 45 minutes past New York City’s 8 p.m. curfew on Wednesday when a peaceful protest march encountered a line of riot police near Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

Hundreds of demonstrators stopped and chanted for 10 minutes, arms raised, until their leaders decided to turn the group around and leave the area.

The protesters had not seen that riot police had flooded the plaza behind them, boxing them in. The maneuver was a law enforcement tactic called kettling. The police encircle protesters so that they have no way to exit from a park, city block or other public space, and then charge in and make arrests.

For the next 20 minutes in Downtown Brooklyn, officers swinging batons turned a demonstration that had been largely peaceful into a scene of chaos.

If you're wondering why police used the excuse of a curfew to beat and terrorize peaceful protesters, you'll be pleased to know that the New York Police Department had a fully convincing explanation:

But [Police Commissioner] Shea also stressed that some protesters had come to the demonstrations with the intent to attack the police. He also said the anti-police rhetoric of the demonstrators — and some elected officials — was encouraging attacks on officers, several of whom had been injured with sticks, or thrown bottles and bricks. 

He must have been able to read the minds of those assembled on Cadman Plaza, where no police were attacked and no one was arrested for assaulting a police officer.  As for “anti-police rhetoric,” we're sure that this stalwart defender of law and order would be grateful to learn that any protester can mouth any “anti-police rhetoric,” they choose at any time and in fact to any cop of their choice.  See U.S. Const. Amends. I, XIV.

As for the supposed projectiles hurled at police (which Ms. Watkins, on the scene, saw no evidence of), here's another fun fact – if person A throws something at a police officer, that does not provide an excuse or a justification for police to club or beat persons B through ZZZ who had nothing to do with the alleged throwing or any self-identified journalist covering the event.

Nor do Commissioner Shea and his plug-uglies in blue have a roving warrant to beat or arrest a peaceful crowd because somewhere else (or even within it) someone is using language that hurts their surprisingly tender sensibilities.

Perhaps these facts are why the District Attorneys of New York and Kings Counties, which are charged with prosecuting the lawbreakers arrested by the police, bump, BUMP!, have said they will not press any disorderly conduct charges against protesters caught in police riots.  (It might have been nice if they carried out their duty to prosecute the badge-wearing perpetrators of unjustified violence against citizens exercising their rights, but baby steps.)

The whole mess seems to be based on an illegal tactic employed by the NYPD to round up and arrest anyone they don't like, which they call “kettling. ”

In fairness to the NYPD, why would they have any inkling that “kettling” is an unconstitutional abuse of their power?  Who doesn't spend $18,000,000 to settle litigation when they've done nothing wrong, other than the City of New York:

The city of New York has agreed to pay $18m to settle a civil rights claim from hundreds of protesters who were rounded up and detained in overcrowded and dirty conditions after they rallied outside the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Fortunately, the Mayor of New York ran on a staunchly progressive program of curbing police misconduct that targeted minorities, so New Yorkers can count on him to stand tall in defense of the rights of protesters:

On Thursday night, in the Bronx, rows of officers surrounded protesters from all sides, pinning them in before running at them with batons and striking several people. At least one was taken away in a stretcher.

Asked about the incident on WNYC, Mr. de Blasio said the police believed some in the crowd had intended to be destructive.

“The groups organizing that event advertised their desire to do violence and create violence,” Mr. de Blasio said.

“If any protesters were there peacefully and not associated with that, and they got hemmed in at all, that’s something I don’t accept that and we have to fix,” Mr. de Blasio said, promising a full review of the incident. 

Insert your own spit take here.   Our friend Bill Occam suggests that there must a photograph of the Mayor in the possession of the 5-0 that he doesn't want released.  No better explanation has occurred to anyone.

But that's just the steaming teaming mess that is New York City.  In real America, by which we mean the white Midwest beginning at say Syracuse, things must be going much better:

Two Buffalo police officers were charged on Saturday with felony assault after a video showed officers shoving a 75-year-old man who was protesting outside City Hall on Thursday night, officials said. . . . Under New York law, a person who attacks someone 65 or older and is more than 10 years younger than the victim can be charged with felony assault,

You've seen the video – a frail old man approaches a line of police in full riot regalia.  He's pushed to the ground; blood pours from his ears, scores of Buffalo's “finest” do nothing.  Maybe one calls an ambulance.

Fortunately for us old white guys, it's just a couple of bad apples, amirite?  Before charges were preferred, the two thugs were suspended by the Buffalo Police, which led 57 of their colleagues to quit the riot-control unit, although they continue to get full pay and benefits for not doing their jobs:

 So you can get paid for not doing your job on the Buffalo PD?  Where do we sign up for that?

With time hanging heavy on their hands, scores of white Buffalo po-po showed up to protest the effrontery of the Erie County DA, who had the temerity to charge their skullbreakers:

When the rest of the barrel does its best to cover up the rotten ones, then there's a problem with the whole barrel.

Even the normally staid New York Times, when not printing op-eds calling for mass police murder of protesters, has noticed that the problem is the whole barrel, if not the staves and hoops that protect its contents from any bruises, legal or otherwise:

Over the past five years, as demands for reform have mounted in the aftermath of police violence in cities like Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and now Minneapolis, police unions have emerged as one of the most significant roadblocks to change. The greater the political pressure for reform, the more defiant the unions often are in resisting it — with few city officials, including liberal leaders, able to overcome their opposition.

They aggressively protect the rights of members accused of misconduct, often in arbitration hearings that they have battled to keep behind closed doors. And they have also been remarkably effective at fending off broader change, using their political clout and influence to derail efforts to increase accountability. 

We made the same point last week (see below) but it's nice that the Times has weighed in on our side.  We also pointed out that ironclad union advocacy on behalf of cops who kill and beat citizens has been fortified by white Republican advocacy of racist police practices and other forms of domination under the sobriquet “law and order” for 60 years.

The only good news is that white people, never known for being quick on the uptake, are noticing in increasing numbers that murdering black suspects on the streets of America is not in fact an example of law and order. Rather the opposite.  One recent Morning Consult poll on police violence broke down as follows:

Ultimately, getting the police under control is a job for all of us, but especially the white privileged ones.  That was brought home to me this morning, when I learned that a black professional had been accosted by police at gunpoint in our home town, the placid, if not torpid, suburb of Newton, Mass:

According to the Globe, Newton Police were looking for a tall black man alleged to have committed a violent crime.  Tim Duncan is tall and black and that's all it took.  Somehow the Newton Police seem to be able only to keep their tall white men straight.

Now the police apologized, but that's not enough.  Here's what we Tweeted out to the police and the Mayor:

We'll let you know what if anything they had to say.

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