Sunday, October 10, 2021

Law and Order: We're-the-Real-Victims Unit

By Scott V. Sandford
Justice Correspondent with Bart Vanzetti in Boston

A thousand years ago in America [Actually, 2020 – Ed.], an unarmed manacled Black man was murdered in cold blood by a white Minneapolis policemen.  The outrage sparked a national movement to call the police to account for its centuries of unrestrained violence principally directed at people of color.  

After a year of struggle and effort, what do we have to show for it?  If you guessed a commitment to restructure the police, you lost!  Here's the summary, courtesy of The Washington Post:

How'd that happen?

At least 35 state qualified-immunity bills have died in the past 18 months, according to an analysis by The Washington Post....The efforts failed amid multifaceted lobbying campaigns by police officers and their unions targeting legislators, many of whom feared public backlash if the dire predictions by police came true. Officers said they would go bankrupt and lose their homes. They said their colleagues would leave the profession in droves.

Qualified immunity is the doctrine that keeps cops from being sued when they violate the law, as long as they can claim that their exact form of misconduct had not already been found illegal.  It's just as ridiculous as that:

Qualified immunity in action

There’s the 2019 federal court ruling granting immunity to a Georgia deputy who shot a 10-year-old boy lying face down on the ground while aiming at a nonthreatening family dog. Or the ruling that same year protecting California police who had been accused of stealing $101,380 in cash and $125,000 in rare coins in 2013 as they searched a local business and the owners’ homes. While the police may have been “morally wrong,” they were still protected from lawsuits by qualified immunity, the court found. 

We're actually dubious about repeal of qualified immunity as a cure-all for police misbehavior. The actual damages are paid not by Officer Bang-Bang but by the government he works for. Already millions of dollars a year are spent to settle police misconduct claims, but that just leaves less money available for stuff like schools and health care. And the payouts don't seem to be deterring police violence.

A more promising path, in our view, is repeal of the web of legal provisions that paralyze efforts to discipline or fire officers who aim at the dog but hit the boy.  Those efforts have gone nowhere, thanks to insanely powerful police unions, craven pols, and public apathy.  It's amazing to us that the same legal system and power structure that crushes private sector workers seeking to unionize so they can someday get a bathroom break from Jeff “Spaceman” Bezos is exquisitely protective of police unions.

Fortunately, the police unions repay their privileged position by resolutely putting their members first:

The incendiary and confrontational president of one of New York City’s main police unions resigned on Tuesday evening, hours after federal investigators raided the union’s Manhattan headquarters and his Long Island home. In a statement, the board of the union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said that its president, Edward D. Mullins, was “apparently the target of the federal investigation.”  

Your border patrol at work

Light-Fingered Eddie, when not apparently stealing, was known for his outspoken racism and hatemongering, including illegally Tweeting out pictures of Mayor de Blasio's multiracial daughter after her arrest during the wave of protests following the police murder of George Floyd (remember him?).

But of course the police's contempt for the rights of persons of color and their own belief that they can break the law with impunity are but two sides of the same racist coin.

The results of this undeserved white impunity are as plain as the 700,000 Americans who died of COVID-19.  Speaking of unnecessary pandemic deaths, police are defying laws requiring them to be vaccinated before inflicting themselves on the disease-ravaged populace.  In other words they are failing to do their duty to protect the public while violating the law they swore to upheld.

The nation's largest police force, fresh from their success flogging Haitian refugees at the Battle of Del Rio, are now complaining that (1) the aliens they are hunting are infecting them with COVID (demonstrably untrue), but (2) they shouldn't be forced to take the safe, effective vaccine to protect themselves from these supposed on the job risks.

Even the conventional wisdom-lovin' Washington Post is having trouble with that one:

In recent weeks, leaders at the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) have joined Republican lawmakers who allege the Biden administration is allowing migrants to spread the coronavirus in the United States and placing the CBP workforce at greater risk, while also opposing his vaccination order.

Pick a lane, buddies.

To the Long Beach School PD,
it's a target-rich environment

The Sheriff of Los Angeles County has already said he won't insist that his thousands of deputies do what they have no trouble making the public do — obey the law. If his deputies threaten public safety by violating the vaccine mandate law, well, that's OK with this zealous public guardian.  We wonder what Justice Jeannie “I didn't know the tax returns I signed were fraudulent” Pirro would say to that.

But police impunity does more than threaten the public's health and well being.  It also kills.  In Long Beach, California, a high school “safety” officer, which is a gun-toting cop who pads around schools until a mass shooting starts, shot and killed an 18-year-old unarmed mother driving away from school for the capital offense of not stopping when he told her to.

While authorities are “investigating,” the shooter remains on the loose, as so often happens when an unbadged perpetrator is caught in the act of killing an unarmed woman who was no threat to him or anyone else.

And although this outrage happened in 2016, it so perfectly illuminates what happens when an unconstrained white racist law enforcement system meets powerless Black children that we had to quote it (via

If anything, the headline undersells the horror:  Four black kids were arrested and sent to jail in exurban Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the non-existent crime of watching a schoolyard fight at which no one was hurt.  They were rousted, arrested, and sent to a juvenile jail operated by an ignorant white racist, where they were held for days until the unqualified rednecks who immured them were overruled by a combination of public outcry and real lawyers.

The punchline: the tortured kids got a modest settlement, and the ignorant white bigots remain in full control of the juvenile justice system.  The insufferable white Church Lady who intones about the value of discipline while running an illegal scheme to brutalize children “still runs juvenile court, making $176,000 a year.” 

By the way, Murfreesboro is not some hamlet up in Butcher Holler.  It's a city of over 150,000 within commuting distance of Nashville in a state which was carried by the Former Loser Grifter with 61% of the vote.  They know better but just can't quit locking up Black children. 

In fact, their kiddie jail is so enormous they rent out cells to similarly-minded bigots in the South.  The jailers have produced a marketing video touting their lockup featuring “saxophone music and b-roll of children in black-and-white striped uniforms.”

But before you conclude that the police are utterly out of control, check out this story from that capital of racial harmony, Boston, Mass.  A BPD sergeant is paying a heavy price for boasting about driving his unit into a peaceful crowd of George Floyd demonstrators.  According to WBUR,

A Boston Police Department sergeant faces a 10-day suspension after he was caught on video boasting about driving into protestors during last year's demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis....Clifton McHale will serve eight days of the suspension starting Monday, the department announced Friday. McHale need not serve the other two days if he stays out of trouble for six months.

Eight whole days?  Who's the victim here?

Acting Mayor Kim Janey and candidate Michelle Wu both expressed the view that this loudmouth should no longer be roaming the streets of Boston with a gun and a badge.  Fortunately for him, he's protected by the legal and contractual web of police union red tape that keep interlopers like the current and likely future Mayor from interfering in police-generated whitewashes.  

Which is why, “The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation did not respond to requests for comment.”

Why should they? Under the rules they wrote, the members of the Real Victims Unit don't owe the people who pay them to keep us safe a g*****n thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment