Police vs Citizens: A Question of Critical Thinking


Metamodern World. Police vs Citizens

In March of 2015, one month, American police killed more people than the UK has since 1900.

By Irwin Ford
Image (above) by David Dees

For days I’ve been trying to come up with some condescending commentary about the Sandra Bland tragedy. I’ve researched Texas law pertaining to traffic infractions and violations; read the transcripts from the video and referenced many of the details written about it. It’s been a challenge considering how much mileage everyone’s been getting on this controversial issue. And after all that, my observations have directed me to this conclusion: The media has focused on every aspect of this issue except one: The 800 pound gorilla in the room; the Big Picture.

Did the officer have any legal authority at all to physically assault this woman and drag her out of her car? Was she wrong for assuming that she had some protection under the law against undue harassment from illegitimate authority? And what do you think the odds are on such a feisty woman committing suicide in jail over a driving infraction?

Quoting Smithwick v State, No. 10-04-00024-CR (Tex. App., April 20, 2005). Traffic stops are comparable to temporary detentions and not arrests. See Tucker v. State, 135 S.W.3d 920, 922-26 (Tex. App.–Amarillo 2004, no pet.)

When authority bends the rules, it renders itself as illegitimate and illegal in a country where the rights of the individual are supposed to be held higher than any institution’s opinion or prejudice. The police don’t like civilians who know the law. The police will try to trick you into giving up your rights to accomplish their goal; and their goal is to always come out on top regardless of their methods. It’s SOP. (Standard Operational Procedure). It’s the new American Authoritarianism for the New American Century.

“This phenomenon we are experiencing with the police is what philosopher Abraham Kaplan referred to as the law of the instrument, which essentially says that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In the scenario that has been playing out in recent years, we the citizenry have become the nails to be hammered by the government’s henchmen, a.k.a. its guns for hire, a.k.a. its standing army, a.k.a. the nation’s law enforcement agencies.” – Excerpt from an article by Attorney John W. Whitehead, “Vigilantes With A Badge: The War Against The American People

How does a situation like this escalate? Has critical analysis been eliminated from the equation of thought? I remember a time when cops would judge a situation with empathy and principle rather than a rule book that hardly applies to every situation. Since mandatory sentencing was legislated in by special interests, judges are no longer allowed to “judge” or charge the individual in proportion to the extenuating circumstances of the crime. Has this become a trend to pass down through law enforcement’s dealings with citizens as well?

I think it’s a no brainer that cops get sick of all the social decay and dysfunction they see on the job every single day. No wonder their tolerance wears thin. Can you blame the cops for being a little uptight and disgusted; maybe a little paranoid or short tempered? Honestly, having a couple of cops in the family, I can’t blame them at all. I’m surprised they haven’t just got gotten to the point of “kill them all and let God sort them out”. People are a pain in the ass and there’s no shortage of supply and demand for ignorance and racism in America.

But guess what? We’re a little uptight and disgusted too. And a little paranoid. We’re a little disgusted with a social system that prefers millionaires over inner city kids and corporations over working Americans. We get a little uptight hearing about cops shooting citizens armed with cell phones and being choked to death for a joint or being homeless. We’re tired of a banking industry that hires local law enforcement as vigilantes to protect their own criminal intent. We get a little short tempered with a government that sells us out on a daily basis and militarizes the local police as their solution to everything.

We get disgusted with voting for change and seeing none. We get tired of asking for infrastructure renewal programs that could turn troubled neighborhoods and attitudes around. Quite frankly, all of us are getting tired of the huge chips on everyone’s shoulders; blacks and whites, all the way around. And this is where the focus needs to be directed. Not all cops are bad. Not all Muslims and African Americans are bad. And many of us are getting fed up with being caught in the middle.

We’re just about ready to start kickin’ everybody’s ass. And that includes blacks, whites, the cops and all those fat bodies in Homeland Security. Jesus Christ guys, do a sit up once in a while. Lose about fifty pounds and maybe you’d actually be able to chase the perps down instead of having to shoot them in the back.

Law enforcement is an arm of government. It becomes the law of the land on the street. Police officers represent the government’s authority to maintain a level of civility and safety among the populations they patrol. There is a mutual level of respect. That was the impression we were going on. What happened? How did it turn into a “police vs citizens” dynamic?

Ineffective politicians; corrupt corporations and banks; war all the time; literally millions of good paying jobs – lost; inner cities crumbling; jails full of dopers while white collar criminals run amok. Things have been changing for the worse over three decades and this is the best you have to offer? Private lobbies financing counter-terrorism training for public law enforcement? Can you blame us for being a little apprehensive, maybe a little defensive?

We realize that legal parameters are put in place to insure the safety of all participants involved in a police action. If those in authority expect to win the hearts and minds of those they serve and protect, we do not want to instigate a police vs citizens scenario. Over the past thirty years the institutions we have come to expect better from, have betrayed us. And you, the law enforcement professionals are their enforcers. Nothing more than cannon fodder armed with equipment our guys in Iraq couldn’t get, to suppress our speech and discontent here at home. They have made you the moving targets to catch the rounds they themselves should be receiving. How do you feel about that?

The transcript published by the Associated Press, has Sandra Bland asking if she’s being apprehended and if the officer had tried to give her a ticket. This might give cause to think that a ticket had not yet been issued before the situation escalated. Until she receives a citation to sign, she’s violated no laws beyond the turn signal infraction.

“This liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police and what they were created to do. The police were not created to protect and serve the population. They were not created to stop crime, at least not as most people understand it. And they were certainly not created to promote justice. They were created to protect the new form of wage-labor capitalism that emerged in the mid to late nineteenth century from the threat posed by that system’s offspring, the working class.” – Source

Is being rude an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony? Take a look around. The world is full of rude and belligerent people, police officers included. If you ask me to exit my vehicle, I hope you have a reason other than I’m a little rude or irritated. A cigarette is a far reach from immediate danger.

When did police vs criminals turn into police vs citizens? We’ve always pretended to be a country with civil rights. That there were “rules of engagement” and guidelines to the “escalation of force”. Did the officer fear for his life – or his ego?

The people are getting fed up with a broken system. And what’s your solution? “Gang-taze” a kid off his bicycle for a pocket full of drugs? Drag women out of their cars for not using a turn signal and then murder them in jail? Sorry, I’m not buying the suicide. I don’t think a woman that feisty would kill herself in jail. Prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Until then you’re just another domestic terrorist until proven guilty. That’s what America’s War on Terror has taught me.

But let’s be fair and balanced, shall we? Understandably there are an awful lot of African Americans with chips on their shoulders. And much of it is justified. How many of your African American friends have been stopped for no other reason than they were just driving through a white neighborhood? Or had a white woman in their car? It happens more times than anyone; especially the cops would care to admit.

How many white people’s neighborhoods are protected by zoning laws that the African American communities have no access to? The game has been rigged from the start. I dare any one of you to say, “with all we’ve done for ‘those’ people, look at what they’ve done to their own neighborhoods”. Are you referring to the same neighborhoods that flourished with industry until the white man ran it into the ground with politics and special interests? We do a pretty fair job of defecating on our inner cities before we flee to cut our losses and zone them out to the less fortunate.

When a police vs citizens dynamic occurs there are always two sides to every story and then there’s the truth. It’s time for both sides to cool their jets and start looking for some truth. Once we get passed “we did this but they did that” and start exchanging some olive branches of understanding and empathy, rather than anger and ego, then maybe we can respectfully and reverently bury the bodies together and move forward in unison for some legitimate change.

Metamodern World

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