Sunday, September 30, 2012

Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From CounterPunch:

The Big Lie About Police Brutality

Police brutality is in the news, thanks to the widespread availability of amateur video and the omnipresence of security cameras.

We’ve seen scene after scene of police beating the crap out of, and even shooting and killing unarmed or minimally dangerous students, women, old men and crazy people, many of them after they have been handcuffed and checked for weapons.

The police brass, and leading politicians who oversee the departments involved, nearly always have the same answer: This is not the norm, these are isolated incidents, police violence is not on the rise. Rarely is an abusive or murderous officer punished or even administratively disciplined for documented crimes.


The thing we need to all recognize is that these videos are just the incidents that have been captured on video. They clearly reflect something that is going on all the time, usually without any video to record it, or often even without any eye witnesses.


There are plenty of good cops who take their work seriously, and do their job properly, but as some of those cops have told me themselves, there are also way too many who are just thugs in uniforms, and there are precious few chiefs of police, few district attorneys, and few mayors who have the political courage (exhibited by Chief Simmons in the Florida case above) to take them on, to punish abusive behavior and to demand that policing be about “protecting and serving,” and not about brutalizing those who are being confronted for alleged law-breaking.

More here.

Hey!  This guy sounds just like me!

So much so, in fact, right down to the usual caveat about how "there are plenty of good cops," that I'd be wondering if he'd been reading my stuff here at Real Art over the years, if the phenomenon wasn't so damned obvious.  That is, the writer excerpted above is simply verifying independently what I've been saying for a very long time: we have a crises of police brutality, corruption, and general misbehavior all across the United States, and nobody in power really appears to give a shit about it.

For that matter, the public doesn't seem to give a shit about it either--okay, white people don't give a shit; people of color, I think, especially African-Americans, who receive the lion's share of police misbehavior, do give a shit, but it's a sort of "it is what it is" kind of thing.  So it's the status quo, and there's just no momentum toward cleaning it all up.

Here's some of the reason why.  A friend of mine on facebook, a socialist with whom I attended high school, posted something about cop misbehavior last week, and I chimed in with a comment in agreement.  But I stopped for a moment to wonder what the reaction might be from other facebook friends reading it.  Damn the torpedoes, of course, I'll say what I want if it's the truth.  The fact that we are so conditioned to think of cops as always being the "good guys," however, is a very strong social imperative: people are immediately skeptical when one calls into question one of the bedrock institutions of society.

We need more movies like Serpico.