Gee, Police Brutality Again?
By: Joseph Sharpe
Today the world is smaller than ever. Not only is it smaller because of the various gains in transportation and information technology but also because of the severe limitations of the importance of the individual. This has become a country where crimes are only committed by "lowlife" criminals and human rights only granted to the proposed "saints" of society.
To say it fairly the criminal justice system is extremely flawed. The question of finding the problem in the system itself or within its relationship to other institutions of society is rather ambiguous, but despite the attempt to find causation of the inherent problems we can surely see the consequences of them.
What were the problems in the past? Some of the best known were seen with the Malice Green and Waco cases. Least known were the hundreds (maybe thousands), of separate cases of police brutality spread throughout the country. What about Randy Weaver, Andrew Wilson and Eduardo Hurtado, killed by one of (the 42 LAPD "problem" officers)?
Some of the most interesting aspects of these instances were: the actions of the many officers involved; the lack of accountability of superior officers; the refusal of the police department to recognize that they were in error; the public's response to the situation at the time and the lack of severe restitution placed on the various departments.
Whatever perception we each remember from past events plays an important role in our acceptance of the information presented in their trial cases as well as during instances of recent police brutality. So often we hear, "Well, David Karesh was just a psycho nutjob anyway", or "Malice Green was just a looser junkie", or "Well, Randy Weaver was a white separatist!"
But the individual beliefs of these people and the actions they take in the course of their lives has absolutely no bearing on whether or not these people deserved to be slaughtered. Or is our society trying to imply that it does? Because I am an advocate for the PRA2000, legalization of marijuana in Michigan act…does that mean the police have a free right to harass me, come to my home and possibly kill me with their itchy trigger fingers?
Because something may be a crime does not necessarily mean that it hurts anyone.
And now we have our tragic case in New York. Despite the attempts of the national media to keep the case within the confines of New York City, the issue has finally swept across the land on the eve of the officers pronounced verdict.
A Bronx resident, West African immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot at forty-one times by four officers in front of his apartment entrance and hit by nineteen bullets. The man was murdered instantly. The police officers claimed that Diallo had a gun and fired upon them, that a fellow officer was shot, and they simply reacted in self-defense.
Yet in reality, Diallo had his wallet in his hand, ready to show his ID. There was no gun; no officer was shot much less even shot at. In reality, the police officers acted with brutal conviction. Today the jury is deliberating the cases against the officers.
Whatever happens to the officers is important indeed, if a message is to be sent to police officers around the country. If the people wish to let the police know that not everyone is a prior criminal or has criminal intent, that people must be treated with basic human rights before they are to be dealt with by force, then they must convict the officers using the same standards the courts use to convict other murderers. They must be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or to death.
Besides the message the verdict will send, what about societies reaction to the case itself? With a certain amount of dignity, small crowds of protesters have swarmed to the courthouse, declaring their stance against governmental brutality. Unfortunately their right to a free gathering has been squelched as well as Diallo's life. By voicing their opinions openly, they have become criminals.
According to the WSN news, "Police blocked off the section of 161st Street that is in front of the
Courthouse and placed sawhorses and barricades in front of the building to keep protesters at arms length. Though a slew of uniformed officers kept a watchful eye on the demonstration, police did not take any action against protesters until 17 people selected by NAN walked up the steps of the courthouse and sat on the doorstep.
A special squad of 50 officers in full riot dress were then brought in to arrest the singing, praying protesters, most of whom were from Housing Works, an organization whose profits benefit AIDS
The demonstrators were charged with disorderly conduct and were booked and released at the 41st Precinct, said Detective George Nagy."
Any case can be made for or against the action of the protester's action of sitting on courthouse steps. However, did that action, in reality not statutory rules, illustrate disorderly conduct? The rules of the government set in place years ago do have a direct, implicit affect on our ability as a people to rise up against intolerable treatment.
Essentially we are impotent. We as a people do not have political power. We Americans, no matter how united we are, are only a collection of separate individuals who have no importance. Cases like this remind us of how demeaning some laws are, how influential corrupt politicians and police officers are, and how powerless anyone is to change it.
It certainly has become a small world indeed. Maybe what the government and the police want is just to keep us all at home, hiding behind our closed, locked, and very afraid, doors.