Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When Protect & Serve Becomes Obstruct & Harm

I wrote about the demise of the intact and thriving working class Black American community in yesterday's post and gave some reasons why. When you open a book there's a left page and a right page, so today I'd like to present some of the situations that may prompt people to want to be protectionists. 

In Oakland the funeral for the four officers killed by Lovelle Mixon was held at a huge auditorium. Their deaths were senseless and the retaliation will be swift and long. I say "will" and not "may" because law enforcement - like our brand of justice in this country - is highly subjective based on class, gender, finances, orientation, appearance and the other prejudices of those involved. Even the determination of what laws to apply can vary depending on the circumstances. So what begat Oscar Grant III begets Mehersle begets Mixon begets ????? 

When prosecutors can charge an 8 year old child of color with murder I think we can safely say we've jumped the shark in this country. So the officers in that scenario may not have engaged in anything untoward when they met their demise we can't say for certain they never harassed, framed or intimidated any innocent people in their pursuit of "justice".  

Take the officer who drew his weapon on the Moats family in a hospital parking lot for goodness sake! Who goes to the hospital to cause trouble and commit crimes - seriously? That dirtbag officer has now offered some lame and insincere apology. Mr. Moats showed incredible restraint even calling the officer Sir repeatedly but still didn't get one ounce of common courtesy. We could have been reading about the NFL player shot to death while his mother-in-law died instead, but the Moats are obviously classy even during times of great stress.

Officer Robert Powell (remember the name!) knew he was wrong from the get-go because Mrs. Moats insisted on exiting the car to see her mom before she passed.  He knew he was wrong, but let his prejudice, pride and the power of his shield rule his actions. He threatened to "make trouble" for Moats. That indicates this officer has a pattern of abusive behavior. I'm certain he has a list of offenses that have been ignored and buried. He of course wouldn't be the only officer that would fit that bill. Duanna Johnson's murderer may very well be the former cops that battered her. That officer can't do jack about the time he stole from the family to see a loved one before they died. It's only because of the public embarrassment that he's even offered the token apology. Had Moats not been an NFL player would we have even heard about this? So celebrity trumps the average citizen and I hope leads to the end of that officer's career and a policy revision. Though I suspect his evil will remain unless he has a Road to Damascus epiphany. Somehow I doubt it.

Certain people don't change - and should've been weeded out at recruitment. Law enforcement is very flawed, full of criminally-minded officers who engage in racist/sexist behavior with an ineffective Internal Affairs. Where's the checks and balances? President Obama isn't going to change that. Law enforcement, armed forces, private contractors and militia are all the same thing. It seems for quite a few those behind a badge, a suit or a uniform are engaging in creating chaos, killing with impunity, rape and controlling certain populations by using terror tactics. We have to demand change and accountability with established consequences ready to implemented. Part of that will require that we cease harboring the neighborhood miscreants. It undermines legitimate efforts at establishing boundaries and priorities. Demand we must if we want to make inroads otherwise we'll just keep hearing about it, complaining but not resolving this.

Here's the Moats' interview on Good Morning America

We need to continue discussing this but it's time for action  - and punishments!

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Unknown said...

1. In my experience, I run into VERY few people who join the police/military because they wanted to. Most, especially enlisted and lower ranking police officers, join because of being unable to get hired for several reasons OR because there are no jobs. Thus, the police and the military are filled with people from the lower dregs of society. That says alot. Police/military should be high paying jobs that seek QUALIFED and MENTALLY STABLE applicants.

2. i will say that when it comes to the police, they are poorly trained. They get sent to handle situations that are way beyond their abilities (domestic violence issues, etc.) and are expected to handle them professionally and efficiently.

3. our communities have to do a better job of policing ourselves. oftentimes we give a safe haven to the criminal element. if Mixon was not harbored by friends and relatives, this might not have happened.

4. our concept of crime and punishment is extremely flawed and will not work unless we do a proper re-evaluation of it. being tough doesn't seem to work.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Wow Brother OMi thanks for that detailed response. You've inspired me to continue this conversation.

Renee said...

I listened to his apology today on CNN. He sat there saying that he is a father of two and he is concerned for his children. The gall of the man to speak about family when he clearly showed no respect for the family of another. Even in this supposed apology he is displaying his privilege.

You are quite right to point out that we would not even know about this situation had the family involved not had celebrity status. I find it frightening that daily we are reading about encounters of blacks and police that in some cases dehumanizing and others that have lead to death.

There is no doubt in my mind that this man should loose his job. Clearly he believes that the power of his badge gives him the right to bully POC. In this situation he prevented a family from saying good bye to a loved one, the next display of power by this man might end in an act of violence.