I have stayed mum about the current events that are happening in Ferguson ,MI. I wanted to stay quiet, read articles from different points of view, and analyze the events for myself before jumping to conclusions or discussing it; mainly because this sparks heated arguments regarding racism and police brutality. After reading a few more articles this morning, I have decided to tackle half of the debate regarding this incident and other incidents in as tactful but brutally honest a way as possible. Now these are my views based on these incidents, personal experience and the experiences of those that I have been or continue to have contact with.
Staten Island, NY – July 17, 2014- The Death of Eric Garner
On July 17, 2014, husband and father Eric Garner was killed by police officers when they attempted to apprehend him in front of a local beauty supply store in Staten Island, NY. What was the arrest for? The illegal sale of untaxed cigarettes. According to Garner and witnesses, Garner was not making illegal sales at the time when cops came to question and arrest him for an alleged sale that occurred around that time. Do I feel that he was unfairly targeted by police officers? No. I do not feel that he was unfairly targeted because he has been apprehended and charged for this offense on multiple occasions. So do I believe that he was racially profiled like so many people say he was? No. This particular case is not an instance where I can say that this is racial profiling because he has been caught selling loosies in that location before.
What do I not agree with as far as police conduct?
A chokehold is illegal. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you have seen the video, Garner had tried to move away but he did not physically attempt to fight police. Officer Pantaleo then proceeded to put Eric Garner in an ILLEGAL chokehold that resulted in his death. As a police officer, you receive training on how to properly arrest an individual. As a part of the law in New York (I’m not sure about in other areas), you are NOT allowed to use this type of force when trying to apprehend someone. Choking him might not have caused this man’s death had the chokehold had he not had other medical conditions. Garner was a sufferer of severe asthma and sleep apnea. The failure of paramedics to administer CPR within the proper time constraints also contributed.
Ferguson, MI – Death of Michael Brown
This case I’m really not sure how to speak on it. I can say one thing though and be quite honest about it: this teenage boy was definitely no saint. The facts that we have is that he did rob a store hours before he was shot by Officer Darren Wilson and that at the time he was stopped by the officer the officer was unaware that Brown was involved in the robbery. Officer Wilson was actually stopping the teen and a friend because he was obstructing traffic at the time.
Now originally, when I began writing this article yesterday I was set to defend Brown on the point that there was no reason to shoot Brown at the time of the stop because the officer was unaware of the robbery. However, due to some recent developments (see FoxNews.com article “Missouri cop was badly beaten before shooting Michael Brown, says source”), I will wait to put in my defense on behalf of Brown. According to this article, Wilson and Brown had an altercation before the shooting in which the officer was assaulted by Brown. In light of emerging details, I will wait to speak on both the Wilson and Brown and make until later to determine who I side with.
However, what I do wish to speak on is how the police are handling the protests in Ferguson. Now, most accounts of the events would have viewers believing that African Americans are out robbing, rioting, and destroying the streets of Ferguson. While that is true for some of the people that are protesting there, there are also peaceful protestors that are being mishandled by the police. I read an article yesterday via the Huffington Post where a cop threatened a peaceful protestor and told him that he would kill him.
This video absolutely disgusts me. While I understand that many of these officers are under a lot stress from all angles, from the people on the streets to their bosses, there is no need to threaten violence on a protestor who is not participating in the rioting that is going on in Ferguson. Some other peaceful protestors have been injured by officers as well. So this brings me to one question that I will answer in some other post: do nonviolent and violent protests yield different outcomes when it comes to fighting against injustice?
So which question would I like to ask now? Are people angry at police without reason? The answer is no.
The truth is that many of them -and I say many to not categorize all officers that uphold the law as this type of officer- are gung ho. Instead of using their power to protect and serve the citizens, they use it to feel a sense of power and dominance over the people. They become bullies instead of protectors. Some officers use their power to hurt, maim, and even kill some people. Abuse of authority is what a lot of these cops are doing. This makes many people distrustful of officers, especially in economically impoverished minority neighborhoods. Many of them lie and cover up dirty deeds and their superiors and departments help them with this. Before sharing an article about an officers feelings about his authority and what he feels citizens should or shouldn’t do, I will discuss my own run in with a gung-ho police officer on a power.
In May of this year, a friend and I were headed back home after a long day at college. She lives in Brooklyn and I live in Queens. We had just left the shuttle bus that drives the students from the college to the train and we were headed downstairs into the train station. Now, it’s common knowledge to all of those who frequent that area that there is a police station underground at the 145th street station in Harlem.
When I get to the turnstile, I realize that my card was out of fares. No problem. I went to the MetroCard machine and put my last $2.50 onto the card and proceeded to swipe my card at the turnstile. What ended up happening is that the machine takes my fare after having to swipe the card multiple times because of a card reading error. If you are a New York City commuter, you know that is common occurrence with those machines. Once again, no biggie.
I went to the booth and explained my situation to the MTA worker who was attending the booth. He checked my card and verified that my fare had be stolen by the machine. He told me to go by the service entry gate where he proceeded to buzz me in. I walk in through the gate- legally- and here goes the gung-ho cop looking like Chief Wiggum from the Simpsons. He proceeds to question me about whether or not I paid my fare. I calmly explain to Chief Wiggum the situation and then tell him that if he would like to confirm my story with the man in the token booth a few feet away from us, that I will gladly accompany him.
Instead of choosing to verify the story, he continues to harass a five month pregnant woman about a fare that was already paid. So then I asked him the question: “why are you harassing me, officer? If you want to verify my story the booth is right there.” This infuriates Wiggum and he tells me that since I want to tell him he is harassing me, he’s going to show me what harassment really is.
Finally, he asks me to accompany him to the booth where he asks the attendant to verify my story, which he does, but the cop doesn’t stop there. Instead of accepting that he was wrong and apologizing to me for the inconvenience, he says to me “I’m going to show you what harassment is. Since you do not have respect for authority, you will not allowed entry unless you pay another fare?” Excuse me. I thought that it was only your job to enforce payment of a fare that wasn’t paid or make an arrest for jumping the turnstile. I did not know that it was in your authority sir to force someone to pay extra.
I told him I would have no problem doing so but I just put my last bit of money on the card and that I have no other way to get home. He tells me that is not his problem and continues to block the gate even though the MTA attendant is still trying to buzz me in. Fortunately, other riders saw that he was harassing me and paid for me to get on so that I would not have to be bothered with him. The harassment still didn’t end there, he still wanted to stop me and continue asking me asinine question and scold me for not respecting authority; even though I did not swear or yell at him. Nor did I make a threatening gesture at him. No disrespect what so ever. Clear abuse of power and authority over citizens.
This was posted by Huffington Post in the Politics section yesterday:
In a column published Tuesday in The Washington Post titled, “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me,” Dutta responds to mounting criticism of the policing tactics on display in Ferguson, Missouri, amid the hyper-militarization of law enforcement and accusations that officers have violated the First Amendment rights of both demonstrators and journalists covering the events. In a particularly telling passage, Dutta argues that citizens could deter police brutality if they were simply more cooperative, even when they’re unjustly targeted.
“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you,” he writes. “Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
It’s worth noting that arguing with a cop and even verbally abusing one, as well as asking for a badge number, are not illegal actions, though they have been known to lead to punishment or arrest. Dutta goes on to admit that police officers aren’t perfect and some have been known to be corrupt bullies, but he says your best bet is to swallow your pride, stay quiet and submit to any unlawful actions by police.
“But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment,” he writes. Dutta goes on to encourage people to seek legal recourse after the fact, rather than protest at the time of the encounter. Of course, an April 2014 poll found that half of Americans don’t believe cops are held accountable for misconduct, so that likely won’t be much solace to most people. (Veteran Cop: ‘If You Don’t Want To Get Shot,’ Shut Up — Even If We’re Violating Your Rights)
This is a big problem. Just because someone seems upset at something because they feel violated does not give you the right to beat them, pepper spray them, or shoot them. As long as the citizen is not threatening the officer with harm or being violent toward the officer, the officer is not within his right to handle the citizens in that way. This clearly is a temper issue with the officer. I have a right to ask you a question about why I am being stopped or detained. Citizens have legal rights. An officers anger issue is not the law. That is a conscious decision the officer is making to abuse his power and authority. That is not okay. Cops like that do not belong working for local police departments and their departments should not repeatedly cover for them when they break the rules.
The Irate Blogger