Police Brutality in America
by Stephen Lendman
Justice in America is a four-letter word. Killer cops mock it. Nearly always with impunity.
A badge lets them brutalize and kill. Blacks, Latinos and ethnic minorities suffer most. They’re targets of choice.
The ACLU calls Ferguson, MO “Everytown, USA.” Police brutality occurs multiple times daily across America.
In big cities. In small ones. In urban areas. In rural ones. Militarized policed make their own rules. They operate extrajudicially.
They kill with impunity. On August 9, officer Darren Wilson murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown. He executed him in cold blood.
Brown was unarmed. He posed no threat. He had no criminal record. An independent autopsy showed he was shot six times.
Four times in the right arm and shoulder. Twice in the head. Retired New York medical examiner Dr. Michael Bade assisted forensic Pathologist Shawn Parcells in examining Brown’s body.
They volunteered their services. They did so in response to the request of Brown’s family. According to Dr. Baden, the final bullet fired into the top of his head was “not survivable.”
Ferguson police lied. They claimed Brown’s shooting followed an altercation he initiated. They said he tried to grab officer Wilson’s gun.
He wasn’t close enough to do it. No powder burns on his hands, arms or body proved it.
Forensic evidence showed Brown either was walking away from officer Brown or had his hands raised in a “don’t shoot” position. Eyewitnesses confirmed the same thing.
ACLU staff attorney Nusrat Choudhury said the killing of Brown raised disturbing questions about how often police kill unarmed black (and Latino) men in America.
It’s “far too often,” she stressed. Few incidents get national attention. Last April, a white cop killed 31-year-old black man Dontre Hamilton. He did so in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park.
Police chief Edward Flynn lied. He claimed the officer “defend(ed) himself in a violent situation.” An eyewitness report was polar opposite.
Hamilton posed no threat. An officer executed him in cold blood. He shot him 10 times at close range.
In July, New York cops killed Eric Garner. They placed him in a banned chokehold. They slammed his head into the sidewalk. It was during an arrest attempt for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes.
In early August, Beavercreek, OH cops murdered John Crawford III. He was in a Walmart holding a BB gun.
Perhaps he considered buying it. He did nothing illegal.
Days after Brown’s murder, Lost Angeles cops killed Ezell Ford. Police authorities lied. They claimed officers opened fire after a “struggle.”
Ford’s mother said he complied with officers’ demands. He lay on the ground as ordered. He posed no threat.
The next day, Victorville, CA cops murdered Dante Parker. They did so after repeated tasering. It’s a terror weapon. It risks death for victims with heart or other serious health problems.
In March 2012, Sanford, FL neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in cold blood.
He was unarmed, carried candy, a can of iced tea, and some cash. He threatened no one. He was a victim of Florida’s racist stand your ground law.
It’s a license to kill. It legitimizes vigilante justice. It permits deadly force if authorities or individuals fear potential harm.
Black and Latino males are most vulnerable. They can be murdered in cold blood on grounds of self-defense – true or false.
Police shootings repeat often across America. On January 1, 2009, Oakland, CA transit officer Johannes Mehserle killed unarmed Oscar Grant in cold blood.
He threatened no one. He didn’t resist. It didn’t matter. He was thrust face-down on the ground, shot in the back, and murdered.
Videotape on at least four cameras confirmed it. Media reports said five bystanders taped it. The community erupted.
In July 2010, Mehserie was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Grant’s family demanded first-degree murder.
Rarely ever are officers punished. Most often they get slaps on the wrist at most. Business as usual continues.
Police brutality is systematic across America. Little is done to constrain it. Accountability is virtually nil. Rare exceptions prove the rule.
Many cops are killing machines. Shoot first is policy. So blaming victims. It’s standard practice. Blacks, Latinos and ethnic minorities are targets of choice.
They’re harassed. They face verbal and physical abuse. They’re arrested on false charges. They’re murdered in cold blood.
In February 1999, New York cops fired 41 shots. They struck Amadou Diallo 19 times. They murdered him while he stood unarmed in his apartment building vestibule.
In 2006, New York cops killed Sean Bell in cold blood. On the eve of his wedding, they fired dozens of times at him as he emerged from a nightclub. He was unarmed. He threatened no one. Prosecutions didn’t follow.
In February 2012, NYPD cops illegally entered Ramarley Graham’s home. They had no search warrant or probable cause. Graham was unarmed. He was shot and killed in his kitchen.
Police departments officially authorize deadly force only when officers’ lives or others are threatened. Cops take full advantage.
They invent reasons to justify cold blood murder. The pattern repeats nationwide. Accountability is virtually nil. Just cause is whatever offending officers say.
Documented video and other evidence show an epidemic of police violence and other forms of brutality nationwide.
Footage shows police repeatedly tasering victims with 50,000 volts of electricity. Numerous unarmed blacks and Latinos are murdered in cold blood.
Defenseless men are beaten for any reason or none at all. Militarized police use automatic weapons, assault rifles, tear gas, attack dogs, and other weapons more commonly found in war theaters than on city streets.
According to the ACLU, American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops using weapons and tactics of war.
The notion of serve and protect is oxymoronic on its face. Heavily armed SWAT teams raid homes pre-dawn. They do so lawlessly. They do it on the pretext of searching for drugs.
Victims are shot. Homes are ransacked. Cops shouldn’t treat people like “wartime enemies,” says the ACLU.
“Any yet, every year, billions of dollars worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments.”
“Departments use these wartime weapons in everyday policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war, which has unfairly targeted people of color.”
Racial profiling is rife. People of color are systematically targeted. They comprise around two-thirds of America’s prison population.
It’s the world’s largest by far. It exceeds China’s with four times America’s population.
Most incarcerated are non-violent. Over half are for drug related charges. Around 75% are Blacks or Latinos.
Jim Crow never died. It’s a modern-day elitist-designed racial caste system. It’s a gulag instrument of social control. It’s filled with many thousands of political prisoners.
Mass incarceration is official federal, state and local policy. It perpetuates recitivism. It keeps many of America’s unwanted behind bars. It does nothing to reduce crime.
Blacks and Latinos are victimized by racism, poverty, judicial unfairness, get tough on crime policies, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, three strikes and you’re out, bigoted drug laws, and killer cops operating extrajudicially with impunity.
Amnesty International (AI) calls police brutality and use of excessive force “one of its central themes of (its) campaign on human rights violations.”
It documents systemic brutality and other forms of ill-treatment across America. Abuses include beatings, unjustified shootings, and use of banned restraint techniques to subdue victims.
Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately victimized. Fundamental constitutional rights are violated. Justice is nearly always denied.
Paul Craig Roberts is right calling militarized US police a “murder machine.” America is occupied territory.
This writer’s home city, Chicago, is called America’s police repression capital. Why with so many other worthy candidates is hard to explain.
Killer cops are like crabgrass. They’re everywhere. They’re notoriously brutal. They take full advantage of de facto carte blanche authority.
They turn streets into battlegrounds. Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton titled his doctoral dissertation “War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America.”
“How many people’s lives were ruined in countless ways by a government intent on destroying them as representatives of an ‘enemy’ political organization,” he wrote.
“Enemy” ideas included full employment, decent housing, education, justice, peace, and ending police brutality.
It continues relentlessly. Tactics include beatings and torture. Cops get away with crimes against humanity. Instead of punishment, they’re promoted.
In 1994, Congress passed the Police Accountability Act. It’s incorporated into the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
It requires Attorney Generals to compile national data on excessive police force. Congress consistently fails to fund it.
State and local police forces aren’t required to keep records or submit data to the Justice Department. Nor are police violence and excessive force criminalized as human rights abuses.
Blacks, Latinos, ethnic minorities and Muslims for being in America at the wrong time pay the biggest price.
Michael Brown is one among countless other victims of police state violence across America.
His murder reflects what the ACLU calls “a widespread and pervasive problem throughout the United States, impacting the lives of millions of people in African American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, and Arab communities.”
America’s most vulnerable are systematically brutalized. It repeats unjustifiably nationwide.
It’s systematic, without cause, in public, when driving, shopping, at work, at home, in places of worship, and when traveling.
Often it’s violent. Too often it’s lethal. Justice nearly always is denied. Killer cops are free to brutalize and murder again.
Candidate Obama promised a “Blueprint for Change” to ban and criminalize racial profiling and related mistreatment.
President Obama did nothing. Another promise made. Another broken. Constituencies supporting him overwhelmingly suffer most.
Systematic police brutality continues out-of-control. Virtually nothing is done to stop it.
Killer cops turned America into a battleground. Ferguson, MO is a microcosm of police state injustice. Michael Brown is one among countless other victims.
For people of color, America is unsafe to live in. It’s heading for full-blown tyranny. Freedom, human and civil rights are figures of speech.
They’re fast disappearing. For America’s most vulnerable, they never existed.
Blacks, Latinos and ethnic minorities are all potential Michael Browns.
America was never beautiful. it isn’t now. It serves its privileged few alone. No one else.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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