The police have always been enforcers for the privileged. A lot of people (including many of us) have trouble seeing that or feel a certain dissonance when we try, because we were part of that privileged class for most of our lives.
But as the wealth gap widens, we’re increasingly not a part of the privileged class and we’re getting more able to see what the more traditionally non-priviledged have said all along. Yet decades of propaganda (turn on your TV, listen to how police are depicted in the mainstream news reports and in entertainment, read a popular novel, especially from the crime genre), increasing power to LE with decreasing oversight and detoothing what overseers remain, and add in the increasing militarisation (with less discipline and rules of engagement than the actual military) and it’s easy to see things like this happen:
I am not absolving the little shit who made the false call in the first place. But while he is the impetus for this particular call-out (and does bear a share of responsibility for the outcome because it was a prank), the problem is deeper and endemic.
Even if the call had been real, people get things wrong all the time. Two numbers get transposed in an address. Someone says Laity Street and the listener hears Lady Street. Even if they get all that right, maybe the first person to emerge is a victim trying to flee. But the response is now “shoot first, think never” – Ash Williams clones run rampant among the police, and everyone else is a potential deadite.
Again, none of these scenarios are new to those who have always been underprivileged. It’s just taken this long for the rest of us to see. Things had to shift enough so that we all became “the enemy” to cops, and even the best propaganda couldn’t cover for it.
I am still one of the privileged enough that I don’t need to fear the average traffic stop or just seeing police on the street. But unless my or other people’s lives are in critical danger to make a coinflip bet on death seem worth it, I am going to think twice before I dial any numbers.
Renee Davis was five months pregnant when she was fatally shot by King County sheriff’s deputies checking on her welfare Friday night, according to her foster sister, Danielle Bargala.
Davis, 23, had struggled with depression, and had texted someone earlier that night to say she was in a bad way, according to Bargala. That person had alerted law enforcement, leading the deputies to arrive at Davis’ house on Muckleshoot tribal lands shortly after 6:30 p.m.
So what’s the solution? Get rid of all police and go for anarchy?
Of course not. The solution is to reform how LE operates. It’s going to need to be major reform, but reform it is.
Things like: have officers, especially new officers, walk beats if the area they patrol is walkable at all. Get to know people. Get people to know them.
Things like: use body cams and, for the love of Pete, make it harder for the officers wearing them to tamper with them.
And things like: verify a call’s location before sending in a SWAT team. Yes, I know callers typically mask their real number and location. But there has to be a way to do a post-call verification. I don’t know – maybe keep them on the line, get there, and then listen with a parabolic microphone to see if the caller’s half of the conversation is coming from inside the building. I’m sure people can poke holes in that, but something besides going in with guns drawn.
Those first two items, by the way, were suggested in public by actual police officers. I’m not saying it’s a “few bad apples” scenario – but that even from within some people recognise the need for reform.
And finally: cut out the affluenza BS. Even on cop shows you get “tread carefully, X runs the wealthy X corporation” situation where the burden of proof to bring in a poor person is much less than for a rich person.
I’d like to see some action on Graham v. Connor that would change the way that ruling is used.
As I understand it, the ruling was initially seen as a civil rights victory, but since then the interpretation of it comes from instructions to the jury telling them to look NOT at the context of what the officer knew about an encounter, but only at a very short span of seconds in determining whether a reasonable officer would fear for his/her/their life. I don’t know how that came to be the test, but it seems very wrong.
I expect a lot more vigilante incidents in the near future. At this point, even those of us who are relatively wealthy privileged people have good reason to fear police involvement. Calling 911 for firemen or medics is a no-brainer. But I can’t think of anyone I know that would call police nowadays. People will seek out justice via other means. And that may be dangerous.
Restoring trust in the police will be a major project that will take many years. You can’t just go around slaughtering people and dogs and raping people for fun and then one day say “okay, we’ll stop doing that stuff” and expect people to believe it and trust you. I’m not even sure it’s possible without a massive societal change.
I agree with this … but I don’t think it’s quite that extreme. We called the cops a couple weeks ago on a guy who comes out to block the sidewalk with guns if we try to walk our dogs past his house. But that’s pretty extreme - a guy brandishing a weapon at our toddler across from a big public playground where there are more children (the South is weird, and I don’t know how long we can live here). I think for everyday types of crimes, like thefts, where there’s not grievous bodily harm at risk, you’ll see more vigiliantism.
Law enforcement is bizarrely polarized, as a result of conflicting pressures of militarization of our society. If they can use force, they’ll do it in an instant. But in a previous state we lived in, my husband was part of a coalition to try to reform restraining orders. It was basically impossible to get a restraining order against a non-family person. So if you needed one against a deranged ex-coworker or cohabiting (but unmarried) partner, good fucking luck. But it was opposed every step of the way by the gun lobby, because it meant a waiting period on gun purchases (not a block!) if you had a restraining order. The police are a problem, but they’re a larger symptom of a growing militarization in our society on the whole.