The Law is the Law

Who would have guessed?  Pennsylvania passes a law that allows cops to confiscate unregistered cars, or the cars of people who are driving without a license or insurance, and, in the hands of the Philadelphia police, it leads to a rash of complaints about people being left on the side of the road—in spite of a department directive prohibiting this—after having their cars taken.  In this particular case, it was a father who was stopped while driving his 8-year-old son to the emergency room because the kid had a 104-degree fever and diarrhea.  While in the process of having his car jacked by the public servants in blue, the guy asks the cops if he can take his kid to a bathroom–because, you know, the boy’s got a 104-degree fever and diarrhea–and they tell him to let the kid shit on the sidewalk.  Serving and protecting, I think this is called.

Well, this story whipped up quite a pitchfork brigade in the comments section,* full of people outraged that a public servant would treat a poor taxpayin’ citizen in such a harsh and unforgiving manner.  Haha, no, just kidding.  Yes, there was plenty of outrage, but most of it was directed at the author of the article and the few commenters who had the temerity to suggest that the cops’ behavior might have been just a tad dickish.  After all, the man was driving around on city streets without the proper paperwork in his vehicle.   If he can’t be bothered to renew his registration on time, well, then, fuck ’im—he deserves what he gets.  Such contempt for the law cannot be tolerated in a free society!  Chaos!  Anarchy!  Etc.!

If you ever need any evidence that a police state could very well exist here in the land of the free, if one isn’t already upon us, look no further than the comments section of the nearest suburban or city newspaper’s website.  Any story involving the police, pro or con, and you’ll find a virtual mob clamoring for the jackboot.

*For some reason, the link takes you to a version of the article without the comments.   But here’s a concise example of what I’m talking about:

While I feel empathy for the father(for his sick child), he WAS driving a motor vehicle without proper papers. The law IS the law.— RiversideRam


“Fill out a complaint form and leave it in the box. We’ll get to it a soon as we can.”

While at the mall the other day I saw a man wearing a Philadelphia police T-shirt that said: “A city that makes an enemy of its police force is a city that will have to make friends with its criminals.”

I’m not sure whether this is supposed to be a response to a specific incident or not, but either way it’s pretty much standard fare for police propaganda, resting on the bogus assumption that without a full-time, professional, tax-funded police force criminals would run rampant and good people wouldn’t be able to walk down the street without being robbed or murdered.  Of course, people are robbed and murdered on a daily basis, in spite of the presence of our heroes in blue—in some cases, by the police themselves.

So I’m thinking maybe the residents of Philadelphia need their own T-shirt, which says: “A city whose police force makes an enemy of it will have to file a complaint with Internal Affairs.”

Two More From Philly’s Finest

  • Two cops “trained to deal with mental-health issues” kill “an 18-year-old man with mental-health problems” with a Taser.  Apparently the cops felt threatened because the man “armed himself with several sticks and tried to set them on fire.”  Oh, and they’d been called to this same house 14 times before.  According to the article: “‘The cause of Johnson’s death is under investigation,’ [Lt. Frank] Vanore said.”  I don’t know, but I’m thinking the fucking Taser may have been the cause of death.*
  • A 51-year-old woman is beaten by the police for refusing to stand outside—in the rain, at 4:00 a.m., in her pajamas—while the cops searched her house for “guns and gunmen.”  (This is after they had already searched the house, without a warrant; they wanted her to stand outside while they conducted a more thorough search.)  Instead, she suggested that they all wait inside while the cops got a warrant, and when she went to light a cigarette, one of the cops threw her against the wall and grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head against the wall several times.  They also beat the woman’s 52-year-old sister for attempting to defend her sister.  Both women were arrested for, no shit, “resisting arrest and related offenses.”  The cops, of course, dispute the sisters’ story.  They say their records show no indication of any injuries or medical treatment needed.  Case closed, I guess.**

*In a follow-up piece, the cops justify their actions by saying that the kid “lunged at them” with the sticks.  Doesn’t sound terribly life-threatening to me, but what do I know?   I don’t wear a uniform and carry an array of lethal weapons around with me, so I guess I’d have no way of knowing how frightening such a situation could be.  Even better, though, are the comments below the article.  There you’ll find the usual assortment of victim-blamers and police-abuse apologists.  The logic goes something like this: The cops shot/Tasered/beat somebody; therefore, he/she deserved it.

**During their search, the cops found and arrested the woman’s son, who was accused of being involved in some kind of incident involving a gun.  The article also mentions that the women had past connections with the mafia, and that this may have had something to do with the cops’ animosity toward them.  Also, the police claim that the women had originally been outside, and that when they were allowed to go inside to get some warmer clothes, they tried to shut the door on the police, and one of them kneed a cop in the balls.  Whatever.  I only mention this stuff because no doubt the apologists are using it to justify the cops’ actions.  Point is, though, there is no justifying their actions.  And to top it off, they wound up getting a search warrant after all.  So what was all the fuss about then?

To Serve and Protect (Themselves)

After Philly mayor Michael Nutter announced some proposed budget cuts, some of which included the police budget, the cops responded as they always do to any threat to their tax-funded gravy train: by suggesting that the decrease in money to the police, no matter how slight, will mean more crime:

The proposed cut to police overtime, about 8 percent of the department’s OT budget, was panned by John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.

“You can’t plan crime,” McNesby said. “He’s trying to cut the meat to feed the fat, and it’s not going to work.”

Of course, it’s possible that fewer cops on the streets might mean less crime:

Three Philadelphia police officers have been charged with planning the theft of 300 grams of heroin from an alleged drug supplier and then selling it to another person they believed to be a drug dealer and money launderer who, in actuality, was a DEA special agent.

“I’m personally pissed off about this kind of behavior,” Mayor Nutter said at a news conference at police headquarters this afternoon. “We do not employ criminals. That’s what they are. That’s how they will be treated.”

Unfortunately, Mayor Nutter, you do employ criminals, and plenty of them.