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 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?
I should probably start with a disclaimer. I grew up in a lily-white suburb where my run-ins with cops were for the most part limited to the odd traffic stop and maybe the occasional bit of harassment for loitering at the 7-11 (with a couple of arrests for underage drinking thrown in to shake things up a little). As a result, I tended to shy away from too-vehement denunciations of the police, and I always had to laugh at the comically absurd spectacle of some would-be suburban gangsta blasting NWA from his car speakers while rolling through the quaint burg where he lived with his parents in relative ease and comfort.
Still, I never really trusted cops. Even now, as a responsible homeowner (and in spite of the fact that I now live in more of an off-white suburb that’s perilously close to the city), I instinctively recoil at the sight of anyone wearing a uniform and badge and carrying a gun. As often as not, he (or she) strikes me as a petty tyrant, a bully, the kind of person who is attracted to the job simply because it gives him (or her) power over other people. And so I’ll freely admit that when I stumble upon something like this, it tends to confirm my worst suspicions.
As you’d expect from a website devoted to the glorification of da police, the comments are legendary. It’s hard to pick a winner, but if I had to choose one that summed up the overall attitude it would be this one from “Granite” (as in “as hard as” or “as dumb as”?):
“It amazes me when I continue to read stories of officers getting indicted on good shoots.”
Now, I realize “good shoot” is probably copspeak for legal shooting, but I don’t see how shooting an unarmed drunk guy with his pants down around his knees could possibly qualify as a “good shoot,” no matter how you define it. I mean, is there anything that would qualify as a “bad shoot”—short of going up to a random person on the street and shooting them for no reason whatsoever?