Thursday, August 21, 2014

overseer wilson should have been arrested on august 9th...,


salon |  As numerous commentators have already noted, American police have undergone a massive transformation in recent decades. Militarized police departments are on the rise, with no sign of this trend slowing any time soon. It started with the war on drugs in the ’80s, followed by the now-famous “1033 Program,” a federal program that allows the military to sell discount weapons, supplies and munitions to local police departments, capped off finally by a massive infusion of new resources following the Sept. 11 attacks. (And while the 1033 program has earned the bulk of the attention, it’s important to note that it’s “only” provided local cops with $4.3 billion in new supplies, a number dwarfed by the $34 billion the Department of Homeland Security has provided since 9/11.)

There are plenty of great explainers that you can read about how all of this came to be; the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald recently provided a useful summary, as did Amanda Taub for Vox. But even if these accounts do nothing to change your perception of the police today, one must ask: Where does it end? At what point do cops become so weaponized, so hostile to their citizenry and shielded from responsibility or blame that our suspicions of the institution gain merit? And crucially — who gets to decide?

“Not All Cops Are Bad” is a meaningless concept when taken to its logical conclusion
There are clearly limits to the formulation that “not all cops are bad,” and almost everyone would agree that individual “goodness” can become irrelevant when an individual’s actions are in service of a corrupt institution. That American police forces aren’t nearly as amoral as, say, the Gestapo (the secret police of Nazi Germany) is a question of degree, not one of kind. Once we allow that “Not all cops are bad” can’t possibly apply to the Gestapo in any meaningful way, we tacitly acknowledge that there are limits to the formulation more generally. (If comparing American cops to the Gestapo seems hyperbolic, that’s the point.) Whether or not those limits have already been reached by U.S. police departments is irrelevant here. After all, some might find the abuses highlighted by the press in recent years to be not especially extreme or unacceptable given the difficulty of the profession and the enormous challenge of making snap judgments regarding lethal force … but surely, plenty of residents of Ferguson would disagree. Saying “not all cops are bad,” then, becomes dangerously close to saying “people like me get to determine when the conduct of police officers has become bad enough to merit our attention and concern, but people like you don’t.”

The people saying “not all cops are bad” usually aren’t the ones being victimized by “good cops”  Recently, 125 people came together in Missouri to support Darren Wilson. One hundred and twenty-four of them were white.