Posts tagged Police

Hier Ist Kein Warum


You might be interested to read this article from last summer’s issue of The Match!, where Fred Woodworth argues much the same claim. As Woodworth points out, what’s going on isn’t just a matter of government police consciously emulating military training, attitudes, tactics and equipment (although they do do all of that); it’s also a matter of them getting militarized just in simple terms of personnel, through many active programs (in collaboration with the Feds) to recruit former government soldiers after their tour in occupied Iraq or occupied Afghanistan has come to end.

Re: Show Some Respect

LNC Region 7,

I agree with you that law enforement is a haven for bullies and abusers. One might be tempted to call unprovoked violence the occupational disease of government police officers, if not for the fact that it is their occupation. But I haven’t seen any evidence that would convince me that this is “increasing” as of late. There was plenty of bullying and violence to go around back in the days of Bull Connor, too.

The main difference between then and now is that, thanks to shifts in both technology and civil society, people now have more means of communicating with each other than the reflexively pro-authority establishment media; and more means of documenting police abuse as it happens. So it’s not that the problem is increasing; it’s that documentation of the problem is increasing. The next question is whether, given our increasing knowledge and connections, we can now do something about it.

Re: If You’re Not Angry, You’re Not Paying Attention

Tom: It also demonstrates why people who claim to be libertarians, but do not take the concerns of the black civil rights movement seriously, aren’t really libertarians at all. A policy that allows police to arrest a black man on his own property for verbally asserting his rights is not a libertarian policy; it is a radically authoritarian policy, one that would be more at home in a police state than in a liberal democracy. If the black civil rights movement is concerned about this sort of thing, while the mainstream libertarian movement is not, then it’s reasonable to ask who the real libertarians are in this country.

Hey, man, I agree with you about all that, but what makes you think that the antecedent of that last if-then statement is true? What libertarians do you have in mind who are ignoring this?

Radley Balko posted about the Gates arrest repeatedly (1, 2, 3), Randall McElroy posted about it on the same day as Balko’s first post (4), Lila Ravija posted about it on the same day (5), Sheldon Richman wrote about it yesterday (6), as did Gary Chartier (7). I posted about it just today. Of course, I’m not a “mainstream” libertarian (or much of anything else); and you couldn’t be expected to know about posts that went up Friday or today when you were posting on Thursday. But I have read plenty of libertarian commentary about this story, and just about all of it has been intensely critical of the police; moreover, I’ve read a lot of libertarian commentary on policing generally (some of which, e.g. Balko’s stuff, is incontestably part of the libertarian “mainstream,” if any such thing exists), and I can’t think of anything written in the last, say, 15 years or so, that would lead me to any kind of general conclusion that libertarians typically aren’t concerned with this sort of thing, or that they wouldn’t typically side with Gates on this issue. The libertarians I hang out with certainly are, and certainly would, and I think most recent libertarian writing on policing reflects the same trend.

Re: The Curious Case of Henry Louis Gates…

stigme, quoting from the police report: As he did so, I radioed on channel 1 that I was off in the residence with someone who appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative. I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end of his telephone call to “get the chief” and what’s the chief’s name?”. Gates was telling the person on the other end of the call that he was dealling with a racist police officer in his home. Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was “messing” with and that I had not heard the last of it. While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.

In other words, by Sergeant James Crowley’s own admission, even if you grant every element of his claims for the sake of argument, he no longer had any probable cause to suspect a crime or any legal reason to be there, long before he arrested Gates. “Surprising and confusing” a cop by getting upset with him is, of course, not a crime. So why didn’t Crowley just apologize for the trouble and leave?

grabe: Everywhere I’ve lived, if you raise your voice to cops when they had probable cause to suspect you of a crime, depending on their mood, they’ll raise their side of the conflict until either you back down or they slap the cuffs on you and take you ‘downtown’. It’ll happen to you regardless of color – I’ve seen it; lived it.

  1. The cop’s own report makes clear that Crowley had no probable cause to suspect Gates of a crime once it became clear that he did in fact live in the house he was supposedly “burglarizing.” Crowley had concluded that it was Gates’s house by the time he radioed back; he had conclusive evidence when Gates gave him photo ID. So why didn’t he just leave, instead of leading Gates out to the front porch and then arresting him for hollering inside his own house, which is not a crime?

  2. I do agree with you that police often take a domineering attitude and use the threat of arrest and jail to force people to submit to their arbitrary commands, even when it is clear that no crime has been committed. This is common when police deal with any non-police, whether black or white. But I think you’ll find that it is more common when cops deal with people who are members of certain demographic groups that are seen as being special problems for Law-n-Order — notably black people, Latinos, poor people, young people, and a few other commonly-targeted groups. And in any case, even if it has nothing to do with race at all, the fact that this sort of thing is common does not make it right. It is, in fact, a tyrannical abuse of power by legally privileged police against innocent victims who have committed no crime.

Yvonne Moultrie: both men had prejudices and chips on their shoulders. obama was right; the officers involved did act stupidly. but then again, so did dr. gates.

Maybe, maybe not, but even if this is true, only the stupidity of “the officers involved” resulted in an innocent man being rousted out of his home, handcuffed, humiliated in front of his neighbors, and thrown in jail on a bogus charge.

I’m not all that worried about foibles which, at worst, cause a man to toss off so insults which are possible unfair, at people who barged onto his property without his permission.

I tend to worry a lot more about the stupidity of people who have, and are willing to exercise, the power to jail me or shoot me even when I am neither threatening anyone’s safety nor violating anyone’s rights.

The Rule of Law-Enforcers

For a private person, yes. However, private persons do not investigate murders, rapes, assaults, etc… and do not need to worry about these possibilities. As I mentioned, LEOs do. They can’t act as mellow beings and still enforce the law.

Whatever you want, dude, but yelling at a cop is still not a crime. A cop who treats it as one is willfully carrying out a false arrest.

If you think that rule of law is not worth this then you are an idiot and need to study history again.

I’m sorry, what part of “the rule of law” calls for making up non-existent laws against yelling at police officers in order to ensure that people show proper deference to the position of Law Enforcement Officers? I mean, sure, I can see how that’s conducive to the Rule of Law-Enforcers, but I’m not sure that’s what advocates of “the rule of law” generally mean by the term.

In any case, if that is what “the rule of law” really calls for, then it sounds to me like “the rule of law” is as tyrannical as any other form of rule.

Countries without a respected police force are generally the lowest in the rung and generally unfit for humans.

I’m not sure what you mean by “respect” here; usually we use the term to refer to courtesy and consideration that are freely given to those who deserve them. But since you’re talking about the use of physical coercion and imprisonment, obviously this cannot be what you are talking about; you can get fear that way, and you can get submission, but you can’t get any kind of respect that is worthy of the name.

If what you mean is that citizens generally submit to the legal demands of police officers, and unhesitatingly collaborate with them in their work, well, I can think of a few places where that was pretty common. But I hear that Nazi-occupied Europe, the Soviet bloc, and Maoist China were all pretty bad places to be, too.

Yelling at a police officer is not a crime.

newt0311: He responded and tried to peacefully handle the situation at which point, the resident just starts yelling at him and continues to act in an uncooperative manner.

Yelling at a police officer is not a crime.

Police officers have many legal privileges (legal privileges which, actually, they generally should not have anyway), but being entitled to arrest obviously harmless people for their tone of voice is definitely not among them.

newt0311: “Abuse” by police officers?

Using the threat of physical force to arrest and jail a man who has not committed any crime, and who you know has not committed any crime, is a paradigmatic case of abusing police powers. If willful false arrests are not abuse by police officers, what is?

Re: Government at Work

Thanks for the link.

Note that both of these tyrannies primarily involve local and state government.

Do they?

The Interstate Highway System and the earlier U.S. highway system, for example, certainly involve state and local government. But I’d hardly say that the federal government was only “secondarily” involved in them.

Similarly, police brutality has existed always and everywhere where there are unaccountable government police, regardless of what level of government was involved in running them. But the specific phenomenon of increasing numbers of police on city streets and increasing militarization of the arsenal, training, personnel, and attitudes of police, over the past 40 years or so, has largely been the result of locally-administered federally coordinated programs (e.g. the War on Drugs and targeted repression of political “extremism”), and it has been bankrolled by the federal government to the tune of billions if not trillions of dollars in domestic nation-building exercises like “homeland security” grants, federal “community policing” initiatives, free federal training, subsidized military equipment sales, etc. (Where would small-town cops in South Carolina be getting a tank, if it weren’t for federal grants and subsidized federal sales of U.S. military equipment to local cops?)

These aren’t examples of local tyranny where the Feds are just standing by watching, or where the Feds could even potentially be enlisted as a countervailing force.The Feds are actively complicit and have been one of the primary forces in making things as bad as they are.

Just as peaceful secession would actually have profoundly destabilized slavery in the Southern states — because it meant the end of Fugitive Slave laws, the moving of the line of freedom from the Canadian border to the Mason-Dixon, and the removal of Northern military resources from the effort to suppress Southern slave revolts and John Brown raids — I think there’s good reason to think that, ceteris paribus, without the Feds at their back, the local Growth Machine types and the local paramilitary constabulary would be in a much more precarious position than they are now.

Of course, this is no reason to cry about “federalism” or “judicial activism” or some other conservative claptrap when looking at the handful of specific cases where the Feds do act against locally-administered tyrannizing (say, Miranda, or the recent Gant decision). But if we’re trying to figure out how things would “work out” on balance, then we do have to look at how much these forms of tyrannizing are incited, coordinated, and bankrolled from the center.

Re: The Doctor Is In (Or Near, Anyway)


I’m sure Rand Paul isn’t for completely open borders but I can’t see him or his daddy voting for storm troopers or walls.

Ron Paul already voted for a border wall twice — in 2005 he voted for H.R. 4437 (the Sensenbrenner omnibus anti-immigrant bill, which ultimately failed to become law) and in 2006 he voted for H.R. 6061 (which broke out the border wall provisions of the Sensenbrenner bill in order to get parts of it passed piecemeal; this bill “Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, within 18 months of enactment of this Act, to take appropriate actions to achieve operational control over U.S. international land and maritime borders, including: (1) systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and (2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry and facilitate border access by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers.”)

As for stormtroopers, I’m not sure what you’re thinking of. Do you imagine that storm-troopers would be something new in immigration policies? In fact, ICE and the Border Patrol already have plenty of stormtroopers in their employ, staging paramilitary raids on homes and workplaces, and maintaining regular armed patrols and “Ihre papiere, bitte” government checkpoints, both on the border itself and on highways well inside the U.S. in the southwestern states. Ron Paul supports the ICE storm-troopers; and if he opposed their paramilitary raids then I haven’t been able to find him saying so anywhere; everything I can find with him talking about immigration has insisted on the need for numerically more and more intensive enforcement. I do know that he supports, and has repeatedly voted for, increasing the number of paramilitary Border Patrol agents on armed patrol and at checkpoints along the border.

As for Rand, well, who knows? But if he votes like his Daddy, then he’ll be voting for a more extensive, better-funded, and more intensely-enforced immigration police state.

Re: Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

GT 2009-04-19: Men in Uniform #3, (possible trigger warning) in which an L.A. county sheriff’s deputy stalks, terrorizes, and forces unwanted sexual contact on a woman he singled out at a bar, flashing both his badge and his gun along the way, and, by way of consequences, gets to plead out to “disturbing the peace” and return to work after a two-week vacation. Malestream media treats the case as if it were an example of a problem with alcohol abuse on the force, rather than, you know, sexual predators being allowed to roam around the city with badges and guns.

<a href=”>GT 2009-04-17: Death by Homeland Security #3: The Disappeared, in which the United States government’s border Securitate leaves a man to die from a heart attack while in immigration lock-up, because they just couldn’t be bothered to get a mere immigrant medical attention, and then spends the next few years denying that the man ever even existed.

Re: Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

GT 2009-02-21: how professional social workers colonized the maternity home movement, and what came after looks at a long passage from Ann Fessler’s book on women who surrendered children for adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade. In particular, it has to do with what happened to the maternity home movement during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, and how a movement that originally started, in the early 1900s, as a sympathetic refuge, a form of mutual aid between ordinary women, and a way for unwed mothers to find sources of relief and economic support, was gradually taken over and transformed into a means for professional social workers to sequester pregnant women, to aid and abet the social practice of secret-keeping and slut-shaming, and to separate young mothers from their children.

GT 2009-02-18: Public schooling #2: Criminal texting, in which a 14 year old girl in Wisconsin is detained by the police at her high school, interrogated, searched by a male police officer, arrested for “disorderly conduct,” then body-searched by a female police officer, all in order to find a cell phone that it turns out she was hiding in her pants. The charge is that she was sending text messages in class after the teacher told her to stop, and then hid her phone from the teacher when the teacher tried to confiscate it. This minor classroom management issue apparently was considered a police matter and a cause for arrest, for which the girl could in principle be fined up to $5,000.