The Enemy Is The State: How The U.S. Justice System Started A Civil War

Posted: June 6, 2015 in Politics

First comes the smear campaign, in which any misdeed or criminal past, no matter how minor, is pored over with revelatory glee. Then we will be told that the officer involved feared not just for his safety, but for his very life. The harmless object in the victim’s hand? It looked like a gun. It looked like a gun – to someone very familiar with guns. The story will also report lots of furtive and aggressive movements, of violent resistance to arrest. In many cases, police reports are filled out – under penalty of perjury – attesting to these facts; but those facts are then flatly contradicted by what everyone can see with their own eyes. Officers are caught on tape manipulating evidence or rehearsing improvised fictions. The familiarity feels as if it can’t be coincidental, but is more like the product of selections from a playbook – one that undoubtedly proved more effective before smartphones and CCTV became so ubiquitous. And finally, there is the most salient sameness of all: like a prolific movie studio specialising in one particular genre, the greatest police brutality videos – in number and quality – are produced in the US.

Maybe American police brutality feels especially noxious now because it seems less the work of unhinged rogues and more like something systemic. Consider the evidence provided by a new Guardian project, The Counted, which this week found that black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police, with Hispanic and Latino people similarly victimised. It also found that the number of ethnic minority people killed by police is far out of kilter with their proportion of the population. Consider Baltimore, and Ferguson, and many other examples besides.

This is not to say that the civilian shock is somehow inappropriate. It seems genuine. It could, at least theoretically, spur change. The problem is that the shock is insufficient to that task, and also emblematic of the deeper problem: ignorance. One could even quibble with the under-informed sensibility that is offended by an isolated example of the powerful abusing the weak, when an honest global flag would probably feature a clenched fist distorting a passive face. For once, the old refrain of “this is supposed to be America” can seem apt – when a country that never tires of touting its opportunity and freedom can simultaneously produce what looks a hell of a lot like state-sponsored subjugation.

Tamir Rice: police release video of 12-year-old’s murder


 Full Story @ [The Guardian]

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