Disparity: Who Polices the Police?


Lola Bean - Posted on 21 February 2011

Author: 
Cat Condeff - PNN Washington Correspondent

Two words come to mind, right off the bat.  1) brutal, and 2) hypocrisy.  As defined by Webster's "New World" dictionary, brutal means: 1.like a brute; very savage, cruel, etc. 2. very harsh.  And hypocrisy means: 1. a pretending to be what one is not, or to feel what one does not; esp., a pretense of virtue, piety, etc.  This, I say here, is something to consider when one contemplates the motto printed on every standard police car in Seattle and beyond...To serve and protect. 

Granted, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that there are instances where brute force is necessary to apprehend a dangerous criminal...but it seems to me, that when there is an attack by a police officer or a case of severe negligence on the part of an officer on duty, words get bantied around and meanings and stipulations take on a convenient vagueness--as if one could conjure up a smoky veil to hide the hideousness of the truth when it comes to shielding the reputations of those wearing the shield. In the case of Officer Cobane who said to a Latino man as he lay face down on the ground, "I'm gonna beat the #*%@#*! Mexican piss outta you, homey.  You feel me?" he and his partner were simply reassigned duties until further actions may or may not have been taken.  It was said by the department that they did NOT use unreasonable force.  But what do you call using your boot to knock someone's hand away from their face and kicking them in the head in the meantime? Reasonable?  Whoops? I'm sorry?

The platitudes and vague, if not downright deceptive terms that get tossed around like bread crumbs to birds are a horrendous injustice to the victims of police induced hate crimes, and they make a mockery of the justice system, which, obviously, in the light of untainted facts, needs to be overhauled and, in some cases, overruled.  "Justice"--"just ice" Joni Mitchell says in one of her songs. 

One redeeming factor in all this is the fact that more and more, situations involving the police are being filmed...and there, one cannot fall back on these thinly disguised misrepresentations of the truth.  No room for the "he said, she said" syndrome to play into effect when the honest-to-goodness truth needs to come out and be made known to all, involved or not. Cameras are not inclined to lie.  Just as a civilian might turn criminal and not be civil in some situation, so can an officer go from being a decent cop into a raging pig. Humanity has its virtues and its flaws. 

 The Seattle Times quoted one woman as saying "The community is of 'one mind' about the incident on the tape...We are incensed, we are offended, we are 100 % committed to doing all we can to make sure that it never happens again."  This particular incident happened right outside of the China Harbor restaurant in The International District, about what? five miles away from where John T. Williams, the beloved Ditidaht Native American woodcarver was gunned down by a police officer working on his own volition, just a few months later.  To protect and serve--who?  Their own best interests?  Granted, enforcers of the law all over the world, in every country that has any sense of organization and hierarchy, commit various acts of heroism, saving lives and defending the hapless.  We don't always hear about them.  But then, we don't always hear about the badged criminals due, in part,  to the victim's inability to prosecute or complain...sometimes, for fear of retaliation.  Seattle is a good-sized city, but not so big that one can easily disappear. Look at the case that happened in Tacoma, where the police Chief's wife was being brutalized--what was she supposed to do?  If I remember right, and I think I do,  he finally killed her.  My only sense of consolation in cases like this is my belief in GreatGrandFather God's judgment abilities, and the afterlife, where goodness is rewarded and evil is punished--both in an eternal manner. So there.

Quoting  a representative from Amnesty International,"Muslims and people of Arab descent have joined Blacks, Asians, Latinos and Native Americans to most likely be profiled by law enforcement and other agencies.  Targeted law enforcement affects people's lives on a broader level, she said.  [They] can be racially profiled while driving, walking, flying, shopping, staying at home or while praying."  In my case, singing and putting my walkman away...
Alot of questions hang in the balance, but I think the utmost query to be posed is this: Who polices the police?--A chant I heard expressed at an October 31st rally here, in Seattle, a few years back. And the gut-wrenching question: How do we stop it, and moreso, how do we prevent it altogether?  Can it be prevented?  Will upgrading and re-aligning training procedures do any good?When you pin a badge to someone's chest and put a billy club, a taser,a set of handcuffs and a gun in their hand, is there ever any guarantee that these devices will be used to safeguard joe citizen/s life/lives? or are we deluding ourselves into thinking we will be protected by the same person or persons who can use those same devices against us--to our unwarranted demise--even our death/s? Will the availability of cameras become necessary in order to not have a "hung jury" or in order to prove, without a doubt, what happened in certain situations, so that NO ONE can lie to save their own skin or their partner's, etc.

I truly wish I had some definitive answers to these and other related questions.  All I can say, is that as United States Citizens, we are supposedly guaranteed certain inalienable rights, namely: Life. Liberty. And the pursuit of happiness. What's more--these rights are meant for everyone--not just for some and not for others.  And these rights--other than the "pursuit" part, are not vague or subject to prejudiced interpretation. They are explicit and binding.  Our Forefathers were quite adamant about this.  Many citizens fought and bled and died on the battlefield so that we could have the freedom we enjoy today.  Or are supposed to be able to enjoy without being profiled or discriminated  against.

So, there you have it. In a land of justice and freedom, it doesn't mean that a person should run wild and run amuck and hope to break even--it means a land where all individuals deserve respect and there really is no place for unwarranted brutality or the deception of hypocritcal  thinking and unfair actions.

sources include, but were not limited to: the seattle times, the real change newspaper, ch. fox 13 news, poor magazine, and the san francisco bayview publication.  A Couple of Clarifications:

--the woman that The Seattle Times Quoted as saying "the community..." is actually a spokeswoman from El Centro De La Raza.

--Who polices the police--The Office of Professional Accountability. And there is a civilian committee as well.  There's more, if you want to look, @ The Seattle Police Dept, under mission statement.

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