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Daily Archive: September 21, 2014

Sunday

21

September 2014

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Rise of the Warrior Cop

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Five Stars

rise of the warrior cop

We have a problem with policing in this country. Hopefully this isn’t a surprise, although many people have only started to notice this since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson last month. People in many communities, for years, have been more fearful of the police than of the criminals in their communities; this is especially true for black people, who can be shot for having a BB gun, a toy sword, or nothing at all.

Mr. Balko has written a book that unfortunately is all too relevant these days. The book focuses on the problems with the militarization of the police and the culture that sees officers acting as though everyone is the enemy, and it specifically focuses on the drug war and SWAT teams. It has taken me over a month to read (I’ve started and finished two books and about 20 magazines in that time) because it is infuriating. It is well written and well-researched. It is ‘easy’ to read, in that the sentences and paragraphs flow logically, and the book itself is broken down by decade to clearly demonstrate how things have changed. But it is infuriating. I wrote a variation of ‘fuck’ or ‘ew’ on every other page, because each section made me angrier and angrier. Mr. Balko wrote a great, infuriating book, and I wish everyone would read it.

The drug war is ridiculous, but seeing it really spelled out in print, and reading how it is so tied into a culture that seeks bigger and deadlier toys to ‘enforce the law’ made me, and makes me, sick to my stomach. My blood pressure would rise, my pulse would race, and it would take a whole lot of self-control to not just fling the book at a window every couple of pages. Much of this comes from the illustrating stories that point out the times when SWAT teams utterly fuck up. The botched raids are not rare; they are examples of what happens when a group of people gets all the power but has none of the self-awareness to recognize that they are doing something wrong. Shooting dogs in the head, breaking down doors, holding people at gun point without ever announcing who they are. Can you IMAGINE being awoken at midnight by a bunch of people in dark clothes pointing guns and yelling at you? I assume I would pee myself and consider that I was about to be sexually assaulted and then murdered. There is rarely, if ever a need for this kind of use of force, and yet here we are, openly supporting it with federal grants, surplus Pentagon equipment and broken policies.

I live in Seattle, and was here during the WTO riots. Norm Stamper was police chief then, and he wrote a book saying that what the Seattle PD did during those protests – throwing tear gas into crowds, blocking people in – was right. But after his book tour he realized he was so very wrong, and now he realizes that his actions are partly responsible for the devolution of rights of civilians in the face of power-hunger cops. The way the police handled Occupy protests throughout the country was so disappointing; the way some handle the day-to-day operations with quasi-military force to recover a few ounces of marijuana or heroin from non-violent drug offenders should scare the crap out of you.

Are all cops bad? Obviously not. There are some amazing officers doing great work. That isn’t the point of this book. The point is that we’ve passed laws, set policy and created grants that make it easier for police to believe that the law doesn’t apply to them as they seek to enforce the law. That is unacceptable, and we need to speak out and demand some change. Now.

Sunday

21

September 2014

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – September 21, 2014

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Policing

– “These highly questionable revelations stirred a fair amount of public outrage, but few people seemed to realize how truly sinister they were, or how they connected to much broader patterns of official lawlessness that have long bedeviled St. Louis County, and Missouri more generally, as well as many other jurisdictions across the land.” Ferguson’s massive cover-up: How police departments are protecting Michael Brown’s killer (h/t @ShaunKing)

– “The question of whether Urban Shield is an essential training experience worth a significant investment of taxpayer money or a chance for grown men to run around and play war games was bubbling beneath the surface the whole time.” Militarized Cops Pretend to Fight Terrorists in Oakland (h/t @MelissaGira)

Reproductive Health

– “Despite the mounting pressures to have a baby already, a number of well-known, powerful women have said no, thanks, and spoken quite frankly about their decision not to parent.” 25 Famous Women on Childlessness (h/t @sovvvy)

Sexism

– “The thing that’s most striking about the opposition to Sarkeesian’s work is that while her opposition comes in very different forms, ranging from simple criticism, to faux-intellectual documentarians, to outright virulent abuse, it’s all pretty lightweight.” Criticism of Anita Sarkeesian & “Tropes vs. Women” Comes in 4 Groundless Forms (h/t @femfreq)

– “In protest, some students are continuing to openly defy the dress code regulations and wear shorts and tank tops to school.” High Schoolers Protest Sexist Dress Code That’s Landed More Than 100 Girls In Detention (via @ThinkProgress)

– “I made the mistake of dating a guy who would later go on to write a several-act manifesto about my alleged sex life and post it to every forum he could create a handle for. Normally, this would blow over with little more than a “whoa, check out THAT guy,” but since I work in an industry that has very strong feelings about women, it quickly mutated from a jilted ex’s revenge-porn to one of the most intense scandals in recent gaming history.” 5 Things I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person (h/t @studentactivism)

– “We may be able to see these small population differences if we ran a large, controlled study but it would be practically invisible to us on an individual level as we go about our lives and it certainly wouldn’t result in large gender imbalances in terms of people who like Sam Harris.” Sam Harris Doesn’t Understand Bell Curves (via @skepchic)

Sexual Assault

– “This rape prevention campaign doesn’t even include rapists in its messaging about personal accountability for preventing rape. Instead, it’s directed at everyone but rapists.” White House Rolls Out “It’s On Us” Campaign (via @Shakestweets)

Homophobia

– “I don’t see how it could be self-defense,” Nagle says. “There were 12 people there. The self-defense thing is a little crazy to me. It wasn’t like a guy just threw a punch to protect himself and ran away. That’s not what happened here.” Philly Hate Attack Mob Claiming Self Defense After Brutal Beating Sends Gay Men To Hospital

Intimate Partner Violence

– “The Radisson hotel chain is suspending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after star running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse in Texas.” Radisson Suspends Minnesota Vikings Sponsorship (via @AP)

World Health

– “The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.” The Mathematics of Ebola Trigger Stark Warnings: Act Now or Regret It

Awesomeness

– “‘Obviously, my house would not be like this if I didn’t have Asperger’s,’ he said. ‘If it takes a long time, I don’t care because if I like what I’m doing, I almost don’t want to finish what I’m doing,’ Krueger said.” Autistic Minnesota man builds ultimate cat maze in home (h/t @AustinKelmore)