Summary: Matthew Harwood’s definitive article shows that America’s police have gone out of control. But nothing will change unless we identify the people responsible, much as the year of outrage following Snowden’s revelations of NSA surveillance produced few reforms. The evidence clearly points to the guilty parties — and a solution.
San Diego policeman Neal Browder shooting from his car at an Rawshan Nehad — an unarmed man 17′ away. Browder said he believed Nehad had a knife and posed an “immanent threat” to him. Nehad died; Browder was not charged. Insurgents struggle to de-legitimize police with large segments of the people; US police are doing it to themselves.
I strongly recommend reading The Logic of the Police State by Matthew Harwood (ACLU) at TomDispatch — “People Are Waking Up to the Darkness in American Policing, and the Police Don’t Like It One Bit.” Here is the conclusion of Tom Engelhardt’s introduction…
In these years, the militarization of the police has taken place amid a striking upsurge of protest over police brutality, abuses, and in particular the endless killing of young black men, as well as a parallel growth in both the powers of and the protections afforded to police officers.
As TomDispatch regular Matthew Harwood, who has been covering the militarization of the police for this site, reports today, all of this could easily add up to the building blocks for a developing police-state frame of mind. If you’ve been watching the national news dominated by panic and hysteria over domestic terrorism, including the shutting down of a major urban school system over an outlandish hoax threat of a terror attack, or the recent Republican debate over “national security,” which turned out to mean only “ISIS” and immigration, can there be any question that the way is being paved for institutionalizing a new kind of policing in this country in the name of American security and fear?
Here are Harwood’s concluding paragraphs…
The disdain in such imagery, increasingly common in the world of policing, is striking. It smacks of a police-state, bunker mentality that sees democratic values and just about any limits on the power of law enforcement as threats. In other words, the Safirs want the public — particularly in communities of color and poor neighborhoods — to shut up and do as it’s told when a police officer says so. If the cops give the orders, compliance — so this line of thinking goes — isn’t optional, no matter how egregious the misconduct or how sensible the reforms. Obey or else.
The post-Ferguson public clamor demanding better policing continues to get louder, and yet too many police departments have this to say in response: Welcome to Cop Land. We make the rules around here.
Both are obviously correct, another in a long series of articles by me and many others about our dying Republic and the plutocratic and fascist New America slowly rising on its ruins. For years these fears have been considered alarmist, despite the supporting news. In 2015 these fears went mainstream, as the evidence became too obvious to ignore.
But we remain blind — deliberately, obtusely so — about the cause: us. That is, the majority of Americans who remain apathetic — unwilling to work the Republic’s political machinery — while giving more confidence to the police and military than to the officials we elect. Even the critics, like Engelhardt and Harwood refuse to mention this grim but vital fact.
It’s just clickbait
The media fads come and they go. Outrage following Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance, Outrage about police seizures of citizens’ property without warrant or trial. Outrage about DoD equipping police with military equipment. Outrage about police shooting of unarmed black men. Outrage about tomorrow’s new news. They are all just clickbait for advertisers and info-tainment for the Outer Party (America’s managers and professionals).
This is a democracy, for now. Reform of the Deep State cannot happen without broad and strong public support. The Gallup Confidence in Institutions poll shows the heart of our problem. When our confidence in police and military fall, reform becomes possible. When we become so dissatisfied with our representatives in Congress that we work the political machinery to replace, reform will follow.
It is up to us. There is no point complaining unless you are willing to work on a solution. Take a first step. Here are some ideas. Do not wait too long. Time is not our friend.
For More Information
For broader understanding of these issues I recommend Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (2014) and John T. Whitehead’s A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (2013). Also see The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) by legal scholar Michelle Alexander.
- Shootings by police show their evolution into “security services”; bad news for the Republic.
- No need for police reform, since only criminals have trouble with police!
- Myths and truth about police violence, & why change is coming.
- Are protests about police killings causing crime to rise?
- Reforms are coming to America’s police, either with them or over them. Which?
- A big month for police violence. Will they reform? Lessons either way.