Extracting Lessons from Police Shootings

Police shootings, especially aimed at people of color, have inflamed tensions between communities and the police sworn to protect them, raising difficult questions about attitudes and training, says ex-police officer William John Cox.

By William John Cox

The People of the United States have empowered some of their members to enforce their laws and to police their society, but things have gone terribly awry. The police are killing those they are sworn to protect and they themselves are becoming the target of public anger over racial inequality and discrimination. Video images of recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota were followed by the mass murder of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, apparently in response to these shootings

Last month, the killing of an unarmed mentally-disturbed man by El Cajon, California police officers — and resulting civil disturbances — once again raises the question of the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. The question involves complicated issues of law and policy, but the decision to shoot must often be made in a nanosecond.

Dashcam video of Chicago police shooting Laquan McDonald.

Dashcam video of Chicago police shooting Laquan McDonald.

With the widespread availability of video cameras, instant playback, and social media, however, the justification for the use of deadly force is being increasingly scrutinized, and the quality of law enforcement policy, training, and discretion is frequently found wanting.

The reasonableness of a police shooting decision is determined by what was known to the officer at the moment of the shooting, and whether that decision complied with policy and law. The decision to pull the trigger is made by an individual officer, but the responsibility for its consequences is shared by the policing agency.

Based on experience, professional standards, statutory and constitutional law, and public expectations, police policy and training seeks to minimize the risk of harm to the public while ensuring the right of self-defense. There are no easy answers, but it is essential that police administrators learn from these encounters and formulate more effective policy and training to guide their officers and to hold them accountable.

Some Background

My 45-year career in the justice system began in 1962 when I became a police officer in El Cajon. The new chief of police (who was later elected sheriff of San Diego County) was intent on improving the level of professionalism in the department. Proud to be a part of the “New Breed,” I achieved top honors in the San Diego Police Academy and quickly became president of the Police Officer’s Association and later president of the San Diego County organization representing all of its law enforcement officers.

Eric Garner being put in a chokehold by New York City police shortly before his death.

Eric Garner being put in a chokehold by New York City police shortly before his death.

Although El Cajon was a quiet suburb, police work was not without its risk. One of my supervisors, Sergeant Fred Wilson — the only El Cajon police officer ever killed in the line of duty — died of head injuries he sustained breaking up a fight.

Transferring to the Los Angeles Police Department in 1968, I again achieved top honors in the Police Academy and was assigned to South Central L.A. upon graduation, where policing was more dangerous. My partner and I were once dispatched to a “man with a gun” call from only a block away, and as we turned the corner, we saw the man directly in front of us in the street. He was holding a woman by her hair in one hand and a gun in the other. He shot her in the abdomen, looked up, saw us, and began to run between the houses.

I drew my revolver and chased after him. He jumped up on a wall and threw his weapon to the other side, but drew another handgun from his waistband as he came back down. Crouched in a firing stance, I yelled at him to drop the second gun and he did. We arrested him, and his girlfriend was transported to the hospital.

Later, my tactics were criticized for not having shot the man. In cop terms, it would have been a “good,” or justifiable, shooting, but in my mind he was just trying to get rid of his guns, and I had no cause to shoot him.

I was fortunate that day, but two of my friends were not so lucky. Jerry Maddox, with whom I had carpooled to the Police Academy, was shot to death in 1969 by a gang member in East L.A., and Jack Coler was one of the FBI agents ambushed and murdered at Wounded Knee in 1975.

Drafting Policy

Upon completion of my probation, I was transferred to L.A. police headquarters where I spent two years researching and writing the department Policy Manual. Subsequently, while attending night law school, I was also assigned to work on the Police Task Force of the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals.

A screen-shot from a video showing Walter Scott being shot in the back by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager on April 4, 2015. (Video via the New York Times.)

A screen-shot from a video showing Walter Scott being shot in the back by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager on April 4, 2015. (Video via the New York Times.)

My job was to write about the role of the police in America and law enforcement policy making. As the author of the LAPD shooting policy, I later testified at the Police Commission hearing into the shooting of Eulia May Love in 1979. When the city attempted to turn off her gas for nonpayment, the recent widow had the payment in her purse as she waved a knife to keep the gas man at bay. Two officers responded and shot her eight times.

The drafting of shooting policy began with the law of justifiable homicide. A police officer can legally kill in three circumstances: self defense, defense of others, and to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon. Although there have been some minor revisions, the Los Angeles Police Department shooting policy remains the same as originally written.

The policy does not limit the right of an officer to shoot in self defense. It does, however, require that “Justification for the use of deadly force must be limited to what reasonably appear to be the facts known or perceived by an officer at the time he decides to shoot.” Moreover, policy states that a “reverence for the value of human life shall guide officers in considering the use of deadly force,” and it imposes a duty on officers to minimize “the risk of death.”

The shooting of fleeing felons is limited to those who have caused “serious bodily injury or the use of deadly force where there is a substantial risk” that the felon will “cause death or serious bodily injury to others. . . .”

In a section titled “Minimum Use of Force,” LAPD officers are told they “should use only the reasonable amount of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.”

These Los Angeles Police Department use-of-force policies generally follow California law, and it may be helpful to consider the known facts of the recent El Cajon police shooting in light of these basic principles. Unlike the Los Angeles Police Department Manual — which is generally available in public libraries — the policies of the El Cajon Police Department (ECPD) are not published. It appears, however, that El Cajon’s policies may be based on those of Los Angeles.

The ECPD website states that “The Department serves the people of El Cajon by performing in a professional manner; and it is to the people of this community that the Department is ultimately responsible.” Except for the city’s name, this mission statement is identical with the definition of the LAPD motto, “To Protect and To Serve” I originally wrote in the Policy Manual.

El Cajon Shooting Facts

On Sept. 27, 2016, the sister of Alfred Olango, a 30-year-old refugee from Uganda, called the El Cajon Police Department seeking help with her brother — who was having an emotional breakdown over the death of his best friend. Two other calls to the department reported that a shirtless man was walking in traffic and acting erratically at the same location. Although located less than two miles from police headquarters, it took officers more than an hour to respond.

President Barack Obama at the White House on April 28, 2015, making comments on the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray apparently from injuries suffered at the hands of police. (White House photo)

President Barack Obama at the White House on April 28, 2015, making comments on the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray apparently from injuries suffered at the hands of police. (White House photo)

Richard Gonsalves, a 21-year veteran officer — who had been recently demoted from sergeant for sexually harassing a female officer — was the first to arrive on the scene in the parking lot of a small strip mall. A surveillance camera shows that he immediately drew his weapon and closely confronted Olango, who continued to pace back and forth with his right hand in his pocket.

According to the officer, Olango did not obey repeated orders to remove his hand from his pocket. A second officer arrived and drew his taser weapon instead of his firearm. As Olango’s sister approached the scene, Olango suddenly withdrew his hand holding an electronic smoking device from his pocket and extended it towards Officer Gonsalves. He was immediately shot four times by Gonsalves and tased by the other officer. The entire encounter lasted less than one minute.

Although the El Cajon Police Department has released the surveillance video and another contemporaneous video made with a bystander’s cellphone, the calls to the police and the radio dispatch have not been released. It is essential to know exactly what Olango’s sister and other callers told the police dispatcher and what the responding officers were told. One standard question asked of most complainants is whether a person is armed. Although a vape pipe might appear to be a small gun, it matters whether the police were originally informed that the person was waving a gun or smoking a vape pipe.

There is also a great difference if the responding officers were told that they were dealing with a mental case — or a serious crime such as an armed robbery. Inasmuch as it took more than an hour for the officers to arrive, and the matter was dispatched as a “5150” call regarding a mentally disturbed individual, there is no evidence that a crime of violence was under consideration.

Depending on the information available to Officer Gonsalves, it is questionable whether he should have drawn his gun in the first place. The LAPD shooting policy tells officers they cannot “draw or exhibit a firearm unless the circumstances surrounding the incident create a reasonable belief that it may be necessary to use the firearm” in conformance with written policy. Nor are officers allowed to use deadly force “to protect themselves from assaults which are not likely to have serious results.”

Officers are trained to demonstrate “command presence” and to quickly take control of situations. Officers must deliver firm and unambiguous directions — which may in some cases require a loud voice and even profanity. If, however, Officer Gonsalves believed he was dealing with a mental case, he should have been trained as a professional to de-escalate and defuse the situation by speaking in a calm voice and by asking questions, rather than shouting commands. Asking Olango what he had in his pocket, or if he would show his empty hand, is different than a loud order to remove his hand (along with the pocket contents).

It is reasonable to believe that Officer Gonsalves thought he saw a gun in Olango’s hand when Olango followed directions and removed his hand and the vape pipe from his pocket. Since the officer already had his gun pointed at Olango, he may have fired instinctively. We will never know, however, what Olango was thinking. It is not unreasonable to believe he was simply showing the officer what he had in his pocket and handing it over. Or, more unlikely, he may have been pretending it was a gun and was trying to commit “suicide by cop.”

The video shows that Gonsalves approached Olango to within a few feet and shifted his position several times to maintain close contact as Olango moved about. To de-escalate, rather than inflame, situations involving mentally disturbed people, professional officers are trained to maintain a distance or to speak from behind their police vehicle for self protection — as they defuse confrontations and consider alternatives.

The videos show that Olango’s sister had approached to within a few feet behind Officer Gonsalves when he fired four bullets into her brother. Had the officer maintained some distance and emotional reserve, she might have helped resolve the situation. Instead, she plaintively cried, “I called for help. I didn’t call you to kill him.”

Lessons Learned

Following major police actions, professional administrators engage in an “after action” process. Lessons learned from the analysis are then used to enhance the training of officers to avoid making the same mistakes in the future, and to formulate more effective policies to guide their actions.

Video image of police holding down Alton Sterling before shooting him on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Image from CNN)

Video image of police holding down Alton Sterling before shooting him on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Image from CNN)

If the El Cajon Police Department already has similar policies to Los Angeles about when to draw a firearm or to minimize the risk of death or serious injury, and if the officer had received de-escalation training, then the officer should be accountable for his failure to follow policy and training. If found to be unjustified, the killing might also warrant criminal prosecution. If, however, police administrators have failed to promulgate appropriate policies and to provide professional training, they themselves should be accountable.

El Cajon has changed from the white, middle-class bedroom community it was when I patrolled there in the early 1960s. The population has doubled, and it has become a gritty, multi-ethnic, working-class community. It is likely the police culture has changed as well, as the department has had six other police shootings in the last five years, including the killing of two women. The present culture may also be indicated by the demotion of Officer Gonsalves — instead of firing him — for sexually harassing a subordinate.

Independent of policy and law, police officers among themselves categorize shootings as good or bad in terms of the risk to their own safety and their demonstrated heroism. This was not a “good” shooting of an armed robbery suspect or murderer. To the contrary, it appears to have been an entirely avoidable killing of a mentally disturbed person, whom the officers were sworn to protect.

More complete answers to the complicated questions of why police killings are taking place and what can be done to prevent them requires a deeper consideration of contributing causes than is available in this brief paper. These matters include: poverty; a punitive society; the war on drugs; federalization and militarization of the police; regulation of guns; and the professionalization of law enforcement.

Learning from police shootings, such as what occurred in El Cajon, can lead to enlightened solutions and a commitment by the People and their Police to achieve a peaceful outcome. A thoughtful response may be more difficult to arrive at, accept, and implement than the simplistic commentaries being tossed out during the 24-hour news cycle, but it is essential if peace is to prevail in the Nation’s communities.

William John Cox is a retired police officer, prosecutor and public interest lawyer who writes about public policy and political matters. He was the author of the Los Angeles Police Department Policy Manual and the Role of the Police in America for the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals. His most recent book is Transforming America: A Voters’ Bill of Rights.

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16 comments for “Extracting Lessons from Police Shootings

  1. Joe Tedesky
    October 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Read what the police and the community of Watts have done to improve their relationship, and their community.

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-revoyr-lessons-from-watts-gang-task-force-20150607-story.html

  2. evelync
    October 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks Mr. Cox.
    Thank Joe for this LA Times Op-Ed.
    This excerpt explains that police officers, in order to serve their communities effectively and to protect themselves need to become part of the fabric of the community they serve as Mr. Cox was explaining.
    This, from your link, says a whole lot about what needs to be done:

    “A few years ago, “the kids were just flat-out afraid of us,” says Emada Tingirides, who directs the program. Now, they swarm CSP cops, eager for a hug or high-five. Some of these officers, including Tingirides, grew up in Watts. Others meet with local residents during their training. These officers aren’t just policing the community; they’ve become a part of it.

    And that affects how they respond in tense situations. Several months ago, a young boy wielding what looked like a 9-millimeter gun ran toward a group of cops in the Nickerson Gardens development. A similar situation in Cleveland in November led to police killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice. But at Nickerson Gardens, Joubert says, the police “didn’t reach for their guns, didn’t flinch, not even one time.” They recognized the gun was a toy; because they knew and mentored so many boys in the neighborhood, they didn’t assume this one had violence in mind. “If it had been regular police,” Joubert observed, “it would have been a whole different story.”

    The incident didn’t stop there. Joubert went to nearby merchants, including ice cream truck drivers, and persuaded them to stop selling toy guns.
    …….
    Like any genuine relationship, the one between law enforcement and Watts residents requires work, time and commitment. Tensions flared in March after a fatal, unsolved shooting in Jordan Downs, the first in nearly four years, but both sides have stayed at the table. Police officials nationwide — and in the rest of Los Angeles — would be wise to take notice. In the place where the nation’s most famous civil unrest was sparked by a police stop gone bad, the LAPD and the community have joined forces, calmed a neighborhood and saved lives. If this kind of transformation can happen in Watts, it can happen anywhere.” “

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 9, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      evelync Thanks for taking the time to read the link I provided. Isn’t it too bad that there isn’t a national dialog praising the good police works, such as what you mentioned? Role models, and good examples, could help to reinforce to other police officers how by getting involved inside of the community they patrol, that this could be all the difference it would take to stop these unnecessary impulsive shootings. What I find disturbing is how no police officer who kills their suspect so easily ever seems to be penalized for it. This precedent could be fatal to any unfortunate citizen of any race, so why are we allowing it to become a precedent? Policing is like being in business, it’s all about relationships.

      • Joe B
        October 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Part of the cause of impunity is the right wing judge, who smiles at police terrorizing as a prerogative of authority, which he or she considers a prerogative of wealth. Many judges are extremely unsophisticated, narrowly educated, and immature characters, elected by political affiliation. They have a personal triumph when “we” terrorize “them” the poor. In Florida, fatal shooting of drug-dealing suspects fleeing by car is just fine. Policemen know whether local judges will support them, and those with the autocratic personality of the judges behave accordingly. Where Jim Crow law is resurgent, and it resurges when social education fails due to the control of mass media by money, racism is official policy.

  3. Bill Bodden
    October 9, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    … and the police sworn to protect them…

    This is a very interesting and timely article in that it demonstrates an obvious fact – there are good cops and there are bad cops. Some police take their oath to serve and protect seriously while for others their oaths to serve and protect are as meaningless as most politicians’ oaths of office, including the part about upholding the Constitution. Department manuals are probably treated with similar respect or disdain. I recall reading an article several years ago about a few good cops who were trapped in police departments dominated by bad cops and because they could no longer cope with what they witnessed they committed suicide.

    Among the many problems related to the police/community disconnect is the fact that law enforcement attracts people with authoritarian personalities that may be as chronic as psychopathic. A good start would be to find a way to keep such people from ever getting in a uniform and issued a gun.

    There is also the problem of latent racism that prevails through American society and that has been exposed and stimulated by the “reforms” enacted during the years of the Bill Clinton presidency and the recent ranting of Donald Trump

    Many years ago I was in social settings with police who mistakenly presumed I was “one of the guys” and who bragged about beating up prisoners. In one instance, an officer talked about a protest and how the police involved were looking for an excuse to wade into and clobber the protesters with their clubs. Out of uniform and among the community these were as nice neighbors as you could ask for.

    • Bill Bodden
      October 9, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Then there is the paranoia that exists among some police departments. A group of protesters known for their anti-war and non-violence positions were showing their support for then-Bradley Manning who was held at the Marine brig in Quantico in Virginia. If I recall correctly they planned to place flowers at the entrance to the Marine base. On arrival, the Manning supporters were stopped by a large assembly of civilian police in their Darth Vader riot gear.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 9, 2016 at 11:04 pm

        Bill you’ve heard the saying, when all you have is a hammer everything turns out to be a nail. Policing our communities and neighborhoods in a decent and effective manner takes some hard work. This culture of protecting and saving the community in a humane way first needs to be instituted from the top down. Only when the top is influenced towards purchasing retired military equipment, and preparing only for riots, well then you get the type of policing we are now receiving as a result of this type of lazy leadership. We don’t need Israel training our police officers to encounter our citizenry as though we live in a war zone. There are plenty of good cops, and we should listen to them, just as the police in Watts were listened to where the Community Safety Partnership program was started. The most important thing is wanting to do it.

        http://www.urbanpeaceinstitute.org/new-page-1/

        • Bill Bodden
          October 9, 2016 at 11:15 pm

          Great link. Thank you, Joe

  4. Daemon
    October 10, 2016 at 10:40 am

    NO doubt some police killings are unjustified.

    Each year, more whites than blacks are killed by Police. This article like so many others ignores this fact. It puts police killings into a racial context and further divides Americans. Why are no white or brown shootings mentioned? Why does the author use race?

    Each year, including 2015, 16, Police kill more Whites than Blacks. Police come into contact with blacks because they tend to live in higher crime areas.

    http://www.killedbypolice.net/

    The news media rarely talks about whites who are shot by police. The article like so many focuses solely on black shootings. Which only furthers racial divide on what should be an economic issue and poor governance by the political patronage machines operating in America’s cities.

    The real problem is lack of jobs and economic opportunity. Instead of faulting police, demand more from the politicians who run the cities in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Ferguson. And Trade Policy shipping millions of jobs abroad.

    These types of articles are being used to justify a federalization of the police through the Justice Department’s Strong Cities Initiative with the United Nations. Not a good idea, and a further erosion of all American’s civil liberties whether black, white or brown.We are all Americans.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 10, 2016 at 11:15 am

      But as data scientists and policing experts often note, comparing how many or how often white people are killed by police to how many or how often black people are killed by the police is statistically dubious unless you first adjust for population.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/

      • Cal
        October 10, 2016 at 1:39 pm

        You have to use several set of statistics in ferreting out the whole story on police shootings….the population percentages on who commits the most crimes in areas where blacks are shot has to be used also.
        Its too simple to blame it on police racism ‘only’ —-although there may be bad apples and also some racial ‘judging’ by police due to policing ‘burn out’ in areas with high crime rates that are usually poor and black.
        People need to spend their time working on the economic factors that create the poverty that creates the culture of high crimes in these areas.

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myths-of-black-lives-matter-1455235686

        ”Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015.

        According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. The majority of these victims had a gun or “were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force”.

        Some may argue that these statistics are evidence of racist treatment toward blacks, since whites consist of 62 percent of the population and blacks make up 13 percent of the population. But as Heather Mac Donald writes in The Wall Street Journal, 2009 statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveal that blacks were charged with 62 percent of robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults in the 75 biggest counties in the country, despite only comprising roughly 15 percent of the population in these counties.

        Such a concentration of criminal violence in minority communities means that officers will be disproportionately confronting armed and often resisting suspects in those communities, raising officers’ own risk of using lethal force,” writes MacDonald.
        MacDonald also pointed out that blacks “commit 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime” in New York City, even though they consist of 23 percent of the city’s population”>>>>

      • Daemon
        October 10, 2016 at 4:15 pm

        Bureau of Justice Statistics:

        Blacks committed 52 percent of homicides between 1980 and 2008,
        despite composing just 13 percent of the population. Across the
        same time frame, whites committed 45 percent of homicides
        while composing 77% of the population,

        Also,
        There were almost 6,000 blacks killed by other blacks in 2015.
        Black on Black murders is a much more prevalent problem in America.

        BTW, Black crime rates were lower in the 1940s and 1950s, when black poverty
        was higher” and “racial discrimination was rampant and legal.”

        The real statistical correlation is breakdown of the nuclear
        family.

        As economist Thomas Sowell points out, before the 1960s “most black
        children were raised in two-parent families.” In 2013, over 72 percent of
        blacks were born out of wedlock. In Cook County –which Chicago belongs
        to – 79 percent of blacks were born to single mothers in 2003, while
        only 15 percent of whites were born to single mothers.

        Until that gap closes, the crime gap won’t close. Stop the drug war and return
        manufacturing jobs in America.

        Cant happen? Nothing will be solved until this occurs. Like so many of American
        problems, lack of jobs, and a way to make a decent living is gone.

        Until the Establishment parties, politician and their lobbyist donors acknowledge their policies and the resulting problems, America will continue its decline and suffering will continue.

        Don’t let them scapegoat the police.

    • Cal
      October 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      ” Why are no white or brown shootings mentioned? Why does the author use race?”>>>>>

      Because that wouldn’t serve’ current political needs’ of Hillary’s campaign, the Dems and other suspects.
      They must rally the black vote–all the ‘victim votes’ of various minorities.
      They do that by doing exactly what we see them doing—-inflaming the black communities aqainst the terrible evil white man. “collective” …not just the police……and putting themselves forth as the savior party of US blacks.

      Divide and conquer—really the most disgusting and reprehensible (and dangerous) election ploys I have ever seen.

  5. Robert
    October 10, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    The Crux of the issue is this; Police are paid by taxes extracted by the threat of force. That force is the police of every description be they local, State or federal. Governments claim a monopoly on force, one is not allowed to protect themselves in many of the victim disarmament zones. The police have no mandate to protect any individual (proven fact) they protect ‘society’. Police are mostly secure from prosecution for wrong doing because if they were prosecuted as stringently as the rest of the population there would be no police Forces as no one would take the job. Also only people who apply for the job have a chance to be police. There are indeed good people who have the best intentions become police and sometimes, as others have said the bad out weight the good. Police are paid to blindly uphold laws that are counterproductive, designed to enrich local municipalities and often do nothing for safety. Prohibition, civil forfeiture, stop and frisk, proactive policing (essentially entrapment or rights violations) all work against those very very few good cops. Mayberry was a fantasy, Magnum force is the reality and the arcane belief that police are ones friends is just propaganda by the state. They are force and violence. They should be the last choice to call for anything. Except because of that monopoly thing you have no choice but call them. http://www.policemisconduct.net/ , https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database , https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/single-powerful-organized-crime-gang-us/

  6. October 11, 2016 at 6:34 am

    The police by their own willingness to believe they are superior to others has created a culture of violence. If you think you have the right to destroy people because you wear a badge, then you might want to consider there are many who will want to destroy your life – your badge is insignificant. It would appear that you are reaping what you have sown. https://waitforthedownfall.wordpress.com/our-beloved-police/

    • Peter Loeb
      October 13, 2016 at 6:44 am

      ” The police by their own willingness to believe they are superior to others has created
      a culture of violence. If you think you have the right to destroy people because you wear
      a badge, then you might want to consider there are many who will want to destroy your life
      – your badge is insignificant. It would appear that you are reaping what you have sown….”
      –“Robert”, above

      In other nations/societies, who has the responsibility for the provision of lethal weapons
      and so-called “training” in their (dis)-use?? Israel is involved only to make a shekel
      (profit) from their oppression of Palestinians. Theoretically, it could be another
      well-armed source than Israel.

      Each police department or organ of a US state should not be able to access
      lethal weaponry.

      A brief review of American history makes clear that the use of lethal force
      against “others” and specifically against those who protest there is
      a long tradition for the state to assume the “right” to demolish those
      who disagree with it. A few examples were the massacre of Native
      Americans by the “Puritans” who considered themselves “victims”
      and called themselves “God’s Afflicted Saints”; removal and massacre of
      Native Americans and their coerced removal by such as Andrew
      Jackson; attacks by the state on organized labor in the
      19th century including the use of The Espionage Act”, etc. etc.

      Does every village and town in Britain have the inalienable right
      to summon and direct armed and lethal attacks on its
      citizens?

      Some time ago I recall seeing a demonstration in Britain in
      support of “BDS” (Boycott, Divest, Sanction”) and the
      violent response of pro-Israel groups. The pro-Israel
      groups were forced back by the police with the use
      of shields, not guns or other lethal weapons. Was that
      response the result of the local police or was it national
      policy at that time? As a supporter of BDS, I confess that
      I appreciated the manner in which French police
      handled the matter. Neither side was shot pell mell. There were
      no mass arresst.

      Here in the “land of the free”, it seems that if you are a
      person of color (or a Muslim) the accepted practice of
      the police is to shoot (kill) first and ask questions later…
      if at all.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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