These are public servants. Imagine if teachers, mail carriers or DMV employees were routinely assaulting anyone who spoke impolitely to them, writes Caity Johnstone.
By Caitlin Johnstone
Social media has been flooded with an endless stream of footage of police brutality as Black Lives Matter protests continue throughout the United States. As of this writing everyone’s talking about a 75 year-old man who was knocked unconscious after being forcefully shoved for getting in a police officer’s way at a protest in Buffalo, New York, but it will soon be replaced by other headline-grabbing videos of physical assault by police officers.
Turns out all it took to publicly expose a pervasive epidemic of violent tendencies in the police force was for the public to begin protesting violent tendencies in the police force.
Wherever these videos emerge online you will inevitably see a deluge of cop apologia (which I decided just now I’ll be calling copologia) saying the footage is fake or the victim deserved it and the cop’s just trying to get home to his family blah blah blah.
There is not enough gold in the earth’s crust to make the number of olympic medals these people deserve for all the mental gymnastics they are performing to excuse unprovoked, completely unnecessary acts of violence from public employees whose job isn’t even statistically all that dangerous.
Most of these copologists do not even know why they are falling all over themselves to try and justify police brutality. It’s a conditioned response, like turning your head when someone calls your name.
They don’t think about it, it’s just something they’ve been conditioned to do by decades of media and cultural indoctrination into an empire whose survival depends on the existence of a violent and militarized police force. They hear Pavlov’s bell and start salivating, just as they’ve been programmed to.
The thing is, their creative energy is being spent entirely in vain. Police and their apologists have already lost the argument.
A police force which cannot respond to protests about police brutality without the internet being flooded with a steady stream of police brutality footage is a police force in sore need of drastic overhaul. It has already been proven that that is in fact the case.
There’s no taking it back. There’s no fixing it. It’s done. The debate is officially over. Huge, sweeping changes must immediately be made, and there’s no valid reason for the protests to stop until that has occurred.
These videos have made it clear that the institution of policing in America is completely sick from coast to coast, right down to its very culture. The most obvious example I can point to is that watching just a few minutes of the footage of police brutality at these protests makes it undeniably apparent that a belief pervades police culture that it is okay to physically assault someone who has made you feel emotionally upset.
Over and over and over again we see police accosting civilians for saying impolite words to them or making rude gestures, or not demonstrating an adequate level of subservience. Over and over and over again we see an attack on a cop’s ego treated as an attack on the cop himself.
This is absolutely ridiculous. These are public servants. Imagine if teachers, mail carriers or DMV employees were routinely assaulting anyone who spoke impolitely to them.
Police should definitely be made to feel ashamed of having this attitude. They should be mocked and laughed at for it widely and consistently. It’s not okay to assault someone who hurt your feelings. You’re a taxpayer-funded employee. You get to retire after 25 years. Get over yourself.
The fact that words pose no actual threat to you is something people are supposed to learn as children. There are nursery rhymes for it. The fact that public servants feel entitled to respect and deference from complete strangers should have been trained out of them from day one and been a strict taboo throughout the entire culture.
But it wasn’t. Because the entire institution is mentally ill. There is no saving this limb.
On the rare occasion that a squad of meatheads with batons is necessary they can always be called in like a SWAT team. Ending the drug war, eliminating unhelpful laws and replacing the armed goon patrol with social workers would purge America of this gangrenous limb and begin a movement toward health.
Whatever changes are made, they need to be swift, and they need to be massive. Anything less is completely unacceptable. This has been resolved beyond any possible dispute.
The Most Revealing Footage
Among the constant deluge of police brutality footage flooding the internet as America’s armed goon patrol responds to the Black Lives Matter protests across the nation, there is one video which stands out above all the others in illustrating just how pervasively violent police culture is. Curiously enough, this video itself contains no police brutality.
The video clip in question shows the outside of the Buffalo City Courthouse, where members of the police and fire unions awaited the two officers who hospitalized a 75 year-old peace activist named Martin Gugino by shoving him to the ground. When the two officers exited the courthouse, released on their own recognizance, they were met with applause from the crowd.
“Two police officers were charged with felony assault during a protest in Buffalo, and they were applauded by their colleagues as they left the courthouse,” MSNBC reports as its footage shows a large gathering clapping and whistling enthusiastically.
This, right here, is a sign of a culture that cannot be redeemed. A police culture which makes no secret of the fact that cops as a collective will consistently support the most self-evidently unjustifiable acts of brutality committed by their own.
This video emerges after 57 Buffalo police resigned from their department’s Emergency Response Team in protest of the suspension of the two officers who’d been recorded assaulting the old man without the slightest provocation. It emerges after the Buffalo Police Department was caught lying that Gugino had “tripped and fell” before footage surfaced showing Gugino being shoved hard and smashing his skull on the pavement.
This police department could not possibly have made it more clear to the public that they unconditionally support one another in their viciousness and savagery.
This is far more damning than any of the many, many video clips circulating that demonstrate irrefutably how police and their apologists have already lost the debate on this matter. It makes a lie of the widespread narrative that this is just a minor problem caused by a few bad apples while the “vast majority” (to quote the 44th president) are good people who uphold their duty to protect and serve the community.
Clearly that is not the case. Clearly. The reality is that most police stand by other police, even when they are undeniably in the wrong. That is not what good people do. That is not what people who have any intention whatsoever of ever doing anything about police brutality do. That is what people who intend to perpetuate a violent and increasingly militarized police force forever do.
This isn’t working. Police culture cannot be saved, and has no interest in being saved. In the eyes of the armed goon patrol, it’s the people complaining about police brutality who are the problem. That’s why the response to them has been consistent and copious amounts of police brutality.
This is not a matter of passing a few more pieces of legislation. This is not a matter of giving police more workshops and seminars. This is not a matter of needing more police to take a knee during protests or march with them in solidarity. This is a matter of an entire police force, from sea to shining sea, which insists on the gratuitous use of violence and will defend anyone who uses it.
The problem, as we’ve discussed previously, is that those in power have no intention of ever departing with the violent goon patrol which gives them the ability to brutalize the public if they get out of line.
Many of them are providing lip service to solidarity and listening and understanding right now, but make no mistake: the mainstream rank-and-file public awakening to the reality that they live in a militarized authoritarian police state was not in the script, and they are getting very nervous about its implications.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, to say the least.
Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on Facebook, Twitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a book, “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”
This article was re-published with permission.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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Someone needs to tell “Lock em’ Up Biden” that the police have too much money already they don’t need more, something he seems to believe will solves, what just exactly! Does the thin the blue line has something on Joe, maybe a sexual assault investigation.
The Dems need to wake up, the demonstrators need to stay in the streets and if the Dems can’t find a good candidate, well maybe we deserve another four years of “Dangerous Donny”, the White Nationalist Demagogue Supreme. Hell we could all say “Just screw this malarky!”, and not vote or vote for the worst candidate and force the republicans to live with this dead albatross tied around their neck, the dead bird continuing to stink up everything, politics, republicans, democrats and everything D.C.
What I see is the democrats, also acting like spoiled brats, trying to poke their critics in the eye. I have some news for them. they have big problems exactly like the rest of us. The next few month should be very interesting, hell we all might end up virulized.
Thanks to CN
The police have always been professional and courteous to me. Maybe because i don’t resist arrest. Mostly because of race. Even if i resisted arrest I would not have been taken to the ground and smothered to death for the dastardly crime of selling cigarettes. Whatever Mr. George Floyd may have done it was not even close to a capital offense. He should have been given a ticket/summons and told to appear in court.
So I agree that “huge , sweeping changes must immediately be made, no reason for the protests to stop until that has occurred.”
Years ago when the police started wearing the color of war ( Military fatigues, combat helmets, black, etc) a federal judge predicted that the people would come to disrespect the police as an occupying army. Judging by what I see, hear and read the public now believes the police are an occupying army because the police are acting like an occupying army. The judge thought the police should wear the color of law – Blue. City councils should put the police, including SWAT teams, in blue again. And sell the military vehicles for scrap iron.
I want to take issue with those who think voting is useless and that the US can’t escape its violent beginning. The revolt of the colonies was not as violent as the French revolution. The vikings killed, robbed, and raped their way across Europe. Today the Scandinavian countries are peaceful and democratic. Much of it was the result of voting. Good government is easier in small countries with a sense of kinship.
Large countries have large problems. The classical theory holds that neither a republic nor a democracy can exist ( for long ) in a large country with a large population due to the excessive wealth of the rich and the diversity of citizenship. The classical theory did not reckon with the technology of mass communication, or the protesters it put in the street. Nor did it reckon with the innate sense of fairness in the human animal. The extension of the franchise also put the protesters in the street, and makes them a factor in November. Vote against evil and vote against undemocratic government
The “Bad Apple” apologists NEVER recite the full proverb: “ONE bad apple spoils the entire barrel.”
The behavior of the US Police is not a new thing, it’s always been there and has always been swept under the rug of the establishment.
However, people are missing the fundamental point that the Police behavior is a symptom only. The real problem is the inherent racism and inequality that is a characteristic of mankind – all of them/us, whatever colour, sex or religion.
If you want to solve the problem of the US Police then first you have to solve the problem of US government and US business.
And it’s not only the US, the same problems are obvious in virtually ‘every’ single country on the globe.
Capitalism is the main enabler. However, socialism isn’t squeaky clean either. After all this time have we really evolved into something better or is competition and survival of the fittest destroying us ?
“Activists Create Public Online Spreadsheet of Police Violence Videos”
Currently at 428 videos , and counting…..
” Most people can’t leave, and want to stay and try to make a better life for themselves here. ”
That’s what I’ve told myself for decades , so I understand the sentiment. However , things have only gotten worse , not better , over time. If young people want to spend the rest of their lives banging their heads against the wall , that’s certainly their choice. I’m merely suggesting an alternative , one I wish I’d chosen when I had the chance.
And people think voting will change things. Voting in our plutocratic ally controlled system is nothing but a method of keeping the lid on the pressure cooker. The lid, I feel, is about to blow. And those who think they are in power are shaking in their boots!
I certainly hope so. Time for the government to be afraid of the people instead of the other way around.
To VultCult: “Incremental actions like legislation and so forth aren’t going to change 200+ years of historical violence and racism perpetuated by police.” Your words.
While I agree with your thinking, I also believe the USA’s problems are much deeper. Our government is, and always has been, one of control and violence over others. A couple of days ago I wrote the following re: our Nation’s violence:
“Of course books can, and have been, written on the subject of American violence. I hear NPR affiliated broadcasts, and other media outlets subtly trying to shift the conversation from the outrageous violence portrayed against George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, a representative of our government agencies, to other subjects such as the economic situation of some segments of our population being a cause of the protests in our streets. I wholeheartedly disagree with this shift. We should instead be having a discussion on the “violence that the United States of America” has always represented to the world. In a sense George Floyd could be the flame that will shed light on all the injustice which is our nation’s history. Whether it be racial injustice, economic injustice or health and environmental injustice our country and its saturation with violence have been with us since our very founding. The vast majority of us have been controlled by the propaganda disseminated by schools, government and media since our early childhood declaring America’s greatness. This propaganda must be uncovered and brought out into the light of day if we are ever to be able to live peaceably amongst our own people and with others around the world. We missed our opportunity to rise up with the assasination’s of Martin Luther King and JFK and their resulting government cover-ups. What this speaks for us as “the People” in so many ways is we are what we allow our government to portray us as, a violent people. We are not a violent people; but, we continue to run with a violent government. Our parents tried to instill this on us in our youth, “we are an image of the company we keep”. Many of us, as now, did not heed that advice. As a 75 year old white male, Vietnam veteran (Capt, pilot and Minuteman Missile Crew Commander) and growing up in the South, I have the background and life experience to say what I am saying. As a citizen of this country, I am no longer able to be proud to be associated with the bad company my country of violence represents and has always represented, as it is a reflection on my character. Is this nation salvageable? I don’t know the answer to my question; but, my guess is that it is not. Our very history as a nation conceived in violence, tolerating violence and continuing to look aside at our government’s violence cannot survive. This history and the indifferent conduct by us all helps me in forming my opinion. With our very Constitution giving us, the People, the “right and the responsibility” to turn out a government which no longer represents us and “we the People” sitting idly by as witnesses while its knee is on our necks shows a cowardice and a reputation of subservience which is rightly deserved. Our Constitutional right as established by our “forefathers and founders” has been for too long ignored. Now, Human Caused Climate Change further exasperated by our tolerance for our government’s military violence against the rest of the world in its endless wars most likely will not allow the time nor the economic capability for the real changes our population needs to make. As we have seen for so many years, elections do not make a dime’s worth of difference in a nation controlled by wealth and which depends on the violence of war to support the majority of its economy. We are a nation of violence. We are just another of history’s violent empires, that will certainly fail. We are like the ferocious dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus Rex, screaming and roaring while drowning in the tar pit of oil wealth as we surely will. And for some seeming inexplicable reason we will all sit idly by as those cowardly Minneapolis cops did and watch it happen.”
Ridgway, CO 81432
Skip, Bob Williamson here.
I have a question., have you heard of “Israels Nuclear Arsenal: The Third Temples, Holy of the Holies “, by Warner D Farr, LTC. U.S. Army USAF Counter Proliferation Center ( September 1999)
reference can be found here https:jewishvirtuallibrary.org/quot-the-third-temple-s-holy-of-holies-quot
Know much about Israels “Sampson Option”?
I’m 100% with you on your “birds of feather, stick together” association with my corrupt government,. You are not alone there.
I first found this stuff at a air war college site that now seems to be defunct.
A few observations.
1) Not all the polizei are ill-educated goons. Some coppers are relatively dedicated to public service…the same criteria apply to the lower levels of the military hierarchy. 2) The under-recognized public safety people are the firefighters….and not just those who respond to mob-related arson. Firemen and women are daily subjected to the perils of fire-fighting, including electrical fires, falling debris, smoke-inhalation (include toxic chemical fumes), and other job-related hazards. 3) How many of these bozo cops are ex-military types who are explicitly recruited simply due to their military training, or who cannot find gainful post-military employment outside of the police establishment? 4) Let’s not forget other public employees who daily have to deal with genuine, everyday hazards, such as trash collectors, electric power technicians, water and sewer system maintenance persons, public transportation personnel, and many others. Need I mention the public health contingent, including physicians, paraprofessional techs, EMTs, pharmacists, and the clerks who facilitate the various bureaucracies? 5) After the 24/7 inundation of (mostly) crap from the MSM about the riots and demonstrations, the time has arrived semantically to differentiate between “revolution” and “rebellion”. The global community is currently involved in a genuine revolution….the digital era that had caused profound social and economic changes, disturbances, dislocations, and disruptions in how people live, conduct daily interactions, and communicate with each other. What we basically are being subjected to by the MSM is its purposeful failure to recognize how much of industrialized society is out of touch with, and is rebelling against, what else is happening on a global level, particularly at the macro-economic level, and the massive economic inequality being experienced by Americans and other mega-capitalist societies gone bonkers. 5) And don’t underestimate how an educated (by no means just the university-educated) public and electorate can change things for the better…one step at a time. It can be accomplished…starting now. Don’t put it off any longer.
The worst thing I saw was actually broadcast on CNN showing a line of law enforcement w/circular capt. America shields where one of them savagely swung the shield into a cameraman multiple times. He swung the shield like a baseball bat and hit the man with the edge of the shiel, not the flat part. It was vicious.
The cameraman was from an Australian news station and the police said that it was because they could not see his credentials. Bad answer. The cameraman was sitting on a railing and was not a threat to anyone with or without credentials it was an assault. The only people who carry cameras like that are news crews, everyone else has cell phones. Jake Tapper reported this on his show. Tapper is one of the few creatures on CNN I can stomach on a regular basis.
Regarding the 70+ yr old victim, I’m going semi-copoligist on this one. The cop shoved him once. It’s possible that he was just trying to get him out of the way. It was not a prolonged assault. I also so see the possibility that the cop was aware of the steps and the big round stone and figured he could make him fall down and get away with it. The cop should not have shoved him but the intent is not as easy to read as other encounters.
Please don’t lose in your analysis of the 75 yr old man that the police report was ‘he fell’. Without the the video, violently pushed or lightly pushed, the police report was a lie.
One should not lose sight of how the police report an event, often of their own making, and without external video evidence 100s get away with “I feared for my life”. You mention a “prolonged assault”. Is that the somehow the current justification of a police action in your mind? Please define assault vs “prolonged assault” for those of us who are not considered even “semi-copoligists”.
This is not a legal distinction. I meant that the video showed the cop pushing the 75yr old man once as opposed to following it up with more physical contact such as the infamous kneeling on neck or with more blows. A single blow can indeed be an assault. I do not mean to minimize that.
Falsifying the police report, bad, no justification for that, this must violate some statute.
All I meant was that when I watched the video, I was not 100% convinced that the cop intended for the man to fall down and crack his head. If I push someone out of the way I don’t necessarily intend to hurt them whereas if I hit them with a crow bar then I obviously do intend them harm. I am not justifying the cops actions. Maybe it was malicious. Maybe the cop saw the step and knew that the man would fall down. Just saying that if I was a defense lawyer, I think I could argue this one with a straight face.
Other police actions caught on video were over the top violent and more obvious to me and Jake Tapper showed two different ones.
1. The shield beat down I described; no way to spin that one.
2. Cops arresting a man with a ponytail whom they accused of trying to push an officer off a bike, let’s just say the video tells a different story and it’s ‘prolonged’. He ended up getting 13 stitches.
I’ve seen a video of that…
Sure, the guy was only pushed once.
But there are literally dozens of officers around, one old white dude wasn’t even the slightest of a threat.
As the old guy is on the ground bleeding from his ear, a cop tries to stop and react to the guy on the ground, another cop pulls him away and all seem to just walk on by.
Now that the cops are losing, other causes are trying to co-opt the win for their own win.
We see it now morphing into anti-Trump.
We see Trump trying to morph it into violent anti-Americans against Trump, to eek out a win among his own, defying California and New York as part of his plan to make that appeal.
The original cause is not complete, and if it fails, it will be because it was diverted to these other things instead.
The violent and racist actions of the police being captured on video reveal them to be no different than how they originated – they started off as slave patrols. They existed to quell slaves rebellions at the behest of the masters, and said slaves were viewed as less than human.
Other than being are armed with 21th Century military weapons in this day and age, there is no other real difference.
Incremental actions like legislation and so forth aren’t going to change 200+ years of historical violence and racism perpetuated by police. Only actions that are deemed revolutionary in nature will bring about the kind of change needed, and that takes a great amount of collective courage, patience and integrity across a great many people to happen.
Maybe something’s changing but I dunno. There’s that video of John Pike pepper spraying students who are sitting or kneeling at UC Davis during the occupy movement. Instead of being immediately arrested and charged with assault, he walked away with a $38K settlement from the University. Yeah, they’ve charged 4 of the Pigs over Floyd’s murder but that don’t mean squat. We need to see them convicted and sentenced to the slammer. A Pig isn’t going to pay any attention unless they have to worry about being stuck in a cell with one of the people he abused.
There a few things that cannot be fixed in society. The founders of country, whatever their prejudices gave us a pretty good framework for governance. It allowed for changes, but a system which prevented judgements made in the heat of the moment. People who level attacks at any institution need to be heard, then their ideas considered carefully by the rest of us.
As to the police, their purpose to assist in maintaining order, something society wants. It wants other things of course, like justice and equal treatment under the law.
But in deciding the future of the police, I would urge us to consider the abuses noted in the large context of violence in our society. What is the best way to address violence in the long and short run. In fairness to the police, that issue gets ignored when there are cries for police reform.
Let’s acknowledge in the riots amid demonstrations, it appears the media has gone out of its way to find instances of wrongful police behavior which becomes the basis of the cries of radically reforming or even eliminating police forces. They are abundant depending upon your point of view.
So, let’s consider eliminating police forces and replacing them with something radically different. Ask the citizens in high crime communities whether they think it is a good idea. Give it a try. In fairness, it may work.
A priori, eliminating the police sounds like a nutty idea. I and others think it could be wrong, even disastrous.. Give a try and that is not a dare but an honest suggestion. Certainly, what we are doing now doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on things like murder, drug dealing and other forms of violence.
Correcting police misconduct requires eliminating police weapons beyond handguns in some areas, and individual liability insurance, legalizing minor drugs, providing state work for those hard to employ, and universal health care.
Larger weapons must be publicly destroyed or given to a secessionist militia, or will soon serve the rich again.
It is the bullyboy class of violent self-aggrandizers that serves the rich in foreign wars and suppression of democracy.
Violent entertainment in mass media must be prohibited, because it creates that criminal class that cannot be reformed.
Their reinforcement and tribalism must be suppressed, eliminating public displays of appreciation of foreign wars.
Tribalism exists to support “unjustifiable acts of brutality committed by their own” as in Israel and most US towns, controlled by local demagogues posing with the flag, praising the lord, and spotting outsider enemies behind every tree.
The primary goal of tribalism is to create fear, suppress criticism, and install tyrant demagogues, as Aristotle warned.
Tribalism and the tyranny it creates destroy the democracy our forebears sacrificed for, and must be resisted with force.
The rich control elections and mass media, and their party operatives appoint the judges who ignore police violence.
It is US judges for the rich who enable police violence and jail many times the prisoners per capita of any other nation.
They are extreme tribalists, refusing to prosecute corrupt judges for the most extreme and repeated abuses of office.
Constitutional rights are a joke to them, because judges serve the rich who buy their rights. They will dump policemen.
Only the selfish are rich, so as the police chief said of the poor, “There’s no communication with them except force.”
Good work here by Caitlan. The crimes committed against the public need to stop and those committed need to be prosecuted when they occur. – it’s that simple. They need to wear and activate body cameras and the public needs to video these actions when possible. I’m not optimistic.
If you aren’t optimistic then how can you believe in your solutions? As Caitlin writes in her article, we need to get rid of the expensive cop (“goon”; I call them ‘thugs’ and bullies) force that patrols our towns, cities and streets and mostly harassing us unnecessarily. Yes, we are a military police state which thrives on its power.
If the cops behave this way you can just imagine how the grunts behave abroad safe in the knowledge that they can’t be touched by Lady Justice.
Oh so horrifically true, Ram. And as disgracefully the vast majority of the US (and UK) population *ignore* what their military do to the peoples in other countries and to the countries themselves. Not happening here so nothing to see. And don’t some of those ex-“warriors” (when did this completely idiotic word become current usage – along with the heinous use of “heroes” for the military?) become members of the Filth?
“…This isn’t working. Police culture cannot be saved, and has no interest in being saved.”
It hasn’t been working for a very long time. As Jimmy Dore reminds us , just watch “Serpico”. That was 50 years ago. The “few bad apples” have long since spoiled the entire bunch.
Nothing will change , aside from some insignificant cosmetics. Frank Serpico quit the force and moved to Switzerland. My advice to young people in the US is to get out , now. Find some country that seems to still have a few remnants of decency and justice left and start a new life there. I regret not doing so back when I had the energy and remaining lifespan to make it doable and worthwhile.
Why should they leave? Make the cops leave, the fascists, the neoliberals. Most people can’t leave, and want to stay and try to make a better life for themselves here. It’s time for a real change, and it will be driven by the populace, mostly young people.