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View Diary: One police officer's reaction to Oakland/Denver (278 comments)

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  •  Standing up to a culture of "going along" (65+ / 0-)
    Right now I am on temporary disability as I fight a battle with cancer (lymphoma -- I plan on beating this!).  
    ...
    If I were ever in a situation where I was ordered to fire rubber bullets at unarmed protestors, I would immediately resign.  I know jobs are hard to find nowadays, but what is the price of one's conscience?  What is the price of honor?

    The second part of the quote is especially striking on the context of the first.  It's a bold statement.

    How many people out there are hostage to their employer-provided medical care?  How much does this contribute to a culture of going along with things that are wrong, whether in police departments or in more mundane matters of business?

    •  You are absolutely correct (55+ / 0-)

      Without my empoyer-provided health insurance, I don't know how I would be able to afford my medical bills.  This is why we need a single payer healthcare system ASAP in this country.

      Police departments, through the wonders of years of union-backed collective bargaining, usually have pretty good health benefits.  I know a lot of people I work with (myself included), who have had to use their insurance for serious medical problems.   I would bet that a lot of people, especially those who have families and children, stick it out because of the benefits alone.  It's a sad reality.

      "It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." -- Carl Sagan

      by jtraynor on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 10:39:22 PM PDT

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    •  Not simple... (28+ / 0-)

      ...there are many threads in the tapestry of our lives.

      I stood 8 feet from the US Navy train that ran over S. Brian Willson at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, cutting off his legs and causing a traumatic brain injury.

      The train crew thought that they were doing right to follow orders to accelerate over the protestors in the tracks because Brian was, and we were, as the train crew was told, terrorists who would try to hi-jack the train.

      There is so very much more to every srory.

      With his one, I was there.  I saw what happened.  I saw the brutal fear of our government which led to attempted murder.

      Please see my post of a little earlier today: A day at Occupy...

      Best wishes.  Hope you beat your cancer.  You sound like a fine person.

      "The Future of Man" [... ???] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

      by dharmasyd on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 10:53:25 PM PDT

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      •  Brian is amazing (9+ / 0-)

        He came to speak at Occupy Boston a few weeks ago. It was an honor to meet him. I look forward to reading his book.

        The thing about law enforcement, both local and federal, is that they are told that "radicals" such as ourselves are always violent terrorists who want to see bloodshed, when as has been proven over the last century and change, we're always peaceful. But law enforcement likes to believe its own hype, because that justifies the brutality towards nonviolent citizens who merely threaten the status quo by peacefully challenging it. Hence, here in Boston, Occupy is "filled with violent anarchists from out of state who go around committing crimes."

        The sad thing is that, in this country, it's almost always the right-wing fundie christians and white supremacists who turn out to be the violent terrorists. But are white christian males in flyover country as a whole considered terrorists? Of course not. It's always an "isolated incident."

        Law enforcement are not to be trusted. They are there to protect the property rights of the wealthy and enforce the status quo with the least amount of effort possible. The last thing I EVER want to see if I'm hurt is a badge. It will just fuck up my day that much more.

        When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

        by Keori on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 04:59:04 AM PDT

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        •  Nothing like a little objectification... (10+ / 0-)

          to make your cause look bad.

          You manage to both tear down one stereotype and build up another in the same comment. Did you ever stop to consider that law enforcement officers are thinking human beings who (like our current diarist, for example) often actually manage to think for themselves rather than accept at face value the idea that every protestor they meet is a violent terrorist?

          You are literally trying to convince us that all law enforcement personnel are objectifying the #OWS protestors by...yourself objectifying all law enforcement as dangerous and untrustworthy thugs when you have the counter-object directly before you in this very diary.

          Is this really the path you want to take? Do you really want to use the methods you ascribe to your "enemies" yourself?

          Step back and think about this and you'll see that you have a much better chance of getting your ideas out and gaining support if you don't automatically make entire sections of the population you claim to represent into an objectified "enemy" stripped of their humanity and individuality. Remember the classic anti-war demonstrators' tactic when confronted with an armed man: give him a flower, wish him peace and tell him why you're really there, hopefully to set the idea in his head that what he is doing is supporting the wrong side. That's far more effective than calling him a "pig" or any other reaction and (unlike anything else) actually has a chance to get even the most deluded to realize the truth while not vilifying the ones who already know it.

          Conservito delenda est pro is deleo orbis terrarum!

          by Stwriley on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:09:20 AM PDT

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          •  I keep it much simpler than a flower (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            glorificus

            I simply ask, "Am I being detained?" and if the answer is "No" then I walk away. I do not engage with law enforcement. Ever. Police are not there to protect me. As a queer woman who has been the victim of domestic abuse and a violent hate crime, as someone who, despite never having committed a crime, has been routinely treated like a criminal by law enforcement, I've been made well aware of this fact numerous times.

            Did you know that the federal government is paying local and state law enforcement to militarize against its own citizens, to the tune of $1.2 Billion per year?

            Police commissioners, like politicians, are going to dance with who brung 'em, and that means whoever is shelling out the big bucks, and for what. Before you go getting all blushing-bride over police, you may want to take a good look at what they're actually doing. Hint: it's not for your benefit.

            When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

            by Keori on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 04:43:20 AM PDT

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            •  But you still objectify them. (0+ / 0-)

              Sorry, Keori, but you've missed my main point even as you make it for me again.

              You're using the fact of Federal funding from Homeland Security (and I get a chill every time I write that name, I can assure you) to local and state police agencies as an excuse to claim a non-related point; that all officers are essentially fascists and out to oppress people, which is patently not true both from the example of the diarist himself and the personal experience of many of us here (though obviously not you, which is both sad and unfortunate.)

              So police commissioners will take the Federal bucks because they'd be fools to turn down any money they can get (what with budgets shrinking and demands rising on them), but what does that prove about their actions? The vast majority of departments are not busy doing what the Oakland PD did (our own OccupyPhiladelphia has had no police problems and a great deal of support from the local FOP, who are after all working stiffs of the 99% like the rest of us.) They may be taking the cash and gear, but that doesn't mean they're part of some grand oppressive conspiracy.

              By the way, I know plenty of actual police officers and most of them would turn in their badges before they'd do what you seem to think they're doing. Just because we have departments like Oakland's where the local police culture has gone down a bad road does not give us license to paint all police with the same brush.

              Conservito delenda est pro is deleo orbis terrarum!

              by Stwriley on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 06:29:04 AM PDT

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              •  It comes down to trust (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                glorificus, Calamity Jean

                You're telling me that I should simply trust the people who have the authority to beat me, kill me, detain me indefinitely, lie to me, commit perjury about me with criminal and civil immunity, come into my domicile without a warrant or due process and take whatever they like whenever they like, plant false evidence, elicit coerced confessions, and who have a well-recorded history of corruption and abuse of power with virtually no oversight. Just...because.

                It must be nice to be able to trust that law enforcement is there to protect you. Though, I suppose when you're a straight white middle-aged male in academia, you have no reason to distrust. Must be nice to be you.

                Perhaps instead of insisting that I'm wrong, you climb out of your ivory tower and consider what in my experiences led me to the attitudes that I have.

                When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

                by Keori on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 08:27:42 AM PDT

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                •  We are all products of our experiences. You (0+ / 0-)

                  have a right to your opinion, based on your experiences. In my opinion, as long as you don't run through the streets with a flamethrowner burning down pedestrians and property you can hold any opinion you want.

                  I am sorry that your experiences are not unique to you. There are bad cops. Just as there are bad doctors, bankers, auto mechanics and grocers. I hope we all have more postive experiences going forward, and more cops take after the OP.

                •  Nice assumptions (0+ / 0-)

                  Many of which are wrong. If you're depending on my profile it's very out of date. I am no longer in academia (I teach high school nowadays) and haven't ever been straight. I've had bad interactions with the police as well, mostly when I was younger and more actively radical. And I'm also not white, thank you very much. I will freely admit to being middle-aged, however.

                  I'm afraid your assumptions about police are no better. Your entire first paragraph is a long litany of police misconduct, not the actions of even the average (much less every) police officer. You seem unable to realize that this is exactly the kind of thing that you're complaining about in police officers; the stereotyping of you as a criminal based on (incorrect) assumptions rather than reality.  You wrote this and your previous comments in the diary of a police officer who is directly telling you that he does not think this way, nor do the other cops of his acquaintance. Yet you cannot let go of your objectified idea of police to admit that they are not all identical drones of governmental control.

                  This isn't even a matter of trust so much as one of honest benefit of the doubt for individuals that you do not know. You would have that benefit for yourself from them, yet deny it to them from yourself.

                  Conservito delenda est pro is deleo orbis terrarum!

                  by Stwriley on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 10:02:20 AM PDT

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                  •  My apologies (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Calamity Jean

                    For assuming that you were straight. I've seen comments elsewhere from another stwriley implying that said individual was straight and I erroneously ascribed them to you.

                    The difference between giving police the benefit of the doubt and them giving it to me is in the power differential. If they are wrong, well, the worst thing that will happen to them is that they'll look stupid to their supervisors. If I am wrong, I wind up dead, brutalized, or imprisoned. I'm going to err on the side of caution and assume that the police are not my buddies.

                    We're not going to come to any agreement in this conversation. We are coming from two wildly different backgrounds with extremely diverse experiences having shaped our views. I sincerely hope you never have reason to regret placing your trust in law enforcement.

                    Have a good day.

                    When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

                    by Keori on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 10:26:56 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  wow (10+ / 0-)

          "Law enforcement are not to be trusted. They are there to protect the property rights of the wealthy and enforce the status quo with the least amount of effort possible. The last thing I EVER want to see if I'm hurt is a badge. It will just fuck up my day that much more."

          If you're hurt would you like to see a paramedic, like me?  News flash, I'm not doing shit without the police.  In real life, they facilitate me doing my job all the time.

          Ways I've seen police "protect the property rights of the wealthy":

          *Break up domestics
          *Restrain people who are freaking out so I can treat them
          *Break up huge bar fight and remove the guns so I can get the guy who was shot
          *Divert citizens from a chemical spill
          *Escort me through rush hour so I can get somebody to the hospital before they die

          I once got to a wreck where the woman was laying in the road with one of her eyes knocked out of her head.  There was an empty car seat about 1,000 feet from the vehicle.  Half a dozen police stopped what they were doing to search the bushes and TREES to see if they could find a baby, in the middle of the night.  That protects the rich how again?  If there was a baby to be found, would you like to see such a sight?  Would you volunteer for that, as they did?

          I could go on and on and, but I won't.  Please take a serious look at your emotions surrounding police, which  appear to be clouding your thinking.

          •  Thank you for your service (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            I have always said that EMTs and firefighters are the real heroes. When I was the victim of a violent hate crime and needed medical attention, police refused to dispatch an EMT to check me out. Instead they hauled me into the station for "questioning" for 6 hours, because obviously I must have done SOMETHING to deserve it.

            And yes, I would have stopped to search for a baby, because that's how I roll. As for the sight, I can well imagine. You have no idea what I've seen, but a dead baby in a tree killed in a car accident isn't the worst of it by a long shot.

            Take a look at my comment above to stwriley, click through to the link, and follow the money. Your buddies in blue aren't the saints you make them out to be. They receive federal grant money for the express purpose of being militarized for deployment against U.S. citizens. The brown kids down in Roxbury and Mattapan, who are beaten by police on a regular basis under the guise of "stop and frisk," then have drugs planted on them, would agree with me.

            When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

            by Keori on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 05:09:14 AM PDT

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    •  On a small scale (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kareylou, Stwriley, James Wells

      Of things not so dire, I've seen it happening for thirty years.  How many jobs in our current system, where greed is idealized as an incentive for "growth" and "improvement", depend on turning a blind eye to various forms of fraud and misrepresentation?  Or where legal requirements are deemed by many to be "mere paperwork and bureaucracy", how many jobs depend as mine once did, on knowing how to get around the rules and make use of slush funds and "special contributions" that don't go into the audited figures?  Or on quickly trashing or shredding documentation BEFORE it becomes the subject of legal inquiry and therefore legally discoverable?

      A society based on the principle of self-interest before all naturally encourages unethical behavior, and a highly competitive society based on such principles with not enough jobs or resources to go around makes the penalty for moral behavior unemployment and economic death.

      •  not to mention, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jtraynor

        when health care is tied to employment, economic death can lead to physical death, which is pretty darn permanent.

        To keep our faces turned toward change, and behave as free spirits in the presence of fate, that is strength undefeatable--Helen Keller

        by kareylou on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:34:45 AM PDT

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    •  Everyone should watch the amazing, challenging (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adrianrf

      "rant" by Marine Sgt Shamar Thomas defending protestors from unnecessary force being used by the NYPD, thankfully caught on several videos: "There is no honor in this." He set them straight that this is not a war and they actually look very small using force on unarmed peaceful demonstrators.

      We need more people like Sgt Thomas and the diarist to challenge what has been going on as police departments try to break up a growing nationwide protest that will not go away.

      Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

      by Catskill Julie on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:07:53 PM PDT

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