The Police

I have been engaging several friends and colleagues lately on the subject of the police.

On Facebook I receive updates from several sites, including copblock.org  These people endeavor to document abuses of power by police. They document assaults, unlawful arrests, etc.  I have been re-posting these updates in an effort to wake up some of my fellow citizens.  Wake them up to what?  To the fact that America is becoming a police state.  To the fact that in a substantial number of cases, rather than sworn officers with a duty to serve and protect, what we actually have are thugs with guns and badges.

As Facebook does not lend itself well to long or detailed thoughts, I decided to sum up my thoughts on this matter here.

I believe we operate under several false premises in our society.  Not all people, in all cases.  But, in general, I believe that as a society we believe a number of things which are actually not true.  We place ourselves in jeopardy through these beliefs.  So I want to address them.

1) If the cops are “after you”, you must be a criminal.

This is demonstrably false.  Doors are kicked down and innocent civilians are murdered, assaulted, injured and arrested, on a regular basis due to typographical errors, wrong addresses, false tips/testimony, and other causes.  The fact that a cop believes you have committed a crime may in fact be no more significant than the fact that I like strawberry milk.

2)  If the cops have arrested you, you must have done something.

Also demonstrably false.  In our court system this is referred to as “The Law and Order Effect”.  It is the belief, based on shows like Law and Order and CSI, that the police arrest guilty people.  If you are arrested, the public assumes you have done something and the police can prove it.  This is one of the ways we place ourselves in jeopardy, because the tendency to believe this notion is what leads to innocent men being convicted and sent to prison.  That is, this belief coupled with perjury on the part of LEO’s and DA’s, failure to comply with disclosure rules, fabrication of evidence, coercion of witnesses, etc.

3)  You do not have the right to resist the police if they are attempting to make an unlawful arrest and/or assaulting you.  Rather than type on this topic, I will simply copy and paste relevant court rulings to this effect:

“Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. The Court stated: “Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

“An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People, 75 111. 491; reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan. 245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v. Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.

“When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.” Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.

“These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who unlawfully uses such force and violence.” Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903.

“An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.” (State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).

“Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.” (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100).

“One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

“Story affirmed the right of self-defense by persons held illegally. In his own writings, he had admitted that ‘a situation could arise in which the checks-and-balances principle ceased to work and the various branches of government concurred in a gross usurpation.’ There would be no usual remedy by changing the law or passing an amendment to the Constitution, should the oppressed party be a minority. Story concluded, ‘If there be any remedy at all … it is a remedy never provided for by human institutions.’ That was the ‘ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice.’” (From Mutiny on the Amistad by Howard Jones, Oxford University Press, 1987, an account of the reading of the decision in the case by Justice Joseph Story of the Supreme Court.

As for grounds for arrest: “The carrying of arms in a quiet, peaceable, and orderly manner, concealed on or about the person, is not a breach of the peace. Nor does such an act of itself, lead to a breach of the peace.” (Wharton’s Criminal and Civil Procedure, 12th Ed., Vol.2: Judy v. Lashley, 5 W. Va. 628, 41 S.E. 197).

4)  The life of a police officer is more valuable than the life of someone else, and “officer safety” is the highest priority.

Actually, the rights of the citizen, guaranteed under the Constitution, are the highest priority.  I have just as much right to “go home tonight” as the police officer does.

Contrary to what many officers, specifically the ones who utter the phrase “I am the law” believe,  I have the right to be secure in my person against unreasonable search and seizure.  I have the right to own a dog, and a gun, and to use both of them to protect my property.  I have the right to walk the street.  I have the right to gather with other like-minded individuals to discuss our concerns and/or petition our governing officials for the redress of grievances.

The notion that if I am sitting on a bench 40 feet away filming a cop I am “obstructing” or interfering with a police officer is ludicrous.  The notion that a group of people can be harassed and forced off of a public sidewalk, or other public accommodation, simply because some punk with a badge does not want them there, is foolish.  And the notion that a man has the right to take out a stick, or gun, or some other weapon, and assault another man simply because he has a badge on his shirt, is dangerous.

Our local and state police forces are being militarized.  We have cops riding down the street in MRAPs, carrying machine guns and sniper rifles, dressed head to toe in body armor.  Our police forces look more like our military forces.  And we are living in dangerous times.

All you have to do is google “police brutality” and you can watch video after video of abuses.  Unaccountable officers doing whatever they want, and by and large getting away with it.

Why do I care?  Why am I writing about this?  Because a free people cannot be free if they are harassed, beaten, arrested, and imprisoned simply because they do not conform to some official’s concept of the model citizen, or will not comply with an unlawful order given them by a police officer.  Such unthinking, blind obedience, is what leads to totalitarian regimes, genocides, and other atrocities.  Unthinking obedience to authority leads to boxcars and prison camps.  It leads to gulags and gas chambers.  It leads to killing fields and mass graves.

And if you think that those things only happen elsewhere, and cannot happen in America, you are a fool.  We are men and women as they were.  The things that Russian, Chinese, Venezuelan, Cuban, Laotian, Bosnian, and countless other men and women have endured can happen here too.  Germany was a progressive democracy prior to the rise of Hitler.  Every nation that has become a totalitarian regime and oppressed its’ people, was something else first.

What leads from where we are to where they wound up is complacency, blind obedience, and laziness.  The failure to act, to resist, to demand that your rights be honored.  These things lead to the loss of those rights.

Recall if you will the famous quote:  All that evil needs to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

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4 responses to “The Police

  1. Doug I really wish you would stop with using the word “militarized” as a look and dress. It is as absurd as defining a “assault weapon” based on looks. The problems with with bad cops out there are not what they drive, wear or weapons used. It is the mental approach of these cops that is “militarized” and they are taking on war time military tactics in our states. I bring this up because it is so hypocritical that you start your argument based on appearance so what is it that you are so pissed about. Is it that they have one and you can’t? Are you screaming “NO FAIR! I can’t get the upper hand if you have that”? The term “militarized” as become a catch phrase that has really become a pet peeve of mine just like “Assault Rifle/Weapon” it is used to create a scare in people by name alone. Those that don’t like the way “Assault” is being used when it comes to weapons care casting stones from a glass house when it comes to the way they use “Militarized”, imo anyway.

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    • You are completely incorrect Andrew. I am not using catchphrases and buzzwords.

      I am discussing the attitude and the tactics, as well as the appearance and hardware. When our police officers are riding down the road in military vehicles, that represents “the militarization” of the police force. When they are dressed like Navy SEALs going in to combat, to serve a warrant on an old lady, that represents a mindset, evidenced by the garb and tactics employed.

      When what the President himself describes as weapons of war, which “belong on foreign battlefields and not on the streets of America”, are in fact on the streets of America, in the hands of the police…then we have brought that foreign battlefield to our streets.

      You cannot separate the person from the clothes they wear and the weapons/tactics they use. The clothes are the outward expression of the inner attitude. Just like gang members wearing their colors, or military units wearing their ribbons. You dress to let others know who/what you are. Terrorists are not terrorists because of where they come from, they are terrorists because of the actions they take.

      We have gone from local police with a presence in the community, openly engaged and known throughout the neighborhood, to black masked anonymous strangers, applying the law as they see fit. I am using the word “militarized” to describe both the garb, and the state of mind. Wherein a foray to a citizens home or place of business has become a combat mission in to a terrorist stronghold.

      The police in many areas have gone from community members, enforcing the law and maintaining the peace, to an occupying force.

      I have lived in Berlin. I watched the American tanks roll down the road in front of my house every morning on their maneuvers. I know what a show of force looks like. I know what an occupying force looks like. And I know that our current law enforcement forces are being trained and equipped by our military forces…for what??

      It is the language that they themselves use. They are “combating crime”. They are engaged in a “War on drugs”.

      And yes Andrew… I am concerned that I cannot get the upper hand. And neither can you. Because if the day should ever come in America, as it has in so many other nations, where the populace is subjected to institutional mistreatment by the powers that be, we must be able to fight back…and win. If we cannot, then our way of life is doomed.

      I am not so foolish as to believe that because I was born an American I cannot face the same problems as countless millions all over the world have faced. In fact, there are Americans who are currently facing the same problems. You can speak to them. Go to any poor, black, inner-city neighborhood, and ask a random resident what they think about the police. You’ll find things are a bit different than they are in white suburbia.

      The difference is, I care now…before it reaches my doorstep. Primarily because, I do not want it to reach my doorstep.

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  2. “Terrorists are not terrorists because of where they come from, they are terrorists because of the actions they take.”
    That statement says it all, it not where they come from or what they wear it is their ACTIONS. It isn’t the police force job to allow you the upper hand never was and never will be. We agree that there is to much wrong doing going on with the law enforcement in this country but it ends there. When they want to ban your AR as a Military Weapon because it is just like the weapons they use I don’t want to hear you crying because it is the same logic. I don’t want to hear it when they take your same logic and take away your right you carry in public because it will be seen as a “Show of force”. When they want to ban the public from being able to buy tactical gear such as sing point slings, LBE’s, etc.. because based on your logic if you wear it you are it. Your logic says that a women that dressed Provocative must be a slut or hooker because “You cannot separate the person from the clothes they wear” and a kid wearing a starter Jacket and hat on backwards is a gang member with that logic. Your logic says that we can’t trust cops with these types of weapons so they shouldn’t have them, while they same argument is being made about the common public having AR’s because a bad/crazy person could get their hands on one.

    Your approach to this would rather see 10 cops killed and 1 criminal live because you wouldn’t want the police to have an upper hand. Bad cops are bad cops because of their actions.

    We can agree that there is problem a problem with how some of these guys are being trained. Where we dissagree is that I think if you fix the training you address the problem and you clearly don’t agree because they will still be dressed wrong. As to the weapons they use, it is only a problem when they are abused. Your current stand point comes from a view that because it could be a problem they shouldn’t have them. So again that same logic can be used against you. There are civilians that own tanks and 50 cal machine guns should they have their weapons taken away because bt having them makes them think they are the military, they are dressing the part and/or holding the weapons.

    You might want to think about things more of a two way street because it can come back to bite you. I think your emotions are leading your argument which is never good and as I already stated your logic is very flawed. Just because you don’t want to accept that the term “militarized” as become a catchphrase and the sites you post from use it as a catchphrase to stir emotion out of people such as yourself doesn’t make me wrong.

    I stand strongly behind what I said “militarized” is a state of mind and has nothing to do with clothing, vehicle or weaponry. It seems that we may never agree on this.

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    • I think you are stretching the argument too thin Andrew.

      It is a simple fact that people dress to display certain things about themselves. I, for example, have tattoos, earrings, and at home wear jeans and Harley shirts, because I am presenting the outward image of who I am on the inside. If this were not the case there would be no fashion industry, everyone would just wear the same thing.

      I am not say the police are “militarized” because of the way they dress. I am saying there is a huge difference between the beat cop of old, and our modern police force, and that there are also tremendous differences between the way these two types of individuals dress and the vehicles they ride around in, which is demonstrative of this change.

      I take issue with your comment regarding what the police force’s job to “allow” me to do is. It is not their job to allow me to do a damn thing. They do not have the authority to allow me to do anything. I have the inalienable right to do certain things, and they are not allowed to restrict me from doing them.

      As a society WE employ these people to perform a function FOR US. As a taxpayer and citizen, I have a right to involve myself in the process of determining what that service is/should be, the limits of their authority, etc. They are my employees, not my overlords. This is what has gotten out of kilter in this nation IMHO.

      As far as it being a catchphrase or not…what difference does it actually make? The bottom line is, rather than 2 cops in a squad car pulling up at your house to discuss allegations of wrong-doing, a dozen cops in an armored vehicle break down your door, kill your dog, assault your wife and kids and possibly riddle your body with automatic weapon fire. Call that militarized, or whatever the hell you want. The result is the same.

      Lastly, the police do not have the right, the power, or the authority to deny me access to ANY weapon. My elected representatives, through the legislative process, have that power…because WE give it to them. You may recall something about government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people.

      And yes, I get emotional about it. Because we are losing our freedom, one day at a time. That pisses me off.

      And in case you hadn’t noticed…they already do want to ban my AR because it looks like and functions like the weapons they use. So it is not my philosophy coming back to bite me, it’s theirs being applied to them as well as me.

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