Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rot in Cleveland

It sounds like the Kleveland Kops Klan (aka the police department) needs to take its talents elsewhere. The "heat" needs to be put in cold storage.  Gitmo-upon-Antarctic Shelf has a nice ring to it.... especially since there's a real possibility of it soon breaking off and becoming stranded on the seas for all eternity, like the Flying Dutchman.

The timing of the scathing Department of Justice Civil Rights Division report on the culture of violence in the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP)couldn't have come at a more exquisite time, what with people throughout the country finally having had enough of the police state and taking to the streets in protest. The report comes only a fortnight after the most egregious and publicized case, in which a mentally disturbed rookie cop summarily executed Tamir Rice, a 12-year old playing with a toy gun.

 Unfortunately, the tepid recommendations contained in the government report are tantamount to sentencing a serial rapist to do-it-yourself sensitivity training in a battered women's shelter.

Just as no bankster has been jailed for destroying the entire global economy,  psychopathic cops who are maiming and murdering citizens on the streets and in their own homes, are also largely immune from accountability. The thugs wearing uniforms instead of white sheets, who assault people for the crime of existing while black or poor, are simply being admonished to go back to the police academy for a refresher course, deck themselves out with cameras, and work harder to "restore the public trust." As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, the beatings will continue. The Obama administration would just prefer that the domestic torturers do it with a little more finesse, with a whole lot of public relations whitewashing thrown in for good measure.

The federal government's year-long investigation that began in March 2013 (based upon some good muckraking, government-shaming journalism by the Cleveland Plain Dealer) resulted in exposure of a whole series of civil liberties violations:
Our investigation concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that CDP engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.That pattern manifested in a range of ways, including:
The unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force, including shootings and head strikes with impact weapons;
The unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force including tasers,chemical spray and fists;
Excessive force against persons who are mentally ill or in crisis, including in cases where the officers were called exclusively for a welfare check; and
The employment of poor and dangerous tactics that place officers in situations where avoidable force becomes inevitable and places officers and civilians at unnecessary risk.
It's the Keystone Kops without the comedy. This Ohio city is a veritable Wild West free-for-all, with officers bashing people over the head with their guns, pepper-spraying and tasering suspects already subdued and in handcuffs, passersby being shot by police bullets fired in a wild panic, and the physical assault of mentally challenged people unable to respond to commands.

 The physical force is also "applied as punishment for the person’s earlier verbal or physical resistance to an officer’s command, and is not based on a current threat posed by the person. This retaliatory use of force is not legally justified." the report noted. 

The use of standard de-escalation techniques to calm agitated persons or defuse fraught situations is not widely practiced in Cleveland, putting both civilians and officers at risk. Nor are extreme incidents ever internally reviewed by superiors, said the report.

In one case last year, police shot the actual victim of a crime they'd been called to investigate. A man named "Anthony" had been held hostage in a home by armed gunmen, and escaped. As he ran toward the officers for help, dressed only in his boxer shorts, they opened fire on him. Luckily, they missed. Others weren't so fortunate. One man was shot in the stomach on his own front porch, because he moved his arms slightly while he was being cuffed. A suicidal deaf man was tasered for using his hands to communicate with officers in sign language. Another man in the midst of a seizure was tasered while he was strapped to a gurney. A police officer choked a woman while she was handcuffed to a table. The list of abuses goes on and on. The Marquis De Sade has met the Gestapo.

Now, here's the kicker. The DOJ actually investigated the CDP for the same pattern of endemic violence and abuse ten years ago. At that time, it was recommended that the CDP clean up its act voluntarily, in-house -- and government investigators are now shocked, shocked that the cops didn't follow through. It seems that the DOJ forgot to appoint a Court probation officer or similar independent monitor to check up and make sure the cops were behaving themselves.

 It seems that the feds also need some remediation -- or better yet, resignations. It seems they should have learned their own accountability lesson.

Apparently, they partially have, because along with the in-house, voluntary self-improvement course and gratuitous premature praise for the Cleveland PD, an outside monitor will be appointed to keep tabs this time around.

In their simpering conclusion, Civil Rights Division Acting Assistant AG Vanita Gupta and Northern District of Ohio US Attorney Steven Dettelbach did indeed make sure to laud the cops for their difficult job, especially in light of the cruel budgetary austerity imposed upon Cleveland by brutal capitalistic forces outside their control (Okay, so I paraphrased that last part, but that is the subtext whether they admit it or not.) And like any police state apparatchiks worth their salt, they did not forget to also blame the victims, admonishing them that "healing the rift" is also on them. "All of the residents of the city of Cleveland should recognize... that many Cleveland officers have pursued their profession in order to effect positive changes within the City and they make great personal sacrifices to do dangerous work.... Respect and trust must go both ways."

Except, of course, that it's only the "civilians" who ever end up actually getting arrested, indicted, tried, and jailed. When cops commit crimes, they either walk with impunity -- or if they're caught on video, they get a special defense attorney (aka the prosecuting District Attorney) to sidestep due process by subverting the secret grand jury system into a tool of democracy-free exoneration.

In case you hadn't noticed, we now live in a police state. 

And just in case you hadn't, there are thousands of protesters on the streets right now forcing you to notice. Right now, we're being allowed to vent. Keywords: right now.


annenigma said...

The Occupy movement was aptly named. We're slowly being OCCUPIED.

The occupying forces of militarized police and Homeland Security have merged and are growing as planned, thanks to laws such as the 1022 'Surplus' Military Gear Program, the Patriot Act, NDAA of 2012, and the state Fusion Centers to collect Suspicious Activity Reports from citizens for the Feds. Everything we do and everywhere we go is being tracked, and the local police are playing a growing role in that such as scanning license plates that go into the Fed database. The Utah data center is enormous for a reason.

Will we resist our occupation? I certainly hope so, but first we have to realize it's happening. The Occupy movement helped raise consciousness about the usurpation of our democracy by powerful monied interests. That has opened the eyes of many citizens even while the corporate media is trying ever harder to keep us deaf, dumb, and blind to the realities.

Carry on, Sardonickys. The country and the world need all of us - and more.

Thank you, Karen, for all you do.

Pearl said...

Yes indeed Annenigma: And here is a reminder of some things in the past - The more things change the more they remain the same.

What the FBI's Murder of a Black Panther Can Teach Us 40 Years Later | Alternet

Denis Neville said...

My favorite Kleveland Kops Klan Kapper was the car chase, reaching speeds of 110mph through residential neighborhoods, by 60 plus Kop Kars. 104 of the 277 Kleveland Klan Kops on duty that night were involved at some point.

A total of 137 shots were fired by the Kops; the driver of the car was shot 23 times; his passenger was shot 24 times; both were unarmed; and both victims were black, hence, profiled and executed.

One Klan Kop stood on the hood of the car and fired at least 15 shots through the windshield; five of those shots were fatal; he fired a total of 49 shots.

Sign in one district Kleveland Kop Klan station identifies the station as a "forward operating base," a military term for a small outpost in a war zone.

Not so funny amosexual lock n’ load Keystone Kops with real guns and ammo. Scary shit!!!

“When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement. That makes the job of good police officers unsafe.” - Mary Frances Berry

annenigma said...

I was traveling through a rural part of Utah a couple years ago when I spotted a police vehicle coming towards me down the center line of a state highway with its lights flashing. I pulled over to the side but kept going slowly, not having a clue what was going on. The scene just didn't make sense to me.

It turns out the cop was playing lead/pilot car for an oversize load behind him quite a ways, probably doing a favor for the company to help them save money.

Evidently the cop didn't think I was pulled off the road far enough or didn't stop completely when he thought I should have. The cop pulled his vehicle up to my drivers window and, foaming at the mouth with rage, screamed at me to get off the road. I guess that's what he said. I wasn't sure because of the strain he put on his vocal chords screaming. He was so angry that I was stressed and scared for my life. If I hadn't guessed correctly about what he ordered me to do, and if I was of a different skin color, I supposed he could have done anything to me for not immediately obeying his command.

I can only imagine how much worse it would have been for a black or brown skinned person and for worse things. Maybe my driving an old VW van triggered his temper. Skin color isn't the only factor some people use to discriminate or become abusive, especially when they are intoxicated with power.

annenigma said...

The cop's reaction could have been related to the fact that I was a woman traveling alone (in a suspect vehicle) in Mormon Taliban country. It's definitely not always about race.

First they came for the Blacks...Homosexuals...Muslims...Liberals...Women...

Pearl said...

State Terrorism and Racist Violence in the Age of Disposability: From Emmett Till to Eric Garner - Expanded Version via @sharethis

A good read from Henry Giroux

Kat said...

It has always been the age of disposability in the US. We were built on disposability (let's go back to Columbus)- it is just a matter of degrees. I guess now the middle class is facing their disposability.
Here is a book that I'm reading. It talks about movements that have been written out of history.
The Black Agenda Report discussed
similar movements in rural areas.
Did you know there was a presidential ticket with Eldridge Cleaver and a white working class woman from Chicago (via the south)? This woman feared for the life of her sons, living in the neighborhood of Uptown, peopled by transplanted southerners and Appalachians. They too were the victims of police raids. They were seen as scary outsiders who were changing the character of the city.
The Cleveland police force needs to be investigated, but I fear it supports the narrative that this is a problem of rogue officers or a rogue police force.The best sign at the demonstrations is "Indict the system".
The militarization of the police force is not a post 9/11 phenomena.

annenigma said...

Emptywheel re-tweeted this article today. I read it somewhere a few weeks ago but now I am reminded how relevant it really is.

'US Police Get Anti-Terror Training in Israel on Privately Funded Trips'

..."For some, dispatching American police to train in a foreign country battered by decades of war, terror attacks and strife highlights how dramatically U.S. law enforcement has changed in the 13 years since al-Qaida airplane hijackers crashed into New York’s World Trade Center. In many places, the image of the friendly cop on the beat has been replaced by intimidating, fully armed military-style troops. And Israel has played part in that transition."...

It's very revealing that crowd control/civil unrest is a major part, if not the entire emphasis, of this so-called 'anti-terrorism' training. But what did we expect after Congress (AIPAC puppets) and President ("I have Israel's dna in my blood") Obama passed and signed (on New Years Eve evening) the Homeland Battlefield Bill? How can they possibly craft a proper military occupation of our former democracy without some solid training first from the real pros?

We are all Gazans now! (and Michael Brown and Eric Garner et. al.)

Karen Garcia said...

Henry Giroux nailed it: these recent police abuses are part of a much larger pattern. People are all too dispensable in The One Indispensable Nation.

Anne -- I had forgotten about the Israel commando training given to all-Amerikan kops. Reminds me, too, that ex-NYC police commish/convicted felon Bernie Kerik made out like a champ "running" the police force in Iraq and almost became Homeland Security Commissioner. He is out of prison now, fully rehabbed and going on TV to impart his fake pearls of wisdom on the beneficence of the Police State. Ditto for Ray "Stop & Frisk" Kelly, who also almost got the Homeland Security nod from Obama, until the public outcry convinced the prez that such an appointment wouldn't be good for his image.

Jeh Johnson takes up the slack nicely, however, given that he just won approval from the White House to racially profile roughly a third of the American population. The timing of this message was absolutely deliberate: the beatings will continue, proles!

annenigma said...

Henry Giroux quotes Bell Hooks as saying that "the point of lynching historically was not to kill individuals but to let everyone know 'This could happen to you.'

When the cops intentionally left Michael Brown's body laying in the middle of the street for hours, that's exactly what I thought they were attempting to do - send a message to the Black community that it could happen to any of them.

It really does explain the seemingly inexplicable lack of respect and normal treatment of a dead body. Ordinarily, the first thing they do is cover the body or otherwise shield it from view, not make it a public exhibit.

Their racism was just too blatant to miss. The message was sent and received by the whole country.

annenigma said...

I watched the video that Pearl referred us to showing the apparent lack of medical attention for Eric Garner's respiratory distress and subsequent death.

When the man taking the video asked the cops 'why no CPR', the cop mumbled 'He's still breathing'. I didn't see anyone making a credible show of checking his breathing. Not only that but the 'EMT' only briefly placed her gloved finger to Mr. Garner's neck. I don't believe it's possible to correctly assess a pulse with such a brief and feeble attempt. Anyone who's done CPR knows that it can be very difficult to find the pulse on a skinny-necked person, never mind someone with Eric Garner's neck.

They were all in on the act, faking their attention to his medical condition. None of them reacted as they most certainly would have if the victim was white man wearing a suit.

In both cases the disrespect shown after the take-down/death was the most revealing part.

Pearl said...

I hope the above translates into the full report and second video of Mr.Garner lying on the sidewalk with no one helping him. At a discussion on CNN yesterday it was reported that everyone surrounding him were trained in resuscitation techniques for crises but merely milled around him instead and could have saved him had they cleared his airway, done CPR and removed his handcuffs which were constricting his chest. Two nights ago I saw this report and copied it for my files. Since then, I am unable to pull up that report from the Daily News nor has it been mentioned in the NYTimes nor anywhere else I have seen. It is electrifying and should be made public which will certainly encourage lasting protests. I hope you can pull it up from the above copy of my files. A testament to the ugly truth of what has happened and will continue without real and lasting reaction.