Monday, December 8, 2014

Law Enforcement is the Problem

We keep applying the language and framework of accountability, diversity and sensitivity to an issue of oppression. We are attempting to fly an airplane with the keys to a motorcycle. Our tools are woefully inadequate, and until we are ready to admit to ourselves that the police are an inherently oppressive force, and then use the language of anti-oppression and anti-racism in our analysis and solutions, it will not end today, as Eric Garner had hoped. The dead bodies of black folks will continue to line our streets and sidewalks, and they will be treated no better than the roadkill with whom they occupy those spaces.
Charlie Pierce:
This flaunting of both departmental rules and federal law on the part of local police departments is the clearest indication that they consider themselves beyond the law they are sworn to enforce. And why shouldn't they? The systems by which they are supposed to be held accountable are intolerably weak, where they are not broken altogether. Where are the stiff fines for the police chiefs who ignore the requirements of federal law? What good are departmental sanctions when officers get filmed blithely using techniques that those sanctions supposedly banned two decades ago? It has become plain that, in far too many cases and in far too many places, local police departments have made of themselves what Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776 concerning the use of British troops to enforce the law in the colonies -- "independent of and superior to the civil power." Once there, these departments operate with impunity according to the informal dynamics of American law and American justice that were born when the country was. And, among other things, that means more Eric Garners and Michael Browns and Tamir Rices, the latter a 12-year old shot down by a cop in Cleveland who'd been hired anyway despite the fact that responsibilities of being a cop in a suburb were too much for him. Makes me wanna holler, too.

No comments: