The cover image for this post is the Veterans Exempt Flag from the War of 1812. It was flown during the Battle of Plattsburgh, New York, by a company of militiamen who, as veterans of the Revolutionary War, were exempt from the draft. They chose to fight anyway.
Please excuse the long delay between now and the previous entry regarding this topic. I just feel so drained talking this subject matter, much less diving in and looking through a bunch of clips of it, that it was hard to motivate myself to continue devoting time to the project. Anyway, in this post I will provide backup copies of several particularly egregious examples of police brutality, intimidation and misconduct which I’m aware of. This was no easy task, considering my Facebook and Reddit saved list were full of videos and articles to cull through. (Unfortunately a dozen or so Facebook videos were since deleted or made private between when I saved them and the creation of this list so I couldn’t include them.)
As you can see in the image of a Wikipedia directory posted below, to provide a fully exhaustive collection (as was my original lofty goal) would be neigh impossible due to the sheer scale of the problem. I did what I could at this time but the project is far from completed. Besides expanding the volume of cases, I would like to come back to this at some point in the future and organize the stories in some categorically useful way (chronological, by source, type of police transgression or geographical perhaps–maybe in an Excel sheet so viewers can do all at once.) For right now though, it was tedious and emotionally exhausting enough just transferring the links here in one place, and ripping the videos off YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and elsewhere. So, I will continue to improve on this repository of police abuse in the near future, and in the meantime I hope just marveling at the ridiculous magnitude of examples is enough to convince skeptics that this problem needs to be addressed already. At this point, anyone denying that there’s a serious issue here is burying their head in the sand.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go take a nice long bath, make a chocolate milkshake, hold my stuffed animals close, watch Barbarellaand try to forget some of the things I’ve seen over the last three days in the process of making this series.
Concerning the videos I ripped from other sources: my intention is not to take credit for anyone else’s work in creating them. I just feel it’s essential for posterity to host a second copy on a separate server so that if the original gets taken off the other site, people can still find it. (Believe me, I’ve seen thousands of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter material go missing at the drop of a hat, never to be seen again.) I believe the severity of this societal illness is so great that it warrants redundancy of all video evidence. If you disagree with that principle as the original creator, and you really don’t want your video on this page, just contact me in the comments or by email and I will take it down for you.
This shall be an ongoing project I will continue to update as I either see/read about new instances or summon the willpower to wade through past events. So feel free to stop back in the future and check for updates–or if you have any specific cases you think should be included post them in the comments.In the meantime feel free to also check out these additional catalogs:
So, I explained my take on this issue pretty thoroughly last time around, but since the publication of that essay I’ve seen several people defending this behavior and I’m frankly kind of disgusted by such attitudes. I would like to quickly say the following in response:
Whatever the circumstances of this latest instance of police brutality, whether the victim was “a criminal” or not I think it’s disgusting how many people in America are just okay with the idea that cops should be able to use lethal force on a whim. We’ve descended from a nation that fought for our liberty and pride ourselves on holding government accountable to a bunch of servile fascist boot-lickers. Whatever your position on BLM or police reforms, I think this shameful apologism in the face of lethal, government-condoned use of force against its own citizenry is a blight on the legacy of our founders and principles. That was not the United States of Washington and Jefferson’s time, nor should we allow it to be the United States of Obama, Trump or anyone else.
I added the disclaimer in the previous paragraph (highlighted with italics) because, admittedly, I haven’t read up on the new case in Wisconsin yet and don’t have all the info. The point is, it shouldn’t matter. Whether the cops were justified or not in this one particular instance, that doesn’t excuse the pro-authoritarian sentiments of these comments I’ve preserved below. Whether the person they shoot turns out to have a criminal history doesn’t make it okay for the cops to treat us all like garbage as the default and then justify it later by digging up a traffic violation, weed possession or whatever irrelevant charge from 10 years ago. No mistake, nor any crime, legitimizes the summary execution of a US citizen without a fair trial, and nothing warrants killing a human being in the streets like a dog. Forgive me, but I feel even criminals deserve an ounce of dignity–and I’m not conceding the point that Jacob Blake nor any other victim of police brutality listed below was a criminal either.
Imagine going about your business, generally being a nice person, and then getting killed by a “bad cop.” Now imagine you don’t even get respect in death as every imbecile with an axe to grind or a position to push starts making demeaning assumptions about your character, or cracking sarcastic jokes at your expense without ever having known you. All this while your family is trying to grieve, other Americans are frightened for their safety as a result of this precedent, and you’re not even there to defend yourself in the face of their defamation. That’s not the America I want to live in.
I hate how so many people immediately assume the police are 100% in the right and the suspect brought it on themselves for the briefest of delays following (sometimes impossible-to-comply-with) orders or behaving in any way but the most self-abasing disposition possible. You’re turning our country into a place where the rest of us can’t walk the streets confident that we will be treated fairly by actors of the state. You’re creating an expectation that all people must carry themselves in a perpetual state of fear and submissiveness to all manner of degradation by anyone with a badge. Whether you recognize it or not, the logical conclusion to your position is a world where cops can abuse their power because they know that no matter what, they will be defended in the court of public opinion. We should all be skeptical, concerned and even outraged anytime actors of the state kill a private citizen. It shouldn’t be considered business as usual, it should be an indication that the cops failed in their duty to keep the peace in all but the most extreme of circumstances. “Why must we react in such a manner,” you may ask. Because the minute we show complacency in the face of such power, we signal to every corrupt, careless or outright malicious officer and magistrate of the state that they can take advantage of our weakness and docility. And they will–they already have, in fact.
The suspect/victim should always be given the benefit of the doubt over police until evidence proves their death/maiming/trauma was unavoidable by any person acting responsibly. The reason is because they are always in the weaker, more vulnerable position in any interaction where the other person has the tools and justification for lethal force. (Also, in cases where the victim is dead, they aren’t around to give their own side of the story anymore.) On the other hand, cops should always be held to a higher standard by virtue of the power their position of authority grants them over others. We trust them to have power over life and death, so they need to constantly earn that trust by being on their best behavior. They should use it solely in defense of the most vulnerable and innocent in society. In short, police represent the state and ought to conduct themselves as such–with deference and civility towards the people, who themselves are the arbiters of consent from which government derives its legitimacy. Like politicians, cops work for us and they should act like it.