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Yep, that's your modern militarized police force in action, having just tossed a flash bang grenade into a toddler's crib.  The mother's statement, published in Salon (6/24.14), gives further details:

I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.
The victims were the Phonesavanh family who had recently lost their home in a fire and made the mistake of seeking shelter in a place the police needed to attack (yes, I'm using that word deliberately) in the All Holy War on Drugs.

I'm no fool, and I don't think any of you are either. The police are doing this because THEY CAN.  The point of the exercise of power is ... the exercise of power.  And it's no accident that the victims of this crime (and I use that word deliberately also) are poor, homeless and, most importantly, not white.

I know police, I used to work with them and I have cross-examined them on the stand.  Some officers are conscientious and some are not.  But the heady power of police militarization has a tendency to turn even the best officer into someone who abuses power.  (See Experiment, Milgram):

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
How much more so this is when the courts have issued a warrant, the suspect is a "bad guy" and one is armed and armored as if going into a war zone.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 03:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That linked Wikipedia article tries to be fair, (13+ / 0-)

    including many of the critiques of Milgram's experiments.  Many of the common descriptions are exaggerated.

    FWIW, I think police brutality has less to do with Milgram-like effects, and more to do with the fact that many natural bullies gravitate toward police work, as well as some Dudley Dorights.

  •  Coerced obedience is inherently abusive and (8+ / 0-)

    abused people "get their own back" by abusing others in turn. What the militarization of the police really represents is the culture of obedience, which is necessary in the military because there the alternative to following orders is almost certain death. So, those who survive, tolerate being abused because the alternative is worse. But, there's no such excuse/rationale for the police. There, unquestioned obedience serves as a sort of "get out of jail free card." For the obedient, all is forgiven. As long as the police are following orders, they can get away with murder. It is really the same rationale being employed by Obama in justifying assassination by remote controlled drones via the AUMF. Congress told him to kill suspected terrorists, so that's what he's doing. And still they want to impeach him 'cause he's not bloody enough.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 04:29:43 PM PDT

    •  They've been at it for awhile now (8+ / 0-)

      I'm not kidding. My middle-aged white a*s got popped in...2006?...in the glorious War On Drugs. I was treated like dirt then--of course, post-PATRIOT Act, around that time, the militarization of attitudes was just taking hold. And apparently, I fit a profile during biker events in Volusia County (which I happened to be visiting one at the time, in a car--who knew that was suspicious?). Because I kid you not, for 12 grams of (good) bud, I was threatened with a taser, and made to squat and put my hands behind my back and was cuffed.  

      The one cop was really something. She was maybe a little taller than me (I'm short as it is, around 5'3"). Literally got in my face and screamed because I dared to ask why I was being detained (I was pulled over for an expired tag, which of course made me a huge threat to society at large). "Shut the fuck up", she practically spat at me "you have no rights".

      After years of pondering it, I wonder if I wasn't a training exercise in "seeing what would happen if".  I was just mute with anger and angst and shaking by then (I was seeing my job go out the window, right? So I was in tears, which seems a perfectly normal reaction). But by the time anyone got around to picking me back up off my now-sleeping legs, and un-cuffing me, there was the cop on the cycle that pulled me over initially, another cycle cop, two cruisers and the K-9 van. In the middle of Biketoberfest traffic headed over the bridge to the beachside, here's me, facing Daytona's finest and then some. Fucking unreal. I couldn't imaging having to worry about that as a regular occurrence. I about came unglued once I got home.

      It's all just so wrong, what's happening to our law enforcement. So wrong. And how do we stop it?

      "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

      by lunachickie on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 06:55:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do we stop it? Well for starters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene

        make sure your tags are not expired when you are driving around with weed in your car.

        "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

        by padeius on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 09:37:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can you be (0+ / 0-)

          an any more obvious troll?
           

          make sure your tags are not expired when you are driving around with weed
          No shit, little child. No shit.  Way to miss the bigger point, though.

          Ah, but hey, you and your little child friends just keep carrying on, high-fiving your oh-so-witty selves and patting yourselves on your Amazing-Internet-Winning backs, mmkay?

          "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

          by lunachickie on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 04:33:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  PS (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Horace Boothroyd III

          don't stalk people, it'll get you banned here. Fast. This isn't Arianna's place...

          "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

          by lunachickie on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 04:34:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'd rec it again and again (3+ / 0-)

      Ask Justina Pelletier, who spent an entire YEAR of her fleeting childhood in a high security psychiatric ward, at age 15, because her parents dared to say "I want a second opinion" to Boston Children's Hospital.

    •  It sure seems that way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horace Boothroyd III

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 07:42:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My primary fear as my children grow up here in NYC (11+ / 0-)

    One or more of them will be killed for the offense of "driving while black".

    The fact they are bi-racial (I'm white, my wife is black, and they favor my skin-tone) and the oldest two have been diagnosed as being autistic, on the mid- to high-functioning end of the spectrum, doesn't put my mind at ease in the slightest.  

    I really don't know what I'd do if the same circumstances hit me and mine.  My trust in the NYPD (and in police in general) is already pretty low.

  •  This is why I don't like the expression (11+ / 0-)

    "War on Drugs".  Because in war, civilians get hurt. Secrets are kept from the public. Military weapons are used, and so on, and on. Not that I am in favor of legalization for anything stronger than marijuana. But describing it as "war" justifies trampling civil liberties, in some people's heads.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 04:53:33 PM PDT

  •  Swat team blocked by child's playpen . (6+ / 0-)

    http://www.bbc.com/...

    The day after the incident, Habersham County sheriff Joey Terrell described the events to a local media outlet.
    When the police began their late-night assault, he said, their entry point was blocked by the child's playpen, so they pushed the door partially open and tossed in the flash bang.
    "Our team went by the book," he said. "Given the same scenario, we'll do the same thing again. I stand behind what our team did... Bad things can happen. That's just the world we live in. Bad things happen to good people… The baby didn't deserve this."

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 05:01:46 PM PDT

  •  Aren't the police supposed to announce their (5+ / 0-)

    presence before coming in?

    A million Arcosantis.

    by Villabolo on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 05:15:51 PM PDT

  •  It's called... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, acornweb

    The Banality of Evil.   Just doing one's job.

  •  The Thin Blue Line (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, blackhand

    Okay, we all want to know why cops are so brutal and how we can correct it. First, consider their backgrounds. A depressingly large number have served in the military, usually Iraq or Afghanistan or even Gulf War I. They have a military mindset which can be summed up as "take no prisoners." They are trained to kill, not negotiate.

    As police officers, their training consists of a Prime Directive with a few bells and whistles: take complete control of a situation, even if it means killing a possibly innocent civilian. Their instructors are also ex-military men making a living by showing other ex-military men how to do maximum damage to one or more civilians because the presumption on the street is 180 degrees opposite of the courts: all non-police are guilty of something, we just haven't caught or killed them yet.

    The phrase "fortress mentality" might very well have been invented for all metropolitan police. It is Us and Them and we are Them and they don't like us very much. They think we're unappreciative. (They may be right) They believe we don't understand the political pressures of their job. (They're absolutely right because politics has no place in police work. On the other hand, I tend toward naivete...) They think we underestimate the dangers they face every day. (No, not really. We merely question why so many police are so likely to make fatally serious errors in judgement)

    But the real bad guys in this farce are the police unions. Hey, I'm a socialist. Everybody should join a union! But the bullet-headed, uncompromising, bad-tempered borderline psychotics who run the police unions in this country all seem to be in need of aggressive therapy.

    I ask all of you: how often does your city or county indict police officers who blow away an unarmed civilian for the most petty or most ridiculous of reasons? Not very often, hmm? (Sensing a pattern here) So why don't we all do what Albuquerque did: march into the police station en mass and demand that the four trigger-happy gunslingers who killed that homeless man be terminated immediately?

    The PC did just that. Smartest political move in his entire career. But it's a little more complicated in NYC or LA or even San Francisco.

    What can we do? Start (and never give up until we achieve it) demanding a greater role in police oversight. Hammer at it politically until we have a stable, functional law that allows a citizen's board to demand a cop's termination. Nothing less will do.

  •  We are all humans (0+ / 0-)

    I volunteered as a legal observer for some marches.  As an observer, I was neither part of the march nor was I part of the police escort.  My job was to observe and report any breaches of rights and responsibilities by either side.

    When I saw cops getting nervous, I'd idly chat with them about the weather and how well-behaved the group was being.  When I saw a potential "agent provocateur," I'd try to head them off before things got volatile.  If that individual was just dead set on being a problem, I'd first try to get someone from the protest to redirect them before police had to act.  If that didn't work, then I'd direct a police officer in for additional support.

    I am not negating what happened either to the family nor to anyone else here who has shared their own personal experiences with police overstepping their powers.  My point is that we are all human.  During the Occupy movement, I reminded the officers that they were us, too.  And, I'd remind the protesters that we were them.

    Police view the world in black and white because that is what their job entails and that is how they survive on the job.  It is up to the rest of us to remind them that our world is full of colors and a broad spectrum of grays.

    It is our responsibility to look behind the uniform to see the individual who wears it.  Some of us are broken, but we still do our jobs effectively.  Most of us are working on our own issues and dealing with our own personal lives even when we are on the clock.  Cops are no different than us in this regard.

    Yes, they wear a uniform and, yes, they wear a gun on their hip.  Yes, they should be afforded respect because they are representatives of law enforcement when they are on duty.  But, we should also work to strengthen our community oversight boards to ensure that our police are living up to our community standards.  If there is not one established in your town, look into how to get one established.

    Please, do not buy into their "us vs. them" mentality.  We are all in this together.

  •  Sort of like "Keystone Rambos?" Thugs whose (0+ / 0-)

    criminal incompetence would be comical if no one was battered/murdered during their crimes and they did not have unlimited, guaranteed immunity for their savagery?

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:35:50 AM PDT

  •  I think a lot of the problem has to do with (0+ / 0-)

    The large numbers that are coming out of the military after having served in places like Iraq and Afghanistan only to come home and find few job prospects and no advanced education.  They end up going into law enforcement.  Couple this with the federal govt unloading all sorts  of military equipment by giving it or selling it to municipalities and the police and you have a unique recipe for disaster: a group of people trained for urban combat and guerrilla tactics, using military equipment that they have been trained on, working as "law enforcement" in our cities.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 07:49:47 AM PDT

  •  Our Constitutional Rights (0+ / 0-)

    are being destroyed by the far "right."  They are more concerned about the failed "war on drugs" that they will do practically anything to get brownie points and the damned ultra-conservative (read far-right nuts) are behind permitting the militarized police to continue to trample on our rights as enumerated in the Constitution.

    As the "Tea Party" screams that the left is taking away our rights, THEY ARE taking our rights away faster than anyone really appreciates.

    The Gone Obsolete Party has lost their right to be or do anything that affects Americans and the sooner the people who vote for those would-be dictators the better.

    The "media" is predicting that the Democrats will not vote this November because that is what they want.  I'm working with other Texans to make them liars.

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