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Digby is Being Naive

chicago dyke's picture

This is another edition of What Digby Said but with modifications. I love her work like everyone else, but I smell a little middle class privilege here. Bottom line: if they want to, the cops will kill you, for no reason, because they can. Digby is basically saying "don't resist; your life is at stake if you do" and she's not wrong. But I had to add this comment:

even being completely passive isn't enough. just so you know. have you ever heard of the needle trick cops do sometimes? here's how it works. some sadistic (racist/homophobic) cop really, really wants to put the beat down on you. he lives for that shit, and he hates dirty fucking hippies/niggers/eco activists/whatever with a roid-driven passion second only to his love of gay bathhouses and leatherbars. so one day, you're walking down the street, and duly pissing him off, so he decides to arrest you. you recognize that there's little you can do to resist, so you don't, but that's not enough for him; he *needs* to beat something down, right now. so after you've sank to your knees, laid on the ground, and put your hands behind you, this is what happens. as he cuffs you, he takes a needle hidden between his fingers, and pokes you in the finger with it. obviously, most of us would react, physically and vocally. but because the camera on his cruiser won't record something as small as a needle, and up to this point he's been all official and correct, it looks like *you* were the one resisting arrest. he gets to whip out the taser, the baton, his partner gets in on the fun... it can go on and on, until you're dead, even.
i'm a fan of peaceful resistance. but the other side does play dirty, and they don't need an excuse to tase people. they do it whenever they want, including when they just don't like the look of your face.

Maybe it's because I lived in Chicago, where policing is the New Wild West and even black folk can get in on it. Maybe it's because the greatest fear of being raped (but not actually being raped) I've ever experienced in my life came one late night in Chicago in which two police officers "escorted" me home as I walked from a friend's house to mine and they followed me in their police car, continually asking me questions about whether I was alone or not and if anyone knew I was out this late (and in these clothes). Maybe it's because a Latina woman I worked with was once tossed into the back of a squad car in broad daylight by a cop, who brutally crushed her with his body and whispered into her ear, "Bitch, I can rape you right here and now and no one will stop me." Maybe it's because of the cops I've seen at the scarier parties related to IML. I can go on. Yes, there are "good cops." No, they are not a majority of our Security Services right now. I'm sorry, but they aren't. Or rather, if they are, they are like moderate Democrats. Totally unwilling or unable to do anything about the neofacists in their own party, and mewling about how we should all just look the other way and "not blame all for a few bad apples."

I guess it's helpful to be brown or black or queer or a liberal activist, as one attempts to understand what our Security State really means. Corrente, tell us about your experiences with The Law and its upstanding representatives. Don't be afraid. Which is to say, when they want to come for you, they will, and there is nothing you can to do stop that. It's likely a lot of us will end up in a jail cell or camp or something like that before this is all done, so be brave. Help convince nice, sweet moderates like Digby that it's much, much worse than she understands, or is likely to until it's too late. Hookers and Blow cop stories are also appreciated; I'll tell you about some cop/firefighter/leather parties I've attended, and the debauchery therein. H&H do the work so I don't have to; if you haven't read this series, I invite you to make a lot of time for it.

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koan's picture
Submitted by koan on

The world is full, just full of cops who do not do shite like this.

Knowing where they may do do it, is a very good survival skill. For instance in my own home state, there is one particular county sheriffs depeartment that you do well to avoid at every opportunity.

Using those criminally dangerous f*ckers as a template for all the officers you will ever meet, is an extremely dangerous plan. There is a self limiting moment to that particular brand of righteous posturing.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

(and for the record i don't live in Chicago right now, i live in central MI)

my father and a cousin of mine are (were in my dad's case now that he's retired) high ranking judges; i have a very intimate and personal understanding of the process of "the law" in this country. you're not wrong, there are many fine police officers just doing their jobs and getting along by following the rules and trying to actually "serve and protect."

but. what i am speaking about has to do with the culture of corruption and secrecy that has been poisoning our law enforcement circles pretty much since the beginning of the War on (some) Drugs. it got worse under Reagan, and the racist sentencing laws relating to cocaine. It's been made worse still by the influx of cash to departments around the country for high tech and military equipment and other shiny toys that few men would be able to resist if someone else is paying for them. if you cannot see the increasing securitization of america, you need to look around more.

anyone who knows anything about what prison life is like for both cops and prisoners also knows that it's much less like what you see on TV, and getting worse all the time. today's prisons are almost as bad as the ones in "those countries" we like to point to when we're crowing on about our superior civilization. a long while back i posted a link about a small, white man busted for selling a few tabs of acid and his prison experiences. he was essentially given a death sentence (AIDS) because the prison system allows men like him to be raped and brutalized repeatedly. this man had been raped 000s of times over the course of his 4 year sentence. he's not in any way unique or special, in terms of what prisoners experience.

now think about the people working in such a system, enforcing its 'rules,' condemning people to it. i'm all for punishing guilty criminals, but what we do to them today suggests a such lack of humanity that it is hard for me to fully appreciate it. when speaking of people still on the outside who are targeted by our security forces, it's much the same deal. remember, many cops are more interested in moving up the hierarchy than they are "protecting neighborhoods." there has been, for example, a great deal of internal resistance to "neighborhood/block" style policing programs on the part of some police departments, even given the fact that such programs have been shown to significantly reduce crime. why is that? because in many parts of the country, the police benefit from a system in which crime flourishes, and they receive money or advancement or political power from crime staying at certain rates. it was a well known fact in my old South Shore 'hood that 2/3 of the "gang violence" shooting incidents were perpetrated by undercover cops, for example. i made friends with some of the actual "gang bangers" who held the territory of my 'hood, and they complained about this frequently, and how the media never scratched the surface of police claims about shoot-outs and who was responsible. i doubt there's ever been a scientific study about it, but i'm guess the number of black men shot for reaching for a cell phone is incredibly high.

frankly, i'm tired of the worship of our security forces. it's such a knee jerk reaction in some people, when one critiques the system of domestic policing as a whole or even in part. i blame TV; too many people think shows like "Law and Order" reflect reality. they don't. they're not even close. if i have to pick a flawed Hollywood product to reflect what I believe is closer to reality, it would be something like the movie "Training Day."

people on the outside of the world of justice and law enforcement really don't understand: in the same way we are not real or important to most Villagers when it comes to their political decision making, so too are most civvies unimportant to the decision making of cops, judges, DAs and other agents of the court. you are a process to them, mostly, not a person.

shorter me: we're all Niggers now, ok? middle class wealth, white skin, Republican party membership... none of that will save you in our neofascist modern reality.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I'm privileged enough, with my white skin and plentiful breasts, to get pretty decent treatment from the cops on the few occasions I've run across them in an "officious" capacity. My lily white, imposing partner, with enough natural charisma to get along with anyone, has always gotten along the law enforcement officials he's had the misfortune of meeting at the improper time. (His favorite saying is "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride." Being white, and able to afford a lawyer who knows the judge is the privilege that allows him to say that though.)

But I've also had enough interaction with cops, on their turf, viewing me as one of their own that they didn't have to hide their opinions from, to know that most cops don't really view civilians as the same type of people. That "Us & Them" is allegedly cultivated to allow them to feel a greater responsibility to us, but creating an Other never works out that way.

And that Othering, along with the greater glamour popular culture, our love of violence, and our war on drugs, has created a tinderbox problem that is only going to worsen as our economic woes worsen.