FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The People’s Police Commission

by KEVIN CARSON

For years, the standard drill after a police beating or shooting, when it was a citizen’s word against a cop’s and the cop’s testimony was backed up by his Brothers in Blue, was “administrative leave” with pay for the cop — until a review board found “no evidence of official wrongdoing” and that “all official procedures and policies were followed.” The exceptions — such as the Rodney King beating and the Abner Louima case — were rare cases in which the offending thugs were stupid or careless enough to get caught.

The same is true of police violence at demonstrations. Compare the Occupy movement’s effective use of police violence video in Oakland, Portland, NYC and UC Davis with the state of affairs a decade ago in the period between Seattle and the anti-FTAA demos in Miami. Cell phone video and online video hosting back then were still in an undeveloped state. About the only place you saw documented info about police riots at anti-globalization events was Indymedia. Mainstream news almost totally adhered to the official narrative of masked Black Bloc vandals smashing windows at Macy’s.

These days, when amateur video goes viral, there’s no way the mainstream media can ignore it.

Regardless of the actual law, police in just about any jurisdiction in the U.S. will falsely claim that recording them is illegal, and probably smash your phone (and your face) in the bargain.

But with rapidly cheapening real-time Web uplink capabilities, we’re approaching the point where the only thing smashing a phone will get the cop is a viral YouTube video — not only of the original misbehavior, but of the entire interaction, from the initial threats to the scuffle to take the phone away.

Frankly, I don’t even care what penalty the sham investigation winds up imposing on Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis campus police. I think I’d actually prefer he retire on disability in a few more years after a nervous breakdown, and spend the rest of his life afraid to leave his house. He’s hardly yet begun to grasp just what hell the rest of his life is going to be.

He wears the mark of Cain. His phone number, email address and street address are already widely publicized. Even if he isn’t discharged from the force, every time he encounters a student in the course of his duties he’ll wonder if that’s a sneer of contempt or just his imagination. Every time he deals with a server or cashier, or meets anyone new, he’ll see that brief look of recognition followed by a frozen mask of politely suppressed revulsion. As the saying goes, “You can run but you can’t hide.”

This probably marks the first time the new rules of the game have been really impressed on the minds of cops everywhere. You can rest assured the lesson isn’t lost on Pike’s colleagues, or on their contacts in the national law enforcement professional grapevine. The viral images of his face and body language, as he sprays human beings like insects, are well known to them.  Even if he stays on the force, watching his ongoing transformation into a defeated wreck of a man will be the best object lesson his buddies in uniform could ever receive. Being publicly recorded behaving like a pig will guarantee, beyond the shadow of a doubt, spending the rest of one’s life in the same solitary hell as Lt. Pike.

This is just another example of how self-organized networks are increasingly empowered to take on powerful institutions, in ways that once required the countervailing power of other institutions. The problem, back then, was that so-called “oversight” bodies more often than not clustered in complexes of allied institutions with those they were supposed to oversee.  Hence the largely pro forma “investigations” by police commissions, civilian review boards, and the like.

But now we have a people’s police commission of our own. It’s called amateur video. And it will do to criminal scum like Lt. Pike what a whole world of police commissions, pretending to act on our behalf, couldn’t.

Kevin Carson is a research associate at the Center for a Stateless Society. his written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail