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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail