The incidence of police brutality in the U.S. has been on the steady rise since 9/11. Paul Craig Roberts did a nice job at indexing many of the more troubling recent cases in his Counterpunch article.
One of the most common tendencies popping up is Cops Gone Wild With Tasers. This controversial method of subduing “criminals” has entered university police stations, where officers can take out all of their pent up rage against people with brains.
At the University of Florida, John Kerry watched in complete subservience to a group of rent-a-cops who arrested and tased a student attempting to press the former presidential candidate on why he didn’t challenge the 2004 election results. Of course, in a functioning democracy with a functioning civil society, the crowd watching would have risen to his defense, and the distinguished senator most certainly would have commanded down the officers. At least, the cops should be relieved of their duty and thrown in jail for assaulting and electrocuting an innocent student, and the senator should be immediately relieved of duty for not standing up for democracy. Kerry took an oath to the constitution in becoming senator, and here we have footage of him circumventing that oath: (http://youtube.com/watch?v=sE76LQwT6qA&mode=related&search=).
Meanwhile, an Iranian-American student at UCLA was tased and arrested in a computer lab for not presenting his ID in what appeared to be a profiled check. At worst, this student was doing what I have done for years because I am a cheapskate: sneaking into university computer labs to get Internet for free. Lucky for me, I haven’t been tased yet.
minor and non-violent crimes.
A classic example of this runs after midnight on MSNBC under the header “To Catch a Predator.” The concept is simple: bait and entrap a bunch of harmless pushovers into supposedly soliciting a minor for sex on the Internet. In none of these cases are the people guilty of the charge, because they in fact chatted with of-age decoys: pretty little 19 year olds prostituting themselves for the pigs. Nonetheless, the “predators” are normally shown being tackled and forcibly restrained as if they were in Al Qaeda. On at least one occasion, the supposed predator was tased before being thrown to the ground, despite video evidence of him not resisting arrest: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JWLqLSH4i3A.
In all of these cases, imagined charges are used as an excuse for cops fetishizing a chance to brutalize and humiliate people. Yes, I would surmise that the real sexual deviants in To Catch a Predator are the men in blue, long known as closet cases with repressed sexual desires stemming from a totalitarian household in their childhood. The host, Chris Hanson, also likely suffers from a sexual disorder where humiliating desperate men helps make him feel better about his own inadequacies.
Nonetheless, the sexual disorders present in police officers aren’t sufficient to explain the third tendency to be discussed in this article: “Cops Gone Wild in Airports.” Any cop on this planet would dream of working in a post-9/11 American airport, where the Gestapo runs free. Because of the irrational hysteria that hit the mainstream of the country after 9/11, the cops can use security as a trump card to get away with anything, including murder.
Fortunately, we have Youtube. Here is footage of a young woman getting thrown around by cops at Reagan Airport in D.C. And here is coverage of an extraordinary case of an Iraq War veteran getting brutally beaten at McCarron Airport in Vegas.
However, neither of these amounted to the cruel and unusual punishment seen at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) on September 28th, where Carol Anne Gotbaum, wife of an influential labor advocate in New York, was restrained and ultimately killed.
The report officially handed down from the Goon Party of PHX was that Mrs. Gotbaum died while shackled and handcuffed in a holding cell at the airport. They claim that she was checked on every 15 minutes, until a 10-minute period elapsed wherein she stopped making noise. At this point, security spokespeople claim that she was found dead, with the handcuffs pulled around her neck, thus causing her suffocation.
Right. And so we should probably recruit Fox Mulder to handle the case, because short of witchcraft or black magic, this story can’t possibly be true.
Becky Ackers on LewRockwell.com has suggested another possibility: perhaps Gotbaum just so happened to be a contortionist. One out of every several thousand humans have the rare gift of extraordinary flexibility, where they can remove their shoulders from their sockets voluntarily, with little to no pain. So this could possibly explain how she was able to wrap handcuffs around her neck when they started around her wrists and behind her back.
More likely, she was killed when one of the coppers pinned her to the floor in response to her outrage at U.S. Airways’ mishandling of the departure process. A privileged Manhattan-ite, Gotbaum wasn’t used to having mindless bureaucrats push her around. But that’s what she had: idiots at an airport refusing to let her on a plane that was sitting out on the tarmac. The reason airport officials gave was that since 9/11 they can’t let people board a plane after the gate is closed, even before the departure time. She was also likely irate because the goons running the security checkpoint were responsible for the delay that caused her to miss her plane. She probably pleaded, as I would, in saying “how can you let me check in for a flight and go through security but then not let me on the plane!!!?”
I imagine that the rent-a-cops on hand were all obese or nearing it, as that is certainly the norm nowadays. Thus, a 250 lb. cop told to treat everyone as a possible terrorist meets a 120 lb. woman having a typical run in with airport workers, and he accidentally strangles her in his attempt to unjustly arrest her.
Then the cop, realizing that he killed her, panics and invents a story with the help of colleagues and supervisors, and they attempt to sell it to the public. The corporate press, as is also the modern day norm, then buys the story and only reluctantly reports conflicting accounts coming from the mouths of bystanders: some who claim that Gotbaum was unconscious before even making it to the holding cell.
What we have here is a continuation of the abuse of power by police officers that has been the norm since day one in the Land of the Free. What’s significantly new is that the abuse is no longer focused against racial and ethnic minorities, hippies, anarchists, communists and activists. Instead, in most of these cases, the victims were just white people with big mouths.
This probably means that I am wise to keep my main residence in Paris’ 12th arrondissement, as my living days in the states would be severely numbered.
However, civil society ought pipe up and start a public crusade against the growing Gestapo tendency in the United States. The other alternative is well predicted by 20th century history: you allow enough people with big mouths to be killed off, and there will soon be no one left to protect the remainder of the population.
MATT REICHEL now lives in France. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org