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Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists, as the greatest threat to the American public. Rogelio Serrato is the latest case to be in the news of an innocent person murdered by the police. Serrato was the wrong man, but the Monterey County, California, SWAT team killed the 31-year old father of four and left the family home a charred ruin.
The fact that SWAT teams often go to the wrong door shows the carelessness with which excessive force is used. In one instance the police even confused the town’s mayor with a drug dealer, broke into his home, shot dead the family’s pet dogs, and held the mayor and his wife and children at gun point. But most cases of police brutality never make the news.
Most who suffer abuse from the police don’t bother to complain. They know that to make an enemy of the police brings a lifetime of troubles. Those who do file complaints find that police departments tend to be self-protective and that the naive and gullible public tends to side with the police.
However, you can find plenty of examples of police brutality on youtube, more than you can watch in a lifetime. I have just searched google for “youtube police brutality” and the result is: “497,000 results.” There’s everything from police shooting a guy in a wheelchair to body slamming a befuddled 89-year old great grandmother to tasering kids and mothers with small children. The fat goon cops love to beat up on women, kids, and old people.
The 497,000 google results may contain duplicates as more than one person might have posted a video of the same event, and the incidents occurred over more than one year. However, probably only a small percentage of incidents are captured on video by onlookers, and many incidents of police brutality have no witnesses. What the videos reveal is that a large percentage of police move with alacrity to assault the public. The number of incidences could be very high. One million annually would not be an exaggeration.
In contrast, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2009 (the most recent year for which data is compiled), there were 806,000 aggravated assaults (not including assaults by police against the public) by criminals against the public, of which 216,814 were committed by hands and feet and not by weapons. (In the U.S. if you merely push a person or grab his arm, you have committed assault. “Freedom and democracy” America uses any excuse to multiply the number of felons.)
Considering the data, one might conclude that the police are a greater danger to the public than are criminals.
Indeed, the trauma from police assault can be worse than from assault by criminals. The public thinks the police are there to protect them. Thus, the emotional and psychological shock from assault by police is greater than the trauma from being mugged because you stupidly wandered into the wrong part of town.
Why are the police so aggressive toward the public?
In part because their ranks attract bullies, sociopaths and psychopaths. Even normal cops are proud of their authority and expect deference. Even cops who are not primed to be set off can turn nasty in a heartbeat.
In part because police are not accountable. The effort decades ago to have civilian police review boards was beat back by “law and order” conservatives.
In part because the police have been militarized by the federal government, equipped with military weapons, and trained to view the public as the enemy.
In part because the Bush/Cheney/Obama regimes have made every American a suspect. The only civil liberty that has any force in the U.S. today is the law against racial discrimination. This law requires that every American citizen be treated as if he were a Muslim terrorist. The Transportation Security Administration rigorously enforces the refusal to discriminate between terrorist and citizen at airports and is now taking its gestapo violations of privacy into every form of travel and congregation: trucking, bus and train travel, sports events, and, without doubt, shopping centers and automobile traffic.
This despite the fact that there have been no terrorist incidents that could be used to justify such an expansive intrusion into privacy and freedom of movement.
The TSA has not caught a single terrorist. However, it has abused and inconvenienced several hundred thousand innocent American citizens.
The abuse happens, because people with authority are dying to use the authority. The absence of terrorists means that the TSA turns innocent Americans into terrorists. There have been so many absurd cases. One woman traveling with her ill and dying mother, who required special food, had contacted the TSA prior to the flight, explained the situation, and was given permission to take the special food onboard. But when she went through “security,” the food was taken away, and when she protested she was arrested and hauled off, leaving the elderly mother in a wheelchair deserted.
Others have been arrested because a member of the household used a suitcase or carry bag to take guns and ammunition to the gun club or on a hunting trip and forgot to remove all the ammo, or the explosives test detected gunpowder residuals. Boy Scouts forgot to remove pocket knives from backpacks that they took on camping trips. Lactating mothers forced to give up breast milk. And so on.
These are the “great dangers” that the TSA protect the american sheeple from, and the sheeple submit, even servilely thanking their oppressors for protecting them.
Submission is what the government and the police want. Anyone who argues with TSA or the police will be abused. An American who stands up for his rights is likely to be beaten to a pulp. TSA has announced that such Americans are “suspects” and will be held in indefinite detention.
And “our” government assures us that we have “freedom and democracy.” We have a police state, and everyone who forgets it is in deep trouble.
The Amerikan police state is closely allied with police states all over the world–Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East and former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire in Central Asia. The U.S. government never lifts a finger in behalf of democracy anywhere. In fact, the U.S. government quickly moves to overthrow democracy wherever it rears its head, as the U.S. recently did in Honduras. Before Honduras it was Palestine where the U.S. overturned the election that brought Hamas to power. Now Washington is targeting Lebanon where Hisbollah has gained.
Everywhere on earth the U.S.government prefers an autocracy that it can purchase to free elections that bring to power candidates unwilling to serve as American puppets.
The U.S. government is the most determined foe of democracy in the world. Yet, Washington lectures China, which has more civil liberties than Bush/Cheney/Obama permit Americans.
If Americans ever find the emotional strength to acknowledge the oppression under which they live, they, too, will be in the streets.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com