FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The People’s Police Commission

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.

More articles by:

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. 

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail