In 2010, two Los Angeles police officers, one Black and one Latino, were patrolling Koreatown when they came upon Steve Washington, an autistic young man. When he “failed to comply” with police orders, he was shot to death. Washington was unarmed.
Washington’s mother was ultimately awarded a $950,000 settlement for her son’s death. The officers were consigned to desk duty and their requests to return to the field were denied. LA police chief Charlie Beck said the officers had shown they were unfit for street duty because of the way they handled the Steve Washington “incident.” Beck, of course, is a complete hypocrite. He also said the officers were justified in fearing for their lives and thus in killing Washington.
The officers sued the LAPD for discrimination for keeping them in desk jobs. Last week a jury awarded them $4 million. In other words, the refusal to let them go back to the streets to shoot more people is, in the eyes of our court system, worth more than four times as much as the life of an innocent man. Much more than that when you consider that they drew and continue to draw near six figure salaries for sitting at a desk.
Outrageous. But let’s go deeper.
Between 2005 and 2011, LA police officers sued their own department over workplace issues more than 250 times. How serious were these issues? Consider that fifteen LAPD officers committed suicide in 2014. The city paid settlements in the workplace lawsuits that came to $18 million. Add to that the $4 million from last week and the $950,000 awarded to Steve Washington’s mom. That’s a total of $22,950,000 (which comes from taxpayers, not “the city”). How many libraries could be kept open with that money?
The police are now part of an overt military force, as was seen by all in Ferguson, Missouri. Meanwhile, suicide among active duty military personnel is at an all-time high. A new study of California high school students reveals that the children of parents who are in the military are 60 per cent more likely to attempt suicide than students whose parents are civilian.
All this violence comes from one source. We live in a world dominated by a global one per cent that is determined to control all the people their system uses, abuses, and ultimately abandons. By any means necessary.
This will continue until we acknowledge what is hidden in plain sight: We now have the ability to base the world on the universal distribution of the unlimited abundance that lies just out of reach. We need control of THINGS in order to be sure that each and every person gets everything they need. We do not need the control of PEOPLE and we do not need any of the overlords who insist on exercising or directing that control.
Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. RRRC is now available for free by emailing Ballinger at: firstname.lastname@example.org.