Class Warfare Blog

October 26, 2019

Over and Over and Over. . . .

In the news yesterday were a couple of stories showing that our “justice systems” are anything but. The first involves a trial concerning the actions of a group of Catholic peace activists, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. In April 2018, they broke into the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, where they carried out what they claimed was an act of symbolic disarmament in protest against the U.S. military’s continued possession of nuclear weapons. As Sam Husseini wrote in The Nation, “[they] brought hammers, small bottles of blood, spray paint, and crime scene tape, which they strung across the facility.” Charged with several federal crimes, they face more than twenty years in prison if convicted. (Source: Rewire News web site).

The second item, well the title tells it all “Video shows officer shooting fleeing Fresno teen in the back of the head.” (Go ahead, guess what color the teen was . . . I’ll wait.)

In the first case . . . twenty years in prison for vandalism? The focus of the piece was on whether a religious exception for their behavior should be allowed, but I say it should be on whether the possible sentences fit the crime. No real property damage, just a janitorial bill, and no people were hurt. What say we publicly shame them for their poor choice of actions and make them clean up the mess, while video taping it for public distribution? How about putting them in a situation where if they do it again, they will be automatically punished more severely. Twenty years of someone’s life for an act of vandalism is bizarre.

In the second case, police officers seem to be willing to employ lethal force at the drop of a hat. The oft-cited reason for this is that if an officer fears for his life, he may use lethal force justifiably. This, “fearing for one’s life,” is a bogus justification for anything as it cannot be verified by anyone outside of the officer him/herself. Plus this creates a legal standard based upon a fear level that cannot be quantified or even examined. Plus, isn’t the job basically to manage one’s own fears to keep society safer? In this case, the 16-year old victim was a member of a small group already in custody, so it should have been a priority of those officers to make sure they were unarmed, no? Then the kid bolts and runs away, only to have one officer calmly put a bullet in his head from 35 feet away, then walk up to his unmoving body and handcuff him.

There is a very short list of criminal offences for which the death penalty can be applied (after due process, of course). Why then do we allow police officers to mete out the death penalty for trivial offences? In this case the young man was wanted for “questioning.” We need to change that rule for justification of lethal force. Lethal force should only be available for crimes for which the death penalty is available. If that kid had pulled out a gun and shot at the officers, they would be justified in shooting back because he would have been attempting to kill an officer of the law, for which the death penalty is available in many states. Running away from the police should result in him being chased, not shot and killed.

How many of these cases showing our criminal justice systems are really quite broken must we see before we take reformation of these systems as a serious priority?

12 Comments »

  1. Sounds as bad if not worse than the SA Police during the heydays of Apartheid.

    Like

    Comment by Arkenaten — October 26, 2019 @ 9:23 am | Reply

    • These are not the norm … yet, but they are too frequent to be tolerated. This does not happen elsewhere and, I believe, is a manifestation of their training (#1 priority is their own safety) and the demonization of Black males, especially young Black males. I suspect you could take a young black minister and dress him in street clothes and simply have him approach any cop with a heartbeat monitor (like an Apple Watch or the equivalent) and you would see the cop’s heart rate go up. They are heavily primed to see “young, Black, male” as a threatening combination even if he was quoting scripture as he walked up to the cop. And what happens if you are under threat? You feel fear. (Blam! Blam! Blam!)

      On Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 9:23 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 26, 2019 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  2. I agree 20 is a bit much, but so is a description of vandalism for breaking into a boomer. Sorry, but if I’m out in a sub I prefer the they not have been vandalized by anyone. And then there are the nukes.

    Like

    Comment by Bill — October 26, 2019 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  3. I watched the video on this and it’s sickening! There is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION for the cop to shoot that kid. He was running away — he wasn’t attacking … threatening … or even verbally assaulting anyone. He was presenting NO danger to anyone.

    And yes … the cop who did the shooting acted as though it was No. Big. Deal. I’m sure in HIS mind, he was totally and completely justified because, well, because it was a BLACK kid … and you just know they’re up to no-good.

    Like

    Comment by Nan — October 26, 2019 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

    • I am afraid we are getting outrage fatigue. Since I was young and realized the extent of prejudice against Black people in this country I have had the attitude that if I had been born Black I would have been dead a long time ago because I just wouldn’t put up with the shit you have to take.

      On Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 4:29 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 29, 2020 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  4. If the priests had been Protestant right wing fundamentalists, the outcome would be much different, but of course, those type wouldn’t be protesting against nuclear weapons either, as they’d be for it…closer to the rapture and all that bs.

    And while I think there are certainly good cops, it seems many today are racist.

    Like

    Comment by maryplumbago — October 28, 2019 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

    • I think there is a culture and their police trainings that preach “young black man = dangerous” that we created out of our racist tendencies. Even Black police officers have succumbed to this meme.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 28, 2019 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

      • Even Black police officers have succumbed to this meme — and this is truly a tragedy. But then … who pays their salary? Who do they often work side-by-side with? Who will “blackball” them in a mixed environment work force?

        Like

        Comment by Nan — October 28, 2019 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

        • The pressures to conform are immense. I don’t blame them as they are victims … not as big as the one’s being gunned down, but I can’t imagine having to live with the thought that I killed somebody just because I was scared.

          On Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 12:31 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — October 28, 2019 @ 1:01 pm | Reply

  5. My own opinion is, the killings by cops in ‘Merikkka stops and very soon, or we get another civil war.
    In the early 1990’s my now dead wife and I went every Wednesday evening for 13 weeks to get informed on how our city police went about keeping citizens safe and keeping the peace of our city. Very informative and we felt worth our time. The police who ran this series of classes told us that lethal force was warranted ONLY to protect life, yours or that of another person, even if you didn’t know said person you were trying to protect. Hey, the cops probably do not know the name of the people they may have to try and save from a sniper……yes, going way back to the D.C. sniper case. Crimes against property—vandalism are crimes where the use of deadly force is NOT warranted.
    Personally, having been to war, I’d be ever so damn freaking happy if nuclear bombs/missiles/etc. didn’t work. Plain old gunpowder weapons do enough damage. Tossing back to those long gone days; make love NOT war! War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

    Like

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — October 28, 2019 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

    • War… huh … (catchy tune). I know that high quality police departments teach that deadly force is only warranted under certain conditions but those conditions have been jiggered over time. Young Black males have been painted as “Dangerous!” in our culture (the New Jim Crow) and so are half way to being shot at. Then the rules changed that allowed deadly force to be applied when an officer of the law was in fear of … of … whatever and so you have the perfect storm.

      I wish as much training were being done in de-escalation of conflicts as in shooting ones way out of them. I would rather criminals get away than cops get killed. The criminals can be caught later but not so much by dead cops.

      On Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 3:03 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — January 27, 2020 @ 11:39 am | Reply

  6. Thank you very much for this great post! I really enjoyed reading it and learning from your thoughts! I have recently published an article on my blog regarding my opinion on the death penalty. If you have time, it would be great if you could check out my post and let me know your thoughts! Thanks 🙂

    Like

    Comment by thelevinelowdown — January 28, 2020 @ 6:05 am | Reply


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