What astonished me about the Vonderrit Myers Jr. shooting was this:
The shooting has drawn attention to the widespread practice of St Louis police officers working second jobs as private security guards. The officer who shot Myers was wearing his police uniform at the time, something permitted by the department. GCI alone was reported in 2012 to employ 168 police officers.
So, you’re not working as a cop, but purely as a private citizen, but you’re allowed to keep wearing your uniform? WTF?
What astonished me was another unarmed black man was shot in St. Louis. The uniform thing seems wrong too.
That bit didn’t surprise me in the least. Disgusted me, sure.
But the timing! Couldn’t they keep their pants zipped for a couple of months?
When there are really no consequences or repercussions for this sort of thing, why bother?
I’d like to think that I still wouldn’t do it if I got paid vacation (sorry “administrative leave”) if I shot some of my clients, but…
One more thing…
I hate to say it, but I see little effect in marching/protesting etc… (and I know this will gall a lot of the BB social activists, but trust me I’m not trolling here), but I fear that little will be achieved as long as the protestors belong to a group that has little economic power.
Yes, it’s great that protests increase awareness, but until it can hurt politicians where they care (in the pocketbook/campaign re-election funds), I see little motivation for any proper government oversight of police forces and little motivation for actual change in police culture.
The police in every town, on every street, and in every capacity in the US are an occupying army and deserved to be treated as such.
This won’t change until:
Every US officer carries a live-recording camera with encrypted, secured, and cloud-archived footage. This should be the top budgeting priority. Your APCs can come later.
Police are forced to disarm and trained in a manner that shifts the paradigm of lethal-force to resemble that of nothern Europe. This must include, at the very least, leaving lethal weaponry OFF of the tool belt of anything but highly-trained, elite, credintialed, <~5% of officers.
(When the tool closest to your dominant hand all day is your toothbrush, you’ll brush your teeth quite frequently.)
clients → wards
The effects will be irregular at best (and will not, of course, have any effect on assorted unsavory practices that the feds are in favor of); but pure media visibility might actually have some effect:
The local police department typically has ironclad establishment cred and a reasonably airtight self-defense mechanism at a local level, and you aren’t going to crack that without influence at that level, which these protesters mostly don’t have.
However, it is very likely that a much greater portion of the local PD’s protection against state and federal laws and requirements to which they are theoretically subject is derived from obscurity rather than power. You’ve got the assorted federal civil rights legislation, more or less entirely designed to let the feds expose various benighted local operations to the harsh light of constitutional standards. You’ve also got assorted public records laws. Both are virtually certain to be underused; but publicity can temporarily change that.
In this case, since the guy was private sector at the time, some of the various ‘pretend that internal affairs is an adequate substitute for actual court’ bullshit might also be harder to pull off.
In many jurisdiction off-duty police working in police-related employment are required to wear their regulation uniforms (and weapons). They’re not acting as private citizens, but as police, and as state actors they can be sued for constitutional violations they commit while working these off-duty jobs.
In the USA, it is common for off-duty police officers to rent themselves out – badge, weapon, uniform, arrest powers and all – to private businesses.
That literally renting a government official is considered “normal” in America may be even more disturbing than the practice itself.
I tend to agree with you. Protest is very easy to ignore.
‘Occupy’ on the other hand…
while it would be great if protest changed the people’s minds at the top, it’s also about creating community.
history classes love to talk about “great leaders” – as if the rest of us could sit back and wait for one to appear to fix things. or protest enough, and get one to listen.
instead, change takes organized groups of people working together, outside and inside government. protest is one way to help build those networks, and strengthen those muscles.
This is a practice that may take decades to undo, but the mechanism for doing so is somewhat trivial. When CBAs come due for negotiation, municipalities must insist on inserting “no moonlighting” clauses into police contracts. That way, if Officer Triggerhappy decides it would be nice to draw two paychecks while in uniform, s/he can be sent on the long road to getting fired with a rather large demerit. (Union environments make it difficult to summarily fire workers, unless certain offenses are written into their CBAs as something one cannot file a grievance against.)
I suppose protest is where that starts then.
But by all that’s worth a fuck, it’s frustrating to watch it all happen in such slow motion…
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