How Do We Get This Done?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Montbello HS protesters. Image via Twitter

Montbello HS protesters, 12/4/2014. Image via Twitter

In 1992, I watched in horror as the jury of Rodney King failed to convict the police that beat him, a black man. Even with the video, the all-white jury said that no crime was committed. At 27 years old, I felt like my world fell apart. How could the people in my generation not see this as crime? How was it possible that in 1992, as I watched Los Angeles burn, I was dealing the same disappointment my father dealt with in 1965, as he watched Watts burn.

I was sure, in my 27-year-old mind, that I had seen the last of racial inequality. In the days, weeks and years that followed Rodney King, I watched the LA police force systematically dismantled. I saw white people stand with black people and say this was wrong and we must do better as Americans. My young heart felt like that while America had failed to do the right thing for Rodney King, in the aftermath, we seemed to be learning and growing closer as a people.

I was wrong. Sign here if you want to see something change.

On November 22, 2014, a video released by the Cleveland police showed Officer Timothy A. Loehmann, 26, shooting Tamir Rice immediately upon leaving his police car on November 22. Investigators said 12-year-old Tamir was reaching into his waistband for a weapon — which turned out to be a toy pellet gun. The Cleveland police officer who shot and killed the 12-year-old last month resigned from a previous small-town police job when he was deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty, especially in his handling of firearms.

In August 2014, Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown to death in broad daylight. Despite multiple eyewitness accounts and images of his own face contradicting Wilson's narrative of events, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson.

In July 2014, New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked unarmed black man Eric Garner to death, in broad daylight, while a bystander caught it on video. Despite the video, despite an NYPD prohibition of exactly the sort of chokehold Pantaleo used, and despite the New York City medical examiner ruling the death a homicide, a Staten Island grand jury declined even to indict Pantaleo.

In November 2006, a group of five New York police officers shot unarmed black man Sean Bell to death in the early morning hours of his wedding day. In April 2008, despite multiple eyewitness accounts contradicting the officers' accounts of the incident, Justice Arthur J. Cooperman acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment.

In February of 1999, four plainclothes New York police officers shot unarmed black man Amadou Diallo to death outside of his home. A year later, an Albany jury acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment.

And the list continues…

These deadly acts of violence by law enforcement are dramatically different than the treatment we see of white violent offenders such James Holmes, the Aurora Theater shooter who killed 12 people and injured 47 others, who was apprehended alive. Let's also remember the case of Cliven Bundy, who while armed, backed up by other armed men, and trespassing on federal lands, confirmed he would kill law enforcement. As of today, Cliven Bundy has not been charged and is very much alive.

In my lifetime, the number of incidents appears to be getting worse. Which begs the question, what can we do as a progressive community?

What we need are immediate and dramatic systematic changes to policing:

• Every cop should have a body camera as required part of their uniform.
• Every police car should have a dash camera.
• Every cop should live in the neighborhood they patrol. We should get back to police being a part of the community.
• We should NEVER see a jury made up of less than 50% of the race of the defendant or the victim.
• Every police shooting should have special federal prosecutor. Clearly we cannot bring true prosecution when the prosecutor is acquainted with the judge and the cops.
• Immediately end the selling of military vehicles and equipment to local police. Americans are not enemy combatants and should NEVER be treated that way.

Now how do we get this done? Sign here if you think something needs to be done. And we'll come back to you in the future to make it happen.

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About Whiskey Lima Juliet

Pot and Politics. Pretty much sums it up.

48 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    Why not teach our children to respect authority and not attack police officers? That should be part of your list of reforms, and it's up to all of us to do it.

    • BlueCat says:

      Why don't you go screw yourself?

    • Old Time Dem says:

      Among other things, you despicable piece of shit, police are shooting first.

      And do everyone a favor and personally refrain from teaching anyone anything.  No one needs lessons from you.

      • Moderatus says:

        Then how have over 100 police officers died in the line of duty this year?

        http://www.odmp.org/search/year

        • BlueCat says:

          What does that have to do with it. Nobody said police never die in the line of duty. Police can die in the line of duty and people can be killed needlessly and unjustly by police. One doesn't prove or disprove the other. After you complete a reading comprehension course I suggest you sign up for one in rudimentary logic. Spoiler alert. Learning how to reason will completely ruin Fox for you.

    • You mean like Tamir Rice? Video shows he was sitting alone at a table minding his own business when police drove up and shot him without warning and without even taking time to evaluate just who it was they were shooting or why. (This contradicts the police account of the event.)

      Or do you mean like the baby who was killed by a stun grenade thrown into its crib – all to catch a guy that wasn't even in the house?

      There are plenty of police forces around the world that have better records than do ours. There are a few even in this country that do a good job.

      • Zappatero says:

        According to R's and Con's, every one one of these killings has a reason they are valid, a "good kill" in police parlance. Mike Rosen said as much today and had exactly the view you'd expect from an Old, White, Privileged Conservative.

    • ZMulls says:

      Just admit that you want a white, Christian America, and get it over with.  Your thinly-coded bigotry is transparent.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Hey Moldy.  How about asking your conservative politicians to tone down the racial hatred towards Obama aks Ken Buck and delicate stomach.  I think a lot of this police violence is being done by Tea Party extremists in the police departments who really truly believe that Obama is evil and they transfer their hatred for him which is constantly goosed by the Bucks of the Republican Party to any black man who stands his ground when confronted by their baiting and out of control behavior.  They act out their violent fantasies on those that they should be serving and protecting.  Tell your people to knock it off.

    • PiceanceDog says:

      Like Cliven Bundy?  

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      So I know you are a coward in your black heart Moldy and will post and hide so this is really for the rest of the posters and readers.

      Please explain how Marvin Booker was attacking police officers when he was murdered?

  2. Moderatus says:

    The Denver Police Protective Association is reporting that the student protesters yesterday cheered when a car went out of control and hit four DPD officers, injuring one seriously. Student protesters actually shouted "hit him again!"

    Is that the lesson our kids should be learning? Do you condone this behavior?

    • BlueCat says:

      The kids I saw interviewed were devastated. There were absolutely no violent incidents initiated by the East High kids. Why don't you go screw yourself?

      PS You might want to tune into FOX.  All your fave talking heads there expressed how appalled they were by the NYC decision not to indict in the Garner case. 

      PPS And don't forget to go screw yourself.

    • Canines says:

      Q: What's the only union that Republicans on Colorado Pols tend to side with or even listen to with a modicum of respect?

      A: The Police Union.

      • BlueCat says:

        From our own Channel 9:

        DPD said Thursday it cannot independently confirm claims that students cheered after the officers were struck.

        "If in fact there were inappropriate actions taken by a few students, Chief White does not believe this reflects the opinions of the vast majority of protesters from East High School," DPD said in a written statement.

        East senior Ivy Lindstrom said she didn't hear fellow protesters cheering the officers' injuries but would not be surprised if a small number of outliers did something inappropriate.

        "There are always a couple of agitators in the crowd," Lindstrom said. "When the story came out that protesters cheered, it upset me because it puts the people who protested down and makes us look like uneducated youth, when in fact we were very respectful and were very troubled when the officers  were hit."

        http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/12/04/police-union-protesters-cheered-when-officers-hit-by-car/19918403/

        There are bound to be a few idiots in any large crowd, especially a large crowd of teens. Show me a crowd of a thousand teens completely free of knuckleheads. In this space time continuum. Naturally Fox and the police want to make those possible few idiots the story to discredit the entire protest. Not, please note, that the department claims that the story of even a few can be independently confirmed.

        Oh and Modster?  Once again, don't forget to go screw yourself.

         

      • BlueCat says:

        More on the alleged cheering from the Denver Post:

        Although some obscenities were directed at police while they were escorting the East High School protesters, Denver Post journalists witnessed no cheering after a Mercedes hit four officers. Students who were interviewed expressed concern about the injuries.

        In its response to the union, the Denver Police Department said it could not independently confirm claims that students cheered.

        "If in fact there were inappropriate actions taken by a few students Chief (Robert) White does not believe this reflects the opinions of the vast majority of protesters," according to the police statement.

        Denver Public Schools said in a statement that it had no knowledge of such comments, but said "we would deplore any such comments and will look into the allegation."

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        We also listen to the taxpayer's union.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Can you give us any evidence of this statement?

      A link to a reliable news source.

    • Old Time Dem says:

      Rule No. 1:  Cops lie.

       

      • BlueCat says:

        Covering each other's asses and presenting a united supportive front is and has always been integral to police culture. Kind of like no snitchin' on the street. Throughout the history of modern policing an officer who breaks this code is considered a traitor. Without independent verification there is simply no credibility there.

        Still, I'd be surprised if it was entirely untrue that a couple of knuckleheads may have behaved badly but there is no evidence that the overwhelming majority of these East High kids did not behave admirably.  Granted, subsequent student protests from other schools seem not to have quite measured up to the standards of the one by East High students. Nothing like a riot took place, no violent behavior was reported and, while we have concrete evidence in the form of interviews with students, of dismay and trauma over what happened to those bicycle cops, we have no concrete evidence of the alleged cheering, much less that, if it did occur, it involved more than a few.

  3. With you on most of this, but I am not clear on what you  mean by, "We should NEVER see a jury made up of less than 50% of the race of the defendant or the victim."
    What about multiple victims? Multiple defendants? What about mixed race jurors, victims, defendants? Who decides and based on what criteria what someone's official race is? When we sit alternates do we need a panel big enough to ensure the right balance is kept to replace anyone who might be excused?
    I am not certain I am understanding this one correctly, but it just doesn't sound workable.

    • BlueCat says:

      Have to agree there. Juries should represent the community, though. If it's a mainly African American community the jury should be mainly African American but an arbitrary half rule doesn't seem like the way to go.

      • That was something that the St. Louis grand jury didn't have – appropriate representation of the community.

        The Staten Island GJ did represent its community, though – remember that Staten Island is one of the few Republican districts of New York, and it has some pretty old fashioned views to go along with that distinction.

        We can't always have a majority for victims and defendants on a grand jury. We can only try to ensure that the people serving can serve without bias.

  4. Zappatero says:

    Police Sargeant shot unarmed male crime victim wearing only boxers.

    A Cleveland police sergeant shot at a crime victim who was wearing only his underwear, claiming the man may have had a weapon. DOJ found the use of deadly force "unreasonable."

  5. mamajama55 says:

    I agree, WLJ, and would add that we need to get back to a community policing model. Restorative Justice, funding for community improvement and youth projects, etc.

    Having said that, I'll add that one can't just throw dollars at the problem. Weed and Seed, for example, which was supposed to have been a community policing initiative turned out to be a waste of money, and an opportunity for patronage.

    So we have to be smart about it.

    I would add that some of us need to be conscious of our privilege when dealing with the criminal justice system. I once drove a half a year with expired license plates – as a white, middle aged woman, driving an older compact car, no cop ever glances at me twice.  My white kids have had second chances and tolerance that  non-white kids would not ever get.

    So to answer Moderatus' query about why we can't just teach our kids to respect police – Duh….of course, we need to do that. Police are worthy of respect. I owe my life and property to police, and I give them the same props I would anyone who vows to "serve and protect".  For minority youth, treating police with respect and courtesy is also a survival skill.

    (and I signed the petition).

     

    • notaskinnycook says:

      I may get the last word on this thread as it is almost midnight. I posted this the other day in the Ferguson thread but it bears repeating in view of MamaJ's comment above:                                                                                                                         41 shots, Lena gets her son ready for school
      She says, "On these streets, Charles
      You've got to understand the rules
      If an officer stops you, promise me you'll always be polite
      And that you'll never ever run away
      Promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight"

      Is it a gun (is it a gun), is it a knife (is it a knife)
      Is it a wallet (is it a wallet), this is your life (this is your life)
      It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret)
      It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret)
      No secret my friend
      You can get killed just for living in your American skin
      Bruce Springsteen                                                                                           41 Shots (American Skin)

       

       

      – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/my-comments#sthash.VVqEBzEU.dpuf

    • Democrat1207 says:

      Well most non whites I think Asians shouldn't have much of a problem. As an Asian male myself I feel this is true. Look at stop and frisk in NYC you never heard of Asians been targeted. Now can we still face issues sure but a whole lot better for us, which is why when Gallup polled how people felt about race relations 70% of Asians said it was good compared to 47% for Blacks and Latinos. 

  6. Gilpin Guy says:

    Let's call it what it is: Police Violence   Like corruption it is indicative of a culture that has lost it's soul.  No person of color believes that the police are in their neighborhoods to serve and protect the citizens.  Maybe people would respect police officers again if they started serving and protecting all people regardless of their skin color.

  7. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    My issue with the race of the jury is complicated, of course.  What would be the outrage in America if a white cop had to face an all black jury, or a jury with 12 black people and 3 white people, and the cop was found guilty?

    Let me remind how many of you all felt with OJ, who had a mostly black jury that set him free.  Now ask yourself if that scenario happened every year, or numerous times a year, what would the white community feel about the ability of blacks to be fair and just? 

    I can say with complete certainty that many in black America are questioning if white people can fair when a black life is being judged…

     

    • Democrat1207 says:

      And many probably feel there are whites out there who can be fair

    • BlueCat says:

      It's only the idea of a set quota that I disagree with. I do agree with your larger point. For instance, in the Fergusen case there were 9 on the grand jury who returned a no true, meaning a decision not to indict. Guess who was picked for the Grand jury? 9 whites and 3 African Americans. Guess how many are required to decide whether or not to indict? 9.

      The intention of the prosecutor, whose own father was a policeman killed in the line of duty seemed pretty crystal clear from day one. BTW how could he possibly not have been directed to recuse himself? The grand jury not only didn't come close to reflecting the make up of the community but was no doubt selected with the specific intention of failing to indict. Having lived in the general St. Louis area of Missouri for a couple of years and having friends who still live on the Missouri/ southern Illinois border, I can tell you that the level of racism and prejudice among the white population in that part of the country is pretty sky high. No problem finding plenty of scary good ol' boy rednecks in that state.

  8. Democrat1207 says:

    Points 1,2,5, and 6 are viable and should happen

    Points 3 and 4 not so much and 4 esp may not be possible its only required that a jury pool be of your peers  not the jury. 

  9. Laura Altobelli says:

    In order to accomplish any of these, there will need to be a fight with the police union–they are the ones responsible for creating policy that protects dangerous cops more vehemently than the Catholic church protects dangerous priests. The stark reality of the entitlement of police officers,and the protection of their well paid jobs is the reason why public safety takes a back seat.

  10. Duke Cox says:

     The stark reality of the entitlement of police officers,and the protection of their well paid jobs is the reason why public safety takes a back seat.

    Strike "police officers"and insert any job or position, substitute "public interest" for "public safety", and you have a principle that is almost axiomatic.  Indeed, I have seen this principle at play, even the non-profit, environmental field.

    The operant word is "entitled". Of all the great hypocrisies visited upon the world by our neo-cons, their practice of criticizing the entitlement of the poor and the aged is perhaps the greatest. No one appears to be more consumed with feelings of entitlement than your average rightie….it's their county, after all….

    • BlueCat says:

      Not sure I agree about the well paid part. In many municipalities people don't want to spring for the kind of pay that would attract a higher quality pool of candidates nor do they want to spring for an adequate size force and support for that force to to do quality community based policing and provide a decent reliable response rate. Cutting is always good. Taxes are always bad. Sometimes getting what you pay for enters into it and contributes to a besieged us against them, rather than protect and serve, mentality in the relationship between the police and the communities they work in. 

  11. ohwilleke says:

    I would suggest a change in the rules for civil liability for excessive force and constitutional violations:

    1.  Vicarious liability of entities for civil rights violations by their employees and agents without the qualified immunity defense available to individual law enforcement officers.

    2.  A layer of "takings jurisprudence" liability on top of intentional deprivation of civil rights liability.  In takings jurisprudence a person would be entitled to compensatory damages for deprivation of life and liberty and property under color of law in any circumstance where the person had not actually engaged in conduct authorizing this taking, without regard to blame for how that came to be.  For example, someone wrongfully imprisoned would be entitled to compensation even if there was no official misconduct or violation of due process and the jury simply got it wrong in good faith.  Similarly, a guy shot and killed by a cop because he was holding a banana and the cop mistook it for a gun would be entitled to compensatory damages even if the cop was genuinely mistaken and took reasonable care and had appropriate training.

    These standards would create the proper incentive – to avoid harm – rather than an insufficient one – to punish government officials who set out to violate civil rights intentionally.

    Often the harm is due to intentional violations where intent is just too hard to prove anyway.

    • mamajama55 says:

      ^^^^^ohwilleke^^^^please translate your post. I think you're saying that citizens could more easily sue police if their civil rights were violated, even if there were no evidence that the officer intended to violate civil rights.

      Is that it? 
       

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