Thursday, February 14, 2008
More bad apples
The widely publicized incident in Florida of a quadriplegic man being dumped from his wheelchair by a sheriff's deputy has resulted in the suspension without pay of the dumper and the placement of three other officers on administrative leave. That appears to account for all the officers present, which is a lot of bad apples in one room. And if the incident hadn't been caught on video, I believe we would be reading a story of how the victim Brian Sterner had "suffered from an accident while in police custody."
The crime that brought Mr. Sterner to the police station was a driving offense and his provocation of the police was to fail to stand up from his wheelchair when ordered. Meanwhile from Baltimore, Maryland, we've been treated to the video of a policeman physically abusing a teenager for the offense of skateboarding in a popular commercial area and addressing the policeman as "dude."
All citizens besides those "of consequence" are now subject to arbitrary brutality and abuse in almost any interaction with the police. The political authorities turn a blind eye unless forced to react to video evidence or the abuse of one of their own. The situation is deteriorating with no end in sight.
When and if the U.S. ends the occupation of Iraq, veterans who were unskilled before joining the military can expect to find jobs in our police departments and prisons or with private security firms. Here they will continue to oversee a subject population with the impunity they've come to expect while abroad.