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#blackLivesMatter

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Police and their abuse of power


I saw a title, referring to the story that appears below, that said ‘Never, Never Call the Cops For “Help” Unless You’re Willing to Risk Someone Being Shot and Killed’ and that’s what happened in this story. It is a travesty of justice that an American was arrested for being at his own home, as was the case for Henry Louis Gates but being shot and killed by police in your home because relatives wanted the police to perform a ‘welfare check’ is incomprehensible.

James Howard Allen

James Howard Allen

When James Howard Allen’s family members asked police to stop by his home for a welfare check on Saturday, they were hoping authorities could help ensure he was safe.

Instead, their request set in motion a series of unlikely events that resulted in the 74-year-old North Carolina man’s death.

Allen was killed by an officer’s bullet, the result of a confrontation that occurred when officers from the Gastonia Police Department entered his home and found Allen, an Army veteran, pointing a handgun at them.

Now, relatives want answers, and two official investigations are underway.

“I am so hurt that he had to die like this,” Allen’s sister, Mary Battle, told ABC affiliate WSOC. “Maybe the police were frightened. Maybe they were. I don’t know. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Gastonia Police DepartmentGastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said at a news conference that police were initially dispatched to the home around 10:20 p.m. on Saturday,according to the Charlotte Observer. When nobody answered the door, the officers left and were asked to perform a check of local hospitals in search of Allen.

At 11:30 p.m., after officers failed to locate him, police returned to Allen’s residence with local fire officials, according to the Observer.

“A decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” said Helton, the police chief.

Gastonia Police Officer Josh Lefevers

Gastonia Police Officer Josh Lefevers

Before entering through the back door, Officer Josh Lefevers announced his presence, Helton said. Once inside, Lefevers encountered Allen, who was pointing a handgun at him.

“He was challenged to lower the gun down,” Helton said at a news conference. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”

Why did police feel the need to enter?

Authorities had been made aware that Allen recently underwent heart surgery, Helton said, according to the Gaston Gazette, and were “concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance.”

Lefevers was placed on administrative leave while police conduct their own investigation, according to the Observer. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate investigation into the shooting.

Allen’s family members are demanding more information. His brother-in-law, Robert Battle, told WSOC that Allen “probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me, so when you’re by yourself you try to protect yourself.

A friend, Otis Thompson, said he can understand why Allen a gun in his hand.

“You kicked the man’s door in,” he told the station. “He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home; my first reaction would be to grab a gun, too.”

I have more than a few questions swirling in my head, like why did the police enter from the back and not the front of the house, how many times did officer Lefevers identify himself to Allen upon entering the home…….waking someone up from their sleep in the middle of the night is disorienting for anyone, least of all someone living alone and recovering from major surgery; was the officer’s gun drawn when he encountered Mr. Allen, was he in uniform, plainclothes or wearing the military style police uniform we’ve all become so used to seeing police wearing; what duty did the officer have to retreat versus the legal occupant of the home? I could perhaps come up with a few more.  Bottom line, the welfare check involving the police had a predictable outcome. The welfare of Mr. Allen is he is deceased at the hands of the police.  Take note America and don’t call the police if you don’t want anyone killed.

This article is for all of us who think cops shouldn’t kill civilians-turns out that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do if it means protecting the wealthy and capitalism


The True History of the Origins of Police — Protecting and Serving the Masters of Society

The liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police.

By Sam Mitriani

In most of the liberal discussions of the recent police killings of unarmed black men, there is an underlying assumption that the police are supposed to protect and serve the population. That is, after all, what they were created to do. Maybe there are a few bad apples, but if only the police weren’t so racist, or didn’t carry out policies like stop-and-frisk, or weren’t so afraid of black people, or shot fewer unarmed men, they could function as a useful service that we all need.

This liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police and what they were created to do. The police were not created to protect and serve the population. They were not created to stop crime, at least not as most people understand it. And they were certainly not created to promote justice. They were created to protect the new form of wage-labor capitalism that emerged in the mid- to late-19th century from the threat posed by that system’s offspring, the working class.

Before the 19th century, there were no police forces that we would recognize as such anywhere in the world. In the northern United States, there was a system of elected constables and sheriffs, much more responsible to the population in a very direct way than the police are today. In the South, the closest thing to a police force was the slave patrols. Then, as Northern cities grew and filled with mostly immigrant wage workers who were physically and socially separated from the ruling class, the wealthy elite who ran the various municipal governments hired hundreds and then thousands of armed men to impose order on the new working-class neighborhoods.

Class conflict roiled late-19th century American cities like Chicago, which experienced major strikes and riots in 1867, 1877, 1886 and 1894. In each of these upheavals, the police attacked strikers with extreme violence. In the aftermath of these movements, the police increasingly presented themselves as a thin blue line protecting civilization, by which they meant bourgeois civilization, from the disorder of the working class. This ideology has been reproduced ever since — except that today, poor black and Latino people rather than immigrant workers are the main threat.

Of course, the ruling class did not get everything it wanted. It had to yield on many points to the immigrant workers it sought to control — this is why, for instance, municipal governments backed away from trying to stop Sunday drinking and why they hired so many immigrant police officers, especially the Irish. But despite these concessions, businessmen organized themselves to make sure the police were increasingly isolated from democratic control. The police, meanwhile, increasingly set themselves off from the population by donning uniforms; establishing their own rules for hiring, promotion and firing; working to build a unique esprit de corps; and identifying themselves with order. And despite complaints about corruption and inefficiency, they gained more and more support from the ruling class, to the extent that in Chicago, for instance, businessmen donated money to buy the police rifles, artillery, Gatling guns and buildings and to establish a police pension out of their own pockets.

There was a never a time when the big city police neutrally enforced “the law” — nor, for that matter, a time when the law itself was neutral. Throughout the 19th century in the North, the police mostly arrested people for the vaguely defined “crimes” of disorderly conduct and vagrancy, which meant that they could target anyone they saw as a threat to “order.” In the post-bellum South, they enforced white supremacy and largely arrested black people on trumped-up charges in order to feed them into convict labor systems.

The violence the police carried out and their moral separation from those they patrolled were not the consequences of the brutality of individual officers, but of policies carefully designed to mold the police into a force that could use violence to deal with the social problems that accompanied the development of a wage-labor economy. For instance, in the short, sharp depression of the mid-1880s, Chicago was filled with prostitutes who worked the streets. Many policemen recognized that these prostitutes were generally impoverished women seeking a way to survive and initially tolerated their behavior. But the police hierarchy insisted that the patrolmen arrest these women, impose fines and drive them off the streets and into brothels, where they could be ignored by some members of the elite and controlled by others. Similarly, in 1885, when Chicago began to experience a wave of strikes, some policemen sympathized with strikers. But once the police hierarchy and the mayor decided to break the strikes, policemen who refused to comply were fired.

Though some patrolmen tried to be kind and others were openly brutal, police violence in the 1880s was not a case of a few bad apples — and neither is it today.

Much has changed since the creation of the police — most importantly, the influx of black people into Northern cities, the mid-20th century civil rights movement and the creation of the current system of mass incarceration in part as a response to that movement. But these changes did not lead to a fundamental shift in policing. They led to new policies designed to preserve fundamental continuities. The police were created to use violence to reconcile electoral democracy with industrial capitalism. Today, they are just one part of the “criminal justice” system that plays the same role. Their basic job is to enforce order among those with the most reason to resent the system — in our society today, disproportionately among poor black people.

If there is one positive lesson from the history of policing’s origins, it is that when workers organized, refused to submit or cooperate and caused problems for the city governments, they could force the police to curb the most galling of their activities. The murders of individual police officers, as happened in Chicago on May 3, 1886, and more recently in New York on December 20, 2014, only reinforced calls for harsh repression. But resistance on a mass scale could force the police to hesitate. This happened in Chicago during the early 1880s, when the police pulled back from breaking strikes, hired immigrant officers and tried to re-establish some credibility among the working class after their role in brutally crushing the 1877 upheaval.

The police might back off again if the widespread reaction against the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and countless others continues. If they do, it will be a victory for those mobilizing today, and will save lives. But as long as this policing system endures, any change in policy will be aimed at keeping the poor in line more effectively.

A democratic police system in which police are elected by and accountable to the people they patrol is imaginable. But as long as we have an economic and political system that rests on the exploitation of workers and pushes millions of people into poverty, we are unlikely to see policing become any more democratic than the rest of society.

The NYPD in action


If you want to know why some people in New York City don’t like police look no farther.

A true civil servant


#endwhitesilenceThe man holding that sign is Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay and he caught a lot of flack for holding it in a Pittsburgh establishment on New Year’s eve because as the police union president for the PPD claims the chief is saying all Pittsburgh Police are racists.  This was the police chief’s reply

It appears my having been photographed with a sign supporting racial justice at work and “white silence” has offended some. If any of my PBP family was offended, I apologize. You are very important to me and I would never hurt you purposefully. Let me explain the back story:

I stopped at a coffee shop at First Night, and ran into the group seeking people of all races to join the discussion about racial inequality and injustice. We spoke for a few minutes about how implicit, or unconscious bias results in misunderstanding on all sides, and how the need is for dialogue to clear up misunderstanding. They asked for me to take a picture holding a sign.

The sign indicated my willingness to challenge racial problems in the workplace. I am so committed. If there are problems in the PBP related to racial injustice, I will take action to fix them.

To me, the term “white silence” simply means that we must be willing to speak up to address issues of racial injustice, poverty, etc. In my heart, I believe we all must come together as community to address real world problems; and I am willing to be a voice to bring community together.

I saw no indictment of police or anyone else in this sign, but I do apologize to any of you who felt I was not supporting you; that was not my intent.

The reality of U.S. policing is that our enforcement efforts have a disparate impact on communities of color. This is a statistical fact. You know, as well as I, the social factors driving this reality. The gross disparity in wealth and opportunity is evident in our city. Frustration and disorder are certain to follow. The predominant patterns of our city’s increased violence involves black victims as well as actors. If we are to address this violence, we must work together with our communities of color.

We, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, need to acknowledge how this reality feels to those impacted communities. Crime and disorder take us to the disadvantaged communities, which are predominantly those of color. The disparities in police arrest and incarceration rates that follow are not by design, but they can feel that way to some people in those communities.

I know, because I have been there too. My own street drug enforcement efforts were well intended but had an impact I would not have consciously chosen. In retrospect, we should have been far more engaged with those in the communities where we were doing our high-impact, zero tolerance type policing; to obtain the consent of those we were policing.

We will be engaging in training to refine our policing efforts in the near future. In the mean time, simply approach your job mindfully, with a continued motivation to protect and serve.

Please beware also, race impacts how we view one another, and unconscious bias applies to how we deal with the public. It can also impact how we judge one another; I intend we will confront both through training.

I support your efforts to keep our communities safe, and will back your best efforts to do so. I trust and have faith in you. I also support efforts to improve and restore the communities’ perceptions of justice. The next time you see me engaging in discussions supporting social justice, please remember, we all all guardians of the constitution. This is the mission we all took an oath to uphold.

Please forgive me if I have offended, as that was not my intent. I will be visiting all of the Zones and work units in the coming couple weeks to allow opportunity for open discussion, and look forward to being able to talk these tough issues through.

In the mean time, thank you for your service!

 

I salute police chief McLay and assert police departments all over America need chiefs who are as dedicated to insuring proper policing for all citizens of a town or city.  I also applaud McLay for making himself available to the rank and file….not hiding in his office or ivory tower, to answer questions and concerns they may have!  I’d be happy to see my tax dollars go towards the salary of such a police officer; he appears to understand the meaning of being a civil servant.

 

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police instructions

Desperation and despair all rolled up into one black male’s pain


I have witnessed far too many times the pain and despair black males have at the realization their lives have no value in America and it’s no more apparent than in this exchange Eric Garner’s step father had with a black citizen of New York city after the announcement by the grand jury there would be no charges against the officer who strangled Garner.  ‘What kind of future do I have’ he asks through his tears  whose presence the question is answered.  It’s a powerful video of hope and despair and gives insight into what drives African-American males