Living in the city, you have the unfortunate occasion to witness a range of police activity; car stops, car chases, chases on foot and the resulting apprehensions. I remember one instance from a few years back. The police had been chasing the suspect, possibly for some low level drug offense. I’d seen the chase, already in progress, round a corner from a block away. The man, tired from his running, had given up, gotten on his knees with his hands up.
Now, I’m in a second floor apartment in the front bedroom which overlooked the street below; directly over the kneeling man. I watched as the police ran up behind him, kicked him in the back of the head, kneed him in the back of the neck as he went down face first into the concrete and proceeded to twist his arms behind his back, cuffing him, before pulling him up by his cuffs to stand and be led away.
I remember thinking then that, damn that has to hurt, being manhandled like that with your limbs moving at angles they weren’t necessarily intended to. Many will say it’s warranted and if you can’t do “the time” then don’t do the crime. However, in this current environment of police interventions gone horribly wrong, such a simplistic characterization is misleading; especially as any one of us at any given time could wind up in similar circumstances. Continue reading
Members of the Black Panther Party, stripped, handcuffed, and arrested after Philadelphia police raided the Panther headquarters, August, 1970. Credit – Urban Archives, Temple University
For me, this is no joy in this trip down memory lane. Often, as you accumulate the years, it’s like that; bittersweet at best. In this case, it’s that way because I remember police brutality.
I remember it when it was in its hey-day and really something scary to witness; a maelstrom of pain and panic turned loose on an unprepared, yet resilient black public. It was like they just didn’t care but the calm and cavalier manner with which such storied individuals as Bull Connor or George Wallace would unleash all the weapons in their considerable arsenal against unarmed men, women and children captured the consciousness of a then evolving American landscape and forced the questions that ultimately drove change. Continue reading
I guess it’s all in the wording, the semantics. Or, is the standard different depending on who
Kristine Johnson is not the usual person you think of when you think of police brutality. (Photo: Standard Examiner)
it’s applied to? Either way, it’s a WTF moment for America that’s setting the world of logic-and the US-on its head.
Consider that a New York grand jury refused to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner after putting him in a choke hold, unnecessarily. The jury found that there was “no intent to harm” in the officer’s actions and thus a tragic mistake had once again occurred.
Of course, those that are intent on finding blame with the victim will say that he was obviously doing something wrong or illegal for the police to approach and apprehend in the manner that they did; a fact we can now dispute.
However, there is a fact that you can’t dispute; that the police obviously thought Eric had “some intent to harm” someone which is why they felt it necessary to use the level of force that they did. And their decision-making is the crust of the issue. Continue reading