One last post on the Seattle incident
Here’s Radley Balko:
Both women are overreacting here. Obviously the cop is as well. Make up your own mind about whether the punch was warranted. I think you could make a case that by the time the punch was thrown, the cop justifiably felt he was losing control of the situation. (And hey, at least he didn’t use his Taser.) Seems to me that the mistake came earlier: This started as a jaywalking citation. Was it it really so important that the woman get a jaywalking fine that she needed to be chased down and thrown against the patrol car? Even if she was trying to avoid the fine, seems like at some point you realize what’s at stake here (a single incident of someone undermining your authority to get away with a petty crime), and just let it go.
So here are my last points:
First, I’ve already backed off the ‘police brutality’ thing. That is too strong for this incident, and probably more of a gut reaction to seeing a man punch a teenage girl in the face. Nobody wants to see that, no matter how awful the girl is acting. I realize some social taboos just go out the window in a law enforcement situation, but this is a pretty big one. That being said, the cop was obviously under a lot of stress, was trying to subdue the girl rather than use a Taser or more dangerous methods, and so we can cut him a break. We can do this without saying he was right.
Second, I still think punching someone is pretty stupid in this situation. There were a lot of people around, and a lot of people react pretty viscerally when they see a guy punch a girl, even if it is a cop (maybe especially if it is). This could have seriously escalated the situation, leading to a much, much worse outcome. The cop should have known better, even if he was totally justified in subduing the girl in the first place, and even if his actions are understandable given the actions of both girls, and the heckling of the crowd. Still – this could have led to much worse.
Finally, I’d like to stress once again that my initial point in all of this was not to point out who was right and who was wrong – though, to be fair, I certainly used harsh language against the police officer – but to point out that technology, especially our ability to film and to distribute pictures and film of police and other agents of the state – is changing the world for the better. This is true whether or not the cop was right or wrong or neither.
In the end, I think everyone was wrong. On the bright side, the whole thing could have ended a lot more bloody than it did. We’re right to criticize the cop’s choices and still see them as human ones all while still thinking the girls were completely in the wrong acting in such a stupid, disrespectful manner. And we’re all better off because we have the whole thing on tape, even if we disagree on the implications of what it all means.