An Appalling Lack of Rights: From Inalienable, to meritorious, to “Yeah, but…”

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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105 Responses

  1. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    Who is actually defending the incident, though? I’ve spent time on some weird corners of the internet, and I’m not even hearing a peep that the officer/s acted acceptably. Complaints about the rioters, yes. The reminder to let justice take its course. I’ve even heard some conspiracy theories. But that’s it. And in the mainstream, I think it’s 100% agreement. So who is this article arguing against? Who is saying “George Floyd had rights, but…”?Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Who is saying “George Floyd had rights, but…”?

      The video of a white cop openly killing an unarmed already restrained black man is extremely powerful. We get videos like this (although less extreme) every now and then.

      The implication of that video is this is how the system works, this is common.

      Number of people killed (all races) by law enforcement in 2019: 139
      Number of people killed (all races) by law enforcement in 2020 thus far: 19

      Now if you go back to 2015 it was 849, but the numbers dropped after Trump took office (I assume that’s a coincidence).

      Law enforcement interactions being captured on camera has become common.
      Being killed by law enforcement is an extreme outlier.
      Being killed unjustly is even more extreme.
      However the entire system is being judged by its most heinous, and illegal, outlier action.Report

      • Avatar Michael Siegel in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        Apart from being somewhat irrelevant, where are on Earth are you getting that information from? Police shot and killed 1004 people last year. So far, they’ve shot and killed 429.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/

        By year:

        2015: 994
        2016: 962
        2017: 986
        2018: 992
        2019: 1004
        2020: 429 so far, on a slightly a higher pace than 2019.

        I think you’ve garbled up total killing, unarmed killings and something else.Report

          • Avatar Michael Siegel in reply to Dark Matter
            Ignored
            says:

            Srsly? From the wiki “The numbers show how many killings are described in the linked lists, not the actual number of people killed by law enforcement.” The Wapo’s database is comprehensive. Wikipedia is … not.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Michael Siegel
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              says:

              Wapo is behind a paywall (I have NO access to it). I have no clue how good or bad their numbers are or what they are using as their definitions.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                And if you drill down into any of those lists they claim to be lists of people reported killed, which is in theory what we’re talking about.

                “Not the actual number” is a mis-phrase, what they mean is there are other lists that may be better.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                The DoJ has some resources that might address the question, such as this one that links lots of their reports into police use of force.

                There was a protest in Iceland where three black Americans complained that Iceland police weren’t showing solidarity with the protesters in the US, and the Iceland police were like “WTF? Why would we care?”

                Given that everyone around the world is supposed to care, I’ll note that between 80K and 100K blacks are murdered every year, but only about 6K to 7K of those homicides occur in the US. Of those 7K, generally about 200 are murder/homicides by whites and a bit over 200 are killed by police.

                So if the focus is global, white Americans are about 0.4% to 0.5% of the lethal violence problem that blacks face, and 99.5% of it comes from somebody else.

                So I’d note that if you focus in on one problem, to the exclusion of all else, you can miss the bigger picture.

                *The global homicides are a summation from Wiki’s homicides-by-country page, African region, plus Haiti and one or two other countries, minus several north African countries, plus the US numbers.

                *Data on racial homicides is from a US News & World Report article called “Race and Homicide in America, by the Numbers”

                *Data on police shooting is from Statista dot com article called “Number of people shot to death by the police in the United States from 2017 to 2020, by race”Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll note that between 80K and 100K blacks are murdered every year, but only about 6K to 7K of those homicides occur in the US.

                For 2015-2017, according to the CDC, there were 9,000 to 10,000 black homicide victims in the US each year. The UCR gives lower numbers, but due to optional reporting the CDC has more complete data for the topics it covers.

                Of those 7K, generally about 200 are murder/homicides by whites and a bit over 200 are killed by police.

                How many black people are killed by non-Hispanic whites is not well documented. The UCR expanded homicide data to which you’re referring covers only about 30% of all homicides, and lumps non-black Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites together. Extrapolating patterns seen in the expanded homicide data from the UCR to the total homicides reported by the CDC, I would estimate that about 900-1,000 black Americans are killed by non-black assailants in the US each year.

                Given how much the media love to milk a good white-on-black homicide, I find it hard to imagine that more than a small percentage of those are non-Hispanic white perpetrators, but it’s possible that I’m wrong about that.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                The Washington Post makes their database available in .csv format for free here. You have to load it into your favorite data analysis software, but it’s a great resource. It’s what I’ve been using to disprove the myth that black people are killed by police at higher rates than you would expect with from an unbiased police force. Journalists lie, but numbers don’t.Report

      • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        However the entire system is being judged by its most heinous, and illegal, outlier action.

        As it should be, until those outliers are back in alignment. It’s called accountability.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        However the entire system is being judged by its most heinous, and illegal, outlier action.

        Or, in case Andrew wasn’t clear, the system is judged by it’s most heinous precisely because the system refuses to hold the most heinous accountable, and instead actively participates in excusing and rationalizing it away.

        People & institutions are judged not for doing what is expected of them, but for either going above and beyond, or for falling woefully short.

        And in this particular case, the fact that some LEOs are being vocal about Chauvin/Floyd is itself an outlier. Usually the blue wall is silent or openly supportive. Although if I am being my normal pessimistic self, I’m not convinced of their sincerity as a whole. Rather, I fear that they see the writing on the wall and are covering their asses with the masses, lest they find themselves on the wrong end of the vast, privately held armaments of the citizenry.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          PS My reasons for being pessimistic are, as Veronica outlines, the fact that a lot of police are treating the peaceful protests more harshly than the rioters (which stands to reason, since cops in general like to avoid being put in danger, and rioters are much more dangerous that peaceful protesters).Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            I actually see even the limited, superficial stuff as a sign of hope. I’ve been following this issue closely since about 2008 when the incidents wouldn’t even be acknowledged. The advent of smart phones has taken away one of their most important advantages, that being plausible deniability.

            Obviously lots, lots more work to do but I do think we’re moving from ‘is this even happening’ to ‘how big of a problem is this?’ Hopefully that gives way to ‘what do we do about it?’Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        “Number of people killed (all races) by law enforcement in 2019: 139
        Number of people killed (all races) by law enforcement in 2020 thus far: 19…

        Law enforcement interactions being captured on camera has become common.
        Being killed by law enforcement is an extreme outlier.
        Being killed unjustly is even more extreme.
        However the entire system is being judged by its most heinous, and illegal, outlier action.”

        Except that if you’re black, the issue at hand isn’t simply deaths by police.

        By all appearances, none of the police officers involved seemed to think that what was done to Floyd was an out of the ordinary or even extreme measure. Presumably, this is the type of thing that happens sometimes or even often, but in every other case prior no one died.

        And hey, it’s good no one died.

        But if I’m black, or my kids are, I’m looking at all those other times where someone was suspected of a non-violent, low stakes crime, where the officers at the scene decided to break department guidelines and physically intimidate the suspect. Including having him lie prone face down while kneeling on him, despite the fact that the suspect was not resisting arrest, was handcuffed, was calm, and was cooperating.

        And there is good reason to think race was a factor in the decision made along the way. Call it hubris, but if I paid for something with a $20 that a storekeeper suspected wasn’t a real $20, and I acted in a similar fashion to Floyd, I am very, very certain I would not have been handcuffed, held in a prone position with an officer’s knee pushing down on my neck or head.

        It’s insanely awful that Floyd died like this. But had he lived – like presumable other suspects that these officers treated in this fashion did – there’s still something terribly wrong. And its not shocking that people are angry.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Tod Kelly
          Ignored
          says:

          By all appearances, none of the police officers involved seemed to think that what was done to Floyd was an out of the ordinary or even extreme measure.

          I have some heinous relatives who have done some heinous things. It’s REALLY hard to get into their heads because I run into contradictions.

          My conclusion has been that it’s very fraught to even try it, and it’s very risky to make conclusions.

          The contradiction here is kneeling on a guy’s neck to the point where he’s unconscious and then continuing for 3 minutes afterwards seems like a deliberate effort to kill him with the expected outcome that he dies. That seems an “extreme measure”.

          But if I’m black, or my kids are, I’m looking at all those other times

          Are those other times “I personally have seen the police kneel on someone’s neck to the point of killing him” or is it more “I heard about a lottery winner’s life story so that’s the expected outcome if I play”?

          if I paid for something with a $20 that a storekeeper suspected wasn’t a real $20, and I acted in a similar fashion to Floyd, I am very, very certain I would not have been handcuffed, held in a prone position with an officer’s knee pushing down on my neck or head.

          The way to bet when you buy a lottery ticket is that you don’t win.

          If the claim is this type of event is actually very common, then we need more than the plural of anecdote.Report

  2. Avatar veronica d
    Ignored
    says:

    I have a question. Why do we think it’s okay to use teargas and “rubber bullets” for general crowd control, even for “illegal gatherings”? Specifically, I’m referring to people engaged in peaceful civil disobedience. This could be protestors out past curfew, or protestors blocking a street. I’m not questioning the rights of police to arrest people, nor do I question their right to defend themselves. In fact, getting arrested has always been a central factor of civil disobedience. Such protestors often expect to be arrested. Fine. Should they expect to be maimed by a rubber bullet, to choke on teargas, or any similar thing?

    I’ve seen numerous videos where police decide they want to clear a street or park, and then they immediately open fire on the crowd, a peaceful crowd.

    And note, merely disobeying a cop is not essentially violent. Brandishing a gun is violent. Throwing a rock is violent. Refusing to comply, however, clearly is not. If you think otherwise, seriously, what the fuck?

    Our police are out of control. But worse, we as a society have enabled them. I have no doubt that someone on this forum is going to try to defend gassing and shooting protestors, but seriously what the fuck? “Comply or I beat you until you comply.”

    You fucking favor that?

    Some of you need to ask yourself, “But wait, maybe I really am a bootlicking fascist swine. Perhaps I should endeavor to change.”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
      Ignored
      says:

      It has to do with other things. If you want a particular law enforced (an easy go-to in this case is “gun control”), you’re going to need law enforcement to enforce the gun laws.

      And so we’ll need the cops to arrest the people with guns.

      And that means we’ll need the cops.

      And to say something like “but only bootlicking fascist swine would support the cops!” would mean that we might have these gun control laws go unenforced.

      And since we can’t have that, we know that the cops must be good.

      And therefore any examples of the cops being bad must either be oversold, absolute lies, or, at worst, an example of a bad apple that should not reflect upon the whole barrel.

      (I see it as similar to some of the things I’ve seen defending Trump, to be honest. The alternative is worse. Therefore, my choice must not be bad in the first place.)Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        That doesn’t address the question I asked. Obviously the police need to enforce the laws. I’m talking specifically about their response to peaceful civil disobedience. Note, there are videos of people literally trapped and unable to escape, while the police continue to fire at them.

        I didn’t say only bootlickers would support cops, at least not in general. I said that only bootlickers would support this behavior.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m sure that the defenses of this, specific, behavior would have to be high-minded.

          Well, you have to understand. Keeping the peace entails doing some things that, at a distance, could look unsavory. We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded. We use metal bullets for the guns facing out and rubber bullets for the guns facing in. No one *LIKES* that they have to fire one of these guns, ever. No one looks forward to it. No one enjoys that they have to work themselves up into a frenzy to get into the mindset that allows them to pull that trigger when it needs pulling…

          And so on.

          And the cops in general tomorrow will, more or less, be the same specific ones as today.

          You expect to support cops in general tomorrow, right?Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Hey Jaybird, could you maybe not do “your thing” on this particular topic. If you support cops shooting peaceful protestors, then do so openly. If you do not support cops shooting peaceful protestors, them perhaps not play the smartypants game where you explore all the wheres and whyfors that other people might use to justify it.Report

            • Avatar Pinky in reply to veronica d
              Ignored
              says:

              Yeah. Jaybird, please don’t apply analysis to this particular issue. Dissecting our thinking for inconsistencies is fine elsewhere, but not here. Because if you do that, we’ll have no choice but to assume that you want cops shooting peaceful protesters. We need to stay in the emotion zone. That’s where we make our best decisions.

              That’s my best impression of Jaybird’s “thing” as a response to this comment. I hope he does better, and he doesn’t let go. As I said in the beginning, I think this is an argument taking place against no one, so we need Jaybird to make this grounded, more than ever.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                As I said in the beginning, I think this is an argument taking place against no one

                If it’s a strawman why is Jaybird effectively defending the (hypothetical) people who defend the use of force against peaceful protestors?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m pretty sure that I am not doing that.

                Merely pointing out that the cops that we are going to be defending the idea of tomorrow are the same ones keeping the peace today.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the question is not “do we need the police to ensure that the state’s orders are followed” but “why do the police use these particular means to ensure that the state’s orders are followed”Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Thank you. Exactly.

                (It’s rare that you and I agree, but I’m glad we are on the same page about this.)

                I was thinking about how cops should handle looting. Obviously looting is not okay. Looters should be arrested. However, there seems to be a belief that cops should stop the looting by any means necessary, including through violence against bystanders who themselves were not looting.

                Myself, I think that is literally insane. It’s even more insane that we not only allow it, there seems to be a vocal contingent who encourage it.

                I want that vocal contingent actually think about what they are supporting.

                Anyway, on looting, it might not be possible to literally stop the looting without abusing innocent people. So what can we do?

                Perhaps, in a just society, we can’t directly stop the looting, at least not in every case. Perhaps the cops simply don’t have the physical capacity to be in all places, and any attempts to violently stop looting will do more harm than good.

                Note, police can (and should) still investigate crimes and make arrests. However, that’s different.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                What I think mostly happens is that if looters see a cop they run away.

                The issue is that the cops are all standing down a street somewhere trying to keep the riot from going that way — “containment”, “kettling”, however you describe it.

                They also figure that if they aren’t Standing Together As An Army then they’ll get their asses mobbed and beat.

                Which…I don’t think that’s the case. I mean, yeah, there’s a risk, but we always hear about how being a cop is a dangerous job and that’s why they have authority we civilians do not and they ought to get paid more and blah, blah, blah.

                I think what they need to do is be standing at each store door, unarmed, holding a radio. If someone needs help, that’s what they’re for. If someone tries to break into a store, they call it in and the flying squad rolls to that location. A visible police presence, but not in the “you come near this line and it’ll be the worse for you” sense.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                To be fair, I do know some people who would love to beat the shit out of a cop, and in the heightened tensions of a riot, I wouldn’t want to be a cop alone in the crowd. (Of course, I wouldn’t want to be a cop period, but never mind that.)

                A couple anecdotes: I saw a video where evidently some seasoned BLM folks were shielding an isolated cop from the larger crowd. They worked to get him back to his people. They understood that the unruly crowd might jump the cop, and they understood how that could backfire. Plus, I suspect they protected him out of basic human compassion.

                I also saw two separate videos of someone deliberately running down cops with motor vehicles. As much as I dislike police, that seems pretty counterproductive to me.

                Note, it seems justified for cops to shoot someone trying to run them down with an SUV. Also note, I understand the desire to “get back at” the cops. I feel it in my bones. However, inside each of us are better and worser angels. We should follow our better angels.

                For our worser angels, I recommend GTA V.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I think it’s because we can’t wait until we see the police use those particular means against our ideological enemies.

                Gun control provides a great example. Remember the 20 minutes where we had “house-to-house searches” on the table?

                There is nothing that we know about the cops today that we didn’t know about them back when we were arguing over whether Beto counted for the “nobody is arguing that!” argument.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If you’re saying “the cops who think head-cracking is how you quiet an angry mob will still be around,” sure. If you’re saying “the people who became cops because they wanted a state-sanctioned opportunity to crack heads”, also sure.

                What veronica’s asking here is why the head-crackers are being given grenade launchers and shotguns and gas-sprayers and body armor.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Being given? They were given those things years ago to fight gangs, drugs, and miscellaneous crime.

                These things are holdovers from the “Superpredator” era.

                Seriously, they’ve had these things for 30 years.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                …we *are* *allowed* to take them away if we think the cops shouldn’t *have* them.

                Like, yeah, we understand how they got there, but that doesn’t mean that have to stay there if we decide it was a bad idea.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s past time for the pendulum to swing back.

                (But this present crisis was caused by a knee.)Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I should have been clearer. I don’t think this article was making a strawman argument, as I understand the term. I associate strawman arguments with, first of all, bad faith, and secondly, a bad faith characterization of a specific argument. I don’t see any bad faith in Andrew’s argument; I just think it’s a response to an anticipated position rather than an actual one.

                And I don’t think Jaybird was taking that anticipated position, although if he were doing so for the intellectual value of it, I’d have no problem with it.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d
              Ignored
              says:

              I’ve witnessed the LAPD clearing a crowd of protesters using nonviolent means.

              I watched them do it again last night right outside my building, where they took about 50 people into custody for curfew violations, without anyone being hurt.

              So in response to Veronica’s question, no, there is rarely any need to use tear gas or violence to clear a crowd of nonviolent protesters.

              Cops who do that can’t use the excuse of “b-but we had no other choice!”Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s funny how a question like this is hard to answer for some people.

                In JB’s case, I don’t think he approves of police violence, in fact I’m rather sure he doesn’t. The problem is he just can’t help himself. It’s like a cognitive tick. Which whatever, but I’m just not in the mood for that right now.

                Regarding Pinky and DarkMatter, I wonder if we can get them to provide a clear answer, either “no, cops shouldn’t be allowed to do that” or “yep, totally in bounds. light ’em up.”

                I suspect I know their position. I suspect I know why they don’t want to say it out loud. However, I’ve been wrong before. We shall see.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                I assume I ninja’ed you. If you want it black letter, then no, imho the police shouldn’t be shooting or tear gassing peaceful protestors.

                However there’s a big black line between peaceful protest and a riot, and “mostly peaceful” implies that line has been crossed.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                As citizens, our feelings and attitudes towards the police are complicated, and should be complicated.

                Because like I mentioned before we all benefit from both liberty and order.

                Trying to compress it down into “Cops are jackbooted thugs!” or “Thin Blue Line!” is not helpful to any sort of clear thinking.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                As citizens, our feelings and attitudes towards the police are complicated, and should be complicated.

                If I respond by saying “the issue of police violence against peaceful protestors isn’t complicated, it shouldn’t happen” how would you educate me otherwise?

                Serious question, btw.

                Pinky is invited to answer this one too, if he doesn’t want to outsource his responses to you. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                On all policy matters, unless stated otherwise, assume I agree with Chip.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Because the cop who beats an innocent protestor may be the very same one who yesterday heroically saved a person from a mugging.

                The citizen who needs to be subdued and arrested today may be the very same one who needs rescue tomorrow.

                There isn’t some magic line that separates “innocent” people from “guilty” people.

                Citizens and cops change back and forth from one to the other all the time.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Because the cop who beats an innocent protestor may be the very same one who yesterday heroically saved a person from a mugging.

                A hypothetical response: this isn’t complicated to me. I praise the cop for preventing a mugging and condemn the same cop (to the point of wanting charges against him filed) for beating an innocent protestor.

                That doesn’t seem complicated. Where is the error in my thinking?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s no error in your thinking.

                Unless you assume that everyone else thinks this way.

                From my observation when people (generally) feel the effects of laws that bind them they grumble about liberty, but when people feel the effects of laws that bind others they celebrate order.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s no error in your thinking.

                So the issue *isn’t* complicated? Then why did you say that it is?

                You not only said issues like this are complicated but that they *should* be complicated. Yet you apparently concede that the issue isn’t complicated at all.

                ???Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Where is the error in my thinking?

                There’s a short story in the “Bolo” series where you have a small extra-world colony defended against raiders by one guy.

                The guy is more than a little fried by his job (which is violence). He gets drunk, tries to rape one of the local girls, some guys stop him and he kills them.

                The colonists decide enough is enough. After a short trial they try to take his weapons, he objects and is put down.

                And a month later the raiders come in and kill or enslave everyone.

                —————

                If we have to choose between the brutal cop beating the protestors and large numbers of buildings burning down, then that’s an easy choice.

                I don’t think we have to choose but I’m not 100% convinced of that.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Lets re-run that story, with just a slight edit:

                You have a small extra-world colony defended against raiders by one guy.

                The guy is more than a little fried by his job (which is violence). He goes to the rich people of the colony and demands exorbitant tax payments of cash and property.

                The colonists decide enough is enough. After a short trial they try to take his weapons, he objects and is put down.

                And a month later the raiders come in and kill or enslave everyone.

                ——

                If we have to choose between Medicare For All/free college/ confiscatory tax on billionaires, and large number of buildings burning down, then that’s an easy choice.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If we have to choose between Medicare For All/free college/ confiscatory tax on billionaires, and large number of buildings burning down, then that’s an easy choice.

                If you’re trying to claim the first part of your statement is LESS economically destructive than the second, then I suggest you get another back of the napkin to write on.

                The devil is in the details but the phrase “confiscatory tax” strongly implies bad things.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Even a bad system works most of the time.Report

              • Avatar The question in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                this is just anecdotal family stories you know but we can’t really think of a time when you call the cop and had him actually show up and be helpful. My mom said to separate sexual assault cases where the cops basically told her it was her fault for going out that night and then didn’t really do the work so tell me again how good the cops areReport

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                “I suspect I know their position. I suspect I know why they don’t want to say it out loud.”

                I think I’ll drink from this well, because surely it hasn’t been poisoned.

                ETA: I like Chip’s reply better than mine.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                You don’t have to “drink from any well” to assert that police shouldn’t use teargas or rubber bullets on non-violent protestors, even when those protestors engage in civil disobedience.

                I could be the most dishonest nutsack in the world, acting in the worst faith possible, but one could still support that claim.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                It sounds like it crosses the line to me, but I’m not an expert. I’ve never been hit by rubber bullets or tasers, I’ve never breathed in smoke or pepper spray or teargas. And those are the more clearly-defined parts of the question. The continuum from non-violent to violent sounds broad, and difficult to gauge. So I don’t want to give an answer beyond Chip’s, which is it’s complicated. I’d hope that there’s an oversight system that has a better handle on the situation than I would after watching a Youtube video.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                Likewise, cops shouldn’t be arresting reporters, but if they’re the leftist MSM that hates America you can empathize.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Does that sound like something I’d say?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s not like you made some crazy claim like liberalism is a mental disorder.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                In that case, liberal MSM journalists should be treated, not arrested.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t remember my earlier statement, but I doubt it was as blanket as your version. But yeah, sometimes I think about what liberalism used to look like, and it was different. Three was empathy there. Naive at times, but good for society. Maybe it’s only been as affected by our societal drift toward narcissism the same as everything else, but maybe that’s what makes its absence starker. Like conservatism used to be smarter, which is why its current intellectual laziness stands out so much.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                And since my comment was so memorable, would you remind me what it was so we’re not carrying on this conversation in the dark?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                Not you specifically.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s more that I think that the cops that are enforcing illegitimate laws today don’t suddenly become good cops when we give them legitimate laws to enforce tomorrow.

                They’re still the same guys who were following orders yesterday.

                The ones who were bad apples, the ones who covered for the ones who were bad apples, the ones who didn’t do anything when the ones who covered for the bad apples covered the bad apples, and the ones who didn’t do anything when they fired the guy who said something are still there enforcing the new and improved laws.

                There are a *LOT* of things that need to happen to solve the problems we’ve got. They’re not just “weaken the unions!” and “revamp QI!”

                They also include some of the weirder culture things that aren’t going away tomorrow, even when the rioting slows to pre-covid levels.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah I agree with that. Nevertheless, I think there is value in stating what boundaries they should have. That is indeed a separate topic from how we would enforce these boundaries given they don’t even follow the ones we have now.

                My two immediate thoughts are 1) we should defang police unions, but leave them empowered to advocate for things like work hours, salary, and officer health, and 2) we should revamp QI.

                I’m sure there is a ton of other stuff. I’m not a super genius and it would be unrealistic to expect me (or anyone) to figure out all the answers right now. That said, I want people to seriously examine why they think using teargas and rubber bullets against non-violent protestors is okay. I would like for them to conclude that it is not.

                It’s a small enough goal. If I’m ever elected “cop czar,” I’ll need to do more work.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to veronica d
              Ignored
              says:

              I think the cops should do a MUCH better job at handling protest, and apparently that’s something we need to re-learn every few decades.

              However the words “peaceful protestors” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. We hear in the news “mostly peaceful protestors” a fair amount which means the peaceful protestors have lost control.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Cops in Minneapolis shot people on their own front porch with pepper balls.

                Two days ago cops in DC cleared Lafayette Park of protesters who were singing, and painting (!) with tear gas and rubber bullets. They also ran Episcopal priests off their own church property for the hugely violent act of handing out water and providing first aid.

                Cops in multiple cities have been filmed shooting various “less then lethal” things at reporters who are complying with their requests regarding where to stand, when to move, etc.

                A Cop in New York city pulled down the Covid mask of a protester with his hands up and pepper sprayed him in the face from less then 3 feet away.

                Cops in multiple cities have been filmed and photographed covering their badge numbers and name plates with tape to avoid being held accountable for their actions.

                A cop in Seattle pepper sprayed an 11 year old girl.

                Cops in Washington DC tried to kettle non-violent protesters (which is a combat tactic used in Iraq and Afghanistan), and then tossed smoke bombs into a private house when the homeowner opened his doors to allow the protesters a place of refuge.

                Cops in Seattle have driven non-protesting families from their homes by indiscriminately deploying tear gas after curfew in residential neighborhoods.

                Those are just the incidents I can think of where cops, under color of law, didn’t do a much better job of handling protesters. Not even close.

                But sure, its the protesters fault they can’t keep the Boogaloo Bois home in their mom’s basements.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Those are just the incidents I can think of where cops, under color of law, didn’t do a much better job of handling protesters. Not even close.

                The one that surprises me is DC, supposedly they have to deal with protests on a regular basis. NY does too but they also have the rep for having issues.

                As for Minneapolis, the only thing I know about them is 4 of them were cool with killing a guy in public. That’s so damning on the face of it that I expect they have other problems. I also expect they have among the worst protests.

                Having said that, we have something like 400+ cities with serious protests and I expect the news is showing us the bottom of the barrel. If that city doesn’t have specific training on how to handle this kind of protest, well they do have a lot of training telling the cops to think their lives are in danger at all times.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to veronica d
      Ignored
      says:

      VD, I’m 100% with ya on this. It’s of a piece, in my mind at least, with the fact that the “land of the free” has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Americans love themselves some punition.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to veronica d
      Ignored
      says:

      When was the last time we had these kinds of protests? Rodney King was in… 1992? Police vets with 28+ years of experience are either behind desks or retired.

      This generation of cops has close to zero experience with this. The bulk of their training and experience is WOD “warrior” style.

      Their world has three types of people; fellow cops (and other maintainers/supporters of the system), civilians/victims (who obey the law), and criminals. The protesters aren’t fellow cops and they’re disrupting the system so they’re not civilians.

      Criminals don’t obey society’s rules, it’s the cop’s job to make them, ideally non-violently but violently if need be.

      disobeying a cop is not essentially violent.

      The cops have orders. Their job is to make the crowd go away.

      We’re in “when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail” territory.

      Perhaps I should endeavor to change.

      Parts of Detroit have not recovered from the riots of 22 years ago. Parts haven’t recovered from the riots of 50+ years ago.

      From the point of view of the police, they need to choose the lesser evil and it’s the protestors opening the door to buildings burning down who need to adjust their actions.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        So do you approve of police using teargas and rubber bullets against peaceful protestors or not?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        “Their world has three types of people; fellow cops (and other maintainers/supporters of the system), civilians/victims (who obey the law), and criminals. The protesters aren’t fellow cops and they’re disrupting the system so they’re not civilians.”

        This is an astonishing statement. Was it intended to be a restatement of Admiral Adama’s adage-

        There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          This is an astonishing statement.

          One can reasonably look at burning stores and think that’s a serious problem.

          So… are the protestors giving (political or actual) cover to that? Are they enabling that? Are they one move away from doing that? Is that a menu option or is it even the plan?

          “I’m upset over something, so I’m going to go start fires” is not a very defensible statement nor course of action.

          IMHO “peaceful protest” is not a mindset that leads to arson, but the number of burned buildings suggests either I’m wrong or protests attract arsonists.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
            Ignored
            says:

            What I was reacting to was the blithe categorization of American citizens into categories where they were “not civilians”.

            That’s astonishing (and not in a good way) because it flatly refutes the entire concept of a republican democracy where the citizens, even those who commit crimes, are still citizens endowed with all the rights of a free people.

            That’s why it brings to mind Adama’s adage, because using terms like “civilian” frames it as the government waging war on its own people.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
            Ignored
            says:

            No, the protesters are not giving it cover or agreeing to it or enabling it, unless you count using their rights under the Constitution as enabling.

            Take the guy who set the courthouse in Nashville on fire – he’s a 25 year old white “3%er” which means he identifies with a ultra right wing ideology, manifested in a small but persistent group of people, who want to destroy the current American government system by creating a race war so that they can get rid of everyone who isn’t one of them. The only plausible way those protesting police brutality were “enabling” him was protesting which gave him cover to light the courthouse up. SO yeah, protests attract that sort of person. Get over it.

            What gets us upset about your statement is this:

            Their world has three types of people; fellow cops (and other maintainers/supporters of the system), civilians/victims (who obey the law), and criminals. The protesters aren’t fellow cops and they’re disrupting the system so they’re not civilians.

            Criminals don’t obey society’s rules, it’s the cop’s job to make them, ideally non-violently but violently if need be.

            Protesters are NOT disrupting the system. The First amendment says so. They ARE obeying the law, even if it means standing in a street or shouting loudly. They ARE NOT CRIMINALS. But increasingly the cops are treating them as such anyway.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              Protesters are NOT disrupting the system. The First amendment says so. They ARE obeying the law, even if it means standing in a street or shouting loudly. They ARE NOT CRIMINALS. But increasingly the cops are treating them as such anyway.

              The flies in the face of the ethos of civil disobedience. When performing civil disobedience, you indeed disrupt. You indeed break the law. You protest past curfew. You block the streets. You accept you might be arrested or even beaten. This was central to the systems of MLK and Gandhi.

              That said, civil disobedience is strictly non-violent. You allow yourself to be arrested, although you’re not obligated to make that easy for authorities. Protestors might chain themselves together across a road. Or they might evade police, using scatter-gather tactics. Various strategies exist.

              Note, if you support the ideas of MLK, then you support civil disobedience. How people today respond to non-violent protest tells us how they would have responded during the civil rights era. Many people publicly venerate MLK, but their actions reveal this is empty.

              My claim is this: it is perhaps reasonable to arrest those engaged in civil disobedience. However, it is not justified to enact any violence toward them. They are non-violent. If the police choose violence, it is because the system is violent, not the protestors. Shame on the police. Shame on those who support them.

              The goal of civil disobedience is to the reveal the fundamental injustice of the broader social system. It is also to shut the system down, because it should not continue in its present form. It is meant not merely to signal, but also disrupt.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              …the protesters are not giving it cover or agreeing to it or enabling it…

              And yet buildings tend to catch on fire as part of these things, windows are smashed, looters do their thing and so forth.

              If the “protesters” have lost control over their emotions and are doing this themselves then that’s a problem and it’s reasonable for the cops to be violent and it’s absolutely on the protesters’ ticket.

              If the protesters are joined by people who just want stuff to burn or to rob stuff, then while it’s not them losing control over their emotions, it’s going to look like that and it’s still giving license for the cops to treat all of them badly.

              If the cops get violent when things are peaceful and things spiral out of control then there’s a very strong argument it’s not on the protesters’ ticket but there’s still a link there.

              Protesters are NOT disrupting the system.

              The whole point is to disrupt the system.

              They ARE obeying the law, even if it means standing in a street or shouting loudly.

              The entire point to this is to disobey an unjust set of laws and create change by putting a spot light on them. Being arrested is great, swamp the system.

              From the Protesters point of view they SHOULD be beaten up on camera by the cops while making it clear that they’re not resisting and are peaceful. That proves their point.

              Close to the worst case outcome is video with Protesters burning buildings, looting, and causing other destruction. Do that and you’re creating the “they are violent and need violent cops to contain them” narrative. That path leads to a few meaningless paper changes to stop the current violence and making it worse in the long run. Not just brutal cops but job creators refusing to locate in “those” communities. Detroit still hasn’t recovered from the 60’s riots.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Close to the worst case outcome is video with Cops beating and shooting people and causing other destruction. Do that and you’re creating the “they are violent and need violent protesters to contain them” narrative.

                But maybe its just a few bad apples, I dunno.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        “When was the last time we had these kinds of protests?”

        uh, Ferguson wasn’t that long ago, broskiReport

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          Ferguson wasn’t much of a thing in my state.

          Right now we have 400+ cities with serious protests and the National Guard being called out in 28 states.

          A “protest” where the cops outnumber the protestors is probably a different thing than one where they’re outnumbered by a lot.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to veronica d
      Ignored
      says:

      Because we’ve completely inverted the role of law enforcement from a public service a free people provide themselves to something more like the standing army our founders were so concerned about. And because a lot of Americans either through ignorance or fear, particularly from late 20th century spikes in crime, kind of get off on it. As long as all the tacticool hardware is aimed at someone else.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        Exactly.

        Note, as a leftist, I don’t necessarily buy into the “founding fathers” stuff, nor the general libertarian framing. However, I’m pleased that at least on this point we can find common ground, because this seems like a very important foundation.

        There remains much to argue about, but regarding police brutality, we should be on the same page. Thank you.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I mean, here.

    I have heard a couple of stories about molotovs thrown at police.

    Today, we see a picture of… a water bottle. That failed to ignite.

    Now… I am in a place where if you told me that the water bottle was, seriously, full of kerosene at the time and it failed due to not achieving flashpoint temperature, and the molotov thrower didn’t know that, I’d say “okay… that’s plausible…”

    If you told me that the water bottle was full of water and it had a portable water purifier attached and the cops called it a molotov because of course they did, I’d say “okay… that’s plausible…”

    Which is *MORE* plausible is a rorschach test, of course.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I do remember the thing where people said that the milkshakes thrown at…whatever that was…had cement mixed in them. I recall everybody agreeing that this was a stupid thing to accuse anyone of doing.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        My general policy on intense events where the media is reporting everything “now” is that I need to wait multiple weeks before finding out what the truth was.

        At this point in the news cycle rumors are being reported as fact and self interested people are pushing narratives for their self interest.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, it looks a lot like a water purifier.

        And there have been pictures of people throwing molotovs, but the molotovs in those pictures looked like glass bottles with rags in them, and not water bottles with water purifiers.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      So they weren’t trained to intervene when senior officers go rogue? Tells ya something doesn’t it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        This is where things get murky. Those three officers were charged in part for not preventing the violation of Floyd’s rights by another police officer. By law they were – apparently! – supposed to intervene. That they didn’t could be accounted for by being 4 day old rookies, but in the videos from the current protests I’ve seen there’s a *really* disturbing pattern in which one cop sorta goes rogue, assaults a peaceful protestor, and the other cops either a) jump into the fray or b) defend the perimeter to allow the first cop to continue the beat down. I’ve not seen a single video where one cop actually restrains another cop from engaging in violence or escalating it. The only two times I’ve seen this type of physical restraint invoked were to prevent one cop from offering help to someone the cops just knocked down.

        Anyway, it’s just a weird pattern I’ve noticed. Seems to me the logic is that each particular officer is trained, culturally if not officially, to prioritize “having each others back” above all else. And that leads to a race to the bottom in terms of the police self-policing each other.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          There is one video of a Fort Lauderdale female officer appearing to dress down a white male officer after an incident there, but there’s no sound so its hard to tell.

          What you describe is definitely a pattern, but I wouldn’t call it weird. I’d call it Tuesday.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Philip H
            Ignored
            says:

            Right, but to Dark’s implied defense of those two cops, *by law* they’re required to intervene. So contra your point in your response, they *are* trained, at least in some sense of the word, to do so. That they didn’t intervene is the issue. It has led to charges being filed against them. The issue I’m addressing is why they didn’t act on their legal obligation to intervene and instead allowed Chauvin to kill Floyd.

            So, to Dark’s point, the fact that they’d only been on the force for only four days is mitigating evidence against … what exactly? That they didn’t know they were obligated to intervene when an officer assaults directly leading to that person’s death?

            I mean, I get the emotional pull of saying these guys were greenhorns still learning the ropes. But the crime they’re charged with isn’t based on some obscure moral nuance we could easily imagine them not being aware of.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              Seems like they were being educated in exactly the wrong way when this was going down.

              That said I’m open to the argument that their newness should mitigate, but not that it should exonerate.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Seems like they were being educated in exactly the wrong way when this was going down.

                Culture is the hardest thing to change.

                My expectation is the most useful thing we could do is impose the death penalty on the department; i.e. fire everyone and start over from scratch.

                If you don’t do that then the killer is just taking one for the team. It’d be the cop equiv of the CEO stepping down when something goes wrong (meet the new boss, same as the old boss).

                This hits the radar as an organization/culture problem.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          2 are 4 day old rookies. Mr Knee was their training officer and had more than twice as much experience as everyone else put together. There is a little more mitigating stuff in that link but it’s from their lawyer so I’d expect heavy spin.

          The 3rd guy had something like 9 years worth of experience, I don’t recall off hand.

          I’m not sure what the law says (which is how we end up with jail time being an option), but it seems a little unrealistic to expect the two rookies to override both of their training officers.Report

  1. June 5, 2020

    […] do return, as we have seen protesters, politicians, social media folks, and even some police doing. I will be writing, using the platform I have to talk about what is going in, and judging things as best I can with as […]Report

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