So Grieved A Cloud of Witnesses

Andrew Donaldson

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 Yonder and Home.

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20 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    One thing that might help with reforming police is implementing a variation of CRM (Crew/Cockpit Resource Management). One of the big things about it is if the people around you are telling you that you are doing something wrong, you have a duty to listen to them and re-evaluate your current course of action.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    I remember a photographer- I think it must have been Nan Goldin- did a book of photos on domestic violence years ago. And the project actually began by chance: she was photographing a wealthy couple for a profile of their luxurious lifestyle when the wife angered the abusive husband, who started beating her up. What was striking was he’s beating his wife in front of a professional photographer- who’s photographing this crime- and he just thinks it’s his right and responsibility to punish his wife. I think that’s a common attitude with abusive people.

    What I keep thinking with Chauvin is will he ever express remorse or sadness or any friggin emotion? Everyone else in the trial has, but I’ve never seen any indication of feeling on his part, aside from anger and annoyance in that video. It’s creepy.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      He was following procedure.

      Even if he made a mistake, cops have to be allowed to make mistakes.

      And so on.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      They will say 99% of the suspects put in one of these holds lives to see his or her day in court. It was a department approved technique and but for the drugs in Floyd’s system and delays caused by being surrounded by these vaguely threatening gawkers he would very likely be alive today.

      Which is all kind of besides the point of the larger issues but those aren’t a basis for conviction.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to InMD
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        says:

        It’s exactly like Covid denial; 98.5% live, so it’s not a problem.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to InMD
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        says:

        Yeah, I think the witnesses are definitely going to be put on trial here, which I suppose we could call the “Look what you made me do!” defense.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to InMD
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        says:

        I’d be surprised if, for example, 99% of people with Floyd’s health and drug issues would die if cuffed and left lying on their backs without a knee to the neck — or any significant percentage at all. You take your victim as you find him.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to CJColucci
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          says:

          If we’re talking negligence then sure. I actually think charging most of these questionable police killings as murder is an error (not sure where we are on that with Chauvin). They’re more like manslaughter. But it’s always hard to convict when whatever happened was ‘by the book,’ even where the book is terrible.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD
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            says:

            Last year provided one heck of a utilitarian calculus.

            Last year’s murder rates jumped over 2019’s.

            NPR:

            New Orleans-based data consultant Jeff Asher studied crime rates in more than 50 cities and says the crime spikes aren’t just happening in big cities. With the numbers of homicides spiking in many places, Asher expects the final statistics for 2020 to tell a startlingly grim story.

            “We’re going to see, historically, the largest one-year rise in murder that we’ve ever seen,” he says.

            Asher says it has been more than a half-century since the country saw a year-to-year murder rate that jumped nearly 13%.

            “We have good data that the rise in murder was happening in the early stages of the pandemic. We have good data that the rise in murder picked up in the early stages of the summer,” Asher says, “and we also have good data that the rise of murder picked up again in September and October as some of the financial assistance started to wear off.”

            Fox News via The New York Post:

            Homicide rates jumped by 30 percent from 2019 to 2020, while gun assault and aggravated assault rates climbed 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, experts found.

            “Homicide rates were higher during every month of 2020 relative to rates from the previous year,” the report states, calling the 30 percent surge “a large and troubling increase that has no modern precedent.”

            If you want to read long-form speculation on why it’s happening, who better than Vox? In the Vox article, there’s a section called “We know less about why there’s a spike, but there are some theories” that you should check out but here are the answers (without the paragraphs that go into explaining each answer):

            1) The pandemic has really messed things up
            2) Depolicing led to more violence
            3) Lack of trust in police led to more violence
            4) More guns led to more gun violence
            5) Overwhelmed hospitals led to more deaths
            6) Idle hands led to more violence
            7) A bad economy led to more violence

            It’s probably some combination of multiple ones of those, but if it’s mostly because of 1, 5, 6, and 7, then that’s pretty much good news. The Pandemic is thiiiiiis close to being over and by, oh, 2022, everything should be 100% back to normal with movie theaters and going out to Chili’s for fajitas and whatnot.

            If it’s 3, then the cops have a lot of work to do.
            If it’s 4, then they have a lot of work to do and 3 is a pre-req.

            If it’s 2? Well, 2 is unlikely to create a stable equilibrium. It’s eventually going to result in multiple shifts in public policy. Among those will be even more protections for the police.

            Keep your fingers crossed for 1, 5, 6, and 7.Report

    • Avatar DrX in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      I wouldn’t expect to see expressions of remorse or sadness at this time. IANAL, but I suspect that Chauvin’s lawyer advised him against displays of emotion for the time being in favor of saving expressions of remorse for the sentencing phase if and when he’s convicted.

      Apart from the advice of counsel, I would also be surprised by any shows of remorse because Chauvin’s emotional priority right now is surviving, what are for him, the terrifying unknowns of the future. Moreover, remorse would probably require reconciling a self-image as one of the good guys with the reality that he committed a heinous act.

      These impediments to remorse are further backloaded with an internalized cop culture that doesn’t allow for uncertainty, regret, or guilt over the use of aggression. Cops must upset people and sometimes hurt people while doing their jobs, so they build up emotional armor against the normal psychic inhibitions and prohibitions against harming others. Assuming Chauvin has an underlying mature conscience, which is not always a safe assumption, it may take some time for him to get to a place where genuine remorse is even possible. In the meantime, he’ll be testing and tweaking messy internal narratives about the events that day, trying to make all of this okay against the backdrop of futility in the likely event that he’s convicted.

      Caveat: These are hypotheses subject to revisions as more information becomes available.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to DrX
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        says:

        I think this is all probably right. One of the things I find fascinating about policing today is how they seem to be required to perform contempt towards whoever it is they’re dealing with. It seems like it probably comes from their training, but I don’t remember the anger before. I’ve also talked to older, mostly retired cops, who say they’re frankly scared of younger cops, which I took as a comment on their new protocols, rather than as individuals.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F.
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          says:

          There’s a saying that floated around the twitters for a while there:

          Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes to mean “treating someone like an authority”

          For some, “if you don’t respect me, I won’t respect you” means “if you don’t treat me like an authority, I won’t treat you like a person”Report

        • Avatar JS in reply to Rufus F.
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          says:

          Blame the war on drugs. A cynical little political ploy took already bad, biased policing and made it worse.

          Because it turned a giant swathe of people from “victims” to “criminals”.

          A guy buying weed, or smoking weed, was not a threat to a cop. But suddenly anyone with enough pocket space for a joint was walking around committing a felony, and cops were suddenly surrounded by felons.

          And of course, taking their already biased policing — the culture of “putting the wrong sorts in their place” that American has cultivated so long — and said “They don’t even have to be DOING anything now to be a felon. The felony could be in their pockets or even in their bloodstream RIGHT NOW.”.

          And of course then we armed them and conflated every type of drug and drug related violence together, until some guy with a joint in his pocket was every bit as dangerous as a cartel soldier blasted out of his mind on a suicide run. We gave them military equipment and told them they NEEDED it.

          So now you’ve got cops, armed to the teeth like they’re going to war, surrounded by people who could ALL be felons, could ALL be committing awful crimes right this second.

          Oh, and then we gave everyone a camera in their pocket and suddenly that “keeping the wrong sorts in their place” bit started going national, when it was supposed to just happen in back rooms and alleys so the “right sorts” could pretend it never happened.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to JS
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            says:

            It seems like it might be a good time for another reading group selection:
            https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16043524-rise-of-the-warrior-copReport

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Rufus F.
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              says:

              I’ve been following Radley since his Agitator days. I read this when it came out and it sits on my bookshelf. I would venture that speaking intelligently on this topic requires reading Balko. No one understands it better.

              That said the book’s search for a larger narrative makes what should be great work into just a good one. He continually references the spirit of the 3rd Amendment in ways that may check a box for an editor telling him to ‘tie it all together’ but being a lawyer it came off to me as a really weird digression.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to JS
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            says:

            Great comment.

            (For the record, this is why my immediate response to Gun Control Now! is to suspect that The War On Guns will becomes the new War On Drugs and all of the visions of Cletus having his front door kicked in, as sweet on the tongue as they are, will turn sour in the stomach when the footage of the cops shooting yet another Young Black Male on Black Lives Matter Boulevard because, hey, he went for his waistband. The object he was holding looked like it could have been a gun.)Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Rufus F.
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          says:

          From what I’ve seen, body cam footage tends to show the opposite, with officers tending toward calmness, trying to prevent a situation from escalating. Not all of them, of course. And body cams surely encourage better behaviour. But I’ve been impressed by how many claims of police misconduct have been debunked by unedited footage.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky
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            says:

            I think there is a bit of a selection bias involved with that, in that departments that have a culture that is respectful of the citizenry tend to see the value in body cams and encourage and accept their usage all the time, and make the footage readily available to the public.

            And departments that know the body cam footage is going to be damning don’t adopt them, or turn them off all the time, or let batteries run out, or lock down the footage so the public almost never sees it.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Pinky
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            says:

            I’m going by what I’ve seen in my own limited interactions with police and how I’ve watched them interact with the public more frequently. It’s all anecdotal I suppose, but here they seem to start with anger and escalate until the person knuckles under. I don’t know that it’s misconduct so much as some people are just a-holes, but I can’t imagine it encourages good responses or public enthusiasm for cops.Report

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