Rs and Ds Unite in defense of the #War on Police

See, what the Police actually need is more power, more protection, and in May, many House Dems, including progressive D luminaries as Luis Gutierrez, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison handed it to them more in the Serve and Protect Act, passed by an overwhelming majority in May.

Catchy, eh, turning Protect and Serve inside out?  Come to think of it, the new way does reflect who the po-po actually are, and what they do and don’t do by and large.  Sure, there are likely still some Officer Friendly cops out and about, but many communities in the nation have learned: Never Call the Police, most especially not for help in a mental health crisis!  Far too many are so freaking chickenshit that they shoot, kill, call their union reps rather than ambulances, and sort it out later.  “I thought he had a gun!” (sorry it was a cell phone, a wallet, a comb), but ‘I really did fear for my life and the lives of others in the vicinity!”.

And that’s the legal standard in court: that simple lying justification almost always provides total immunity to the few cops who’ve been tried for their crimes.  Defense attorneys often have ‘expert witnesses’ to do ‘re-enactments’ of the crime for juries to demonstrate just ‘how little time’ a defendant had to decide to shoot or…be shot, even by a cell phone.  And that’s often even with citizen videos of the crimes showing how it went down, as with homeless schizophrenic James Boyd murdered in the hills above Albuquerque while the po-po laughed as they sicced police dogs on him, killed snuffed him with apparent glee.  And oh, so many, so many assassinated…while unarmed.  Street Preacher Pastor Marvin Booker went back to retrieve his only pair of shoes as he’d been summoned to a holding cell in Denver, and was murdered by cops…for his failure to follow orders immediately.

How many people have been shot in the back by some cop in the back while running away from them?  My media files are full of photos of them.  Or murdered while ‘in custody’?  Or shot for ‘failing to submit to a ‘peace officer’s’ orders immediately, whether or not asleep on the sidewalk, deaf, disabled, or with five ‘rhoided up po-po (okay, pigs)piled on top of them yelling contradictory orders, as with Kelly Thomas in Fullerton tased, beaten, and kicked to death?  Well, they simply beat him to death while he cried out for his mother.  Goddam.  But back to the Act:

From govtrack.us: the Summary of H.R. 5698: Protect and Serve Act of 2018:

‘A bill that recently passed the House with large bipartisan support would change the way our country punishes anybody who kills or attempts to kill a law enforcement or police officer.

Context:

128 law enforcement officers were killed in 2017. And 2018 is on pace to exceed 2017. While the trend during this century is down, both this year’s and last year’s numbers were higher than the modern low of 2013.

How might legislators try to bring these statistics down further?  What the bill does:

The Protect and Serve Act would categorize crimes against law enforcement as hate crimes, and significantly increase penalties accordingly.

The House bill makes any intentional attempt to physically harm a law enforcement officer a federal crime, and would imprison all offenders for a maximum of 10 years. That increases to life in prison if the officer is killed.

The Senate version goes a step further, by classifying such [all] attacks against law enforcement not just as a federal crime but as a hate crime. However, the prison sentences would still be the same.

Introduced on May 8, 2015, on May 16, the House passed the bill overwhelmingly 382-35, (10 members not voting)

Of the 35 Nays, 11 were Rs, 24 were Ds. (govtrack again, ‘votes’ and ‘Statistically Notable votes’)

What opponents say

While the House vote enjoyed large bipartisan majorities, some holdouts existed on both the right and the left.

“First, police already have substantial protections under federal and state law, rendering this bill superfluous,” wrote a letter signed by several dozen organizations across the ideological spectrum, from the ACLU and NAACP to the National Council of Churches. “Second, this bill signals that there is a ‘war on police,’ which is not only untrue, but an unhelpful and dangerous narrative to uplift.”

“And finally, bills similar to Protect and Serve that have been introduced in states around the country — so called ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bills — appear to be a political response to the growing national movement for police accountability in the face of continued killings and assaults of unarmed African Americans,” the letter continued. “Therefore, this bill is divisive and will have a negative impact on the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

The letter (pdf) referenced above also says:

‘Collectively, these policy efforts, which have sprung up amid the national call for police accountability, appear to be a political response to the powerful activism of grassroots movements that demand fair and constitutional policing. Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act’s aim is to further criminalize. This bill will be received as yet another attack on these communities and threatens to exacerbate what is already a discriminatory system of mass incarceration in this country. Continuing to undermine police-community relations in this manner sows seeds of division, which ultimately threatens public safety and undermines the work of law enforcement.’

It’s hard to even begin to address this loaded buzzphrase: “intentional attempt to physically harm”, isn’t it?  Of course any cop hurt would claim ‘intentionality’, even in ‘no-knock’ SWAT raids, or when a protestor struggles to get out of a cop’s nasty death grip as with Cecily McMillan, grabbed by her breasts Occupying Zucotti Park, convicted later of felony second-degree assault) or push them away while being choked to death as with asthmatic Eric (‘I can’t breathe’) Garner.  How many times have those filming those events been arrested instead (Walter Scott, Eric Garner)?  Or had their cameras smashed while recording at protests, as with Rebelutionary Z, Bassem Masri, Unicorn Riot, and many others?

I haven’t found aggregate figures on the number of police working to ‘serve and protect’ us, but the InJustice Dept. says that there are 17,000 law enforcement entities across the United States; Wikipedia makes some stabs the number, but nothing after 2012. Let’s just say: a hella lot of them, zo…not that we’re supposed to use percentages, but the fact is, ‘policing’ is one of the safest jobs statistically.

On the other hand, how many citizens have been Killed by the Po-po?

The Counted: Findings and impact : A Guardian investigation revealed the true number of people killed by law enforcement, told the stories of who they were, and established the trends in how they died. The US government… responded, well, kinda/sorta (hint: the Justice Department, the Bureau of Justice Statistics), which is why the Guardian…stopped counting

The site also used to feature an interactive chart, but it’s disappeared; odd-bodkins.

KilledbyPolice.net began tracking corporate new accounts of citizen killings by police in May of 2013 with links to news stories.  In 2017 they’d recorded 1194, but oddly, there are no entries for 2018.  My guess is the site owner hadn’t gotten enough donations to keep it going.

Ricardo Levins Morales, June 30, 2018, writes:

“When there’s no video to contradict it, even the most far-fetched police narrative about fearing for their lives is treated as credible. In the police world, however, lying – by falsifying (or not filing) incident reports, planting, tampering with or destroying evidence and in perjured court testimony – is a routine practice. This bill – which should be called the “Do Not Resist Act” – serves notice on overpoliced communities that anything short of complete obedience could net you many years in prison on the whim of a cop (and even total submission cannot guarantee your safety).

Most significantly, H.R.5698 bolsters the plea-bargain-to-prison pipeline – the express lane of mass incarceration. Over 90% of state and federal “convictions” are obtained through plea bargains, not trials. Under the system, a defendant pleads guilty of an offense to avoid the prospect of a longer sentence should they lose in court.”

Most poor people can’t afford attorneys at all, and public defenders are insanely over-worked, so that percentage of plea bargains would be due to that as well.  Morales continues:

“Approximately $105 billion are poured into police departments each year. Another $90-120 billion (the lower estimates don’t account for court costs) are spent to imprison more than two million inmates and manage close to five million people on probation or parole. These vast sums are being used, in effect, to punish people for having needs. What if they were invested instead in meeting those needs? The question itself is highly destabilizing to a system devoted to the concentration wealth in ever-fewer hands, not expanding access to it.

The only viable solution is its complete demolition and its replacement with tested and new forms of mutual aid, community empowerment and conflict resolution.

This perspective – known as police abolition – is experiencing a rapid transformation from utopian fantasy to urgent necessity. The courage to give it voice will not come from the offices of mayors, the halls of Congress or the wishful thinking of reform-minded police chiefs, invested as they all are in the legitimacy of the status quo. It is emerging, instead, from multiple locations in the educational, social service, community and street protest arenas, with its epicenter in the very communities that police occupation, surveillance and harassment are intended to immobilize. Police abolition is a piece of the unfinished business of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman’s generation. It’s time to wrap it up.”

His essay is a great polemical analysis; you just might want to read it all when you have time.

The overwhelming passage of this law comes during time of increasing worker protests, and increased ICE raids, including this:

‘Military-style immigration raids: Coming to a workplace near you’ wsws.org, July 26

The Trump administration is placing thousands of workplaces across the United States under police surveillance and is drastically expanding plans for military-style raids to arrest and deport immigrant workers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that it conducted 984 workplace arrests of immigrants over the nine months from October 2017 to July 2018, nearly six times more than over the preceding 12 months, during which time the government dragged 172 people off their jobsites for deportation.

ICE also announced it has served 5,200 businesses with audit notices so far this year, including an astounding 2,738 last week alone, in what it called the “second phase” of the operation. This means federal agents are presently scouring payroll lists and checking the citizenship status of tens or hundreds of thousands of workers. ICE states that from October 2017 through July 2018, it has “opened 6,093 worksite investigations” compared to 1,716 in the preceding fiscal year.

If the government conducts raids at even a small fraction of these facilities, the total number of immigrant workers arrested will be in the tens of thousands. Raids like those conducted in Sandusky and Salem, Ohio in June give a sense of what is to come. During these SWAT-style assaults, hundreds of immigration officials with attack dogs, helicopters and assault rifles swept into a plant nursery and a meatpacking plant, arresting roughly 300 workers while their US-born coworkers shouted denunciations at the agents.”

“…fearing the prospect of social opposition to the hyper-exploitation of the working class, the superrich are establishing a police-military infrastructure to spy on and physically crush the working class.”

Back to the Senate version of Protect and Serve, Orin Hatch, cosponsor Heidi Heitkamp’s companion bill (S. 2794) was also introduced in early May hasn’t had much ‘action’, only read twice and submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee so far, the 19 members are listed at the link.

What’s the hold-up on bringing it to a floor vote?  Low whip count, but that doesn’t track, does it?  You’ll likely see the reasons more clearly than I do in my bafflement.  Do you reckon that Ocasio2018 on Twitter can shame them into a floor vote?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  “The GOP is: – weak on fighting for working class Americans – weak on crime – weak on equal rights – weak on national security – weak on rejecting racism – weak on moral courage – weak on family values. So yeah, I’d say this a representative choice of their values.”

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

2 responses to “Rs and Ds Unite in defense of the #War on Police

  1. Greyson Smythe

    …and the Memphis police are surprising even the ACLU:

    Memphis Police Spying on Activists Is Worse Than We Thought

    When the ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department in March 2017, its lawyers accused the police department of spying on local protesters in violation of a consent decree. The lawsuit was based on the existence of a “City Hall Escort List” created by Memphis police, at Mayor Jim Strickland’s request, and mostly filled with names of Black Lives Matter activists to be flagged by police if ever on City Hall grounds. However, after deposing key police officials and collecting hundreds of pages of documented evidence, ACLU lawyers learned that this was just a fraction of what was going on. Based on court documents the ACLU filed this week in the case, they also found out about these actions:

    […]

    These intel briefings weren’t just shared within the police department; they were also shared with Shelby County sheriff and government officials, the county school district, the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Military, the Memphis Light, Gas, & Water municipal utility company, the Tennessee Valley Authority (a regional electricity utility company), and, curiously, the private companies FedEx and Autozone.

    […]

    Undercover and plain-clothed officers used this intel to monitor African American-hosted events and activities even if they weren’t protests—like flash mob dance rallies. Among the events the police monitored in stealth mode: several black church meetings; a memorial service for Darrius Stewart, a teenager who was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer in 2015; a black-owned food truck festival; and a gathering at a local park where an organization gave out free book bags and school supplies to students.

    …so Walking in Memphis may no longer be advisable…

    • thanks for the brilliant marc cohn song; i’d never net him before.

      zo…memphis seems to be anticipating a slave rebellion as in haiti? wonder who else besides darkies they’re spying on seven ways from sunday? boy, it’ll be fascinating to see how the verdict goes, as tragically, The Law is what a judge or panel of judges…say it is.

      you are so clever at html hyperlinks, amigo; i doff my fedora to you.

      i’ll add this for sean bell and amadou diallo; i’d used it a a lullaby over yonder.
      american skin:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Bell_shooting_incident

      Is it a gun, is it a knife
      Is it a wallet, this is your life
      (is it in your heart, is it in your eyes)
      It ain’t no secret
      It ain’t no secret
      No secret my friend
      You can get killed just for living in your American skin

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