Part 8 – Obsession with Crime and Punishment
One of the aspects of a fascist nation is possibly one of the most chilling. It is the power of the police and the willingness of people to overlook the abuses that go with that. Over time, people become very wiling to give up civil liberties in order to feel that they are being made more safe from the evil people around them. They will even believe the propaganda that they are in more danger than they really are, which makes it much easier for the government and police to take unlimited power with little or no opposition.
Policing in America is unlike the rest of the developed world. The amount of violence that the police are allowed to perpetrate on the population is excessive. The amount of property that they are allowed to take, easily and legally, with the simple accusation of suspicion is beyond comprehension. The amount of military weaponry that they are helped to purchase, encouraged to purchase, suggests that their role is far more than policing. America essentially has a military whose sole purpose is to focus on its citizens and has the right to take most anything the want to support themselves.
The stories of police beatings and killings of people in America are so numerous that that many of them are never reported beyond their local news, if they are reported at all. The stories of unarmed people who are shot, often repeatedly, and by more than one officer at a time, or innocent people who are beaten, nearly to death are almost common in the news. The use of offsite, or secret locations for interrogations is noted in Chicago, but likely isn’t exclusive to this city.
The number of police officers who are charged and convicted for these events in America are so few that it should be obvious by now that America is a full blown police state. From 2005 to 2015, there were 13 officers convicted of manslaughter charges, 0 in 2015. None were convicted of murder. The officer with the most harsh penalty had shot an unarmed man and for this received 3 years for a manslaughter charge. He never faced a murder charge for killing an innocent, unarmed man. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/police-shooting-convictions_us_5695968ce4b086bc1cd5d0da)
There are roughly 1,000 police shootings, annually, in America. To have only13 convictions for roughly 10,000 police involved shootings should get people to ask many more questions about what is happening. But, with the propaganda that crime is on the rise, they often praise what is being done and are quite happy to accept these police officers as judge, jury and executioner, even before guilt can be proven. Crime is significantly lower than it was in 1991 and lower still than the 1970’s.
Another part of the issue has to do with prosecutors and judges being reluctant to charge or convict officers for wrongdoing. They often take the public approach that to make officers stop and think about what they are doing limits their ability to do their jobs, effectively. This is more a position of support for a police state than it is a position of justice. It also makes their jobs much easier, since they do not have to push for a prosecution and will not be on the receiving end of the wrath of the police force.
Even the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, says that he will reduce the Department of Justice’s investigation into police forces that have a consistent history of abuses. He is not willing to investigate police departments or officers who use excessive force, constantly and repeatedly. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/jeff-sessions-justice-department-sue-police-civil-rights-violations-obama-black-lives-matter-a7604711.html)
The acceptance of this behaviour by the police, and the justice system, is not just within the departments and the government, it is more and more promoted by the population. While Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan used law and order as platforms to get elected, the Religious Right and National Rifle Association were quick to add their voices to it and bringing a good number of the public onboard. Since Reagan, every president has used law and order as a platform to gain public support and has increased the prison population.
When the Black Lives Matter campaign started, in response to too many African Americans being killed by police with no legal recourse, there was quickly a Blue Lives Matter campaign started. This is not only a racist response to the Black Lives Matter campaign, dismissing the issues that they are brining to the public, it is a rather obvious acceptance of a police state. Through the lack of convictions for inappropriate police behaviour, killing of innocent and unarmed people that go unpunished, the call for protection of police should make this understanding even more clear.
Because of the public support of Blue Lives Matter, state governments are looking to enact legislation that will give the police even more unprecedented power and protection from prosecution for their abuses. Louisiana was the first to put forward the idea that killing a police officer could be prosecuted as a hate crime. These laws are spreading across the country, led by Republican state houses.
Hate crimes have been put in place to protect oppressed and marginalised groups in the society. The police are not an oppressed or marginalised group. While the action of killing a police officer is a heinous crime, it is not an act of hate against a race or religious group. It is not necessarily an act of hate, at all. To label the killing of a police officer as a hate crime is just another way to protect an already, overly protected profession. It is another way to maintain an already existing police state.
More on the police state in the next blog.