The Eric Garner Case Is About Excessive Force And Unequal Justice, Not Cigarette Taxes

While conservatives have been generally as appalled as others with the news out of Staten Island, some of them are looking in the wrong place for blame.

Eric Garner NYPD Chokehold

For the most part, the reaction to the decision on Wednesday by a Staten Island Grand Jury to return “No True Bill” in its investigation of the death of Eric Garner at the hands, quite literally, of a New York City Police Officer, has been remarkably universal across the ideological spectrum. Republican Members of Congress including people from the leadership team such as Tennessee Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Speaker John Boehner, along with commentators such as The Federalist’s Sean Davis and  Fox News’s Charles Krauthammer, have spoken out against what seems to be a gross miscarriage of justice. Certainly, there are some on the right, such as New York Congressman Peter King and Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon who have taken a decidedly different tack, but for the most part the right has reacted far differently in the immediate wake of the announcement in the Garner case than it has in other situations involving police violence including, most notably, the Michael Brown shooting. Perhaps its because the video evidence in this case is so exceedingly clear that the fact that the Grand Jury could not even find probable cause for a lesser charge like criminally negligent homicide has laid bare the fact that the laws that apply to police are deficient in a fundamental and important way and that, while race is an important factor here, the bigger issue is the way that the law excuses abusive and seemingly criminal when its committed by someone carrying a policeman’s badge.

At the same time, though, there has been what seems to me like an odd disconnect by some on the right who have tried to argue that what happened in the Garner case is about things that seem entirely tangential to what happened that day in July, such as New York’s high cigarette taxes:

Republican Sen. Rand Paul says that politicians and taxes are to blame for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“Obviously, the individual circumstances are important, but I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive,” the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

He continued, “But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.'”

Here’s the video of Paul on Hardball Wednesday night:

Robert Tracinski largely makes the same argument Senator Paul does:

The thing that strikes me as most important about the Garner case is how stupid the reason was for arresting this guy: he was being busted for selling single, “loose” cigarettes in order to evade heavy taxes on tobacco products. Basically, he was arrested for doing something that, in a previous era, thousands of people would have been doing in New York on any given day: selling goods on the streets of the city without any particular permission. It’s a low-grade form of entrepreneurialism.

But not in the nanny-state New York of today. In a city where everything is taxed and regulated and you can’t put trans-fats in your food or buy a soda that’s too large, it makes perfect sense that they would harass a guy for selling cigarettes on the streets without permission. After all, they’re bad for people. Somebody might die.

This case is a reminder that, as Twitter user Bill Hobbs put it, government is force, and more government equals more force. Government is not a benevolent authority working bloodlessly behind the scenes to ensure seamless social harmony. Government is a guy giving you orders about what you can’t do—with a gun on his hip, handcuffs at the ready, and a muscular arm to wrap around your neck if you resist.

(…)

We should remember that whenever the police use force, there is the danger that they will kill someone, whether through malice, poor judgment, poor training, or sheer accident. From time to time, they’re going to shoot the wrong person or wrestle a guy to the ground without knowing that he has serious health problems and can’t survive this kind of rough handling. That is one good reason (among many) to make sure that police are only authorized to interfere with someone whose actions are a threat to the lives and property of others, and not just to enforce some dumb, petty regulation.

The contradiction of the left is that they want to inject government into every little aspect of our lives and mandate that the police confront us all the time over everything—and then they scream when some of those confrontations go wrong. In this way, they are not only hoping for a new series of contentious, racially charged killings. By extending the reach of government and the omnipresence of police power in our lives, they are creating the conditions that make those cases inevitable.

As does J.D. Tucille:

You want a society taxed and regulated toward your vision of perfection? It’s going to need enforcers. Those enforcers are going to interact on a daily basis wth people who don’t share that vision of perfection, and who resent the constant enforcement attempts. They’ll push back to greater or lesser extents. And the enforcers will twist arms in return to frighten people into obedience. People will be abused and some will die.

(…)

Those enforcers aren’t an equal problem for everybody. They spare the people who pay them to look the other way. They give a pass to friends and relations. But they often take a dislike to individuals or whole groups that rub them the wrong way or cause them extra grief. Poor minorities, in particular, are aways on the short end of the stick when it comes to dealing with cops. When they break petty laws, they don’t often turn enough profit to grease police palms enough to be left alone, they don’t have the political power to push back, and at least some of the enforcers have a hard-on for them anyway.

Government, at its core, is force. The more it does to shape the world around it, the more it needs enforcers to make sure officials’ wills are done. “The law is the law,” says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, but it’s creatures like him who make so much damned law. And then they send the likes of Officer Daniel Pantaleo to make sure we comply. Or else they might kill us.

Before diving too far into this argument and whether it misses the real point of the Garner case, it’s important to note that we don’t really know for sure that it was Garner selling so-called “loosies” that was at the heart of his confrontation that led to his death in July. Certainly, it is true that Garner had a record of previous arrests for selling untaxed and loose cigarettes on the street, and some suggestion that he may have had run-ins with the officers involved in the incident at issue in this case. However, it’s not clear that this was the reason for the confrontation on that particular day. Some reports have suggested that it may have had its roots in Garner breaking up a fight between two other people over unstated issues, other reports have suggested it may have been rooted in the personal history between him and the neighborhood beat cop, who was involved in the incident in question but was not the officer who applied the hold that led to Garner’s death. Unless and until more information is released about what was presented to the Grand Jury is made public, which may not be possible under New York State law, we can’t be sure what was led to the fatal confrontation, although if you watch the two videos I posted on Wednesday evening — see here and here — it seems clear that there was some kind of history between Garner and one or more of these officers that may have contributed to what happened. To say, then, that Garner died because of the laws against selling untaxed cigarettes seems like an incomplete explanation from what happened and seems to be assuming the existence of facts that have not been established on the public record.

There are some relevant points in the arguments that Paul, Tracinski, Tucille make above, but their insistence on focusing on the issue of cigarette taxes to such a large degree misses the broader point.  As you create more laws for the police to enforce, you inevitably increase the number of potential confrontations between police and the citizenry, and quite often that occurs in the context of behavior that is, in the end, victimless or at least so de minimis that one ought to question whether it justifies arrest and aggressive enforcement. That’s an issue that has arisen in New York City quite often over the past fifteen years or more as police have been asked to enforce so-called “quality of life” crimes that don’t really involve threats to person or property on the theory that creating a zero tolerance policy toward law breaking discourages more serious violations of the law. Many people give this method of policing a large degree of the credit for “cleaning up” many areas of New York City such as Times Square — although in that particular case I’d argue that large scale commercial development that has displaced the seedier businesses the area was famous for in the 1970s is the main reason for that — but it is also at the root of more controversial aspects of policing in the city, such as the “Stop and Frisk” program which has been shown to overwhelmingly impact minorities rather than whites. The important point, though, has nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with the fact that police are being asked to “clean up” a neighborhood by targeting activities as seemingly minor as selling loose cigarettes or guys running a three card monty game on the corner. In other words, it’s not the taxes that are the issue so much as the fact that police are pressured to be confrontational in seemingly benign situations, and then the fact that they are protected by the legal system when they do use force even in what seem to be clearly inappropriate circumstances. Another relevant point is that this enforcement of “lifestyle” crimes seems to be heavily concentrated in areas where minorities live, something which FiveThirtyEight finds to be particularly true of Tompkinsville, the section of Staten Island lived and where he died. Heavier enforcement in these areas, of course, means that there tends to be a more confrontational, adversarial relationship between the police and the community at large. Selective enforcement of the law, of course, is one of the many complaints that many of the people who have spoke out in the wake of Ferguson and the Garner decision have made quite clearly, and in many cases the data supporting them is quite apparent.

Senator Paul is not wrong that the cigarette tax laws in New York are largely silly, and there is plenty of evidence that the fact that they are so high has created incentives for people to act illegally to get around them, but he’s missing the point. The Garner case is about the excessive use of force and the fact that police are not subject to equal justice under the law. Indeed, they get special, deferential treatment that allows them to get away with wrong doing on a daily basis. When things do go wrong, as they did in the Garner case, the responsibility for prosecuting them falls into the hands of a prosecutor who has to work with these same officers on a daily basis in order to move his or her cases through the legal system, something which arguably creates a huge conflict of interest for prosecutors. The fact that the police may be being asked to enforce too many petty laws is certainly an important question to consider, but in the end it is secondary to the real issue, which is the fact that there are two separate standards of justice and that is creating a level of distrust between the public and law enforcement that cannot be healthy. What law the police may have been enforcing when things go wrong is, in the end, secondary to all of that.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    The fact that the police may be being asked to enforce too many petty laws is certainly an important question to consider, but in the end it is secondary to the real issue, which is the fact that there are two separate standards of justice and that is creating a level of distrust between the public and law enforcement that cannot be healthy. What law the police may have been enforcing when things go wrong is, in the end, secondary to all of that.

    Exactly. The officer exercised excessive force in a situation that, if the incident videos are to be taken at face value, was completely uncalled for.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    “People don’t kill people, cigarette taxes kill people.”

  3. Pinky says:

    This is just a weird, subjective article, Doug. On what basis do you assert what “the point” is? and more oddly, what “the point” isn’t? Is it impossible for there to be more than one lesson from this incident?

  4. stonetools says:

    Conservatives, of course, don’t want to face that the Garner death is the result of oppressive policing of minorities and minority neighborhoods, so they draw the wrong lesson that this is really about “taxes.”
    Just reduce cigarette taxes and leave in place the racist and oppressive policing policies and everything will be great. Sure.
    IMO, the police would have hassled Garner for something else, in the absence of cigarette taxes. Garner was simply a handy target for some police officers who thought , “Lets go roust this big black mope . What could go wrong?’

  5. Cigarette taxes don’t justify the homicide of Eric Gardner or excuse the cops from responsibility of their actions, but they aren’t entirely unrelated either.

    Suppose that Eric Gardner had not be killed, but merely arrested and was now in prison for the next few years over some cigarettes, would that be perfectly okay with everyone here?

    The power to use violent force is ultimately the only power the government has. When you say “there ought to be a law on X”, you are on some level saying “I want people to go out and use violence or the threat of violence to make people X against their will”. If you want to stand up for a law, but then cringe when you see the end result where it ends up destroying people’s lives and go “but that’s not what I meant”, then you’re engaged in doublethink to avoid taking responsibility for your own involvement in the necessary consequences of your actions.

  6. DrDaveT says:

    The Garner case is about the excessive use of force and the fact that police are not subject to equal justice under the law.

    Why are you trying so hard to make this not about race? In fact, the police are much more subject to equal justice under the law when their victim is white. How about we fix that part of the problem, then see how much problem is left?

  7. Jack says:

    @stonetools:

    Conservatives, of course, don’t want to face that the Garner death is the result of oppressive policing of minorities and minority neighborhoods, so they draw the wrong lesson that this is really about “taxes.”

    Prejudiced much?

    As a Conservative, I must disagree.

  8. CET says:

    @DrDaveT

    ” In fact, the police are much more subject to equal justice under the law when their victim is white.”

    While I know that this is the anecdotal picture we get from news coverage, I would be curious to see any data you have that breaks down disciplinary actions against police for excessive force vs. skin color of the victim. It seems like something that could easily be true, but that doesn’t make it so.

  9. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT: In fact, the police are much more subject to equal justice under the law when their victim is white.

    As I posted yesterday…

    Officer road rage shoots woman in head–charged only with aggravated assault.

    http://www.khou.com/story/news/crime/2014/11/26/reserve-deputy-arrested-in-connection-to-610-loop-road-rage-shooting/19567109/

    Kelly Thomas is yet another example. I could cite many, many more.

    The only color that matters here is Blue. Cops seem to think the issuance of a tin badge is akin to a 00- rating and a license to kill…whomever they want with zero repercussion.

  10. stonetools says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If you want to stand up for a law, but then cringe when you see the end result where it ends up destroying people’s lives and go “but that’s not what I meant”, then you’re engaged in doublethink to avoid taking responsibility for your own involvement in the necessary consequences of your actions

    Yeah, but somehow cigarette tax law enforcement is carried out against white lawbreakers without anyone getting choked to death. How does that happen?
    Let’s work on equal enforcement of laws and then move on to discuss whether society could live without laws, or some particular law, OK?

  11. stonetools says:

    @CET:

    If the plural of anecdote is data, then we have had a lot of data this year on the police killing black people and escaping criminal liability. I would say there can be very little doubt about the issue.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The power to use violent force is ultimately the only power the government has. When you say “there ought to be a law on X”, you are on some level saying “I want people to go out and use violence or the threat of violence to make people X against their will”. If you want to stand up for a law, but then cringe when you see the end result where it ends up destroying people’s lives and go “but that’s not what I meant”, then you’re engaged in doublethink to avoid taking responsibility for your own involvement in the necessary consequences of your actions.

    Sin taxes are usually passed with two reasons:
    1. There’s strong correlation between higher taxes and lower use of a product. So the tax can be used as a tool to encourage healthier behavior.
    2. If funds need to be raised somehow, might as well raise them on a purely optional, harmful product.

    I think your point is that, ultimately, the only tool the government has to enforce a law is violence, but that’s only if one expects the government to enforce every law to its fullest. I believe there is a reasonable expectation that when a legislative body enacts a tax meant to nudge healthy behavior, they do not expect the executive branch to so fully enforce said nudge -tax with violent behavior towards offenders.

    Indeed–isn’t Obama’s executive action on immigration an explicit acknowledgement that the executive is unable to force compliance across all individuals?

    So, while Paul may have a good, unrelated point that cigarette taxes create black markets, it really doesn’t have any bearing on the violence used in this incident.

    To answer your other question, re: arrest—well it certainly wouldn’t have been a good outcome, but it would’ve been better than death.

    But let’s put out a more reasonable alternative: suppose that this incident didn’t result in violence and death, but rather with Gardiner receiving a fine for back taxes. Would that have been ok with everyone? Yes, yes it would have (at least for me).

  13. Jack says:

    @stonetools:

    If the plural of anecdote is data, then we have had a lot of data this year on the police killing black people and escaping criminal liability. I would say there can be very little doubt about the issue.

    Yes, there are a lot of high profile “police killing black people” cases that have garnered lots of media attention, that does not mean that there were not a proportional amount of police killing white people cases that failed to get national media attention.

    Stop dividing and sub-dividing. The common denominator is police killing people and there being zero backlash because they are police and they were able to, in hindsight, come up with a reasonably believable argument that got them off the hook.

    The fact that police officers (Under Garrity) are able to review all the tape, review all the calls, and come up with their stories among themselves before ever having an on the record interview is why they get away with this so often. And, because we allow it.

  14. Jack says:

    @Neil Hudelson: The “Selling untaxed cigarettes” excuse was made up later, after the fact. When the police approached Garner, the had zero reasonable, articulable suspicion that he had committed a crime other than he was already known to the officers. They had no reason to arrest him as he had committed no crime that they witnessed or had a reasonable suspicion of.

    He has a criminal record that includes more than 30 arrests dating back to 1980 on charges such as assault, resisting arrest and grand larceny. An official said the charges include several incidents in which he was arrested for selling unlicensed cigarettes.

    As I understand it, his last arrest for the untaxed cigarette offense was 9 months ago.

    So, in essence, this was a case of officers seeing a face they knew “who must be up to no good” so they decided then and there to arrest him without any meaningful evidence that a crime had been committed.

  15. Pinky says:

    @stonetools:

    IMO, the police would have hassled Garner for something else, in the absence of cigarette taxes. Garner was simply a handy target for some police officers who thought , “Lets go roust this big black mope . What could go wrong?’

    And your opinion is based on what?

  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jack:

    Didn’t realize the “loosie” offence was after the fact. The media (and officer Wilson himself) have made the false claim that the Brown incident started because of a stolen pack of cigars, when in reality Wilson knew nothing of the petty theft at the time of the incident.

    The pattern is striking.

  17. @Neil Hudelson:

    but that’s only if one expects the government to enforce every law to its fullest.

    If you grant individual police to authority to selectively enforce laws at their discretion, Eric Garner situations become even more likely, because now the laws can be used to punish the politically unpowerful, yet ignored for the powerful.

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    I think you’ve got to go back to the “broken window” policing model on this. When you follow that model, excessive reaction to minor regulatory violations is part of the territory. Not that every reaction will be an over-reaction but there will be over-reactions.

    I don’t think the libertarians are all wrong on this but I do think they’re making an error that they’re prone to: thinking you can get rid of all regulatory law. Once you recognize that’s not possible and then you factor in “broken window” policing you get people being choked to death over issues in which there would otherwise have been no damage to life or property.

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Except not, since laws are already selectively enforced all the time since there are not the resources (or even the knowledge) to enforce all laws at all times. Furthermore, there are gradations of enforcement. While–ultimately–violence is the government’s only tool to fully enforce something, we often attempt to enforce laws with other tools before violence is used. If a police stops me for jaywalking, a ticket is expected, not a whack to the head with a truncheon. That is, indeed, discretion being used by an officer, and I truly fail to see how that leads down a slippery slope to what happened to Eric Gardiner.

    The point of Paul and others is that the law was responsible for the violence. That point only works with the assumption that all laws are enforced to the utmost fullest, and that simply does not happen in the real world. Again, a legislator passing a law on cigarette taxes has a decent expectation that police–whether individuals, or the management of a department–would not think “cigarette taxes aren’t being paid? Time to chokehold the motherfucker.”

    Laws can be enforced without violence, and if some people do not comply with minor laws, the next step does not have to be to enact violence.

  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    Release from moderation please.

  21. @Dave Schuler:

    I do think they’re making an error that they’re prone to: thinking you can get rid of all regulatory law.

    I think a distinction needs to be made between regulatory law intended to stop A from hurting B (e.g. no putting rotten meat in the hamburger) and regulatory law intended to stop A from hurting themselves (e.g. no Big Gulps). The later class tends to lead much more to brutality.

  22. jewelbomb says:

    For the most part, the reaction to the decision on Wednesday by a Staten Island Grand Jury to return “No True Bill” in its investigation of the death of Eric Garner at the hands …of a New York City Police Officer, has been remarkably universal across the ideological spectrum.

    Yippee! A few Republicans aren’t acting like the typical ghouls they tend to be when it comes to unarmed black men being executed. The problem is that it took unimpeachable video evidence for the guy to get even the slightest presumption of empathy or discomfort from the right. The takeaway is that the only time a black individual is gonna get a fair shake from these folks is when the evidence is so overwhelming that there is literally no other choice but to admit that, just maybe, the cops overstepped their authority. We’ll have made actual progress when these same folks don’t immediately side against a black victim when the evidence isn’t as ironclad.

  23. CET says:

    @stonetools:

    Dr. Wolfinger’s original (and awful) quite notwithstanding, useable data is more than just a collection of anecdotes, it’s a collection of enough anecdotes to be significant, and their presentation in context. In this case, useful context (for the point you are trying to make) requires numbers for use of force against people who aren’t minorities for comparison, rather than just taking the media narrative as a given.

  24. stonetools says:

    @Pinky: @Jack:

    As an African American male, I must say I am bemused by white male commenters asking me for “proof” that the police engage in unequal treatment of blacks. I would have thought that evidence of such was clear by now (Indeed, Doug, who is normally reluctant to draw such a conclusion, is now convinced. Maybe you should ask him).
    I am not going to bother to present such evidence, in the same way that I no longer to bother to argue against those who demand “ proof” that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old or that humans evolved from apes. For such people, no “proof” is convincing enough. In the current situation, I expect the “proof” seekers to remain unconvinced even in the face of video evidence of the police saying, “We did it because that uppity n!gg3r needed a whupping.” And of course, you don’t usually get that now. One thing good about the Southern sheriffs of yore is that they were at least candid. Today, post Atwater, police are much more media savvy, so conservatives have much more room to argue , “It really wasn’t race” , even in face of statistical data.
    Oh well, off to run errands. The “it wasn’t race” truthers are free to use the Google.

  25. Dave Schuler says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Sadly, I think that’s a distinction without a difference. With enough guile ANY regulation can be packaged as protecting Party A from Party B. So, to use you example, you can prohibit Party A from selling Party B products that will make him fat, i.e. no Big Gulps.

  26. @Neil Hudelson:

    But let’s put out a more reasonable alternative: suppose that this incident didn’t result in violence and death, but rather with Gardiner receiving a fine for back taxes. Would that have been ok with everyone? Yes, yes it would have (at least for me).

    And if Gardiner fails to pay said fine, then what? Fines only work on people who have a significant amount of property or a lot of “capital” tied up in a specific public identity that makes them easy to locate after the fact.

  27. Jack says:

    @jewelbomb: Yes, because all Republicans are closet racists. Eyeroll.

    “(Obama’s) a nice person, he’s very articulate this is what’s been used against him, but he couldn’t sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic.” — Dan Rather

    “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” — Al Sharpton

    “A few years ago, (Barack Obama) would have been getting us coffee.” — Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy

    “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.” — Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

    “The white man is our mortal enemy, and we cannot accept him. I will fight to see that vicious beast go down into the lake of fire prepared for him from the beginning, that he never rise again to give any innocent black man, woman or child the hell that he has delighted in pouring on us for 400 years.” — Louis Farrakhan

    “White people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. It’s for the good of the country and for those who’re bitter for a reason and armed because they’re scared.” — Left-wing journalist Jonathan Valania

    “You cannot go to a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent.” — Joe Biden

    “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” — Joe Biden

    “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go.” — Marion Barry

    I’m sure all of the above have paid their dues to the Republican party religiously.

  28. @Dave Schuler:

    The distinction: in the rotten meat case, B never wanted to buy rotten meat from A, they’re only getting it because A is defrauding them. In the Big Gulp case everyone involved is happy with the transaction.

    The latter is hard to police because: 1) you can’t count on B helping you 2) since neither party supports the law, you need to maintain intrusive surrveilance just to find out about it to begin with, 3) compliance is going to be entirely based on “I better not do this or something really bad will happen”, which leadsa need for more over the top punishment

  29. JohnMcC says:

    When I saw Sen Paul on the TV explaining how taxes had caused a distortion of the cigarette market and how that distortion led to the confrontation that cost Mr Garner his life I was nonplussed. It sounded like a variation on the theme of economic determinism that is supposed to be antithetical to the American Conservative Movement (TM).

    But you know, there is a long history of marxists who transition to the ACM (TM). The internal logic of the conservative ideas is so compelling that they seem more real than reality. I think of Whittaker Chambers.

    I feel sad for them. A neat compilation of ideas that falls apart when compared to reality is thin gruel indeed.

  30. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Pinky:

    This is just a weird, subjective article, Doug. On what basis do you assert what “the point” is? and more oddly, what “the point” isn’t? Is it impossible for there to be more than one lesson from this incident?

    Well, it may be subjective, but a few points to ponder:

    1) It is Doug’s opinion

    2) It is Doug’s webpage

    3) It is his right to speak his mind, and…

    4) in this case, he happens to be VERY correct.

    * Disagreeing with a police officer should not automatically equate to resisting arrest.

    * Being arrested should not become a death sentence.

    Something went VERY wrong here… and this powers-that-be would like you to kindly forget it happened.

    Our post 9-11 police force is way out-of-line.

  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @stonetools:

    Well said.

    If any here question the black experience in the USA, there was an excellent article written by the CEO of Kaiser Permanente Heath care… who just btw happens to be a black male.

    Here goes…

    Bernard J. Tyson

    Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente

    It’s Time to Revolutionize Race Relations

    Dec 4, 2014

    With the entire country seeing demonstrations following the Ferguson decision, I’ve had colleagues and business partners ask me my thoughts — not from my perspective as the Chairman and CEO of a $55 billion organization — but as a black man in America.

    You would think my experience as a top executive would be different from a black man who is working in a retail or food service job to support his family. Yet, he and I both understand the commonality of the black male experience that remains consistent no matter what the economic status or job title.

    This post is not to complain about what is, but instead offer hope that we can harness the positive energy from the demonstrations for change and start a new chapter in America based on better understanding of race relations.

    As Americans, we must deal with behavior that is unacceptable in today’s global world. The first step in changing negative behavior is to understand the underlying imagery of the black male, which doesn’t represent reality. Whether it’s Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin with his Skittles®, Eric Garner who died after a chokehold, or the 12-year old killed because he was waving a toy gun, when you see a black man killed, the imagery is more complicated than one might think. For example, words used by the white police officer to describe Michael Brown included adjectives such as hulking and demonic — words that bring up images going back to the days of slavery.

    If you’re not black, it’s hard to relate to situations as a black man might. So you know I’m speaking from a realistic rather than theoretical standpoint, here are a few personal examples I’ve experienced in the past couple of months:

    • Recently I was shopping in an upscale store and I was being watched and also followed by an overly anxious person. This was not someone trying to be helpful, but someone who was assessing why I was there. Other shoppers did not have “help” following them throughout the store.

    • I have gone to dinner at fine restaurants and had the food server explain the tipping program, since apparently black men don’t understand this concept.

    • Sometimes I observe two or three white customers ahead of me and after me pay by credit card — and I am the only one singled out to provide proof of who I am before I can make my purchase.

    • Most CEOs don’t leave their corporate offices, change clothes, and have car doors locked as they walk by or women move to the other side of the street hugging their purses as they see me out exercising. Even as a CEO, the black male experience is my reality.

    Years ago, my father taught me explicitly how to behave myself if ever confronted by a police officer and I experienced being disrespected in my early twenties by someone who was supposed to protect my rights. I hold to this day that the biggest battle within me was the rage at how I was being treated while having to do what my father told me and respond appropriately. If I acted out how I was feeling at the time, I might not be here today.

    So where do we go from here? In the Ferguson situation, we need to disregard the small percentage of criminals who are getting publicity for their destruction of property and instead pay attention to the sincere marchers and protestors who are voicing their demands for change. This is our opportunity to focus on improving race relations for the future, especially for young black men and also for those picked up to be deported based on their race. A few ideas have great potential to revolutionize race relations:

    • I endorse the idea that every police officer videotapes interactions as the first major step to protect both individuals and the police officers.

    • We must engage community activists to sit down with police, the government and local businesses to work together in different ways. Over time we will see the current environment of police officers going to white neighborhoods to “protect and resolve issues” and going into black neighborhoods to “combat and control” change to become a culture of police officers being in all neighborhoods to protect and participate.

    • We must collectively support local school and church leaders as they reach out to youth and adults to start a more positive dialogue to make all our neighborhoods safer.

    • We can ask businesses in our communities for their support as we build a greater sense of community, both locally and nationally.

    The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness can become a reality for everyone if we eliminate issues standing in the way of improved race relations. I love this country and we’ve made so much progress, but we’re not there yet. With deeper understanding and thoughtful and positive participation, America — and Americans — can live up to our full potential in a country built on diversity of thought, spirit, race and experience.

    (source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141204174020-261404895-it-s-time-to-revolutionize-race-relations )

  32. Pinky says:

    @stonetools: I didn’t ask about race in general. I asked about this case. You said that in your opinion these policemen targeted this guy because he was black, or at least didn’t target him because he was committing a crime. That’s a pretty nasty thing to accuse someone of.

  33. Tillman says:

    @jewelbomb: You just might be the poison in our society’s political discourse.

    Jesus, we’ve been living politically deadlocked and deaf to the other side for the last four years, you’d think a sign of comity would be welcome.

  34. anjin-san says:

    @Pinky:

    That’s a pretty nasty thing to accuse someone of.

    It’s a hell of a lot nastier for the people that are victims of this type of police behavior.

  35. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: It’s not impossible, but you’re conflating Doug only drawing a single lesson with Doug focusing on the most important lesson. Paul and others are claiming the most important lesson is regulation creating black markets creating the situations that lead to this sort of unwanted violence, while Doug is pointing out that regulation isn’t what we should focus on this time around.

    The important point, though, has nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with the fact that police are being asked to “clean up” a neighborhood by targeting activities as seemingly minor as selling loose cigarettes or guys running a three card monty game on the corner. In other words, it’s not the taxes that are the issue so much as the fact that police are pressured to be confrontational in seemingly benign situations, and then the fact that they are protected by the legal system when they do use force even in what seem to be clearly inappropriate circumstances.

    I’m somewhat divided on the racial angle here since groups like Cop Block make it apparent that there are issues of police misbehavior that don’t involve race primarily. (Secondarily, tertiarily, it comes up because of our nation’s history and you can’t get away from that.) The Brown shooting/non-indictment was more racially-tinged, I think, going off of witness testimony, how we know the prosecutor handled the grand jury, and the history of that community’s relations with the police in general. Jack‘s version of events, that the cops knew him as a repeat offender and made trouble for him with no articulable reason besides “he’s up to no good,” rings truest to me so far. There could have been a racial motivation, but it’d be so subconscious on the officers’ part at that point to be useless in court. That, in general, there is systemic bias against black people by law enforcement is pretty easy to show, but in this specific case it doesn’t shine as clearly as general police misbehavior does.

  36. JKB says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Or as in this case, regulatory law designed to stop people from keeping the lifeblood of government, i.e., taxes, from the politicians and bureaucrats.

    Government is something which is supported by the people and kept alive by taxation. There is no other way of keeping it alive.
    –Civil Government in the United States (1902), John Fiske

  37. JKB says:

    When we’re saying “the government should intervene,” we’re saying “an organization with guns should threaten to lock people in cages if they don’t comply with its dictates.”
    –Art Carden, Econlog

    And to carry out those threats to lock people in cages, agents of the organization are authorized to lawfully commit assault and battery to remove the person from where they are to the cage.

  38. KM says:

    @Jack:

    So, in essence, this was a case of officers seeing a face they knew “who must be up to no good” so they decided then and there to arrest him without any meaningful evidence that a crime had been committed.

    Exactly! This whole cigarette BS is an intentional distraction, an piss-poor attempt at validation. You see, the man must they jumped must be a *gasp* criminal! The armed police don’t attack and kill civilian citizens, they hurt only bad people! Therefore, he was a bad person! If he’s a criminal (even for something as trivial as loosies), suddenly he’s somehow less of a human being. People who would be horrified that an “innocent” died are now suddenly arguing for the killers, citing a minor fault like it justifies the death. They are saying things like “Well, it was his health, not the level of force so it wasn’t deadly force”, “Well, he was committing a crime so they can jump him”, “Well, he was bothering the shopkeepers”, etc…

    The police and their enablers in this case are literally arguing that a minor infraction was worth the physical confrontation and ultimately worth a life. Now apply that logic to ALL minor infractions like jaywalking, littering, loitering, hell even speeding to see how stupid, self-serving and frankly dangerous that argument is. Do we really want police ready to kill every time a speeding ticket gets issued?

  39. anjin-san says:

    @KM:

    The police and their enablers in this case are literally arguing that a minor infraction was worth the physical confrontation and ultimately worth a life.

    After all, they are just “thugs” that are getting killed right?

    “Thug” is a very convenient dog whistle for “ni**er”

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Tillman:

    I’m somewhat divided on the racial angle here since groups like Cop Block make it apparent that there are issues of police misbehavior that don’t involve race primarily.

    Theres a common logical fallacy that we are all likely to fall into where we look for a single cause. If A and B both cause some effect Z, we will see evidence of A as being evidence of not-B, and vice versa.

    We have out-of-control cops, we have racist cops and we have out-of-control racist cops.

  41. John425 says:

    @stonetools: Talk about assuming facts not in evidence. How about waiting until we all can see the full video?

    Question #1: Why did 4-5 cops windup trying to subdue one guy for selling loose cigarettes? Methinks there is more than what meets the eye on this one.

    Question #2: Why is there a black female police sergeant in the background observing her policemen? Surely she would have ordered a halt to the incident if she thought the force was unnecessary.

    BTW: Garner had a record of 30 arrests, including assault and grand larceny. The video was shot by Garner’s friend, Ramsey Orta, who was arrested 3 weeks later on weapons charges. It is reasonable to assume the police were wary of handling these two.

  42. Tyrell says:

    What is needed is some effective training and more use of technology in apprehending and subduing suspects. Some cases would require a backing off, defusing tactic, but keep the suspect under surveillance and in some type of boundary. The F.B.I. uses effective methods of subduing and restraining without causing harm. They could help train officers. Police could develop and use devices such as ropes, a type of gun that shoots out a type of net on the suspect, high intensity lights, special traps that can be set quickly, and a high volume/ frequency sonic device.
    See “Criminal Minds” and “COPS” for some excellent examples and ideas.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @John425:

    How about waiting until we all can see the full video?

    I’m really having trouble imagining what could have happened previously that would justify using an illegal and dangerous choke hold upon a suspect.

    And, given that there are no reports of the suspect being anything more than verbally aggressive, why any significant use of force was justified at all. He was contained, he wasn’t going anywhere, give him time to calm down.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @John425:

    Why is there a black female police sergeant in the background observing her policemen? Surely she would have ordered a halt to the incident if she thought the force was unnecessary.

    So a black cop is going to automatically side with a black person and intervene on their behalf? A black cop can’t be co-opted by the police department and be loyal to the department and buy into their program as much as any white cop? The color of the cops on the scene is not relevant.

    You probably don’t even see that racist taint in in your own comment.

  45. Gustopher says:

    @KM:

    They are saying things like “Well, it was his health, not the level of force so it wasn’t deadly force”,

    The NYPD had banned the use of the choke hold, because it was too dangerous to the suspects, so it was very clearly using potentially deadly force. Those people who say this are misinformed, probably willfully so at this point.

    I believe the eggshell skull rule also applies — if your unlawful actions result in exaggerated harm due to a peculiar weakness in the victim, you are held accountable for the total harm you caused, even if you had no way of knowing.

  46. Gustopher says:

    @anjin-san: Clearly, the presence of a black cop is a shield against all forms of racism. It’s a governmental form of having a black friend.

    Also, there is no racism anywhere in the country because we have a black President.

  47. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    How amusing. The Democratic government of New York puts in the cigarette taxes and bans selling “loosies.” Democratic mayor DeBlasio orders a crackdown on those violating the “loosie law.” The next day, while cracking down on loosie sales, a black man is killed.

    And somehow it’s the conservatives’ fault.

    This is a direct and logical consequence of big government and jacking up taxes. When you put policies like that in place, you necessarily need to have an enforcement mechanism, or it’s totally meaningless. And you have to enforce it against everyone, even morbidly obese asthmatics with heart conditions who resist arrest.

    Law Professor Steven Carter wrote an op-ed that addresses this point:

    On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.

    I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law.

    P. J. O’Rourke touched upon this over 20 years ago, in Parliament of Whores. The chapter on the budget process was titled “Would You Kill Your Grandmother To Pave I-95?”

    The point of pretty much every law is “you will do this/not do that, or we will arrest you. If you resist arrest or try to escape, we may kill you. And it will be your fault.”

    If you aren’t ready to accept that some people will oppose that law, and might even end up dying as a consequence, then you shouldn’t support that law.

  48. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: You’re the one who called the race card as trumps. You can’t complain if the other guy plays it.

  49. stonetools says:

    Meanwhile in the last few months of racism-free, equal law enforcement,

    Prosecutors in Utah have determined that two police officers were justified in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Darrien Hunt.

    The Saratoga Springs police officers — Cpl. Matt Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson – shot Hunt six times Sept. 10 after responding to two 911 calls about a man walking with a samurai-style sword along a commercial boulevard.

    An autopsy revealed that Hunt, who was carrying a katana sword his family said was used for cosplay, had his back turned to the officers when all six shots were fired.

    Jasper County grand jury cleared two former police officers who were caught on video manhandling a woman inside the police station last year.

    Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham will not face criminal charges for their role in the May 5, 2013, incident.

    Police station surveillance video showed the officers wrestling Keyarika Diggles to the ground while dispatcher Lindsey Davenport watched. One of the officers grabbed a handful of Diggles hair and slammed her against the police station counter. Together they dragged her by her feet into a darkened holding cell.

    Diggles, who was arrested on suspicion of unpaid traffic tickets, claimed she was left on the floor for hours without medical attention and subjected to a strip search.

    AAND

    A Charleston, West Virginia police lieutenant has been placed on paid administrative leave amid an investigation into a racially insensitive video he is said to have made.

    The Charleston Gazette reports that Lt. Shawn Williams was suspended last week after police found the video on Williams’ computer. The video allegedly shows Williams’ young daughter donning a police uniform as a Ku Klux Klan song plays in the background and a man — apparently Williams — asks his daughter questions. According to the report “[d]erogatory racial language can be heard” in the video

    But, yeah, no racist law enforcement here! And there is a lot more where that’s coming from.
    But if that’s not enough, here is a DOJ report on racist practices in Cleveland detailing 16 examples of police misconduct. Read and learn.

  50. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: It seems a better, safe, more effective, and easier move is the timeless “half Nelson” hold, that places the police officer in a position behind the suspect, with one arm wrapped under the suspects arm with the hand on the back of the suspect’s
    neck. There many resources for training in safe subduing, restraint, and takedown methods. These would include various law enforcement agencies, military, wrestling coaches, and martial arts instructors.

  51. An Interested Party says:

    And to carry out those threats to lock people in cages, agents of the organization are authorized to lawfully commit assault and battery to remove the person from where they are to the cage.

    Oh look, much like Rand Paul, someone else is taking an entirely ridiculous and nonsensical “lesson” from this case…

  52. Anjin-San says:

    Shorter Pinky – “I don’t have any original thoughts & I’m content to let Sean Hannity do my thinking for me.”

  53. ElizaJane says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Do I understand this professor to believe that there should be no laws except ones for which the death penalty is at least a viable option?

  54. john says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    the Brown incident started because of a stolen pack of cigars, when in reality Wilson knew nothing of the petty theft at the time of the incident.

    Of course, Brown knew he had just stolen the cigars and beaten up the store owner. Which helps explain has reaction to a cop telling him to get off the street.

  55. Tillman says:

    @Gustopher: In general, certainly. But every comment here has been asserting the racism of law enforcement in general, not in this specific case. And what has been cited in this specific case as racist that I’ve seen is usually someone defending the police in certain ways, not the specific officers involved, so it’s no better than the general condemnation.

    It’s the same error Pinky committed on Doug’s reasoning by claiming he was saying there weren’t other lessons to learn because the lesson of black markets created by regulation was being ruled out. The racism of law enforcement is another lesson, but not the most important one.

    Again, unless I’ve missed something. The DOJ’s civil rights investigation will be similarly disappointing to the non-indictment unless they come up with a racism issue in this specific case.

  56. @Gustopher:

    Clearly, the presence of a black cop is a shield against all forms of racism. It’s a governmental form of having a black friend.

    In practice, black cops are often even more racist than white cops, as they often end up going to even further extremes in order to prove to their coworkers that they’re not at risk of “going native”.

  57. Pinky says:

    @Anjin-San: That’s funny, you doing a “shorter” me, when I was thinking of a 2-word reply to you initially. I’m telling you, you’re the one who set this up as anti-black racism, and it’s ridiculous for you to then claim that one officer’s race isn’t a factor, but the other officers’ race is. That position takes you right off the credibility map. And no, it’s not just “not a factor”, it offends you that someone would raise it. You’re shocked, shocked that there are racial allegations taking place on this thread! I guess I do have fewer original thoughts than you do, seeing as you’re holding multiple, contradictory ones.

  58. anjin-san says:

    @Pinky:

    it’s ridiculous for you to then claim that one officer’s race isn’t a factor, but the other officers’ race is

    Where did I make that claim? Please be specific.

  59. @Tillman:

    But every comment here has been asserting the racism of law enforcement in general, not in this specific case.

    There was four officers involved in the Eric Garner take down as well as several other observing the confrontation from near by. Not one of whome so much as said “Hey, stop choking him.”

    If you can randomly pick half a dozen officers and every one of them turns out to be willing to watching their coworks strangle someone to death without complaint, the ratio of “bad cops” is so high that it is perfectly reasonable to call the entire force racist.

  60. jewelbomb says:

    @Tillman: Sorry, but what a bunch of absolute horse$#it. I’m “the poison in our society’s political discourse” for observing that most of these folks being cited by Doug can only bring themselves to admit that the murder of an unarmed black man is a problem because it happened to be caught on film? In every other case of this sort, these same people hold black victims to a far higher standard of proof then the rest of the population while simultaneously deploying every racist dog whistle in the book to incite their bigoted base, and I’m somehow expected to marvel at how open-minded and reasonable they are being in this single case? Sorry, but you can kindly stick yr hilarious call for comity with these know-nothing peddlers of white resentment where the sun don’t shine.

  61. OTB Bum says:

    @Anjin-San:

    I’m content to let Sean Hannity do my thinking for me.

    OMG ! Sean Hannity. What a douche!

    Even his face looks like he’s constantly smelling vinegar !

    What a bag of dicks.

  62. jewelbomb says:

    @Jack: Non sequitur much? I have no idea what you’re trying to prove with the silly list you cut-and-pasted from the Daily Caller or wherever, but it has nothing to do with my comment. Never have I maintained that individual Democrats can’t be racist. The difference is that the entire engine of the modern Republican party is run largely on the fuel of race resentment and the phony narrative of large-scale white victimization at the hands of an imaginary mob of scary browns and blacks.

  63. Pinky says:
  64. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think it is incredibly hard to say that any specific incident is racist, unless there is something absolutely flagrantly racist going on.

    It’s also clear that there is pervasive racism in the large scale patterns of how police officers treat citizens. So some of the ambiguous, less overtly racist cases are in fact racist.

    It’s like employment — you can almost never show that a specific candidate wasn’t hired because of his race, but when you walk through the lily white halls of a company with a bias in their hiring practices, it is clear as day that there is a problem.

  65. anjin-san says:

    @Pinky: ]

    Ok, so you have reading comprehension problems. That’s not really news.

    The problem we are experiencing in this country is a police mentality that often carries with it racism (among many other undesirable things). The problem is cops harassing, brutalizing, and killing people of color, often with little or no justification.

    My point is that a black person can be sucked into this sick mindset just as easily as a white one, and that the idea that black folks can’t possibly be victims of racist behavior on the part of police if there is a black officer on hand is wrong minded. A black cop might well give his first loyalty to the police force and his/her fellow officers, and be quite hostile towards black civilians. Hello Sargent Waters. There are plenty of examples of this sort of loyalty hierarchy. Don’t many Marines place loyalty to the corps even above loyalty to country?

    The problem is institutionalized racism on police forces. An individual officer might not even be a racist themselves, but still get caught up in it.

  66. Gustopher says:

    @jewelbomb:

    most of these folks being cited by Doug can only bring themselves to admit that the murder of an unarmed black man is a problem because it happened to be caught on film? In every other case of this sort, these same people hold black victims to a far higher standard of proof then the rest of the population while simultaneously deploying every racist dog whistle in the book to incite their bigoted base, and I’m somehow expected to marvel at how open-minded and reasonable they are being in this single case?

    This is why I support body cameras, and citizens filming the police, even if it doesn’t result in indictments or convictions.

    These people who can only bring themselves to be offended when the murder happens on film, and who would otherwise have a hundred excuses — these people are beginning to have their eyes opened.

    They might not see it as a racial issue, they might only open their eyes just enough to think of it as a use of force issue, but it is a start. And the only way we will ever get lasting change in cop culture is when they are dragged kicking and screaming by the culture at large. It needs the waves of disgust from every quarter of society.

  67. Tillman says:

    @jewelbomb:

    In every other case of this sort, these same people hold black victims to a far higher standard of proof then the rest of the population while simultaneously deploying every racist dog whistle in the book to incite their bigoted base, and I’m somehow expected to marvel at how open-minded and reasonable they are being in this single case?

    Usually people marvel at new and unexpected things instead of doubling down on their prior judgments, yes. That is basic human behavior unless you’ve convinced yourself these people are enemies worth despising no matter what they do. (Also, sadly, a basic human behavior.) Tell me, if you came around, for whatever reason, to agreeing with a conservative on some issue and they greeted this with the kind of bitterness and caveating you’ve displayed, would you be disposed to agree with them again in the future?

    Your reaction is alienating and hurts your own cause with the people just about to join it. That’s why it is poisonous.

  68. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon: All bad cops are racist cops?

    It’s telling (to me anyway) that if you didn’t know anything about Eric Garner before reading your comment, the bit about racism at the end would seem like it came out of left field. Then again, someone unfamiliar with my comments on OTB would think I was just a racist defending racists.

  69. @Tillman:

    It was more a reflexive response to the “most cops are good cops and we shouldn’t impugn the entire force for the actions of the a few bad apples” canard that always gets trotted out in these situations.

  70. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Heh. I’ve seen too much of The Wire to ever trot that out. And for what it’s worth, I believe the cops were racist or acting on a racist impulse (“He’s up to no good” because he’s black, for instance), or coerced subtly by institutional racism as anjin talks about, but I can’t prove it to myself.

  71. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san: Your point is that even non-witches can be burned for witchcraft and you’ll still be the hero. Your point is that your pre-judgment is sufficient to make the call.

  72. jewelbomb says:

    @Tillman:

    Tell me, if you came around, for whatever reason, to agreeing with a conservative on some issue and they greeted this with the kind of bitterness and caveating you’ve displayed, would you be disposed to agree with them again in the future?

    As a matter of fact, I don’t generally alter my positions on issues based on whether or not others who happen to hold the same opinion are pleasant or not. It’s called intellectual honesty. Are you trying to imply that you modify your opinions on issues simply because you find those who hold similar opinions ill-tempered or personally objectionable? That seems odd.

  73. anjin-san says:

    @Pinky:

    your pre-judgment

    Pre-judgement? My judgement is based on more than half a century of watching this kind of shit go down. My judgement is very much of the “post” kind.

    Really dude, run along. Go play with the police brutality apologists and enablers somewhere else.

  74. jewelbomb says:

    @Gustopher: Totally agree. I’m all for dragging the culture at large to the right side of this issue, and cameras seem like a great way to help speed up that process. That doesn’t mitigate my anger for a second that this is what it’s gonna take for the usual suspects to quit denying that there’s a significant disparity between the ways blacks and whites tend to be treated by law enforcement. It’s beyond troubling that folks have to be bludgeoned in the head with evidence before they can believe what so many have been screaming about for so long. Quite simply: blacks are commonly held to a higher standard of evidence than others, and its tragic that cameras are what it’s gonna take to alter a large segment of the American public’s perception.

  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And somehow it’s the conservatives’ fault.

    No, you moron, it’s the cops’ fault. Duh.

  76. Tyrell says:

    The “news” this evening showed demonstrations and marches in some of the major cities. For the most part things were peaceful and people showed self control. The outsiders with their bombs, gasoline, and guns had not showed up. Hopefully the police will keep them out. As I watched this, it occurred to me that this could be done in a far better way. For one thing, traffic should not be blocked or interfered with in any way. Police should not allow that and should remove and arrest anyone who blocks or impedes traffic. In most places it is against the law to willfully impede traffic. For one thing it could result in slowing down an emergency vehicle. People certainly have the right to peacefully demonstrate. But the people also have the right to get to and from home, work, shopping, church, visiting friends, movies, restaurants, pick up kids, sports, and vacations. One solution and a better alternative would be to have these gatherings in parks, empty parking lots, or less traveled streets. Even better would be church facilities or gyms. That way they would be warm and dry; and safer.
    And lets not have any more of this enticing students to walk out of school that some misguided individual got started. Students in this country need every minute they can get in school. If I had ever walked out of school, I would have got a good wearing out when I got home !! And parents back then did not have to worry about the police showing up and hauling them off to jail for disciplining their own kids either !!
    I think it is fine to demonstrate for a cause, but that also requires some responsibility, self control, and good behavior.

  77. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    That’s a pretty nasty thing to accuse someone of.

    Well, it would be a nasty accusation if the officer in question wasn’t the type of guy who would do this. So let’s look at the officer’s record:

    The NYPD officer caught on video putting a Staten Island man in a chokehold moments before he died has been sued twice for alleged civil rights violations, costing taxpayers $30,000 in settlement money (so far). Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, allegedly subjected two men to “a humiliating and unlawful strip search” on a Staten Island street, where they were forced to “pull their pants and underwear down, squat and cough.”

    That lawsuit was settled in January for $30,000. The plaintiffs alleged that Pantaleo and other officers “unlawfully stopped” them as the drove in a car through Staten Island. According to the lawsuit, Pantaleo falsely claimed that he saw crack and heroin in the backseat of the car—everyone in the vehicle was arrested, but the charges were subsequently dismissed.

    The Staten Island Advance reports that a second lawsuit, which is still winding its way though the courts, accuses Pantaleo and other officers of misrepresenting facts in a police report to substantiate charges that were eventually dismissed. The plaintiff, Rylawn Walker, alleges that Pantaleo arrested him last February for marijuana-related charges, even though he was “committing no crime at that time and was not acting in a suspicious manner.”

    Soooooooooo(big surprise) it looks like Pantaleo was just the sort of lying, racist a$$hole who would roust a black man on a trumped up charge for the purpose of intentionally humiliating him. You had best spare your sympathy for some other more deserving people, like say Nazi prison guards. It’s wasted on Pantaleo.

  78. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @ElizaJane: Do I understand this professor to believe that there should be no laws except ones for which the death penalty is at least a viable option?

    No, you don’t understand him properly. His point is that every single law is based on the government’s right and ability to compel obedience, up to and including killing you.

    Say, littering. A cop sees you throw a candy wrapper on the ground. He orders you to pick it up and put it in a trash can. You refuse and get mouthy. (“You’re a public servant, and I’m the public. Serve me and pick up my trash for me, pig!”) The officer cites you for littering. You tear up the ticket. (For added fun, you throw that on the ground, too.) The cop tells you you’re under arrest. You flip him off. He goes to handcuff you, you fight him, he ends up using his gun, you’re dead.

    You aren’t dead for littering. You’re dead for a whole host of really bad decisions, starting with the littering and escalating it.

    So, do you say there shouldn’t be a law against littering, because someone might get killed over it?

  79. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: “Thug” is a very convenient dog whistle for “ni**er”

    The original Thugs — the Thuggees — would disagree.

    But to you, everything’s a dog whistle, isn’t it? Your ears are just as special as the rest of you.

  80. stonetools says:

    @jewelbomb:

    Quite simply: blacks are commonly held to a higher standard of evidence than others, and its tragic that cameras are what it’s gonna take to alter a large segment of the American public’s perception.

    Indeed, blacks have to be perfect victim to have a chance of being believed. They pretty much have to be a combination of Gandhi and the baby Jesus. The most recent example: the murder of 12 year old Tamar Rice in Cleveland in what was in effect a drive by shooting. The body was still cooling when the usual suspects were talking of Rice’s father’s domestic violence arrest, as if that was possibly relevant to the shooting. And the cops were ready to go with a story of how Tamar was with a group of 3-4 people (a lie ) and how they repeatedly told him to put the gun down (another lie). Turns out there was video.

    Video released by Cleveland police on Wednesday shows that officers shot a 12-year-old boy in a park on Saturday “one-and-a-half to two seconds” after police drove into the park and confronted the child, deputy chief Edward Tomba said.

    Tamir Rice, who had been holding a pellet gun, died of his wounds the next day. He was killed after a 911 caller reported “a guy” in the park was pointing a “probably fake” gun at people.

    In the absence of the video, we would be hearing about how the police “had” to shoot the “young thug” who was pointing what appeared to be a gun at the officers despite being told “again and again ” to put it down. And the usual suspects here would be fervently defending them.

  81. T says:

    @stonetools: Of course the gun nuts are notoriously absent. i guess to them 12 year olds shouldnt have guns.

    but how many times have we heard “aw shucks, i was pluggin squirrels at 6”

    of course, violent rap, black culture, usual BS.

  82. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Do you really have nothing better to do on a Friday night than produce brain-dead drivel? No? Of course not.

    But to you, everything’s a dog whistle, isn’t it? Your ears are just as special as the rest of you.

    Please come back when you have something on topic and/or substantial to contribute to the discussion. Clearly you are desperate for a successful threadjack ofter you were humiliated on the Elizabeth Lauten thread the other day, but you are not going to get any help with that from me.

  83. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @<a href="#comme@anjin-san: nt-1989151″>anjin-san: What’s that Shakespearean quote that always comes to mind when you get all vapory? Oh, yeah…

    “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    And congrats. You got Pinky to bite on your standard schtick — imply that you say something, but don’t quite say it, so you can say “ha-ha, I said no such thing.”

    Pinky, you gotta watch anjin when he/she/it plays that little game. You have to look at exactly what he/she/it does say, and respond only to that.

    Alternately, just ignore and mock him/her/it, and challenge him/her/it to actually say something of substance, to take a position and stand by it. He/she/it never will.

  84. Matt says:

    @john: The store owner himself has contradicted your fiction…

  85. John425 says:

    @anjin-san: Kiss my arse! You blather on about white cops and racism and fail to see the implicit racism in your own comments. A 300 pound man of any color with a record of assault and other felonies has to be approached with caution. Do you really believe that the sergeant didn’t order her men to proceed with the arrest?

  86. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt: The last I heard, the actual story was that Brown took the cigarillos and headed for the door. When he was confronted by the owner’s brother, he shoved him aside and kept walking out with the unpaid-for cigarillos.

    So we have Wilson initiating contact with Brown over his jaywalking, while Brown has in mind how he had just pulled a strongarm robbery.

    Kind of like Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit first approached Lee Harvey Oswald, not knowing that he was Kennedy’s assassin — but Oswald did, and immediately shot TIppit before Tippit knew he was in danger.

  87. Tyrell says:

    @jewelbomb: Think about this: if the police come to my house, knock on the door, and I come out hollaring and waving a toy pistol that looks real, the police are going to drop me like a rock! You can bet on that. And it won’t matter if the policeman is black and I’m white. And I know of pellet rifles that look exactly like some sort of military rifles. So the racist thing don’t work in every instance.
    This weekend, hundreds will be killed in violent crimes across the country, innocent victims who are killed for no other reasons than they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some will be injured or killed in the acts of robbery, assault, fights, domestic disputes, kidnappings, bad drug deals, and of course gang violence. Most of the criminals who carry out these acts have records a mile long, yet are back on the streets, freed by misguided parole boards, or some soft judge. Yet you hear little in the news about that. The news wants to keep the attention on events that they can use to inflame the populace ! Yet crimes that are worse are ignored except by local newspapers and tv stations.
    I also think that there are many crimes being committed by people who are directly connected to terrorist groups (ISIS, Al Quada, Muslim Brotherhood) who have a specific target, plan, and purpose in mind. Yet the main news media purposely ignores those acts of violence and keeps the attention on other events. This is all done for a reason.

  88. rodney dill says:

    @T: Of course at least one commentor keeps making the case that since it’s a toy, the kid didn’t really have a gun at all.

    From your attempted derogatory use of “gun nut,” I assume you’re talking about responsible gun owners. I don’t know of any open carry or concealed weapon license advocates that endorse waving either a gun or gun facsimile around in public.

    That said, the bulk of the responsibility is on the cops on this one. Possibly some on the parents, and none on the kid (IMO).

  89. anjin-san says:

    @John425:

    Do you really believe that the sergeant didn’t order her men to proceed with the arrest?

    What does arresting someone have to do with killing them using a banned choke hold?

  90. anjin-san says:

    @rodney dill:

    I don’t know of any open carry or concealed weapon license advocates that endorse waving either a gun or gun facsimile around in public

    What does anyone think a child is going to do with a toy gun – keep it in a toy gun safe? Toy guns are resulting in children being shot dead – why on earth are they legal?

  91. Pinky says:

    @John425: How dare you accuse Anjin-san! His moral certainty protects us from witchcraft! The only sort of person who would complain about it is…you don’t happen to be a witch, do you?

  92. Pinky says:

    @Tillman: Tillman, I want to be right there with you, but Doug said specifically what this story was about, and what it wasn’t about. That’s exactly what I criticized him for doing, and exactly what you’re saying he didn’t do.

  93. rodney dill says:

    @anjin-san: Of course I said nothing about what a child would or wouldn’t do with a toy gun. My comment only stated that responsible gun owners wouldn’t endorse waving around a gun or toy gun in public.

    Parents should know better, a child won’t. Given lack of personal responsibility I’m not adverse to banning/controlling them, especially pellet guns. I do see it as being problematic in banning ‘toy guns’ given the scope of pellet guns, plastic ray-guns, cap pistols, and kids using anything that looks like a gun as a gun. (in grade school we used to ‘play’ army and used software bats as our ‘machine guns’ – the world’s changed a log since then)

  94. rodney dill says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: …that would be he… with some degree of certainty.

  95. anjin-san says:

    @rodney dill:

    My comment only stated that responsible gun owners wouldn’t endorse waving around a gun or toy gun in public.

    I’m a responsible gun owner, and I realize that, if toy guns exist, of course kids are going to play with them in public, and of course they will wave them around. Your argument implies that there is bad parenting at work here. Toy guns a are legal, and the corporations that produce them put money into marketing them. Our culture glorifies guns and violence. So yea, kids want toy guns. What do you think a parent should do to be “responsible”?

  96. anjin-san says:

    Here are some Google results for a search for “toy guns”

    Toy Guns, Realistic Toy Machine Guns

    Amazon.com: 12.5″ Police Pistol Toy Gun with Silencer

    Walmart, Amazon, Target, Kmart, Kohl’s, Toys R Us & eBay all have paid ads for toy guns on Google.

    I think there is a lot more to this than “bad parenting”, which smacks of blaming the victims and giving all other parties involved a pass.

  97. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: So, anjin, I take it you’re going to keep pushing this “cops shot a kid with a toy gun” on every single thread until one of the authors does a story on it?

    I tried that when the Zimmerman trial actually started and OTB went Full Blackout. Didn’t work out too well.

  98. rodney dill says:

    @anjin-san: I can only answer that question for myself. I wouldn’t let my child take a realistic looking toy gun out in a public place. I don’t know if good or bad parenting was involved in this case, as at some ages, parents don’t always know what kids are doing. I recently chose not to buy my grandson a plastic flashing light “ray gun” because it was, well, a gun.

    So you want to ban toy guns? I’m not necessarily in disagreement, but just how would that piece of legislation define ‘toy gun?’

  99. anjin-san says:

    @rodney dill:

    So you want to ban toy guns?

    I think a reasonable approach might be to require the entire barrel be made out of orange plastic, so there is no (or very, very little) possibility of mistaking a toy for the real thing and no way to remove the orange portion of the toy without destroying it.

  100. rodney dill says:

    @anjin-san: Better than that silly 1 inch of orange plastic that seems to be all that the law requires now. So would painting the barrel or letting your child paint the barrel non-orange be bad parenting, or against the law. I guess it would have to be against the law as you seem to dread any situation that might result in ‘blaming a victim’

  101. Pharoah Narim says:

    @anjin-san: Isn’t Ohio and open carry state? Perhaps the Police should have waited longer than 3 seconds to assess the situation.

  102. anjin-san says:

    @rodney dill:

    as you seem to dread any situation that might result in ‘blaming a victim’

    I am certainly opposed to blaming the parents of a dead child who was simply doing what children do naturally, play with their toys. Yea, pretty much against that.

  103. rodney dill says:

    @anjin-san: I’m sorry its just not that simple. I have no idea in the case we’re talking about if the kids parents are due any blame at all, and as I said above most of the blame (if not all) should be on the cops. The primary victim is the child in this case and there are things the parents possibly could’ve done or not done that could’ve affected the outcome. You seem to be saying there is no need for individual responsibility as long as there are enough laws.

  104. JohnMcC says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Down south, there’s only one response to that sad story: “BLESS YOUR HEART!”

  105. CET says:

    @anjin-san:
    Sure, the main issue here is that the police officers involved screwed up big time – but I think there is a useful secondary point in this story about toys that look like fairly realistic weapons.

    In addition to events like this, I think it’s also worth considering that realistic toy guns probably also make accidental child/child shooting deaths more likely* and generally teach kids the wrong lessons about firearms (that they are a toy that it’s ok to point at other people, contribute to the fetishization of guns in general, etc).

    I don’t know that I’d be in favor of legal restrictions, but this is one of those times when parents can vote with their pocketbooks and buy brands that don’t replicate realistic guns.

    *Yes, children should never have unsupervised access to firearms, loaded or otherwise, but in a less than perfect world, it’s probably best not to encourage them to think of it as a toy anyway.

  106. anjin-san says:

    @rodney dill:

    I have no idea in the case we’re talking about if the kids parents are due any blame at all,

    You don’t? You are the one that brought parental blame up. Twice.

    You seem to be saying there is no need for individual responsibility as long as there are enough laws.

    What does “individual responsibility” have to do with it? Children will find ways to do end runs around even the most diligent parents. Toy guns are legal, and countless millions are spent marketing them.

    Children are dying in events that are triggered by possession of a toy. That argues for:

    A. Looking at police procedures, and prosecutions when appropriate
    B. A strong look at what can be done to prevent this from a legislative point of view

    I don’t think homilies and bromides about “personal responsiblity ” are part of the solution, thought I am sure they sound really profound when spouted by the gang at Fox News.

  107. rodney dill says:

    @anjin-san: …cause I brought up the possibility of parental blame, not whether I know if there is any involved or not in this case. There’s a difference.

  108. Rob McMillin says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I think your point is that, ultimately, the only tool the government has to enforce a law is violence, but that’s only if one expects the government to enforce every law to its fullest.

    In the end, it is the threat of violence that matters. Sometimes, the state shows its teeth. It shows its teeth a lot more to minorities (some more than others).

  109. anjin-san says:

    @rodney dill:

    Well, you did open the door.

    I think that you are arguing in good faith here, and we seem to agree on a few things, which is not the norm for us. I am probably hyper vigilant on the topic because there is no doubt (IMO) that when black men/children are shot dead in America by cops or wanna be cops, there tends to be a reaction from some quarters that ranges from “blame the victim” to “wage a smear campaign against the victim.”

    White murderers often fare better in the press than black victims. It’s one more piece of this sad, tragic puzzle.

  110. anjin-san says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Perhaps the Police should have waited longer than 3 seconds to assess the situation.

    Yup. What we got was drive up, blow the kid away, start working on the cover story.

    Not exactly “to protect & serve”…

  111. bobtuse says:

    @stonetools: Actually, humans did not evolve from apes. Both apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor that was not an ape. Now, back to our topic…

  112. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rodney dill: rodney, you’ve been on Teh Internets long enough. You should know better than to go along with this blatant attempt at trolling…

  113. Tyrell says:

    News this morning that demonstrators in Berkely, CA turned violent, vandalizing businesses and injuring other people. What else is new ?

  114. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Say, littering. A cop sees you throw a candy wrapper on the ground. He orders you to pick it up and put it in a trash can. You refuse and get mouthy. (“You’re a public servant, and I’m the public. Serve me and pick up my trash for me, pig!”) The officer cites you for littering. You tear up the ticket. (For added fun, you throw that on the ground, too.) The cop tells you you’re under arrest. You flip him off. He goes to handcuff you, you fight him, he ends up using his gun, you’re dead.

    Exactly, police should not be constrained by any misguided legal notions “reasonable force,” nor should police officers be expected to control unruly situations with anything but their guns.