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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why Is It Different When Officers Threaten Us?

Results of a poll I did last year.

In my previous post I talked about why it would be wrong for people to make threats or take revenge on police officers who have been accused of wrongdoing since it would make that person no different than that police officer if someone did that.

Well, now I want to follow that up by explaining exactly why I make that point and how it is that, while I would do what I could to ensure an accused officer isn't subjected to illegal retaliation, police officers and the government would never, ever, do the same for us.

Threats and retaliation against police misconduct activists happens regularly, in fact I only know one person who writes about police misconduct who hasn't been threatened, and that person was a police officer himself.

Trust me, the threats often work. Many sites that covered police misconduct have gone silent as a result. But even for those of us who refuse to be intimidated, the threats alter our lives and the lives of our families forever.

For example, because of the harassment I received after starting this site my wife tells me she has anxiety attacks anytime I leave our home for work or anything... and frankly I don't like to leave my home either out of fear of being recognized by police officers.

But, even staying at home is no respite since I jump at any unexpected knock or noise outside my door and my pulse races whenever I hear sirens or even when my phone rings... It's a nightmare of a life, thanks to these officers who are encouraged to harass and threaten us by the same system that protects them from the supposed threats made by others.

Indeed, threats and retaliation by police officers against anti-police brutality activists has been a fairly common practice for ages because it's so tolerated and encouraged in the US... especially since it's completely ignored by the press, the police, the people, and the government. Of course, this is in stark contrast to the sympathetic response police officers who are caught brutalizing others receive when they claim to be the target of a death threat.

For example of how this is tolerated, let's look at a few recent stories:

Activist Larry Hales Raided And Arrested In Denver
Denver Colorado anti-police brutality activist Larry Hales had his home raided and was arrested for "suspicion of interfering with police authority" in December of 2007. He claimed officers threw him around like a rag doll and refused his demands that they give him their identification. When Hales complained the officers just smiled at told him "we could do a lot more".

Only one smaller local paper carried the story of Hales' arrest and mistreatment and there was never word of what became of the charges afterward.

Minneapolis Cop-watch Activist Subjected To Beatings And Harassment
On July 20, 2008 police brutality activist and copwatcher Darryl Robinson was brutally beaten when arrested for allegedly "obstructing a sidewalk" while he was documenting police activity outside of a homeless shelter in Minneapolis were several complaints of brutality and harassment had occurred.

That charge was just one of at least 15 that Robinson had been charged with, and had been mostly dismissed in court, in a form of retaliation for his filing and wining a brutality lawsuit in 2003. No word on what became of this latest round of abuse he's endured.

Minneapolis Activist Harassed And Pulbicly Humiliated By Police
On August 29th last year, Michelle Gross of the CUAPD in Minneapolis claims she was strip searched in front of several other men during a raid where anti-police brutality activists were preparing for the Republican National Convention. She felt that she was specifically targetted for humiliation for her activities as a police brutality activist and while she was detained she claims her garage was broken into and documents of police misconduct were rifled through but nothing of value was taken.

She filed suit, one of several stemming from the week of abuse doled out by Minneapolis and St. Paul area police that was bankrolled by a $10,000,000 insurance policy that promised to pay for any civil rights abuses carried out by police during the convention.

Police-Involved Domestic Violence Activist Threatened By Cop With History Of Making Threats
A Washington state-based Officer-Involved Domestic Violence activist and writer of the Behind the Blue Wall blog received harassing messages and death threats from an officer who had a history of abusive behavior so severe that even other cops felt compelled to get restraining orders against him. Even so, authorities and the media ignored it when she revealed the email threats she received where he kept telling her that he knew where she lived and was coming for her.

California Police Accountability Activist Repeatedly Sexually Harassed By Police
The author of the Riverside California-based Five Before Midnight blog, which covers issues of police accountability and misconduct in the Riverside area, has had to endure years of harassment by Riverside police officers who make sexually-suggestive and intimidating comments to her because of what she writes about. Also, not so subtly, the keep letting her know that they've been watching her. These abusive tactics have been going on so long that she no longer does anything about them, apparently knowing full well it won't do any good.


Do you think legislators stumble over themselves to enact laws to protect us from threatening officers like they do to enact secrecy laws to protect cops from unsubstantiated threats?

Do you think the media bothers to report on the threats made on us like they do when an abusive officer's lawyers whine about unsupported claims of death threats made against them and their clients?

... nothing happens, in fact, when we become the target of threats from well-armed police officers who could easily, and have shown a propensity, of carying out those threats. Nothing happens even in when such a clear pattern of retaliation by police organizations is evident.

Actually, we get told that this is what we should expect as people who write about police misconduct, that we should be threatened, that it's only right that we suffer for telling the truth about what happens in our society... that we deserve it for speaking out.

So, frankly, I have a difficult time drumming up sympathy for the cops and their lawyers who claim to be the target of supposed death threats but who don't back those claims up with evidence.

I also have difficulty summoning up pity for the police union lawyers who cry about those supposed threats when they don't shed a tear over the abuse their clients put us through when they threaten and terrorize us.

So make no mistake, when I say it's wrong for anyone to threaten someone else, especially a cop, for being accused of wrongdoing I don't do so out of sympathy... Because I know they have no sympathy for us and I doubt they truly feel as afraid as we do when they level death threats at us.

But, I do say it's wrong out of principle and because that kind of behavior only makes it more difficult to change the system that allows police officers to abuse their authority and harm others.

Meanwhile, people like me still live in terror, our families still fear for us whenever we walk out the door. And I give way to no hope that anyone will defend us from them like they defend the police by trying to keep misconduct a secret from the rest of society in the supposed name of officer safety.

This is what becoming an activist does, this is how America treats those who exercise their first amendment rights to free speech... even while we use that speech to speak out against wrongs done to police just as much as we do when police do wrong to others.

...but, like I said, I'm told that this is what we should expect for speaking out against police misconduct. That we deserve to be threatened, beaten, and jailed for trying to stop it.

But that still doesn't change the fact that acting outside the law to threaten or attack someone you believe has done wrong is wrong in it's own right... whether it's done by an abusive cop against us or by a civilian against an abusive cop.

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