Slouching Toward a Police State

by Matthew Hart
Jun. 03, 2007

As if we need another indication that we are slouching toward a police state, a couple of incidents in my home state of Oklahoma give us further reason to shudder at the predations of our increasingly militarized local law enforcement.

On the evening of May 19th, in the course of a purported investigation into drug trafficking at a local homeless shelter, two Oklahoma City police officers handcuffed a woman and tasered her to death because, as a police spokesman said, "the officers felt that she was not under control." The victim, a 35-year-old homeless woman, resided in the shelter with her husband while recovering from a drug addiction. She was not involved in the initial drug investigation, yet apparently began to scream and attacked one of the officers. After attacking a second officer, she was "taken to the ground and handcuffed." At this point, this 35-year-old female crack addict, handcuffed and on the concrete, still represented a great enough danger to two heavily armed male police officers that they deemed it necessary to electrocute her fatally. This murder earned the two officers paid administrative leave.

Most LRC readers realize the irrefutable failure of the "war on self-medication." Much has been written here on the topic. From seatbelt laws and speed limits to anti-drug and anti-smoking laws, who really believes that the State’s interest lies in saving us from ourselves? Law number one should be "no victim, no crime." Increasingly obvious is the fact that, far from protecting and serving the people, the police exist everywhere and always to protect the State and its ill-gotten gains from the people, and we pay them to do it. In the course of "protecting the people" from free and private transactions between consenting adults, these two officers murdered a woman guilty of what amounts to a lack of control.

Another incident even closer to me occurred around Thanksgiving last year. A friend left a bar late one night, admittedly a little less than sober, but driving slowly and safely. After traveling several blocks, a patrolman stopped him, called for backup and, based on his car’s missing front grill, arrested him for allegedly running down an officer earlier in the evening. Ignore the many inconsistencies and outright fallacies in the accusation (not least of which was the fact that no piece of his grill was found at the site of the hit-and-run, since he’d lost it to a deer on a country road nine months previous to the incident). What happened next simply cannot be excused.

Cops tend to be a pretty tightly-knit group. Injure or kill one of them and they tend to get a little vengeful, it seems (and no, the irony that they are rewarded with a paid vacation when they murder a private citizen isn’t lost on me). Once they’d handcuffed and effectively subdued my friend, these protectors of the public morality proceeded to, as we say here in Oklahoma, beat the tar out of him, bruising his ribs, arms and legs and causing a loss of hearing in one of his ears. That they might have been mistaken never occurred to them. On the advice of his attorney, he pled guilty to the DUI and the hit-and-run was dropped. Due to this travesty, my friend spent several days locked up for a crime he did not commit, losing valuable days at work. In addition, he lost his license and will be paying for the privilege of visiting some weekend lockup for the next six to nine months.

These are but two local examples of what amounts to a major problem with state-subsidized "law enforcement." Where may innocent victims of this rampant abuse of power turn for justice in this day and age? The courts seem complicit in the corruption and lawmakers see only the apparent "successes" of their various wars against potential crime. The media maintains the status quo by coloring their reports of these incidents with the State’s very own brush. As a result, few view the abuse as it really is. Indeed, most seem to applaud the work of the nanny state as it strips us all of the right to do as we see fit absent the trespass of others’ rights to do the same. On this march toward our own undoing, will we watch wordlessly as our fellows are overrun by the massed machinery of the State?

Matthew Hart [send him mail] is a musician, songwriter and photographer who writes, for the time being, from his home state of Oklahoma.

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