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Article posted Nov 05 2013, 1:34 AM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: John W. Whitehead Print

Welcome to the United Police States of America, Where Police Shoot First & Ask Questions Later

By John W. Whitehead

“There are always risks in challenging excessive police power, but the risks of not challenging it are more dangerous, even fatal.”—Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. What is unusual is our lack of outrage, the relative disinterest of our elected representatives, the media’s abysmal failure to ask questions and demand answers, and our growing acceptance of the status quo in the United Police States of America—a status quo in which “we the people” are powerless in the face of the heavy-handed tactics employed by the government and its armed agents.

However, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, it’s all part of the larger police state continuum. Thus, with each tragic shooting that is shrugged off or covered up, each piece of legislation passed that criminalizes otherwise legal activities, every surveillance drone that takes to the skies, every phone call, email or text that is spied on, and every transaction that is monitored, the government’s stranglehold over our lives grows stronger.

We have been silent about too many things for too long, not the least of which is the deadly tendency on the part of police to resort to lethal force. However, as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

For the sake of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, we can be silent no more. The Santa Rosa teen was shot dead after two sheriff’s deputies saw him carrying a toy BB gun in public. Lopez was about 20 feet away from the deputies, his back turned to them, when the officers took cover behind their car and ordered him to drop the “weapon.” When Lopez turned around, toy gun in his hand, one of the officers—a 24-year veteran of the force—shot him seven times. The time span between the deputies calling in a suspicious person sighting and shooting Lopez was a mere ten seconds. The young boy died at the scene. Clearly, no attempt was made to use less lethal force.

Rationalizing the shooting incident, Lt. Paul Henry of the Santa Rosa Police Department explained, “The deputy’s mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot.” Yet as William Norman Grigg, a commentator for, points out, such a “preoccupation with ‘officer safety’ … leads to unnecessary police shootings. A peace officer is paid to assume certain risks, including those necessary to de-escalate a confrontation with someone believed to be a heavily armed suspect in a residential neighborhood. A ‘veteran’ deputy with the mindset of a peace officer would have taken more than a shaved fraction of a split-second to open fire on a small male individual readily identifiable as a junior high school student, who was carrying an object that is easily recognizable as a toy—at least to people who don’t see themselves as an army of occupation, and view the public as an undifferentiated mass of menace.”

Unfortunately, this police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs—a mindset that many older law enforcement officials find abhorrent in light of the more selfless code on which they were trained—is spreading like a plague among the ranks of police officers across the country, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet the fatality rate of on-duty patrol officers is reportedly far lower than many other professions, including construction, logging, fishing, truck driving, and even trash collection. In fact, police officers have the same rate of dying on the job as do taxi drivers.

Nevertheless, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. That does not include the number of unarmed individuals shot and injured by police simply because they felt threatened or feared for their safety. This is the danger of having a standing army (which is what police forces, increasingly made up of individuals with military backgrounds and/or training, have evolved into) that has been trained to view the citizenry as little more than potential suspects, combatants and insurgents.

Consider what happened in Cleveland, when two police officers mistook the sounds of a backfiring car for gunfire and immediately began pursuing the 1979 Chevrolet Malibu and its two occupants, a woman driver and a man in the passenger seat. Within 20 minutes, more than 60 police cars, some unmarked, and 115 officers had joined the pursuit, which ended in a full blown-out firefight in a middle school parking lot that saw 140 bullets fired in less than 30 seconds. Once the smoke cleared, it quickly became evident that not only had the officers been mistakenly firing at each other but the “suspects”—dead from countless bullet wounds—were unarmed. As the Plain Dealer reports:
Despite varying levels of experience, all 13 officers who fired their guns—and many who did not—told investigators they thought deadly force was needed to stop a violent encounter with two suspects who they believed were armed. “I've never been more afraid in my life,” said Officer Michael Brelo, who fired 49 shots that night. “I thought my partner and I were being shot and that we were going to be killed.”
Incredibly, no officers were injured in the shooting. Nor was any apparent effort made to resolve the situation using less lethal force. Sixty-three of the officers involved in the fatal shooting have since been suspended.

I doubt the police officers involved in this massacre are bad cops in the sense of being corrupt and on the take, or violent and abusive, or bloodthirsty and trigger happy. Nor are they any different from most of the cops who patrol communities large and small across the country. Just like you and me, these officers have spouses and children to care for, homes to maintain, bills to pay, and worries that keep them up at night. Like most of us, they strive to do their jobs as best as they know how, but that’s where the problem arises, because they have clearly been poorly trained in how to distinguish what is a real threat. They have also been indoctrinated into the mindset that they have a right to protect themselves at all cost and empowered to shoot first and ask questions later with a veritable arsenal of military artillery, much of which has been provided by the federal government.

These shootings are occurring with such frequency now that they are quickly forgotten, lost in the morass of similarly heartbreaking, tragic incidents. It was barely a month ago, for example, that police in Washington, DC, shot and killed 34-year-old Miriam Carey after she collided with a barrier leading to the White House, then fled when pursued by a phalanx of gun-wielding police and cop cars. Carey’s 1-year-old daughter was in the backseat. Seventeen gun shots later, Carey was dead and her toddler motherless. It was what is known as a “bad shoot.” As James Mulvaney, a professor of law and police science, explains: “A ‘good shoot’ in police lingo is one in which officers use deadly force to prevent a suspect from inflicting serious harm. A ‘bad shoot’ is one in which there might have been a nonlethal alternative.”

Even the suggestion that there are nonlethal alternatives is misleading. Nonlethal weapons such as tasers, stun guns, rubber pellets and the like, introduced with a government guarantee of safety for the public and adopted by police departments across the country purportedly because they would help restrain violent individuals, have resulted in police using them as weapons of compliance more often and with less restraint—even against women and children—and in some instances, even causing death.

These “nonlethal” weapons also enable police to aggress with the push of a button, making the potential for overblown confrontations over minor incidents that much more likely. Case in point: the fact that seven-months pregnant Malaika Brooks was tased three times for refusing to sign a speeding ticket, while Keith Cockrell was shot with a taser for jaywalking.

Researchers have discovered that dehumanizing weapons like guns or tasers, which do not require the aggressor (police) to make physical contact with his victim, are aggression-eliciting stimuli. One study found that simply showing an image of a gun to students caused them to clench their fists faster (a sign of aggressive effect) when presented with an aversive situation. If a simple handgun can noticeably increase violent behavior, one can only imagine what impact the $500 million dollars’ worth of weapons and armored vehicles (provided by the Pentagon to local police in states and municipalities across the country) have on already tense and potentially explosive situations.

So what is the answer?

How should we as a society respond when we hear about the Las Vegas police officer who shot an unarmed man at a convenience store whom he “thought” was a homicide suspect, or the Los Angeles cop who shot an unarmed man seen leaving a convenience store where an ATM had been robbed of $40 or the DC cops who killed a young mother in a hail of gunfire? As John Grant notes for Counterpunch: “The ignominious and unnecessary public killing of Miriam Carey should be a human marker that triggers our cultural meaning machine to honestly consider what’s wrong with the picture of a howling pack of cops shooting down a troubled young mother … like a dog.”

The current practice is to let the police deal with it themselves by suspending the officer involved with administrative pay, dragging out the investigation until the public forgets about the incident, and then eventually declaring the shooting incident justified based on the officer’s fear for his safety, and allowing him to go back to work as usual. Meanwhile, the epidemic of police violence continues to escalate while fear of the police increases and the police state, with all its surveillance gear and military weaponry, expands around us.

If ever there were a time to de-militarize and de-weaponize local police forces, it’s now. The same goes for scaling back on the mindset adopted by cops that they are the law and should be revered, feared and obeyed. As for the idea that citizens must be compliant or risk being treated like lawbreakers, that’s nothing more than authoritarianism with a badge. As Grant points out: “As the public killing of Miriam Carey should make clear, a significant part of the problem is cops and the pack mentality they too often resort to. These men and women are encouraged to see themselves on “the front line” protecting us, the people. They are pumped up with post-911 fears and adrenaline and, when it hits the fan, relentlessly determined to get their man or woman. A lot of reality can get lost in this process.”

In other words, it’s time for a reality check, for both the police and the citizens of this nation, and a good place to start is with the words of that gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who warned: “Coming of age in a fascist police state will not be a barrel of fun for anybody, much less for people like me, who are not inclined to suffer Nazis gladly and feel only contempt for the cowardly flag-suckers who would gladly give up their outdated freedom to live for the mess of pottage they have been conned into believing will be freedom from fear.”
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send him mail] is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Nov 05 2013, 10:13 AM

68107 san diego sheriff survey

Posted: Nov 05 2013, 12:49 PM

24234 I would like to know if there is a dash cam video of the shooting.

Posted: Nov 05 2013, 3:47 PM

98246 Police are corrupt and always have been and news reporters have always lied for cops and always downplay the Fascist style murders police commit in the USA!

Unfortunately people only keep track of killings committed by police when it comes to firearms and most news reporters are mums the word on all the deaths caused by police battering unarmed people, those statistics never see the light of day publicly!

Police stage crimes and commit crimes as a daily part of their job and they justify their criminal activity's by labeling their activity's with the general term "Conducting an investigation" and they label almost ALL their activity's that way!

Under the pretense of "conducting investigations" police are known to stage crimes and cause crimes and permit crimes to take place for the purpose of a "Bust" and police will take over a neighborhood street for the purpose of staging felony crimes such as drug spots where people purchase drugs and they even take over streets for setting up "Busts" to supposedly catch John's soliciting prostitutes!

In either situation it is police themselves that are committing the crimes and are trying to bait people into talking on the streets with their pretended drug dealers and pretended prostitutes!

In each situation police are paying under cover officer's to pretend to be drug dealers selling drugs and are paying woman to pretend to be prostitutes in order to get video footage of citizens interacting with these agents!

You can be a completely innocent person walking down a sidewalk, doing nothing wrong, and have one of these pretenders approach you and ask you for a light for their cigarette, if you give them a light then police now have you on film doing a hand-to-hand exchange with one of their officer's!

See how easy it is for police to frame you? that agent can now easily lie saying you gave that person money for sex or for drugs and they will even have photogenic photo's of you doing a hand-to-hand exchange with that person!

This is common all over the USA and under cover officer's can and do approach innocent people in this manner for the soul purpose of framing people, and of course police and even news reporters will never admit they frame innocent people but they DO ADMIT POLICE CONDUCT BUSTS IN THIS MANNER and that they pay people to pretend to be drug dealers and prostitutes!

Well here is something that police do very often that news reporters are mums the word on, police frame innocent people as pedophiles and they pretty much use the same tactics as the other tactics mentioned above!

If police want to frame an innocent person as a pedophile they police will take over the apartments surrounding their targets home/apartment and police will pay one of their girlfriends that have children to live there, all under the pretense4 of an investigation, and police will pay their girlfriend and her children to play and hang out in front of their targets home and make false pedophile accusations about the person living there!

Police pay their girlfriends and their girlfriends children TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for one day of hanging out near the targets home and to make false pedophile accu8sations and they do this for the video surveillance cameras police have in place!

The target does not even need to be home for this to happen, many times police will do this when their target is away at work or out of town to conceal from the target they are being framed, and police may spend several months doing these type of staged events in order to build a case against an innocent person!

Police have a name for this type of framing they call it pedofying, and unlike framing people over drugs or prostitution when police frame someone as a pedophile that person usually ends up dead within five years whether there is a trial or not!

Police and news reporters want you to believe that such activity's are "Busts" on the bad guys, but try to understand, multiple people in law enforcement are staging crimes at a certain location, and you just being at that location is enough for them to frame you, you don't have to do any thing wrong, but because police are there staging crimes and they have you at their location where they are doing their Busts they can easily approach you, engage in brief conversation with you, and then arrest you and lie in court that you made a purchase or tried soliciting them when in fact you did no such thing!

Every time police engage in these crimes they are using multiple peo9ple in law enforcement that are lying to people and staging crimes and these officer's will approach innocent people on the streets to engage in conversation for the soul purpose of getting it on video surveillance!

Everybody knows police do this and commonly refer to it as Busts, but the reality is it is the police and their performers that are staging the crimes and simply trying to engage in conversation with innocent people on the street in order to build cases against people!

If you are beset by several people on the street performing crimes and they deliberately engage you in conversation to make you look bad on video surveillance is that really a bust? or is it just down right framing people with actors staging crimes for video surveillance?

There are working woman in this world that work at strip clubs and do lap dances for ten dollars in this world! well you would be surprised how many girlfriends cops have that have children that are willing to pedofy an innocent person for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! and it' all paid for by our law enforcement officer's under the pretense of police conducting investigations and they frame innocent people under the false pretense of a Bust!

Posted: Nov 05 2013, 7:16 PM

16217 I'm gratefaul that someone like Mr. Whitehead/ The Rutherford Inst. is on the case. The country needs more high profile people speaking out about this national travesty.

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