Quote Of The Day: NY Times On The NYPD & Guns

by TKOEd • Friday, Dec 14, 2012 • no responses - be the first

From a NYT report on guns & training by Alan Feur:

Some of Mr. Kelly’s troops disagree, going so far as to approach reporters with unsolicited views. One officer, who joined the force with a military background and spoke anonymously because he feared reprisals, said the problem was training. The department has “a factory line” approach to weapons training in which officers “get the basics — breathing, trigger control,” but not much else, he said. “It’s very brief, minimal.”

“Firearms training is important — it’s very important,” the officer concluded. “And it’s something that is not taken seriously.

I wish I could say I was surprised by this, but the NYPD has participated in enough wild shootings over the years that I was already convinced that our cops get very little/and or very poor weapons training. This is basic shit folks.

 

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The Big Story: Jeffrey Goldberg’s Gunsmoke!

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Jeffrey Goldberg advocates for more guns, and more gun control in this month’s Atlantic magazine:

I shared—and continue to share—the view that muscular gun-control regulations, ones that put stumbling blocks in front of criminals seeking firearms, are necessary. But I was also seized by the thought that, had I been on the train, I would much rather have been armed than unarmed. I was not, and am not, under the illusion that a handgun would have necessarily provided a definitive solution to the problem posed by Colin Ferguson. But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.

The problem with this, and Goldberg’s entire argument is that it’s mostly built on the back of fighting back an assailant who also has a gun. Goldberg asks victims of gun violence if they would have preferred to have been armed on the day they were shot, and all them dismiss the idea to varying degrees. Now the people who were actually in the middle of it all are highly skeptical that being armed would have done them any good, but Goldberg is pretty damn sure it would have. Lots of people like to think they would have saved the day had they been in the theater in Aurora, but the folks who went through it are much less sure. That should give us all pause. Not Jeffrey Goldberg though:

But the worst thing that could have happened to Daniel Mauser did, in fact, happen. The presence in the Columbine library of a well-trained, armed civilian attempting to stop the killers could hardly have made the situation worse.

The fact that extremely few civilians are “well-trained” in the use of firearms doesn’t seem to faze Goldberg in the least. Furthermore he knows that it wouldn’t have made the situation worse. Because he was there! Wait, no, he was not. He doesn’t consider how a shoot-out could have easily made things worse. He moves on to Columbine after talking to an Aurora survivor who’s pretty sure that armed civilians wouldn’t have been helpful at all. You know because it was a theater, and it was fucking dark, and who knows who’s shooting at who? And did I mention the shooter was wearing body armor?

The whole piece seems built around a fantasy Goldberg seems to have about taking down someone shooting at him or someone else. He mentions places with less gun violence in passing, but only to say that we’ve gone past the point of no return, and that we already have so many guns so the only answer is MORE GUNS. Or he posits that the U.K. has more home break-ins when people are home because they have less gun ownership. Never mind that those places have far less gun violence, and crime in general.

Goldberg mentions Trayvon Martin, but only to call Zimmerman a “cowboy.” I’m also thinking of Jordan Davis, and Robbie Tolan, and Oscar Grant, and Sean Bell. All of who were killed or shot by people who were lawfully carrying guns. I point this out because that’s the crux of Goldberg’s argument. Lawful gun owners. He puts up lots of statistics to show that concealed-carry laws don’t create more gun violence. But when I look at how many people seem to have an irrational fear of Black men more guns on the street, no matter how they were obtained doesn’t make me feel any safer. I also think that’s what makes it easier for Goldberg to be so dismissive of the idea that more people with guns could be a problem. It’s doesn’t seem to be a problem for people who look like him. All the most famous instances of people being shot by someone who legally carried a weapon are Black men.

Goldberg seems to assume that when a law-abiding citizen pulls a gun on a criminal the criminal will flee. But given his focus on fighting guns with guns, then what seems more logical is to assume is a shoot-out. Does a shoot-out sound safer then a stick-up for the general public? Shouldn’t we also assume that faced with an increasingly armed populace that more, and more criminals will take up James Holmes’ lead, and wear body armor when they go out to commit crimes? There are so many issues & questions he fails to consider in what is a relatively long piece. In addition his other “evidence” he strongly implies that the rise of concealed-carry laws has played a significant part in bringing down the crime rate in America:

Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. (The number of people allowed to carry concealed weapons is actually considerably higher than 8 million, because residents of Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and parts of Montana do not need government permission to carry their personal firearms. These states have what Second Amendment absolutists refer to as “constitutional carry,” meaning, in essence, that the Second Amendment is their permit.)

He throws out a couple more stats like that in other parts of his piece. But he also hints that his attempts at providing causation between c-c, and less crime might be bullshit:

Others contend that proving causality between crime rates and the number of concealed-carry permits is impossible. “It’s difficult to make the case that more concealed-carry guns have led to the drop in the national crime rate, because cities like Los Angeles, where we have very restrictive gun-control laws, have seen the same remarkable drop in crime,” Winkler told me. (Many criminologists tend to attribute America’s dramatic decrease in violent crime to a combination of demographic changes, longer criminal sentencing, innovative policing techniques, and the waning of the crack wars.)

He attempts to refute it in the very next paragraph though. The above quote mentions L.A., and its restrictive gun-control laws, but leaves out many other cities like say, NY or D.C. Large cities are responsible for a large majority of the reduced crime in America, and they are also the places most likely to have strong gun-control laws.  All of this gives me the sense that rather than going in trying to find the best resolution to out gun problem, Goldberg went in trying to figure out how to have it both ways. He wants to have his gun so he can one day be a hero, but he wants to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill & criminals. All of this is supposed to make us safer. Despite all the stats he throws out in this piece, at no point does he even hint at any other country where more guns = less crime. Only America do we have this backwards logic. He says 47% of people in this country own guns, he wants us to believe the only real way for the rest of us to stay safe is by getting one ourselves.

It’s clear to me that Goldberg has succumbed to “The Seductive Dream of Standing Your Ground”, but the biggest fantasy is the idea that we can get even get moderate forms of gun control passed at a national level. We’d get more guns, and but no more control.

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The Big Story: David Durk, The NYPD & Corruption

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012 • no responses - be the first

R.I.P. David Durk.

Frank Serpico. David Durk. One of those names you almost certainly know. One man was played by someone who now a big time movie star. The other man had a minor character loosely based on him with a different name in the same film. David Durk doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page.

Frank Serpico is alive. David Durk is dead. This is not an obit to Mr. Durk though, the NY Times has done a far better job than I ever could.

We probably never hear of Frank Serpico if not for David Durk. Their stories are intertwined, and you can run a direct line from Serpico/Durk to Adrian Schoolcraft, a man who’s technically still a cop, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he’s been treated. The stories of these three men, all great cops, should serve as an inspiration to all current, and future police officers. Instead the NYPD attempts to push them into the dustbin of history, and tries to minimize their achievements, and their (corroborated) accusations.

The NYPD has a corruption problem. Their PR guy will tell you that things are 10 times better than they were when Serpico was a cop. Does it even matter though? How much of that is through their own efforts, and how much of that is the decline of mob influence in NYC? The NYPD seems so eager to pat itself on the back instead of acknowledging that they have a shit ton of work to do. Abner Louima, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham. You know the names. You know what happened. And I’m telling you that the way the city, and the NYPD handled the findings of the Knapp Commission, which never happens if not for the persistence, and the insistence of Serpico & Durk, is why we have today’s NYPD. A police force of quotas, harassment, and racism.

…the fallout was minimal. Dozens of officers were prosecuted, but no senior police or city officials were charged.

A few people were cast out, and they called it a day. Ray Kelly was a police officer during those days. I wonder if he’s ever been asked about that era. Was he on the take? He sure does like to minimize police misconduct. How can we expect the NYPD to do their job in a fair, honest, and transparent way when they’ve never tackled the ghosts of the 60s & 70s? How many corrupt cops went on to become senior officers? How many are in the top brass today? We’ll probably never know. What we do know that is that the “blue wall” is as strong as ever. Adrian Schoolcraft’s apt was invaded by cops, and he was tossed in a mental ward by those same cops. Unlawful imprisonment anyone? Of course we’ve seen no criminal charges against any of the officers involved in these Gestapo tactics. I now feel vindicated every time I cross the street to avoid walking next to or crossing paths with a cop. If they can do this shit to another cop bet money they can, and HAVE done it a civilian.

I’ve always said that the police should be held to a higher standard than the average person, but this country seems to completely disagree with me. All over America cops are held to lower standards. Shoot a Black man in the back while he’s face down being handcuffed by another cop? Say you were scared, and you were reaching for your, far lighter, Taser. No one will even ask why you were reaching for your Taser in the 1st place. After the judge gives you double credit for time served you’ll end up serving a year in prison total. Now try, and imagine an average white man who’s not a police officer using any or all of that as an excuse. Now do it for the average Black man. I can’t see either of them getting just a year. Add some “fear”, and make ‘em both cops & it’s likely that they’re acquitted, and continue to be police officers.

All a cop has to do is say they were scared, and they’ll have people lining up to defend them. “You don’t know what it’s like to be a cop.” “Their job is dangerous.” There are around 800,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S. (including state & federal officers). In 2010 160 of them were murdered. That’s a rate of .0002. In 2005 about 57,600 cops were assaulted. A rate of .072. Out of that number, about 15,800 were injured. A rate of .0197. My intent is not to minimize police shootings, and assaults, but show that this fear that cops regularly invoke, usually after they’ve shot another unarmed person, is unsubstantiated by the stats. Most cops probably don’t know another officer who’s even been assaulted let alone killed. So what are they so afraid of? The answer seems to be be Black & Latino men. Since we’re the ones that usually end up on the wrong end of a cops glock.

Despite all the talk about “community policing” Ray Kelly has been very confrontational when confronted with just about any criticism of the NYPD. This unwillingness to criticize the self is at the heart the NYPD’s problems, especially with regard to Blacks, and Latinos. When it comes to unwarranted defensiveness, only self-aggrandizing millionaires, and billionaires are in competition. 16 officers get arraigned for ticket fixing, 100s show up in protest. It’s someone else’s fault. They were “just following orders.” Guess what? I believe them. I believe they were just following orders when they stopped, and frisked 685,724 people (87% of them Black & Latino) last year. I also believe that they were just following orders when they stop and frisked 25% less people in the 2nd quarter of this year than last. This brings me back to Ray Kelly, and other cops who were “on the job” during the years the NYPD was nearly completely overrun by corruption. Where are many of these men now? David Durk said during a formal lecture at the police academy he was told to always carry a SASE with him in case he got a bribe. That way he could immediately mail it to himself without fear it would be found later. This is what they were telling recruits! But I’m supposed to believe that the overwhelming majority of corrupt cops who never got any  disciplinary action just suddenly became good cops? Maybe for a little while, ’til the cameras & the reporters & investigators went away, but not for long. Until society stops treating cops as above the law, and infallible we will continue to see corruption, racism & violence flowing from the NYPD.

In 1970 Frank Serpico said:

the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers.

That’s still the case. Just like in the 60′s, and 70′s today’s cops are “just following orders.”

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License To Kill, Or License To Murder?

by TKOEd • Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Or license to maim, threaten, abuse authority, and be a racist scumbag?

Robbie Tolan

Oscar Grant

Sean Bell

Noel Polanco

Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

And many more.

Some names you know, some you may not. Either way we need to ask ourselves why so many Black, and brown men keep ending up dead at the hands of the police in this country. Anaheim police have shot more people this year than in the last 2 years combined. Even a white, double amputee in a wheelchair, and wielding a pen was shot, and killed by an officer who “feared for his partner’s safety and his own safety.” That’s all before we get to Chavis Carter. We’ll probably never know what really happened, because I’m sorry I just don’t buy that this was a suicide.

In my eyes it all starts with ALL forms of law enforcement & military being put on the highest pedestal in all the land. America, and many Americans seem to think the police can basically do no wrong. Other than Oscar Grant I don’t believe that any of these men or their families have received even the slightest amount of recompense from the criminal justice system.

If this many, literally & figuratively, unarmed men can be shot by police we have to seriously wonder what kind of training the law enforcement in this country is receiving. Guess what? We have some idea of the training they’ve received:

The police have received no training that enhances the likelihood they will spot the drug criminals as they drive by and leave everyone else alone. To the contrary, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers have received training that guarantees precisely the opposite. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) trains police to conduct utterly unreasonable and discriminatory stops and searches throughout the United States. Perhaps the best known of these training programs is Operation Pipeline. The DEA launched Operation Pipeline in 1984 as part of the Reagan administration’s rollout of the War on Drugs. The federal program, administered by over three hundred state and local law enforcement agencies, trains state and local law enforcement officers to use pretextual traffic stops and consent searches on a large scale for drug interdiction.

That’s from Michelle Alexander’s excellent book, The New Jim Crow. Considering the large amount of young Black & brown men shot and often times killed after a traffic stop or a “stop and frisk” this is extremely alarming, and infuriating knowledge.

As for that license to kill, we don’t really know much about what cops are taught about when to “discharge” (as if shooting someone is akin firing them) their weapon. What we do know is that there are way too many scared cops on the streets. Let’s take Oscar Grant’s murder for instance. Mehserle claims he was reaching for his Taser. Many have asked, and I’ll ask again. Why? Why would you tase a man who was lying face down being subdued by another police officer? You’re that scared? Why the fuck are you a cop?

In this country police officer is synonymous with “hero.” Unless of course you live in certain communities where the only times you see cops are when they’re pushing you up against a wall for being young, brown & male. Every time I see cops walking the streets I get a little bit nervous. I wonder if this will be the day I have a run in with them. I instinctively want to cross the street. You can’t change that with platitudes or by changing your slogan to Courtesy Professionalism, and Respect. There’s got to be more, a lot more.

Rarely does it ever seem that the police are interested in actually interacting with the people they are supposed to be keeping safe. Every time I see a cop he or she is standing around talking to another cop, giving someone a ticket or arresting someone. Never are they talking to business owners, chatting up the old ladies sitting outside on Eastern Parkway or anything that resembles any sort of outreach. This type of behaviour only reinforces the skepticism the police have earned.

The question we’re left with is what can we do? I’m not sure how we can dramatically lower police shootings of unarmed brown people, but I’ve got some ideas on where we can start:

  • Strong, and persistent pushback against illegal police tactics. I think that this was largely responsible for the drop in stop & frisks in NYC last year.
  • We must acknowledge, and publicize all suspicious police shootings. To me, they’re all suspicious until proven otherwise.
  • We need to push for laws that hold law enforcement to higher standards for shootings, not lower. If they are so well trained as every police commissioner & captain claims then they should have no problem meeting this higher standard.
  • We need support projects like MXGM’s People’s Self Defense Campaign
  • We need to continue the fight to end the “War On Drugs.” The WOD can credibly be considered World War 3 considering the amount of direct, and indirect deaths owed to it.

There’s a lot more we can do of course. Please leave your ideas, projects, and programs in the comment section.

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