- Bush's "war on terror" quickly became Bush's
war on Iraqi civilians. So far over one million Iraqi civilians have lost
their lives because of Bush's invasion, and four million have been displaced.
Iraq's infrastructure is in ruins. Disease is rampant. Normal life has
- Self-righteous Americans justify these monstrous crimes
as necessary to ensure their own safety from terrorist attack. Yet, Americans
are in far greater danger from their own police forces than they are from
foreign terrorists. Ironically, Bush's "war on terror" has made
Americans less safe at home by diminishing US civil liberties and turning
an epidemic of US police brutality into a pandemic.
- The only terrorist most Americans will ever encounter
is a policeman with a badge, nightstick, mace and Taser. A Google search
for "police brutality video" turns up 2,210,000 entries. Some
entries are foreign and some are probably duplications, but the number
is so large that a person could do nothing but watch police brutality videos
for the rest of his life. A search on "You Tube" alone turned
up 2,280 police brutality videos. PrisonPlanet has a selection of the most
outrageous recent cases.
- Police brutality has crossed the line from using excessive
force against a resisting Rodney King to unprovoked gratuitous violence
against persons offering no resistance, such as the elderly, women, students,
and elected officials. Americans are not safe anywhere from police. Police
attack Americans in university libraries, in public meetings, and in their
- Last week we had the case of the University of Florida
student who was repeatedlt Tasered without cause for asking Senator Kerry
some good questions in the question and answer period following Kerry's
speech. Two days after the Florida student was gratuitously brutalized,
Senate Republicans defeated Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy's bill to restore
habeas corpus protection.
- A UCLA student was Tasered by police without cause for
studying in the university library without having his student ID on his
person. Following police orders to leave, the student was walking toward
the door when police grabbed him and repeatedly Tasered him.
- On September 19, 2007 a young woman was repeatedly Tasered
without cause by a large brutal cop in a parking lot outside a nightclub
in Warren, Ohio.
- On September 14, 2007, Roseland, Indiana, city council
member David Snyder was ejected from a council meeting by dictatorial council
chairman Charlie Shields. Snyder had protested being limited to one minute
to speak. Police goon Jack Tiller escorted Snyder out, and as Snyder exited
the building, Tiller, following behind, pushed Snyder to the ground and
without cause began beating Snyder in the head with a nightstick. Snyder
- Local TV news stations throughout the US offer an endless
stream of police brutality videos, which are then posted on the stations'
web sites, often with an opportunity for citizens to express their opinion
of the incidents.
- There are many disturbing aspects to police brutality
- One disturbing aspect is that the police always arrest
the people that they have gratuitously brutalized. There was no justification
whatsoever to arrest Councilman Snyder, or the UCLA student, or the University
of Florida student. The cops committed assault against innocent citizens.
The cops should have been arrested for their criminal acts. Instead, the
cops cover up their own crimes by arresting their victims on false charges
that are invented to justify the unprovoked police violence against citizens.
- Another disturbing aspect is that no one tells the police
to stop the brutality. "Free" Americans are so intimidated by
police that on February 19 of this year male customers in a Chicago bar
stood aside while a drunk cop weighing 251 pounds beat a 115-pound barmaid,
knocking her to the floor with his fists and repeatedly kicking her, for
obeying the bar rules and not serving him more drinks.
- Yet another disturbing aspect is that a minority of citizens
will justify each act of police brutality no matter how brutal and how
unprovoked. For example, WNDU.com's poll of its viewers found that 64.2
percent agreed that Snyder was a victim of police brutality, but 27.8 percent
thought that Snyder got what was coming to him. "Law and order conservatives"
and other authoritarian personalities invariably defend acts of police
brutality. Perhaps the police brutality pandemic will bring the day when
we will be able to say that a civil libertarian is a law and order conservative
who has been brutalized by police.
- The most disturbing aspect is that the police usually
get away with it.
- I remember decades ago when civil libertarians in New
York City tried to stop police brutality by establishing civilian review
boards to introduce some accountability into the police's interaction with
civilians. Law and order conservatives at William F. Buckley's National
Review went berserk. Accountability was "second-guessing" the
police. The result would be a crime wave. And so on.
- Police forces have always attracted bullies with authoritative
personalities who desire to beat senseless anyone who does not quake in
their presence. In the past, police could get away with brutalizing blacks
but not whites. Today white citizens are as likely as racial minorities
to be victims of police brutality.
- The police are supreme. The militarization of the police,
armed now with military weapons and trained to view the general public
as the enemy, against whom "pain compliance" must be used, has
placed every American at risk of personal injury and false arrest from
our "public protectors."
- In "free and democratic America," citizens
are in such great danger from police that there are websites devoted to
police brutality with online forms to report the brutality.
- Nine years ago Human Rights Watch published a report
entitled, "Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability
in the United States." The report stated:
- "Police abuse remains one of the most serious and
divisive human rights violations in the United States. The excessive use
of force by police officers, including unjustified shootings, severe beatings,
fatal chokings, and rough treatment, persists because overwhelming barriers
to accountability make it possible for officers who commit human rights
violations to escape due punishment and often to repeat their offenses.
Police or public officials greet each new report of brutality with denials
or explain that the act was an aberration, while the administrative and
criminal systems that should deter these abuses by holding officers accountable
instead virtually guarantee them impunity.
- "This report examines common obstacles to accountability
for police abuse in fourteen large cities representing most regions of
the nation. The cities examined are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit,
Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia,
Portland, Providence, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Research for
this report was conducted over two and a half years, from late 1995 through
- "The brutality cases examined, which are set out
in detail in chapters on each city, are similar to cases that continue
to emerge in headlines and in survivors' complaints. It is important to
note, however, that because it is difficult to obtain case information
except where there is public scandal and/or prosecution, this report relies
heavily on cases that have reached public attention; disciplinary action
and criminal prosecution are even less common than the cases set out below
- There is no way to hold police accountable when the president
and vice president of the United States, the attorney general, and the
Republican Party maintain that the civil liberties and the separation of
powers mandated by the US Constitution must be abandoned in order that
the executive branch can keep Americans safe from terrorists.
- Even before the "war on terror," federal police
murdered 100 people in the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, and no one
was held accountable.
- Who is a terrorist? If the police and the US government
have the mentality of airport security, they cannot tell a terrorist from
an 86-year old Marine general on his way to give a speech at West Point.
Retired Marine Corps General Joseph J. Foss was delayed and nearly had
his Medal of Honor confiscated. Airport security regarded the pin on the
medal as a weapon that the 86-year old Marine general and former governor
of South Dakota could use to hijack an airliner and commit a terrorist
- In America today, every citizen is a potential terrorist
in the eyes of the authorities. Airport security makes this clear every
minute of every day, as do the FBI and NSA with warrantless spying on our
emails, postal mail, telephone calls, and every possible invasion of our
privacy. We are all recipients of abuse of our constitutional rights whether
or not we suffer beatings, Taserings, and false arrests.
- The law makes it impossible for Americans to defend themselves
from police brutality. Law and order conservatives have made it a felony
with a long prison sentence to "assault a police officer." Assaulting
a police officer means that if a police thug intends to beat your brains
out with his nightstick and you disarm your assailant, you have "assaulted
a police officer." If you are not shot on the spot by his backup,
you will be convicted by a "law and order" jury and sent to prison.
- No matter how gratuitous and violent the police brutality,
a "free" American citizen can defend himself only at the expense,
if not of his life, of a long stay in prison. Osama bin Laden must wish
that he had such power over Americans.
- Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury in the Reagan Administration.