As gov’t increasingly resorts to the mass criminalization and incarceration of its citizens, it creates paramilitary forces and with a resultant mentality among its police. Many officers come to see their role in the community as an occupying army where all civilians are suspect of being the enemy.Certain types of individuals who are already well set in an attitude of authority and control over others, tend to gravitate toward outlaw criminality, even in in-law roles as state actors. In many respects, they are perfectly interchangeable.
As some of the trials of New Orleans police who engaged in crime during Katrina are coming more into recent news, we can conclude that the most dangerous gang for the public in New Orleans at the time were the police themselves.
That August & September, 2005, I was relatively comfortable at FCI Jesup, Georgia. I recall watching a grandmother pouring some water from a bottle over the head of her 3-yr-old girl to cool her off. They were waiting for rescue on the highway overpass.
I remarked to some other prisoners watching the TV, “She’d be better off saving that water. If she thinks the authorities are on their way, she better think again.”
One of the inmates—a high-ranking corporate officer—chided me for my “radical” comment. “You think I’m wrong?” I said. “Well, I hope you’re right.” I wasn’t…
My civil rights activity in the Old South in the ‘60s, a couple of yrs on a chain-gang, and a vivid memory of a story I once read concerning another flood back circa 1929, gave me pause for there being much progressive change…especially among conservative authoritarians.
In fact, many of the very same calls that were made by the Confederacy leading up to the Civil War, are being called for today by Republicans and Tea Bagger advocates–such as states’ rights, etc.
The story I read was of a previous evacuation of New Orleans. As whites boarded the steamboat for the ride further north—despite it being only half-full, with many blacks waiting at the dock—the steamboat pulled away. As it did so, there was a band on the rear deck playing, “Bye Bye Blackbird.”Remember the news stories of all the black snipers? Rapists in the Superdome? Never happened. The organized, high-end looting were by police—at least those that had not already deserted. Shootings: Almost exclusively police. Most civilians were busy trying to survive.
A couple of the more egregious criminal actions by police, the subject of current trials and sentencings, are the murders of civilians on the Danziger Bridge, and the murder and burning of Henry Glover. Both actions also involve the use of false evidence and cover-ups by other police.
In the Danziger Bridge murders, Officer Michael Hunter pled guilty and was sentenced on Wednesday (Dec. 1st) to 8 yrs in federal prison. Judge Sarah Vance went 9 months over the Guidelines in describing the murders as “shockingly brutal.”
The other six cops are awaiting trial or sentencing, two charged with planting evidence and writing false reports.
In the Henry Glover case, 5 more police are on trial. After he was shot at a mall by someone only later identified as a cop, 3 of Glover’s friends took him to a local police office for emergency care. They ignored Glover and beat the three friends.
Two of the cops then took drove Glover in his car to a more remote wooded area and set the vehicle on fire with him in it. They claim he was already dead. Two Lieutenants are charged with covering the whole incident up.
With persistent victims and witnesses, and the intrepid investigations of journalists, neither of these two crimes would have been revealed. What else has been missed. Clearly there was an atmosphere of unrestrained criminality by police. What they often accuse of others.
So, in a criminal state, who’s watching the watchers?