Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Cops on my Beat

My latest gripe is Cops who abuse their authority and are trigger happy or totally nonresponsive to legitimate complaints.

A few weeks ago a woman living in my city, Long Beach, Ca. with a five year old son who had been picked up at a nursery school by her Father who had no custody rights shot the child to death in broad daylight and wounded the Mother. The Mother had called the police a couple of hours earlier to say her husband had taken the child out of daycare and she was worried as he had no right to do this. When the woman explained that she had no papers with her showing she had sole custody, the officer talking to her said they had no authority to do anything. She said the papers were at her home in another nearby city. The husband called the woman and asked her to pick him up. She wanted the police there but they wouldn'd come. The bottomline is the 5 year son is dead and the wife barely escaped with her life.

Then the officer interviewed for the article in the Long Beach paper stated that women should always carry their custody papers on them wherever they go if they would like to avoid similar outcomes. Unbelievable, blaming the victim when the whole incident might have been avoided if the police had responded when called.

A Marine Cop (person who guards the shoreline public areas) in Long Beach shot a homeless man to death. The man had been scavenging in a garbage can near the Long Beach Aquarium. The cop told him to leave and the man went to get his bike. Somewhere in the process of leaving the man got mad and raised a bicycle chain and lock and swung it around. The Cop saw this as llfe threatening and shot him to death. The question is why wasn't less lethal force used?

A thirteen year old boy was shot to death in S. Central LA recently. He was driving a car that was not his. Instead of tailing him or cornering him in some way, the cops just started shooting and killed him.

A man in Compton who was driving a car recklessly over lawns in Compton and trying to avoid the police was barraged by a hail of bullets, over 100 shots which also hit houses and windows in the area. The man had no gun. The Cops said they felt threatened eventhough the man was trying to get away from them and had no weapon other than the car. It was miracle that the man and innocent people in the neighborhood were not dead. One Cop was injured by "friendly fire" as they call it and the case is under investigation. The driver was shot by four bullets but will survive.

In every instance, the people being pursued or asking for help were African-American. What is wrong with this picture? I think there is a link between Bush being in office and the attitude of so many police in this country.
Cops treating human life as though it is just garbage to be thrown away when they are under duress. Responding appropriately under duress is their job. I can't prove any of this is systematically the policy of law enforcement across the country. One wonders if the Abu Graib example is not linked to all this domestic violence by Cops right here in our own neighborhoods. If Bush and Cheney can rewrite the laws concerning human decency when prisoners of war are involved, so too can the Cops in our own backyards.

Yes, I know all these cases will be investigated and the outcome will be the same. Blame the Victim not the Cops. The Cops are the good guys, the dead guy or the woman asking for help were just irritants, thorns in the side of the Cops on my Beat.