Thursday, February 26, 2009

the law

See, here’s what your answer should be anytime someone uses the old ‘what are you afraid of, if you’ve done nothing wrong’ argument, when it comes to security and police: cops are humans. They are humans who make mistakes, often deadly ones. And, I will even go so far as to say that, as a very general rule, the type of person who goes into law enforcement is someone who is by nature unimaginative, narrow-minded, and prone to think within certain linear terms that have already been laid out for him.

Yes, there are cool cops. I’m sure there are brilliant thinkers out there who happen to be in law enforcement. But generally speaking, these people are the least evolved of us, the dim gatekeepers of the Black and White, without nuance, without gray areas, without imagination. They are the monkeys who are well-equipped to prevent our own violent monkey nature from boiling over, or to stop it when it does erupt. But frankly they are not good for much more than that.

And here’s the problem: to this type of thinker, Black and White is all he knows, or can know. To him, because he is the law, that which he does is justified, much like the famous Nixon argument: “I’m saying if the president does it, then it’s not illegal.”

So here we have a trio of Atlanta police officers, on their way to prison for killing a 92-year-old woman. The scary part is they had a no-knock warrant--albeit obtained illegally, but then, one must wonder how many illegally obtained warrants we never hear about. When the woman heard the officers knocking down her door,

‘A terrified Johnston, thinking she was victimized by a home invasion, fired a warning shot through the door. Narcotics officers responded with a hail of gunfire, killing her.’

The officers went on to plant marijuana in the home in order to make it appear as if they had justification (um, how?) in slaying this woman in cold blood.

The story goes on to tell the sad tale of these poor officers feeling pressured:

‘The FBI also found performance quotas of nine arrests and two search warrants a month expected of officers, McKenney said. Officers who failed to meet their quotas risked being transferred, he said. This helped explain, Carnes said, why Smith, Junnier and Tesler — devoted family men and who gave selflessly to the communities — began cutting corners through lies. “The pressures brought to bear” by the quotas had an impact on Smith, Junnier and Tesler, as well as other officers, Carnes said.’

Aw. Poor guys. Devoted family men who lied, planted evidence, and murdered a 92-year-old woman.

And with the ongoing erosion of our fourth amendment rights, don't expect this sort of thing to go away anytime soon. Here's what's really bugging me, though: if one of these cops hadn't broken down and admitted to the feds what happened--in exchange for a lighter sentence--this might never have come to light. We might have read about 'Elderly Woman Killed in Drug Raid,' and simply bought the story the cops offered up. If you or I or my neighbor has their door kicked in tomorrow, and the cops give us their explanation of what the person was doing wrong, how many of us even think for a second? How many of us just go, 'Oh. Drugs, huh?' and move on without a second thought?

Stories like this make you wonder how many people have died or gone to prison based on nothing more than some cop's tiny penis and his need to impress his boss.

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