If you have "no place to go," come here!

When read "rabid cops" I wondered what Xenophon could possibly be refering to?

Xenophon's picture

No BIO they aren't transposed. But thank you for reading. The dissonance is intentional. I'm not very good for link hounds. It's meant to highlight a much larger blind spot that is at the source of our current dilemma. We can't see what's going on because we are so used to our conventional scripts. The police are good and just doing their job, while anyone carrying a gun and daring to fire on officers is clearly insane. Have you ever stopped to ask why a man would do such an obviously insane thing? What the fuck was he thinking? Aside form the cliché formula of “he's criminal” or “there is simply no excuse for resisting arrest or killing police officers” has anyone looked into what the fuck is going on over there in Oakland, or the country, that this level of insanity occurs. We won't mention that the army is requiring soldiers to register private weapons they have off base. Or that soldiers are being targeted for gun confiscation upon return from service.

This article is based on the following premise: the primary evolutionary impetus for street gangs is their need to defend themselves from police. The level of gang violence, organization and tactical and strategic sophistication directly mirrors the escalation in militarization of the police force they encounter. So that when one sees a 4:1 kill ratio it is a cause for concern. But the primary question is what the fuck are the police doing in Oakland to instigate that level of violence?

At first blush people will say that's bullshit! Those thugs and hoodlums should obey the law – there is no excuse. And they are right but by the same logic they will not extend that sentiment to logical conclusions drawn from the answers to the following questions – where did the guns come from? Where did the drugs come from? And where the hell did the money go? The answer to those questions lead back to the police, the federal government, and the very banks we are bailing out. See the link concerning Catherine Fitts.

While much has been said of the late Mr. Mixton and his failed attempt at surviving, evading, resisting and escaping, nothing has been mentioned about Oscar Grant or why he is dead. Though it is tempting and convenient to imagine him as in the wrong place at the wrong time, another black person suffering because of the actions of a few lawless hoodlums – after all the police officer was in fear of his life. What if that guy had a gun ... I thought he had a gun. After all accidents, tragic though they may be, happen. I'm not “demonizing those whose job it is to protect the law-abiding.”

what I am doing is revealing a terrible parallelism that exists in your day to day thinking.

While bringiton argued that “It is wrong, morally and tactically and factually, to view the poor blacks of Oakland collectively as somehow inherently evil or unworthy or malicious.” He also argued that

“It is wrong, morally and tactically and factually, to view them [police] collectively as the enemy of the masses or as nothing more than tools of the elite.”

We'll set aside for a moment the disturbing reality that there are those in modern America who equate poverty and race (really race) with inherent evil, lack of human worth, and outright malice. What disturbs me is the naiveté with which we throw out the argument that police officers are “just doing their job.” We'll ignore the fact that while race is not a choice, the pursuit of a life's occupation and conduct within it are choices. But for the sake of argument we'll assume that becoming an officer of the law is just like being born a phenotype coded socially as race.

Since Carissa lacks the empathic imagination to see why a man might make the decision Mr. Mixton did let's look at the Oakland system of policing of which the deceased were a part.

Enter Aaron Cohen, a veteran of Israel's counter-terrorism unit and the Israeli Military. Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Cohen is here to “train” the Oakland police, especially the Bay Area Regional Transit police, on how to deal with “terrorists” (this is where you read black and brown folk). Back in 2006 Mr. Cohen trained the officers of Oakland how to “deal with terrorists” because as he put it "You guys don't have experience dealing with terrorism the way we do. It's not expected."

So in March

“BART Police wrapped up four days of intensive anti-terror training on Sunday, led by an Israeli commando who has been training police agencies all over the country. His goal was to teach the officers what they needed " so they can take [a threat] down as quickly as possible, and obviously if they need[ed] to respond with lethal force.”

So what exactly is the experience of the IDF in dealing with terrorists threats. We'll look to the soldiers who served in Gaza, not those who had qualms about morally questionable orders to shoot women, children and unarmed civilians (though they did it any way ... “I was just following orders”). We want to look at the best and brightest in counter terrorist practices, the snipers and storm troopers, those people like our Mr. Cohen. You know the soldiers that wear shirts like these (none are brown of course) - link

T-shirts are emblazoned with "dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques". One, which the paper says was a sharpshooter's T-shirt, shows a pregnant Arab woman with a bullseye superimposed on her belly, accompanied by the slogan "1 shot, 2 kills," another shirt for infantry snipers is inscribed "Better use Durex" next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby with his weeping mother beside him. One fine Israeli soldier said "These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out." link

Oh well if this is just for shits and giggles ... then sure, that's fine. It's not like that has any consequences in your day job.

It's not like we in the US are modeling our police force after the humanitarian (not) IDF we have (had) Posse Comitatus why would we militarize our police force?:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) brought 18 senior law enforcement executives to Israel November 2-11, 2007 to learn counterterrorism tactics and strategies from senior commanders in the Israel Police and Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Link

So what can a law abiding citizen expect from Oakland's “finest” ?

Kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, assault under color of authority and filing false police reports are among the most serious charges stemming from a three-month investigation into accusations that officers in West Oakland were beating suspects and planting evidence, an attorney for one of the officers said yesterday. Link

The four officers face a combined 63 felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly beating, kidnapping or falsely arresting at least 10 men in West Oakland over a THREE WEEK PERIOD last summer in the largest crackdown against police corruption in Oakland history. Prosecutors have dismissed charges in about 40 cases in which the officers arrested people, and county public defenders said they have found at least 300 questionable drug arrests linked to the four. Link

You know normal police shit. Any police officer that does not stop this kind of criminal conduct and corruption should turn in their badge and gun. But of course after the Oakland police had been trained by Mr. Cohen that all changed just ask Oscar Grant.

If the police were doing their job half the police force would be in jail. But they don't they choose to remain silent, or they choose to ruin those with integrity who would stop it, or they choose rob, steal, and kill under the cover of a badge but all are complicit, all are guilty. Ask any cop how many of his or her fellow officers he has put in jail?

Bringiton their job is not to uphold the law, it is to protect property and citizens. In that order. The masses don't have property (just look at your mortgage) and citizenship ain't what it used to be. You may not understand it now but you will. When they kick in your door because you live in government housing (anyone with a mortgage now lives in government housing) you will begin to understand, when the stop you from speaking freely in defense of your rights, you'll understand. When they monitor your every word and action ... maybe you won't understand.

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Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and your view of who is being served and protected differs from mine.

Do you remember the story of Serpico?

I came over here intending to put up a post asking why John Yoo is still walking around free. John Yoo said that should the President so order, it would be fine to torture someone -- by torturing their children in front of their eyes. He put no limits on that torture. John Yoo belongs behind bars, for the rest of his natural life; he's a psychopath, using any definition of the term -- even a yes-man without a spine would not advocate, as Yoo did, entitling interrogators to torture children in front of their parents.

Yet the University of California at Berkeley -- BERKELEY, for catsakes -- cannot determine that his extracurricular work deserves censure or punishment. They say only it "may" despite their own conduct code for UC Berkeley faculty (which)

states that criminal convictions could result in discipline, but it is less explicit about other transgressions. But some, including Berkeley law Dean Christopher Edley and a top faculty leader, have said they could punish Yoo regardless of whether he is tried and convicted in a court.

"A criminal conviction is not necessary," said Christopher Kutz, a law professor and vice chairman of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate. But discipline based on anything less is "new territory, and it's dangerous territory," Kutz said.

A Justice Department spokesman said the federal investigation into Yoo's role is ongoing. He declined to estimate when the inquiry would wrap up.

Edley, who was on President Barack Obama's transition team and who has held positions in two Democratic administrations, said he and others on campus are conflicted about how to handle Yoo. Asked whether the issue has put him in a tough spot, Edley was unequivocal: "That's an understatement."

But this is happening in Berkeley; John Yoo is a tenured law professor at Berkeley. Berkeley has for all my life been the center of the left in academe. So perhaps it isn't just the Oakland police who are lurching toward Armageddon, and taking us all with them. Maybe it's the nation, and we're following California.

Gangs go back to the beginning of urban life, Xenophon. Urchins roamed London in Dickens' day, doing the bidding of puppet-master small-time hoods like the fictionally-monikered Fagin. Pickpocket "gypsy" kids still make the news in Rome today; but it wasn't until the USA, mostly after WWI, that you started to see criminals with Tommy guns. Guys like Capone (and the guys who glamorized them in movies and books -- Edward G. Robinson, Jimmy Cagney) and Clyde Barrow became not infamous but famous; they weren't looked upon as crooked, but as heroic. They didn't just pack heat -- they carried enough weaponry to create massacres.

In response to that the cops upped their level of armament; sometime in the mid-'70s, Special Weapons And Tactics teams became de rigeur among "progressive" and "up to date" local police departments. Not just in big cities like NYC and LA and Chicago, either -- in medium-size cities like Orlando and Kokomo and Midland/Odessa.

The old Steve Forrest TV show about SWAT now seems innocuous indeed; a cookie wagon and a half-dozen Kevlar-clad specialists in fast-attack tactics are so old-fashioned a SWAT unit they're genuinely quaint. Nowadays you've got one-horse towns sporting tanks, and sniper teams and explosives specialists everywhere from Tom Clancy's fantasy world to the Friday night CBS prime-time lineup. It's not just telescopes being weaponized -- it's mathematics.

As happened between the US and the USSR, the changes in one side's tactics or armaments (for the purposes of this essay, the cops' adaptation of SWAT theory and equipment) creates a (short-lived) advantage. So the gangs bought bigger guns, faster guns, more guns; the bad guys started showing up to heists carrying what amounted to combat-assault unit weapons loads, and that was for simple thefts. The cops couldn't let themselves be outgunned, because if they did their bosses, the mayors, wouldn't look tough on crime to the voters.

Tough on crime was, of course, what you had to look in The War on Drugs (and Gangs). What you didn't have to look, as a mayor, was like somebody who gave a damn that school buildings leaked like sieves on their overcrowded student bodies -- especially in neighborhoods where those students went home to tenements or projects and single parents and poverty, in neighborhoods where jobs were scarcer than hens' teeth and predation (protection rackets, numbers and other gambling, prostitution, dope-peddling, petty larceny, and grand theft) substituted as the local economy. The mayors didn't care that kids went to bed hungry, or moms worried about drive-bys -- as long as the kids weren't in Brentwood or Denton County.

Those things could be brushed aside as "social programs" or "entitlements" and, from Reagan onward, denied under the "personal responsibility" rubric that codified "welfare Cadillacs" into the national consciousness, giving us all the impression that the only legitimate expenditures in government were toward better armed forces and more vigilant defense.

Defense of what, we weren't supposed to ask. Certainly Drug Task Forces and the near-ubiquitous use of RICO laws to confiscate property (for the benefit of the PDs and SOs doing the confiscating) were "tough on crime." But, lo and behold, even sending wholesale lots of nonviolent brown and black people to prison didn't actually stop the sale of dope in white kids' schools, or their parents' workplaces (and yet, we never considered that the dope got there largely at white hands, 'cause white hands and white faces and white voices didn't stand out, weren't easy to identify and were even less likely to be betrayed by snitches) -- and the fear ratcheted up another notch every time a "Traffic" or a "Lethal Weapon" movie came out; the overcrowded prisons, under Federal mandates, developed what amounted to revolving doors, and we saw really ridiculous sentences handed down in an effort to keep truly dangerous people -- murderers, for example -- off the street. Then California came up with another brilliant idea (have we adequately thanked California yet for "no more taxes"?) -- "three strikes and you're out." So guys on parole could get life for stealing slices of pizza.

The War on Drugs goes back to Nixon -- but before that, there was a rich man who wanted to make money on his paper mills. To that end he lobbied and bribed and spewed propaganda, and as a result it became illegal in the US to grow hemp.
Not just marijuana, but hemp -- the plant from which can come rope, paper, cloth, oil. I can't remember now if it was William Hearst or Pulitzer who did this to preserve the wealth in his California pulpwood and paper mills, but it was one or 'tother. "Reefer madness" sprang largely out of his imagination, and the tales Brit veterans brought back about hashashin (the term we morphed into "assassin") in (Gasp!) Araby.

Must go for now. More later.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Another very provocative post definitely worth a read, but I take issue with this in particular:

This article is based on the following premise: the primary formative impetus for street gangs is their need to defend themselves from police.

This may have been the major impetus at the period of creation of large-scaled organized gangs, and is still true to some extent, now, as a secondary/lower-tiered truth (and depending on where you live, the reason may be higher or lower on your scale), but to totally simplify it to that impetus, today, for most gangs, just isn't the case, anymore. More than that, street gangs are now created to defend themselves against other street gangs. It is for little to no higher reason that that, these days, and even other times the impetus is decidedly frivolous (i.e. materialism).

Gangland has long since taken on a (false) reality of its own. To be sure, in recent times, new gang members don't know two shits about why street gangs got off the ground in the first place, and for most of these gang-bangers 2.0 the life is nothing more than a game, to them, if even the game is mortally riskier than say the game played by a banker in the upper-level rat race. Let it be said that contrary to popular belief the street class of this nation didn't escape being plugged into this American virtual reality experiment that passes as "reality," these days.

I can't speak for Oakland, specifically. But, at least up here in Michigan, our recently organized gangs have shown themselves to be frivolous. But, in more general terms, the purpose of most of gangland has been watered down just like every other organization in the Greater American society, and like most other American institutions, they've forgotten who they were originally organized to protect.

As for the reality of how law enforcement operates versus how they are supposed to operate, I'll leave that for others to discuss.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

My head is spinning, and my ass is dragging. Been digging dirt and planting gardens for the last several weeks and apparently some of my parts are not as resilient as they used to be.

I'll come back tomorrow and we'll talk some more about Oakland specifically and the drivers in general. The Grant case doesn't interest me just now, we'll know more perhaps when it goes to trial, but if you like I'll voice an opinion on that too.

Sarah, please put up that Yoo post. It is a good discussion topic, much to be learned about how we on the Left manage our own processes. Not to worry about Cal; there hasn't been a lurch to the Right by the faculty, not at all.

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

Check the reformulation see how it works. I'm thinking of MS-13 and the changes in the 5 and 6 order nations during this current war.

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

I appreciate the chronology. We were born a nation of psychopaths. But we can be better. Problem is we're running out of time. We have a brigade in place from Iraq to quell domestic disturbance, military police units appearing in AL and the chief executives of the country, city and state are asking who called the play, base commanders are issuing orders and then rescinding them because of lack of authority, flight crews are losing nuclear missiles and neoconservative evangelicals have taken over the air force academy, space defense and cyber warfare units of our military.

All this while a non-governmental entity (read Federal Reserve) has shut down congress and has the executive branch whining like a bitch. Summer is coming, this is Oakland, this is California, you know Watts, the Panthers in the state capital - a brigade they brought in Sarah - a brigade. Unemployment is at 10% and climbing, oil is about to go through the roof, food is about to get scarce.

Oddly enough this all looks like the ghetto. Pick any post 1968, burned out hulk of a black urban center during the 1980's. Why does Detroit make Robocop prophetic?

Did I forget to mention that KBR built "centers" for FEMA?

Think of it this way. You have a work force of three hundred million. A customer base of three billion. All you need is to control labor. Lower the standard of living and control for insurrection.

This is what the country was founded on.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

The have-mores can't get enough to put it to use, and the have-nots can't get enough to get by on.

Pitchforks, torches and nooses are as overdue on Wall Street as inside the Beltway, if you ask me.

But that doesn't mean every single guy in a PD uniform, or an SO suit, is a psychopath -- or a crook. Come right down to it you'll have a few of the real crooks deliberately keeping some of their uniformed brethren in the dark (as is the case in politics all too often, banking or software development or defense contracting time and time and time again) in order to both maximize their own profit and minimize the likelihood of being caught / turned in / made to pay for their crimes.

Or don't you remember Enron either?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Your complex presentation here makes a single reply more than I can manage and stay within the bounds of "prolix" so I'm gonna break this down into multiple comments.

Broad strokes: Agreed completely that this country - Western Civ in general - is run by and in the favor of the rich. I was born and raised poor, one generation out of the coal mines and the farm. I went to work full time when I was 14, and busted my hump all my life trying to scratch out a living while the system worked to hold me down, as it does all poor people. Got it.

Agreed completely that the richest people are the most powerful influences in this country and have control of the political process, the military, the police, the courts, and every lever of power available, and the rest of us are systematically exploited by them, same as it ever was. Got it.

Agreed without objection that people of color and blacks in general get the short end of the stick, when they get anything at all, and that racism is endemic to the culture of this country as is sexism. Got it.

And still, there is the issue of personal responsibility that cannot be subsumed under the blanket of general societal responsibility. If violent criminals like Lovelle Mixon aren't responsible for the choices they make or the acts they commit, and four good and decent people like Sgt. Mark Dunakin, Sgt. Erv Romans, Sgt. Dan Sakai, and Officer John Hege are held to be responsible for what Mixon has done, then there is no rational basis within which we can have a discussion much less try to solve the huge problems that face us, because such a construct is completely irrational.

Dunakin, Romans, Sakai and Hege never had any contact with Mixon before he killed them. They never had any dealings with the Riders group of criminal Oakland cops you cited above. They don't have any history of abuse under color of authority. They don't have any history at all besides responsibly doing their jobs and quietly raising their families.

They certainly aren't responsible for how Lovelle Mixon lived his life, and they certainly didn't deserve to die at his hand.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Lovelle Mixon was born into sorrow. He was raised in a fractured family, barely able to support and sustain itself. He struggled in school, in a system without sufficient resources to deal with his evident learning disabilities, in a system where without direct and persistent parental involvement the poor and disadvantaged are left to fend for themselves, to flounder and to fail.

By the time he was in his teens he had already decided that the thug life was his best option. In a city where unemployment for young blacks is well over 30% and under-employment for them is nearly universal, the cash and the bling and the respect he could get immediately from running the streets and dealing drugs was irresistible especially for a young boy with poor impulse control and lax adult supervision. (Caveat; when you have to work 16 hours a day seven days a week just to buy food and pay the rent, watching the kids takes a back seat. Having children in that setting is another question, but poor impulse control and the inability to formulate long-range plans is endemic to the culture of the poor in every society.)

At the age of 19 Mixon found himself in San Francisco, broke and with nobody to call to get him back home across the bay, so he did what any well-armed young thug would do - he carjacked some innocent civilian at gunpoint. Thanks to a series of truly stupid blunders and his inability to keep his mouth shut he got caught, and was sentenced to six years for assault with a deadly weapon in October of 2002.

In October of 2007, after a stint in the state Substance Abuse Treatment Program, he was back on the streets under parole. He went right back to the life. Two months later, on December 30, 2007, he shot and killed 42-year-old Ramon Stevens on the corner of International Boulevard and 86th Avenue in Oakland over a $30 drug debt. Killed a man, for A Thirty Dollar Debt, just to keep his street cred.

No witnesses would testify, but as a felon on parole the cops could roust him and they did, finding stolen property, drugs and paraphernalia, forged checks and stolen ID. Arrested on February 5, 2008 he went back to prison for nine months to finish his sentence from 2002, with a plea bargain foregoing the additional felonies in return for extended parole supervision. That was a bad deal for everyone, but CA's prisons are overcrowded and the pressure to make deals even with violent criminals is overwhelming. In this regard, the Oakland and Chicago justice systems are very similar indeed.

Mixon was back on the streets in November of 2009, broke and without a job. His family, all of whom surely loved him and hoped for the best for him, say he wanted to get straight but they simply did not have the wherewithal to help him with anything but encouragement. He got no help from the state; our parole system is completely overwhelmed with more than 100 parolees per case worker, and there are few private or NGO programs to help convicted felons find training and new jobs. We are good at arresting and convicting and warehousing, but our system of rehabilitation is worse than a bad joke.

So Mixon went back to doing what he knew best. When he was pulled over he was still unemployed but driving a new Buick with 22-inch rims, packing a full automatic rifle with plenty of ammunition, and talking on a cell phone - quite a collection of goods for a man who had no visible or legitimate means of making any money to acquire in just four months.

He'd blown off his last required PO meeting so there was, as he knew, a warrant out for his arrest. According to his family that was a deliberate tactic, a way to get back inside the prison system for reasons they can't quite explain; the dysfunctionality, the inability to formulate coherent and practicable plans, was not Lovelle's alone.

When he was pulled over he knew hard time was coming his way, again, and instead of going willingly, instead of taking what he had coming, he chose to kill four innocent people and trigger his own death. Fear? Insanity? A rational transaction to escape the nightmare of his reality? I don’t believe anyone can even guess.

The murder of these four cops was nothing more than a continuation of his established pattern of violent behavior, of his disregard for the rights of others including property and life. Whose fault is that? His parents? His family? His wife? The city? The county? The state? The country? The four dead cops? You and me?

Or is it his? It is a tough life in Oakland; the city is all fucked up. The country is all fucked up, yet most of us don't go around shooting people and jacking cars. Most of us find some other way to get through life without leaving a trail of massive destruction and pain and death for others. That the rich don't live by those rules is no excuse; doing what we know is wrong isn't OK regardless of who else is doing it.

You won't find much sympathy out here for Lovelle Mixon, and that is a shame; surely he deserved more help with his issues along the way, and we as a society failed to even make it available much less coerce him into taking it. Still, the people of Oakland are not at war with the police in spite of what you may have read in the MSM press. There have been many demonstrations by the residents over the last several years seeking more police on the streets. Go to any city council meeting and you will hear citizens demanding more police, better schools, after-school safe recreation, jobs programs, adult education, skills training, but what you won't hear is a demand for more thugs. Got plenty of those already.

We can't blame the four dead cops, who were only doing what the law-abiding decent citizens of Oakland wanted them to do. You have raised many good points about how through society we fail ourselves, about how we have let the rich devastate our neighborhoods and cities and destroy hope and the future. You may even be right about the possibility of a military/police state armed takeover, although I doubt it, but arguing your case from the standpoint that these four dead cops are to blame for Lovelle Mixon will I assure you fall on deaf ears, the very ears of the people you are trying to persuade and arouse.

That is why I say it is a tactical error, never mind factually and morally wrong. If you want to mobilize the masses, you cannot do it by arguing that they need to blame the only people they can count on to come running when they are being shot at and terrorized. They will not listen, they will not heed, and they will not hear your greater message.

Lovelle Mixon is a poster child for much of what is wrong with contemporary society, as both a victim and a perpetrator. Those four dead cops, however, are not and trying to make them so will only serve to drive away the attention of the very people you need to convince of your larger concerns.

Stay on the message, Dear Brother Xenophon, by all means, please do. But find a better metaphor; bunch of thugs shooting up the 'hood and killing cops is not going to solve our problems and nobody decent feels sorry for them when they get arrested or killed.

[Mixon background link here, other details from assorted Mixon friends and family interviews on TV. So sad, so horrible, and all too typical start to finish.]

[If you want to follow Oakland politics closely, I can recommend the Oakland Tribune. Seems strange even after all these years to write that, back in the day they were my implacable enemy, but times change and the Trib has become a singular source of sanity and liberal critique under the McClatchy organization. One solid journalist among many who specializes in Oakland crime and culture is Paul Rosynsky, who can be reached at or 510-208 -6455.]

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I can definitely get with the general feel of that post, and as a believer in non-violence, I really don't have a choice but to condemn crimes like this. I'm also not a "fuck the police" type guy, but I do have to take issue with this one, particular paragraph:

Lovelle Mixon is a poster child for much of what is wrong with contemporary society, as both a victim and a perpetrator. Those four dead cops, however, are not...

Now, I really do not want to cast aspersions on any of the dead, here, but does your assurance that they weren't a part of the dysfunction of our society an assurance you've built up from knowing these men, or an assurance based on our societies irrational worship of law enforcement? I do not know these policemen's records, personally, but, in general, this society is built upon undue deference to law enforcement. At least in my book, unless particular officers have personal records worth respect, I can see both Mixon and police culture as part of this nation's social dysfunction.

I often get the feeling that the unshaklable respect for law enforcement often comes from the irrational belief that simply throwing oneself into the profession of law enforcement somehow starts one off at a higher station in, or worth to, society, and I simply can't agree with such a sweeping generalizations. It's really the Law of the Benefit of Good Intentions that seems to govern so many people's worldview that I can't comfortably always get behind, and often many folks intentions for enterting the profession aren't even good ones, or far more complicated than many assume.

Now, again, I'm not going to conclude that these officers were even part of the problem in this whole thing, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to conclude that they weren't, either, without evidence of an exemplary career/history. In my book, no human being gets automatic immunity from being accused of shirking their societal roles just because of the profession they chose.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Something American about me, I take seriously the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing and apply it indiscriminately. I think that most people, most of the time, try to do the right thing and that's been my experience all around the world inlcuding with the Oakland PD under very trying circumstances. Of the hundreds of Oakland PD, only a few have turned out to be bad actors. The same incidence prevails, I'll wager, in all walks of life.

If you, or anyone, has evidence of wrongdoing by these officers, I haven't seen it and unless you've got it then you haven't any right to cast unfounded aspersions. What you're suggesting is guilt by association and I have no respect for that line of argument at all.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Why all of the venom when I was actually engaging you honestly and openly, this time? It wasn't an attack by any means, and I gave Xeno the same type of question for the other direction. I made it quite clear that I'm not a "fuck the police" type guy, and I do not believe in what Xeno has done by indicting them without knowing their record. Not only that, but I think you read my post entirely incorrectly.

Again and again I said that I wasn't grouping these particular officers into any group having not personally known their records, but rather was asking why you're so sure that they weren't part of the problem? How you got out of that that I was trying to play a guilt by association game is beyond me. My point was that unless you know the history of these officers that there is no way to simply conclude that they didn't share in the dysfunction of our society and the local society in Oakland.

Really, BIO, WTF? This is an excellent example of why I engage you so little, here. Even when I go out of my way to be thoughtful, with you, you give me the same shitty responses. What's the point, then?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

that this:

Again and again I said that I wasn't grouping these particular officers into any group

and this:

unless you know the history of these officers that there is no way to simply conclude that they didn't share in the dysfunction of our society and the local society in Oakland.

do not converge?

Presumption of guilt, guilt by association, demand for proof of a negative to establish innocence...need I go on?

And then:

This is an excellent example of why I engage you so little, here. Even when I go out of my way to be thoughtful, with you, you give me the same shitty responses. What's the point, then?

Beats hell out of me. Weren't you headed off to annoy lambert to the point that he'd ban you? What happened with that? Are you always so lax in keeping your vows? If you'd kept that promise this exchange wouldn't have to be taking place. How much happier then we'd both be.

[No need to reply, that was all rhetorical.]

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

with one brush, Damon. Here's the wording that gave me that idea:

My point was that unless you know the history of these officers that there is no way to simply conclude that they didn't share in the dysfunction of our society and the local society in Oakland.

I don't know where you live. I live in Texas, and the cop shop in my town is as effed up as any 225,000-plus city's cop shop in Texas gets.

I suspect Oakland's is about that effed-up, too; parts of it may be worse (like some PDs and SOs in Texas are worse, some better. I have personal firsthand experience with Dallas PD which suggests to me that, like most public service agencies, they're undermanned, underfunded, and overwhelmed with work.

Doesn't mean every officer in that uniform or carrying that badge is a crook, just 'cause that officer's behind that badge or in that uniform. Same thing applies in Oakland, I bet.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Xeno writes:

While bringiton argued that “It is wrong, morally and tactically and factually, to view the poor blacks of Oakland collectively as somehow inherently evil or unworthy or malicious.” He also argued that

“It is wrong, morally and tactically and factually, to view them [police] collectively as the enemy of the masses or as nothing more than tools of the elite.”

We'll set aside for a moment the disturbing reality that there are those in modern America who equate poverty and race (really race) with inherent evil, lack of human worth, and outright malice. What disturbs me is the naiveté with which we throw out the argument that police officers are “just doing their job.” We'll ignore the fact that while race is not a choice, the pursuit of a life's occupation and conduct within it are choices. But for the sake of argument we'll assume that becoming an officer of the law is just like being born a phenotype coded socially as race.

Why would anyone assume anything as absurd as that? I wouldn't. Of course race is not elective, nor is being born into poverty, while choice of profession certainly is. But none of those facts is germane to my argument.

What I'm asserting is that blanket accusations of perfidy across any group is unjustified and wrong unless there is substantial proof to support it (see, for a valid instance, members of the Republican Party). No such proof exists for the police in modern times. We aren't by any means as exposed to police abuse of authority as is any other society in the world today, or any society at all in the past. Citizen control over local policing is at an historic all-time high, not a low, and nothing that is currently happening makes me believe that will change for the worse.

While there are exceptions, in small towns as well as in cities, I am entirely confident that the vast majority of police are in their profession specifically because they want to make a positive contribution to society and would be appalled at any attempt at martial law absent valid Constitutional provisions. Your estimation from your personal experiences may certainly vary.

To fulfill their duties the police routinely put their lives on the line, a level of pressure that most of us will never experience. That dedication doesn't make them godlike or deserving of obsequiousness, but it does deserve some measure of respect. Oddly, or not, I have a soft spot for folks who are willing to take a bullet for me and am willing to look past the kind of dark humor that exists within any high-pressure profession.

It is the blanket condemnation of the police that I object to, just as you rightly condemn as "disturbing" the reality that in this day and age there is still blanket bias against people based on race or economic status. All of them are wrong.

A Progressive agenda is as beneficial to the police as it would be to all working people. They should be our allies, not our enemies, and we should start viewing them as potential allies instead of with enmity. Be the change, and all that.

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

I think this is the first time I've ever agreed with you whole-heartedly here. Thanks for an intelligent response to the original post. FWIW, I work in the legal system representing parents whose children have been taken away by the state. I've dealt with plenty of jerk cops, jerk social workers, jerk judges as well as seen this system at its worst. I also know a lot of cops (of all different personal and ethnic backgrounds) who are decent people truly trying to make a difference in a system in which humanity is not a priority.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

for my next post.

Nice that we've found a common ground, but somehow I'm sure things will soon return to normal :-)

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

But in my America, and the one you live in too, police brutality is on the rise. This is the same police that descended from the slave patrols (the earliest police force in America). The same profession that earns its money from the prison industrial complex by writing tickets and injecting people into the criminal justice system. This in a nation that incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. A country that plans prison construction on third grade reading scores. A country that writes laws to support the building of prisons and selectively enforces those laws to lock up a disproportionately large segment of a specific segment of the American population. These are the front line agents for an industry that grosses anywhere from 36 to 50 billion.

Yes I can paint them with the same broad brush. Why? Because they opted into the class. If you are a police officer your job is to keep the money flowing into the prison industrial system by locking people up. That's why the have quotas.

In order to live with their conscience they have to either be sick twisted bastards or in deep denial. America is the only place in the world with that much crime and that many threats to the social order? Seriously? You mean all the money involved has nothing to do with it?

Next you'll start spouting something about a thin blue line and Lizzy Proctor dancing with the devil.

If you've been a police officer for more than three years, your either an idiot, morally bankrupt, or self medicating to avoid the reality that you make your living enslaving people.

There are better ways to make a living. In America there is no nobility in policing, it's a dirty contemptible occupation.

Before you start off on the "but they protect me" line tell me how they make their money and who drives it and why even though violent crime is decreasing prison populations keep increasing. You tell me then, not what they tell you their job is but what the numbers, policy, and financial trail tell you their job is.

Then we can talk about what we need to change.

BTW, what ever happened to OSCAR GRANT??

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

In your construct, all of government serves the purposes of the ruling class. This is true.

You extrapolate that to mean that everyone employed by government, at every level, is either a willing or an unwitting tool of government oppression of the masses. Every cop, every soldier, every IRS agent, every CIA analyst, every foreign service officer, every VA doc or nurse, our very own BDBlue, on and on; there can be no good people in government work, under any circumstances. This is not true.

I know lots of people in government, and many of them are my heroes. They've stuck it out through the Bush years, hell some of them since the Reagan years, quietly doing their thing the best they can and fighting the good fight from within. Thanks to them, things are a hell of a lot less destroyed that they would have been if my friends had bailed out so as to not be "compromised" by their employment.

People are just people, Xeno, and they don't suddenly become worse by being cops any more than people become worse by being lawyers or auto mechanics or used car salesmen. Some are awful; most are decent and do what they do for good reasons. That the greater system is rigged, against them as much as it is against you and I, isn't their fault any more than ours and it is absurd to say that it is or that they are unavoidably adulterated because they take the work. There is simply no justification for making that broad charge.

"police brutality is on the rise" Got some data to support that charge? I didn't just fall of the turnip truck. In my life, I've been on the receiving end of police attention as well as the FBI and some people in suits I never did figure out who they were. A couple of them were assholes, but then the checkout bagger at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago was an asshole too - crushed my bread. They're everywhere, assholes.

By far most of the cops were decent and fair and respectful and competent, including the guy who split my scalp. He was just frightened is all, and instead of whacking me again when I was down he moved on, a choice I am still grateful for. That second one would have really hurt.

I chose to put myself in harm's way, to be clear; I wasn't just some random black kid walking down the street minding my own business, so there is that and I don't have that perspective, but it doesn't make my experience somehow invalid and yours more valid. Just different, that's all.

The system is rigged, no question. That doesn't indict all of the people who work in it. My experience is that most cops absolutely hate making arrests, and try their damnest to sort out conflict without doing so. It is the system that defines the law, not the police who enforce it. Change the system, change the law, and the police will shift their duties to fall in line with the new regime.

I don't know where you live, but for me I'd much rather have the cops around to hold down the freedom of street criminals to operate and especially to operate with violence. My Norteño amigos across the street do a good job of holding down trouble on this block, the thieves three doors down do their B&E jobs elsewhere, but if it weren't for the cops there'd be open warfare between them and other groups and that would sure as hell ruin this town.

The problems are big, systemic and deeply embedded. Of all of the people you could choose to blame that on, it isn't the cops. The people of Oakland aren't blaming those four dead cops; they're blaming lots of others, from Mixon to the rich to the penal system to the parole process and everyone in between, as they should, but not the cops. Thousands of people turned out today for a public memorial service on the block where they were killed, for many hours. But maybe they're all fools, like me.

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

I was with you until "there can be no good people in government work, under any circumstances."

Nope never argued that one. Plenty of good people in government. However, it is the police, with their executive function of initiating incarceration that I have issue with. Especially when the system is designed to enslave people. I'm not saying that as a rhetorical flourish. I mean that in the sense that the primary function of our criminal justice system is to wharehouse people for Whackenhut and CCA. There are other jobs in government. The police I can do without. Have done without. YOu keep assuming there job is to keep the peace. It isn't. By definition their job is to serve and protect, first property then citizenry. As the definition of citizen has evolved to include those without property the police have been slow to adapt.

Yes I hold the police accountable and in contempt. The corruption they have to turn a blind eye to in order to continue on their jobs violates the very oaths they take. I've seen entire neighborhoods handed over for to the gangs by the police because they hand either been intimidated or bought off. I've seen those same neighboorhoods self organize and reclaim their neighboorhoods without police aid. Without much violence.

How many police officers have to turn a blind eye for drugs and guns by the container load to entter a city? One damn officer of the law could arrest them. But no he or she can't. Not really so they ignore their oath and let it slide. And later claim, we stand between order and chaos. We are the thin blue line that maintains the rule of law in society - bullshit.

As for police brutality:

The police just keep making selective arrests and filling the jails, inflating the stock price of CCA, KBR, TASER, Whackenhut; inflating federal budgets, and imagining that they are somehow not directly responsible.

IF your job is to enforce laws you know are wrong, unjust and serve no one except corporations for no other reason than to make a profit. I can't accept "well I'm just obeying the system." If that is how you choose to make your living. So be it. But don't expect me to sympathize with you. You made a choice to sacrifice either your morality, common sense, or integrity for a job.

I can't shed tears for you when you encounter an occupational hazzard. Just like Mr. Mixton I shed no tears for him, that was the life he chose, those four officers chose to wear a badge and a uniform. THey chose to uphold a system the knew to be unjust. That was the risk they took. They could have been fireman or garbage men, social workers ...

There are plenty good people in government. Doing great work. You just can't convince me in this day and age any of them are in the police.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Well, he's dead isn't he? For no good reason at all, apparently.

The guy who shot him was a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) cop. BART and Oakland PD are not the same, and not at all related by either administration or training. The admission qualifications and training for BART cops are much less than for any major city or county police department and the reasons for that are buried back in the distant past when the feeling was that they'd be there to help direct little old ladies and retrieve lost children, not duke it out with armed thugs. Now they're fully armed, but no better selected and no better trained.

I'm not interested now in going over this one in detail. Eventually more information will come out, and when they do we can try to make more sense of it. As things are, there are more questions than answers.

The story making the rounds here is that the cop mistakenly drew his gun instead of his taser. Hard to believe, but the public videos support the story so far as the other cop that had hold of Grant suddenly stepped away and then you hear the shot, after which the shooter looked up with a stunned look on his face. Hard to believe, but frightened people do desperate things sometimes without thinking and maybe that is what happened here.

No sense trying to make it into a racial thing, everyone on that train and on the platform was black just like the victim. The shooter has no history of violence, in or out of uniform, and lots of positive testimonials from teachers and neighbors. Maybe it was deliberate, for some unfathomable reason, or maybe it was a tragic accident. We'll know more when the testimony begins or when evidence is released if he pleads.

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

by Robert Neuwirth

I spent 24 hours in the slammer the other day. My crime? Well, the police couldn’t tell me when they locked me up. The prosecutor and judge couldn’t either, when I was arraigned the following day. I found out for myself when I researched the matter a few days after being released: I had been cited for walking my dog off the leash – once, six years ago. Link