I listened to this the other day. It is a recording of the aftermath of a police assault on the residence and person of Fay Wells in Santa Monica, an assault that was detailed in a Washington Post piece that has gotten quite a lot of play thanks to Black Lives Matter and the whole "national conversation" about race and policing.
Yes well. What a goon show.
I listened to this the other day while I was doing other things, so I might have missed some aspects of the to and fro between Ms Wells and her police assaulters, but damn. The po-po, they are so damn scared of so damn everything. So scared of so damn everyone. They behave as if they are mindless automata chasing their fears.
I mean, seriously, W. T. F.?
A man, possibly drunk or high, calls up 911 and says, "Hay, I'm watching some people break into a neighbor's apartment. Send someone over." So they do. Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen or nineteen officers (counts vary) and a police dog descend on the apartment allegedly being broken into. Chaos ensues.
Ms. Wells, wondering what in the hell is going on after being let into her apartment by the locksmith she had called (because she'd left her keys inside), goes to the window, sees a dog barking its fool head off and someone who doesn't identify himself (so she can understand at any rate) demanding that she come out with her hands up. He's got a gun and he's pointing it at her. What is she to do? Well, she comes out, as demanded, but she demands to know what is going on. Nobody says. Nobody will respond to her questions at all; they just hold their guns on her and order her downstairs, away from her apartment where she has her ID and the locksmith receipt and all of her personal possessions which the police now want to ransack. Because somebody called 911.
Well, now at least she knows they are police. At first, she didn't even know that because they were too scared to tell her, and -- apparently -- "protocol" doesn't require them to tell her until after she, the "subject" or suspect and the scene are "secure."
Well, no. That's not quite the case. They are required to announce themselves, which one of the officers says he did. Only he acknowledges that Ms Wells may not have heard his announcement over the damn fool barking of the police dog they were sending up the stairs first. They are required to announce; they are not required to respond to the suspect/subject.
She was trying to find out what was going on. They wouldn't tell her until after they were sure of their safety and the scene was secure to their satisfaction.
In other words, once Ms Wells was identified as a "suspect not in custody" (which I'll try to get to in a minute) she had no rights the police were obligated to respect or acknowledge. They could have beaten or killed her outright and gotten away with it simply by invoking the magic phrase: "Fearing for my life and the safety of others..." because they didn't know who she was or what form of violence she would perpetrate on them.
The count of the dead so far this year at the hands of police is edging ever closer to 1,100 and it will probably surpass it soon if it hasn't already. Many of those killed were unarmed and non threatening, but that doesn't matter when police are trained to be and expected to be scared of their own shadows. How hopped up on adrenaline and fear are they? Leaving steroid and other drug abuse out of the equation for the moment, from the discussion between Ms Wells and several of the officers in the recording, it's clear that Santa Monica PD officers live in constant holy terror every minute they are on duty. Every encounter is seen by them as a potentially deadly encounter -- for them; they really have no concern for civilian casualties -- and overwhelming force is their standard response to these ever-present threats they are in constant fear of.
The terror their actions impose on civilians is neither of interest nor concern to the police. The problem, as they see it, is entirely a matter of compliance -- immediate and complete compliance -- to the commands of police.
The civilian "suspect not in custody" has no rights -- at all. He or she may only obey or suffer the consequences, which can and too often does include summary execution.
Because the police are afraid, and their fright overrides every other consideration at all.
Time after time, her police interlocutors tell Ms Wells that since they didn't brutalize or kill her she should quit her bitchin'. Everything turned out "well," you see. Everyone's safe and no one got hurt.
Right? No.Not right at all. Her question is basically why were they approaching a clearly non-threatening situation as if it were an "active shooter" scenario, and why did they treat her with such disrespect?
Why, in other words, did they terrorize the shit out of her, and why did they not even bother to find out whether she lived there before they assaulted her?
Because what they did was an assault, in this case an armed assault, which, if civilians had done it would have led to serious jail time.
The answer she hears over and over but cannot accept is essentially, "We were scared."
They didn't know what was going on, you see, so they had to arrive at the scene in force, because they didn't know anything about the situation except that the caller had said someone was breaking in to a neighboring apartment. There could be hostages! There could be gangs and drugs and who knows what all! They could be armed and ready to shoot it out! There could be anything!!!!!
Never once did it occur to the police (at least not so far as I could tell from the recording) that a resident might have locked herself out of her apartment and called a locksmith to let her back in. That scenario, the correct scenario, did not enter their fevered, fear-filled minds. Not once. Instead it was all about the gangs and their fears and imaginings of hostages and gunfights and all the rest of the action movie or video game they seem to be living in.
Oh, how many times have we seen just this sort of fear-fever lead to tragedy? How many times? And how many more times is it going to happen before someone in a position of authority says, "STOP!"
The police are so riven by fear they cannot even imagine let alone process the notion that someone or some situation is not a threat to them. It's not even conceivable.
This attitude is what leads to so many deaths at the hands of police, just as it led to so many deaths of innocents in our various battlefields overseas. Hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis were killed on the roads and at checkpoints by scared-out-of-their-wits soldiers who saw drivers not in compliance or obedience to orders/commands which the Iraqis in many cases didn't understand -- if they were issued at all -- as terrorists. This happened over and over and over again, and the response of one general was, "Well, maybe if we kill enough of them at checkpoints they'll learn to obey."
Disobedience="terrorist" in the minds of police and soldiers. Oh. Suspects not in custody are by definition mortal threats to police and soldiers, and they are to be neutralized by any means necessary including lethal force.
At one time in Iraq, soldiers were authorized to shoot and kill any Iraqi they saw -- or thought they saw -- with a gun, under any and all circumstances. An armed Iraqi was a mortal threat to be neutralized. The continuing drone killings are justified in every case by reference to the perception of the drone operators -- that those killed fit certain parameters that are judged to be those of suspected militants, regardless of reality.
So it is with police in their constant battle with criminals. Everything and everyone is potentially a mortal threat, and every call to 911 must be responded to with overwhelming force (unless it's not responded to at all, but that's another issue for another time.)
We are dealing with madness.
Ms Wells was terrorized but she was not physically injured or killed, so it's all good, right?
One of the police officers said he wished there were twice as many responding officers as there were -- he was that frightened.
It's all too real. Just watch what's been going on in response to the attacks in Paris. The same sort of insanity that leads police to fear everything and everyone and respond the way they did in the case of Ms Wells and her key problem is being demanded and implemented against any and all "threats" -- even where there are none. Police and security agencies can't afford to find out.
When everything is perceived as threatening and fear rules like it does, what can be done?