Friday, September 30, 2016

They Tell The Same Story Over and Over and Over Again

From the Los Angeles Times, re El Cajon.

And the National Conversation about "race and policing" spins its wheels. Nothing really changes overall, though city by city small, incremental changes sometimes do take place, sometimes there are big changes, but often they don't last.

Police departments tend to resist any change that doesn't enhance their power and authority. That's their hard-wired system. Protest and uproar doesn't change that; in fact, it can often enhance a police department's demands for more power, more authority -- and of course more money.

El Cajon is repeating the same mistakes as Charlotte in refusing to release the available video of the shooting of Alfred Olango -- citing the "ongoing investigation" -- while having no problem spinning what happened through the selective release of one frame of the video which seems to validate the police department's narrative. In addition, El Cajon is providing a rather abundant set of narrative points -- from the "vape" Olango was allegedly holding when he was shot, to his rather baroque history with ICE and the criminal justice system. Little of which has anything at all to do with what happened in that parking lot in El Cajon, but certainly does fill out the narrative that Olango was a bad dude who needed killing.

Why we put up with this constant noise and nonsense in our National Conversation is something I have never understood, but it has  been going on as long as I have been active against police violence -- a couple of decades now.

El Cajon is repeating the mistakes of Charlotte, and Charlotte repeated the mistakes of Sacramento, by spinning a narrative that protects police not the public. Their narratives include falsehoods and lies. It's the way these things are done, and seemingly police departments in these and many other cities are incapable of seeing or anticipating the consequences. Or perhaps they can see them and they use them to further enhance their power and authority -- and their budgets.

There are reports that the demonstrations in El Cajon overnight "turned violent." I will take those reports under advisement. I haven't read the reports, but in most cases I'm familiar with, the "violence" is frequently initiated by police and consists of resistance to their power and authority -- such as defying orders, throwing back tear gas cannisters, overturning newspaper boxes and trash containers, breaking windows, throwing rocks and/or bottles at the police, and sometimes -- actually very rarely -- looting and arson.

The resistance occurs because the police have (once again) done something violent and apparently inappropriate or unnecessary, such as shooting and killing a black man in crisis. Alfred Olango for example. And so many others.

The resistance also occurs because this has been going on for years and years and police refuse to change their policies and protocols. They keep right on killing as if it were their highest objective and calling. They do not respect or protect the sanctity of human life, and they have zero empathy for the lives they snuff out so casually.

Protest may highlight the issue, but it cannot and does not affect the cult of death police departments subscribe to.

Police are not doing this in a vacuum. They are reflecting the will of those they truly "serve and protect" -- which is not the Public, certainly not the black and brown portions of the Public. They quite unself-consciously "serve and protect" the elite of their communities, the power structure, the monied interests. Everyone else is subject to whatever police want to do and think is appropriate to control them.

Random acts of violence, arbitrary summary executions, night raids, routine escalations during encounters, inexplicable imposition of authority, lack of accountability, mass incarceration, ever widening criminalization, etc. etc, including the multi-million dollar payouts to survivors and family members of victims of police violence, are all elements of control. Some of it is truly arbitrary and random, but much of it is deliberate, gamed out, and intentionally destructive.

It's a strategy to keep control over a restive, increasingly impoverished, powerless and downtrodden population.

It's not a very good strategy and it will ultimately lead to the kinds of blowback we're already seeing signs of -- including the deliberate killings of police in revenge.

They set the standard of violence and reap the whirlwind.

We might see the pattern but so far we are unable to throw a big enough spanner in the works to halt the repetition.

I don't know what it will take to do that. But we're working on it.

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