Interesting Links: June 7, 2015
Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about the reality of “american justice”- a concept best understood as an oxymoron.
Video posted to YouTube on Saturday shows one officer sprinting past the camera, falling and losing his flashlight, then running again.Teenagers are seen returning the flashlight to another officer, who responds politely, before the first officer returns and shouts: “On the ground! I told you to stay! Get your asses on the ground. I told you to stay!” The officer, who was not named when his suspension was announced, is then seen forcing a number of teenagers to lie on a grass verge and a sidewalk and telling others to “get your ass out of here”. Some teenagers are handcuffed. One teenager can be heard saying: “Sir, we just came from a birthday party, please.” Another says: “Officer, I can’t find my bag.” The officer replies: “I don’t care, sit down.” The officer is then shown talking to teenagers on the ground.
He then forces a group of bystanders to leave. One, a girl, does not comply and the officer wrestles her to the ground. When other teenagers surround him to remonstrate, he draws his gun. Two other officers move to restrain him, and the officer re-holsters the weapon. He then slams the girl back to the ground, shouting: “On your face!” As the officer appears to sit on the girl to keep her subdued, hectoring her all the while, a voice, possibly that of the person filming the incident, says the officer pulled a gun on the girl.“No I didn’t,” he says, pointing at the camera. “Now get your butts outta here.” The officer is later shown in close-up, lecturing two boys who are sitting on the ground. “You just did what everybody else did,” he says, “and what everybody else did was illegal. You did it and you got caught. Now you’re sitting here paying for it. “I asked y’all to sit,” he adds, “you didn’t and you became a part of the mob. You could’ve been the guys that were doing right and you weren’t, so now you’re sitting here in trouble.”
Last fall, I wrote about a young man named Kalief Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime. He had been arrested in the spring of 2010, at age sixteen, for a robbery he insisted he had not committed. Then he spent more than one thousand days on Rikers waiting for a trial that never happened. During that time, he endured about two years in solitary confinement, where he attempted to end his life several times. Once, in February, 2012, he ripped his bedsheet into strips, tied them together to create a noose, and tried to hang himself from the light fixture in his cell. In November of 2013, six months after he left Rikers, Browder attempted suicide again. This time, he tried to hang himself at home, from a bannister, and he was taken to the psychiatric ward at St. Barnabas Hospital, not far from his home in the Bronx. When I met him, in the spring of 2014, he appeared to be more stable.
His relatives recounted stories he’d told them about being starved and beaten by guards on Rikers. They spoke about his paranoia, about how he often suspected that the cops or some other authority figures were after him. His mother explained that the night before he told her, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.” “Kalief, you’ve got a lot of people in your corner,” she told him. One cousin recalled that when Browder first got home from jail, he would walk to G.E.D. prep class every day, almost an hour each way. Another cousin remembered seeing him seated by the kitchen each morning with his schoolwork spread out before him.
Around last call on Saturday night in Austin, Texas, a tourist from Los Angeles taped several white police officers tackling a black man in the middle of a busy street, confiscating the phone of a filming bystander, and then pepper spraying the man who’d been taping in the face. Jericho Tucker, a “video game player and online entertainer” was in Austin this weekend for the X Games, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Tucker and friends were walking along the city’s famously boozy 6th Street close to 1:30 AM on Sunday, when the group observed what appeared to be a team of white cops pinning a black man to the ground, handcuffing him, and taking him away. Tucker caught the confrontation on his camera phone, as well as footage of a police officer taking away a filming device from someone in the crowd, and then aiming burning liquid in his direction.
Tucker’s video shows officers picking a black man — who remains silent throughout the filming and whose crime is unclear — off the ground, and escort him in handcuffs away from a gathering mass of onlookers. Some police are on horseback, and use the horses’ bodies to push back the crowd from the street onto the sidewalk. “Hey, watch the fuck where you going with your fucking horses,” someone can he heard saying in Tucker’s video. And then, a cop smacks a camera phone from a man’s hand, and pepper sprays him in full view of Tucker’s lens.
What do you think? Comments?