Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 785, August 24, 2014

And how do you reason with power?

Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

So who's at fault in Ferguson? That's for the courts in Missouri to decide? What lessons do the events there have to teach the rest of the nation? That's a different story, and perhaps one worth exploring. Sadly, they all sound like "I told you so."

The fist "toldjaso" is that the police have become armies of occupation in large parts of the United States. This has been going on since the Sixties in response to the "revolutionaries" of those times. I won't say that groups like the Weathermen did not justify such a reaction, but no one seemed to pay attention that we were buying a bunch of hammers and putting them in the hands of people that saw the rest of us as nails.

Second "toldjaso": The police are being militarized. Hell, libertarians have been complaining about this since the Waco Massacre, if not earlier. All we've gotten is mocked and called nut cases. Double hell, when the troops came out to search for the Boston Marathon Bombers some of us found that as disturbing as the bombing. A frightened America found our expressing this concern unpatriotic and naive. Then the troops came out for Ferguson.

While there are more, I will list one last "toldjaso": the impunity granted the police. I'm not going to deny it, police deal with dangerous people under dangerous circumstances. When an idiot opens fire on EP cops and Border Patrol agents things will go badly for him. When a man gets killed in handcuffs on the way from jail to the hospital there's some serious explaining that needs to be done. (for what it's worth, it was a grand jury that let the cop in question off the hook. The Police Chief still wanted to bust him over whether or not he violated policy. Don't know how that went, this kind of internal stuff tends to be handled confidentially, or in other words what action gets taken by the PD is kept secret.). Yet it seems that department policy, prosecutors, and citizens on grand juries are acting like cops can kill as they please and face no ones judgement. I can't say if the officer involved in the Ferguson incident was justified. I can say that precedent established over the last few years told him he could kill with impunity, that charged with maintaining order his comrades felt enabled to work over innocents.

Cutting to the chase. sometimes Black community leaders have questioned the behavior of those making America into a police state. Sometimes it's been political extremists, or at least political nonconformists, who have done so. We've always been blown off. This time, in Ferguson, it seems that even the mainstream has to challenge the police becoming a heavily armed occupation force of jack booted thugs who answer to no one.

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