America has an overpolicing problem. That is to say there are too many police around concentrating on small infractions and on non-violent crimes. This is done to increase revenue through the issuing of tickets but also done to enforce “order”. Order is defined as what benefits the wealthiest keeps them happy and also an eye towards the future when in fact there may be full scale insurrection in America and the police are already preparing for a burgeoning police state in response.
Oswald Spengler noted that one of the signs of a state descending into authoritarianism (fascism although he didn’t call it that) was a police force that no longer served the people, had very little oversight, was overly militarized viewing citizens as combatants, and eventually became personal armies of warring elites in power. America is not far from that.
I remover when I lived in the US the feeling that there were police far out of proportion with the threat posed by crime – Crime rates declining after all. Particularly I lived in the bedroom community of Camarillo, California in Ventura County north of Los Angeles and literally there were cops everywhere despite the crime rate being next to nothing.
A few more thoughts
1.) One thing that the USA claims separates them from many third world countries is while US police are often brutal and racist, more interested in the protection of private property and the maintaining of “order” than actual crime prevention and enforcement, and police did collaborate with those opposed to civil rights in the 1960’s and earlier (including complicity in murder) as well as complicity in violence against labor unions earlier last century as well, they are still directly accountable to the people. The thuggish behavior of New York City Police the last couple of days is scary because it seems very undemocratic. Police work for the taxpayers – not just wealthy tax payers, not just white tax payers. The people in New York City voted for Bill DeBlasio as mayor, not for police to thumb their nose at him. This is not a South American dictatorship where the police are a law unto themselves (although America in the past has supported those and some such as Rudy Guliani would support that in the USA I imagine) . Any rational person can see that it’s quite possible to be opposed to police brutality and also the murder of policemen. This is just clouding the issue on their part. I do think demonstrators need to start targeting the other part of the problem – The courts. It is clear police cannot be trusted to police themselves when there is an incident of criminal brutality and prosecutors and the courts help shield them. The prosecutor in the Michael Brown case is openly admitting now that he deliberately put perjurers on the stand who gave unchallenged false testimony about Brown during the shooting that made him look more like the aggressor. As I’ve said numerous times before, they should create a special division of the Justice Department that just investigates police misconduct, there’s too much going on these days to leave it as part of the Civil Rights Division.
2.)There is no comparison between right wing exhortations to violence and actual right wing violence and the nuanced carefully scripted mild rebuke to out of control police officers and the shooting of two police officers in NYC. Prior to Rep. Gabby Giffords shooting, Sarah Palin put out a picture that had gun sights superimposed on the faces of Democratic politicians “Take them out” . Prior to the Oklahoma City Bombing, Newt Gingrich and others talked openly about shooting ATF agents “one in the chest, two in the head”. Can’t see how that compares to President Obama’s prudent (too prudent IMO) statement on police misconduct or when Mayor Di Blasio gave a moving speech about how he had to warn his own mixed race son about cops. This false comparison is a distraction to get away from the real subject of overly militarized, shoot first ask questions later, out of control police as well as the greater questions of racism and wealth inequality that this also brings up.
3.) I hope finally it can be said that the “Broken Windows” theory of criminology and policing leads only to fascism and a police state. For a number of reasons 1.) Criminalizing poverty, homelessness, mental illness, etc. without establishing corresponding social programs to deal with the fall-out creates hopelessness, fear, and even more societal disorder. Also people grow to hate cops even more than they already do. 2.) It gives the police too much power to make decisions about when to hassle people. It creates an overbearing police presence that does very little to stop real crime. 3.) By having cops focus on things like pan handling and squeegee men, you distract them, minimize their time in investigating real crimes like murder, rape, etc. 4.) A broken windows mentality in police will eventually have the effect of forcing out many poor people. The thuggish atmosphere only adds to the problem in a high crime neighborhood. This creates class resentment as well as gentrification when rich people come in and buy all the recently vacated properties ( as seen in areas of Brooklyn among others). Also Rudy Guliani is a racist piece of sh*t – This is the man who spread false rumors about Amadou Diallo an innocent immigrant executed by policethugs. I’m not sure why he’s considered an expert about anything (except how to use 09/11 to advance your political career)