More police brutality

This is just horrifying: SF BART police shot and killed – executed, really – a young black man in the back while he cooperatively lay face down on the ground. There is no excuse for this kind of murder. I learned about the incident from Holly’s post at Feministe, in which she says:

According to witnesses, he was trying to de-escalate the situation between the cops and his friends. This is not an isolated incident, not by a long shot. This kind of thing happens all the time: out-of-control police violence in response to non-violent communication.

She pinpoints the problem: these police clearly had no training in how to de-escalate a conflict or how to recognize when someone is attempting to do so. They perceived the least bit of interference as a threat and responded with their finger on the trigger. This is frightening and disturbing. Ideally, police should be there to de-escalate conflicts, not escalate them even more. I do not know what sort of training police get in conflict resolution, but I’m suspecting that many receive more gun use training than non-violent conflict resolution training. A gun should be an absolute last resort for the police, but clearly that is not the case (actually, should they have guns at all? Many constables in the UK do not carry firearms).

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4 Responses to More police brutality

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi – sorry if I am jumping in – I saw your response to foxfour on his lj. My name is Mair. There is no doubt that we are becoming not only very militarized as a society but sort of even in love with it. I wince every time I hear a Pubic Figure – a person we are supposed to look up to – talk about killing someone, or worse: “taking [someone] down” . It’s like we live The Sopranos. Even the fellows that were lately directing traffic around a small road being newly paved around here had their pants tucked into their boots. The paramilitary threatening look.So, in London last year, I came across a bobby by the Horse Guards very decked out with a two foot long semi-automatic rifle. I went up to talk with him about this. Reactions: 1. US friend I was with tried to stop me; we all know cops are to be left alone. 2. UK bobby was quite happy to talk to me and did not think of me as a threat. Cool. Anyway, he said that it is now being foisted upon them by law that they carry these weapons and most of the fellow bobbies he knows Do Not like it one bit. Some long-timers that he knew even left the force in protest. The police over there actually still say things like “Please step back, Madam.” It is very very different. Training of our guys would help, but the force of society is not with us.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Mair, thanks for visiting, I welcome newcomers and commenters! Your experience in the UK is very interesting – and rather depressing. At least many of the bobbies are against the changes, that is something. I snatch at anything that gives me a bit of hope in the face of so much depressing news 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    A recent poll of doctors in the emergency room showed that most of them (I think 98%) had an experience with a patient they suspected was a victim of excess police brutality. The biggest difficulty is that there is no mechanism for doctors to report these things or to do something about it. It’s not something people like to talk about because the police are supposed to be there to protect us – that they might not be capable of doing that is unthinkable. Interesting posting, Sarah.

  4. Sarah says:

    Wow, that is an interesting and frightening statistic.Yes, our society teaches us that police are there to protect us – at the same time that it teaches police to use guns rather than conflict resolution. I agree that it is difficult for people to accept that the police might very well not protect them – it shatters that childhood illusion of the good, kind policeman (and yes, I do mean policeman, as that is part of the stereotype).

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