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Commentary :: Human Rights : Race : Social Welfare : Technology
Comments on the petition
18 Nov 2004
It’s these situations where police have lost the ability to judge necessary force because they now have so many options of force, are treated like paramilitary units, and have almost zero accountability in a terror stricken society, that scares the crap out of me. I was elated for brief movement about the possibility of a petition against police brutality until I read what the petition is asking.
A few months ago I was visiting my parents and checking email on their computer when my father turned to FOX, which, happened to be airing COPS. The police were driving around looking for “suspicious people” when they came across two individuals, people of color, standing harmlessly outside of their car. Two police cars, sirens and lights blaring, pulled into the lot where the two stood. He was drunk, but not abusive at all, and she was trying to get him back into her car so they could go home. Well, the police, after unsuccessfully demanding they freeze for detention, pulled out their Tasers and used them. Both individuals were shocked, cuffed, and put into squad cars. Just before they Tasered the woman, after the man was on the ground shaking from the volts shot into him, another couple came across the scene and demanded to know why their neighbors were being treated so poorly. The police asked them to move along. They responded by stating they wouldn’t move until the police responded to the couples’ questions, at which point the man was Tasered and arrested. His girlfriend began to scream, at which point, I glared at my father and he turned the station.

It’s these situations where police have lost the ability to judge necessary force because they now have so many options of force, are treated like paramilitary units, and have almost zero accountability in a terror stricken society, that scares the crap out of me. I was elated for brief movement about the possibility of a petition against police brutality until I read what the petition is asking.

First let me say that I am sorry for the loss of this student. It is not my intention to criticize her, but rather the petition.

I will not sign this ban for a number of reasons.

In the very first sentence, “the resolution” calls for a ban when, in reality, it should be calling for the outlawing these weapons. There should be no possible way for police to use these weapons under any circumstances. Police have non-lethal weapons like mace, but usually it’s the gun that’s pulled and used first. Shoot to kill first and ask questions later.

I am appalled at the fact that this petition offers conditions to remove a ban on weapons that have killed. Assuming this petition is even taken seriously, let alone a ban imposed, why allow the police conditions to reintroduce violent weapons? If these weapons have killed once, they can kill again, regardless if they are re-classified and tested. Note that the re-classification would be from non-lethal to lethal. Shouldn’t police be trained to handle situations through communication instead of offering more ways for them to commit bodily harm? Why offer them more means of force when it is not necessary?

Condition three doesn’t make sense to me. You are demanding the police receive more training, which requires more money, to show them when force is justified? It seems pretty naïve to think that more training will make police more aware of when to use these weapons. The weapons are there to be used. They are there to terrorize. It doesn’t matter how much training you give them.

The last condition is laughable. Has there ever been an effective, timely system of accountability for police when they murder people? What will this supposed system look like? How will it be implemented? The idea of these weapons is not to make people safer, but rather to terrorize citizens. They are built specifically to be used; there is no context for dialogue.

For those reasons I will not sign this petition. I find the petition severely lacking in vision and poorly worded. I hope justice is found in the slaying of yet another citizen, but I wonder why this petition wasn’t formed earlier due to the police abuses of power that occur daily in impoverished neighborhoods around the country. Ms. Snelgrove is not the first victim, nor, presumably, the last.

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Comments

Re: Comments on the petition
18 Nov 2004
TED! Hello long lost comrade! I have been following the petition makers closely and the wording of the petition is under review. The strongest current in the new wording is to consider any weapon that is capable of being lethal, lethal. Meaning it would necessitate the same sort of restraint an post incident inquiry as would the use of a gun. This would limit their use in both the regular patrols of police and in crowd control. In the example you sited on COPS if any of those people had died while these weapons were considered lethal by the law the police involved would have been crucified as if they had shot their guns into a crowd.

There is also the Oakland example that bars the use of any of these weapons unless someone is clearly in danger of being killed or seriously injured.

An outright ban on them would be counter to our interests, that would leave only the gun in really dangerous situations where a person is weilding a knife or other non-gun weapon and threatening people with it. Traditionally, the cops would just shoot him, now they can taser him or pepper spray him and the guy (or girl) might survive.

Watch for the language to change. Then redecide. Right now the sign the petition option is down in order to make these adjustments to the language.
Re: Comments on the petition
18 Nov 2004
Fair enough... but maybe hand guns should be added to the list?