Gaming the Police

The UC-Davis pepper spray incident has come back into the news lately. Far be it from me to ignore. Back in November I left this comment on  a post here at The League. I think it still holds up (with minor editing). What I will say first though is that obviously some mistakes were made at UC-Davis. The type of pepper spray used, for example, was not allowed under California law. The police chief seems to have misunderstood the tactics approved by the chancellor and went beyond her orders.

What I also want to say is that as a self-labeled ‘rule of law conservative’ I really, really hate protests. They are quite often designed to provoke the police. Protestors actually have a pretty good understanding of police tactics and generally know that police are authorized to do things that seem barbaric when shown on the evening news. This serves their goals of getting attention for their cause. We can debate whether or not the rules should change, but under current law, whenever there is a protest there is a liklihood we will see stuff like this. On to my comments:

I don’t know how familiar League regulars are with police tactics so perhaps a little background. Most of the tactics used today were first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. The advancements in police tactics since them have mostly been along the lines of developing a variety of non-lethal tools to assist in crowd control (tazers, pepper spray, rubber bullets).

With regards to methodology, very little has changed and for good reason: a mob is a mob and the first goal of police in dealing with large crowds is to prevent the formation of a mob. There are hundreds of good books out there about police tactics but one of my favorites is a work from 1950 called, Principles of Police Work with Minority Groups prepared for the Louisville Police Department. I like the book because it was incredibly forward-thinking with regards to the sociology of dealing with minority groups. It’s also fascinating because it explores the psychology of the public and uses this to prescribe police tactics. As we all know, human tendencies are near-universal and often eternal.

So how does the book describe the formation of a mob? It considers three phases:

1) Initial Stage – An initial incident. Individuals in the milling process.

2) Stage of collective excitement – Crowd becoming unified by circular influence. Stirred by action of key individuals.

3) Stage of social contagion – Crowd accumulating masses of innocent bystanders as well as some trouble seekers.

Principles of Police Work then suggests methods for dealing with each stage. The first stage is fact-finding and containment. The second stage is key. The book prescribes three steps in this stage:

- Adequate show of force

- The removal of key individuals

- Dispersal of those who have gathered

What we witness in the UC-Davis incident appears to be stage two. The folks sitting on the ground with linked arms are the ‘key individuals’. The pepper spray is the ‘show of force’. Stage three is really just an escalation of stage two but with more aggressive tactics and higher numbers of police officers. What I will also say is that stage three is where people really get hurt.

Let me repeat an earlier point. The first goal of crowd control is ALWAYS to prevent mobs. Once a mob is formed it becomes exponentially harder to control them and often mobs result in deaths, usually of innocent bystanders. What is interesting to note though is that in 1950 the book made an observation that seems antiquated by today’s standards:

“Such events should be adequately policed. The restraining influence of the police uniform has proved its worth on such occasions. The mere presence of numbers of uniformed officers is sufficient to prevent a conventional crowd from degenerating into an active and aggressive mob.”

I think we can argue that today the presence of the police actually escalates the situation because ‘respect for the uniform’ has declined to historic lows. Now a cynic will say that the police lost the public’s respect first. I would say that it’s a chicken-or-egg scenario.

The key point of conversation is what challenge the Occupy groups represent to public safety (if any). Do they, in the most heated moments, represent a potential threat to public safety? My inclination is to say yes and yes. The line most in need of definition is just what it looks like when they transition from peaceful assembly to mob and what we are willing to tolerate to prevent it.

The more I think about it the more angry I get about the way so many people are criticizing the police in this situation. By all accounts the students were asked to leave multiple times and several physically resisted removal. Plain and simple, getting the police to do something like this was their goal. Mission accomplished. We could criticize the police for not avoiding the obvious trap, but their job transcends the need for public approval.

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145 thoughts on “Gaming the Police

    • How do we seperate Occupy Wall Street, which was “bad protesting” designed to force those poor cops into sensible reactions that looked bad on TV (I bet those kids psyched themselves up each day thinking “Today’s the day I get pepper-sprayed in the face for JUSTICE!”) and “good protests” like armed individuals standing around with “Get Government Hands of my Medicare” placards?

      Obviously we don’t want to pepper-spray the Tea Party.

      • Morat 20 – I don’t like conservative protests anymore than liberal ones. On the whole though, which ones are usually more cooperative with the police?
      • The ones the police agree with or are filled with old, white people who haven’t been discriminated and profiled by the police in the past?
      • “…people who haven’t been discriminated and profiled by the police in the past?”

        I’m sure those kids at UC-Davis had rough lives before that protest.

      • which ones are usually more cooperative with the police?

        But doesn’t this statement undermine most of your argument? The UCD kids were cooperating with police. They were there legally and weren’t inciting.

      • Stillwater – I disagree on the inciting part. Linking arms and refusing to move would be ‘incitement’ under current police tactics. See the post above.

        Stage of collective excitement – Crowd becoming unified by circular influence. Stirred by action of key individuals.

      • The ones the police aren’t trying to illegal disperse?

        I mean, there’s the rub, isn’t it? Is it that liberal protestors are violent? Or cops are more apt to be, shall we say, [i]prejudicial[/i] towards liberal protests?

        Makes me think of the Florida GOP Convention — you can’t have water guns inside the Free Speech Zones, but you can have real guns.

        Why is that, do you think? Because the 2nd Amendment trumps the First?

      • I am reminded of police engaging in entrapment during protests. I am reminded of police “escorts” of a protest turning to mass arrest traps once they got the protesters onto a bridge then closed the gab with pepper spray and riot shields closing the other side ot the bridge and trapping terrified protesters on the bridge itself.

        I am reminded of how close to the line a “law and order conservative” really is to Mao and Stalin.

  1. I’m sorry, but what’s the point of reprinting a comment you made and making it into a blog post? What’s the value here, other than reiterating once again your simplistic disgust (protester = bad, police = good).
    • It’s kinda refreshing though, I haven’t seen old timer authoritarianism in this blog for a while ….
    • Blog posts typically get a few hundred visits. The front page gets thousands. You do the math.
  2. Principles of Police Work with Minority Groups

    The problem is that the Police were using these principles on white kids. Worse than that, white kids whose parents have money.

    If the police should have known anything at all, they should have known to use their Principles of Police Work with White Kids From Parents With Money handbook.

    Page one: DON’T FREAKING SPRAY THEM IN THE FACE WHEN YOU ARE ON CAMERA

    • In general I like pointing out white liberal hypocrisy; but to be fair even middle of the road white people get uncomfortable when seeing police brutality against peaceful protesters who happen to be of color. The violent police response to the march on Selma was a seminal moment for the Civil Rights Movement because white folks were horrified by what they saw.
      • Well, we can still enjoy the fact that people are using this as an opportunity to defend closed-door hearings investigating the police officers who were not authorized to carry pepper spray and the outcomes of these hearings not being made available to the public.

         

      • Pop Quiz! Line up the phrases with the person most likely to say them:

        1) “Contracts are more important than rights!”

        2) “Rights are more important than contracts!”

        A) The Liberal

        B) The Glibertarian

        *NO PEEKING*

      • I’m not saying contracts are more important than rights. Lots of decisions are made in government without full and public hearings.

        I’m saying contracts between two equitable parties should be followed as long as they don’t fall afoul of other parts of the law. I don’t know any liberals against contracts between two companies, a union and a company, or two people with no large power differences. We do have problems with complicated, arcane contracts between say, banks and people who have been lied to by the bank about said contract.

      • Liberal response: “Your question does not make sense. Rights are the result of a social contract.”

        Libertarian response: “Your question does not make sense. The ability to form contracts is a fundamental right. And don’t call me a ‘glibertarian.’”

      • Damn, that’s good. That’s really good. (I got to the ‘the question makes no sense’ part but couldn’t piece the rest together.)
      • “Prior”, then.

        (Additionally, the idea that the social contract is what provides rights means that this group could, indeed, have rights that this other group, indeed, does not.)

    • Can you cite something like this, that is actually like this, that happened to non-whites and that got ignored by the media, or reported and ignored by the public, so that we can at least be aware of what the similar things we are ignoring are?

      And, while it certainly demonstrates racism to the extent we ignore the same thing when it happens to non-whites, it’s not the case that if there’s something wrong with these tactics (in these circumstances), that all the police did wrong was to do it to affluent white kids.  The extension of that argument is that there’s actually nothing wrong with doing them to non-whites.  So would there be something wrong with doing these things to non-whites doing the same exact thing with the same background details?  What?  (For my money, I’d need to be convinced of the need to issue and order to disburse the people in the first place, but that is not a police decision.  From there or me, if they used illegal spray, what more need to be said?)

      Iow, why can’t you both point out the double standard, but also take the question seriously?  Or do you seriously mean to suggest there’s nothing wrong here?  The public gets shit wrong in their reaction to things all the time.  It doesn’t change the nature of the things that actually happen.

      • Can you cite something like this, that is actually like this, that happened to non-whites and that got ignored by the media, or reported and ignored by the public, so that we can at least be aware of what the similar things we are ignoring are?

        This particular wording makes me wonder about being no true Scotsmanned but I’m pretty comfortable saying that there is a hell of a lot of police excess and brutality performed primarily against the poor and otherwise disenfranchised in this country but any example I give you will, of course, have a link to a news post which will then be seen as evidence that this is *NOT* being ignored. After all, Radley Balko covered it!

        The internet is now making us hear about things like Kathryn Johnston or Mayor Cheye Calvo when, before, we would never have. I don’t think it’s *THAT* controversial to say that this sort of thing happens all the time, though… but we only hear about the ones we hear about.

      • I mean, if it’s not like it, it’s not like it.  Not much I can do about that.  But put that aside.  If you say something in particular is enough to demonstrate the double standard here, I’m happy to check any nitpicking at the door.  Clearly, drug raids far exceed the level of force used here.  But those aren’t done in the midst of a protest specifically designed to attract, and already in fact attracting, attention.  Drug raids deserve more attention, but it doesn’t exactly demonstrate much in the way of bias (though I don’t deny bias) that what police do at nationally-discussed protests actually gets more attention.  I mean, what does the ‘don’t do it on camera’ observation demonstrate, but don’t do it on camera (especially at a nationally-discussed protest).

        None of this is to deny that there is a disparity in attention to excessive force used against minorities as compared to when it’s used against affluent white kids.  But Mike is quite legitimately raising the question of whether there even was excessive force used here.  You can point out the double standard in attention that the incident got without collaterally dismissing Mike’s question (which you did), because it’s actually a completely separate issue.  Indeed, if you took the time to answer Mike’s question and ended up agreeing with him that the force, if excessive at all, was not greatly so, it actually would only amplify the point you are making.

      • “But Mike is quite legitimately raising the question of whether there even was excessive force used here.”

        Oh, so you’re wondering when the last time a peaceful protest of African-Americans (or anybody, for that matter) was broken up with, among other things, pepper spray?

        If I can find “none” in the last couple of years, does that demonstrate how necessary the use of pepper spray was or would it demonstrate how unnecessary it was in this case (or, if nothing else, demonstrate how unique an event this particular pepper spraying was which we can then hammer out what “uniqueness” means)?

      • I mean, if you can find something much like this except where the protesters were black and it was relatively ignored, then it would be evidence that we would relatively ignore much something like this where the protesters were black. Which I took you to be arguing is a truth.

        For the record, I actually have very little doubt that that thing is out there.  I’d just like to be better informed about such things – because the claim you make here is one I find plausible (likely as I said), and troubling, and if there are such cases, I want to not be one of the people ignoring, or at least ignorant of, them.  And I thought, since you (I thought) effectively were making the claim that cases like that were out there, I thought I’d ask if you could point us to them.

        Additionally, by the by, Mike is questioning whether the force used here was in fact excessive.  Even if I think the answer is clear, I still find that a rather legitimate question, so I’m asking why not respect people engaged in addressing it it while pointing out that had this been poor black folk, no one would have paid attention?

      • I suspect that had it been “poor black folk” (to use your term), one of two things would have (or have not) happened:

        1) There would have been no peaceful protest in the first place because protesting… what? Unfairness in the system? The fact that the 1% treats the 99% like crap? Is not something that you sit on sidewalks to deal with. It’s called “life”.

        2) Now, there were some protests involving a handful of crowds of peaceful minority members in recent weeks… and the cops didn’t use pepper spray. This in itself presents an interesting dynamic. Why did the cops at the college use pepper spray and the cops at the more recent protests not use pepper spray?

      • Let me reattempt, then.

        If we see the problem as “entitled police engaging in massively disproportionate response to individuals who haven’t done much of anything (if, in fact, they’ve done anything)” then I’m pretty sure that I can find a handful of examples.

        If we see the problem as “a peaceful protest that the cops asked to break up which was then followed by the protest *NOT* breaking up that was then followed by the cops using pepper spray (or worse)”, then I might not be able to find you any examples.

        “I mean, if it’s not like it, it’s not like it. ”

        We need to define what “it” is… because if you look and all you see is a bunch of white people sitting quietly against the law resulting in cops spraying them, you should understand that others see cops using force against people that haven’t done much, if anything, wrong.

        If “it” is the latter, there’s a lot “like it”.

      • It’s more the former, though as I’ve said, I concede the point in any case.  But I’m interested in specific situations that are like “it” in something more like the former sense, though it doesn’t have to be *that* specific.  Anything ya got really.

        But a perspective that doesn’t perceive anything more specific than “cops using force against people that haven’t done much, if anything, wrong,” doesn’t have much fealty to the reality that we can all, in fact, perceive things at much higher resolutions than that.

    • Jaybird – as the parent of a kid preparing for college in the fall, I’ve already given a modified version of ‘the talk’.  White kids on college campuses do a prety good job of pissing off the authorities on a regular basis. When more than three officers appear at a protest/ keg party / whatever…it’s time to go home, not link arms with your fellow students.
      • “Look, son, I realize you think your opinion matters. Face facts — it doesn’t. When you go to a protest, we just see a bunch of stupid kids.

        Which means when you get pepper sprayed in the face for exercising your First Amendment rights, we’re going to blame you. You shouldn’t have been there. I mean, sure “Constitutionally” and maybe “legally” you had a right to be there doing that, but this is the Real World, and the Real World pepper sprays you.

        You’ll understand when you’re my age. People my age don’t get pepper sprayed for protesting. We get on Fox News and everyone talks about how we’re reshaping the country. Mostly as we complain about how our kids are snot-nosed little crapheads who think they can have a protest and not get pepper sprayed.

        Because, son, college is a party. No matter what you’re doing, it’s just a kegger. In class? Kegger. Protesting income inequality? Kegger. Having sex? Kegger. Sleeping? Kegger. Exams? Kegger.

        I guess what I’m saying is you’re not actually a REAL person until you’re my age, and you don’t have any rights. So stay meek, knuckle under to authority, and get to work to pay for my Social Security and Medicare while I’m out protesting to end Medicare — for people under 55.”

      • Have a college-age kid and ask yourself what issue is important enough that they get pepper-sprayed (or worse) in order to protest it.

        When I was 18 I probably would have taken a face full of it for marijuana legalization. Now, not so much.

        If you think leaving a protest to avoid harm makes you meek, I assume you think staying and getting harmed makes you brave?

      • I’d rather they stand up for even a dumb idea than be cowed by the idea of standing up for anything because it might lead to some short-term negative consequences.
      • I would rather them learn to do things effectively than to do things stupidly.
        Work smarter, not harder
        That’s a lesson that comes with age.
      • Work smarter, not harder
        That’s a lesson that comes with age.

        That is the limitation, yes.

      • PatC, Heinlein:

        The_Tale_of_the_Man_Who_Was_Too_Lazy_to_Fail

        Now I remember why I liked that book, althoughage 14, Jubal [Heinlein] banging a max buxom blonde [albeit a brain-transplanted tranny, his former male assistant] also made perfect sense to both my brain and genitals.

        At age 14, I definitely would be banging Marilyn Monroe and Lindsay Lohan right exactly now

         

        ..and if your mind had been placed in Lindsay Lohan’s body, so much the better.  Then we could watch the ballgame.

      • I’m old too, Pat, older than I thought.  I just squirelled 3 Heinlein novels into one.  Dang.

        Bnd for better & worse, I’m not the least bit embarrassed getting foggy on The Great Novels of My Adolescence.  I remembered the important parts, being too lazy to fail, and banging Lindsay Lohan, more or less.  These things I have carried forward, as you know.

        ;-)

         

      • Easy enough to do: all late Heinlein novels are installments of one dirty-old-man wet dream.
      • and ask yourself what issue is important enough that they get pepper-sprayed (or worse) in order to protest it.

        College age kid? It’s probably whatever they determine is worth getting pepper-sprayed in the face over.

        But look, you may disagree with them about that. And maybe after the fact, they also disagree with that view. I think the problem is preemptively restricting their ability to do so. It’s a life lesson one way or the other. And the expression of conviction and belief.

        But aren’t you a principle’s guy? Are there no principles worth defending? Who’s to say what another person’s ‘principle worth defending’ is?

      • I do have a college aged kid. However the point of my post flew over your head.

        You’re flatly telling your kid “You have rights on paper. They don’t really exist, so don’t bother trying.”

        What’s wrong with kids today? Well, their parents I guess. The ones that tell them “your rights don’t really exist” and “you shouldn’t fight for them or stand up for yourself”.

        “Obey your elders, in all things at all times! Do not think for yourself! Do not have differing opinions! They will only get crushed under the jack booted thugs of the police to my roaring approval! For you are young and stupid!”

      • You’re flatly telling your kid “You have rights on paper. They don’t really exist, so don’t bother trying.”

        No – I am saying, “Whatever rights you are fighting for, there are much more effective ways than doing it other than getting pepper sprayed on the quad.” My point is that protests of this form are ineffective and why put yourself in harm’s way for an ineffective goal? There are plenty of other ways that college students can agitate for lower tuition where the threat of harm is zero.

        As Will said, work smarter, not harder.

      • you tell your kids not to break up with boyfriend/girlfriend in a construction zone.

        Clue by fours tend to knock you unconscious in real life.

        And are considerably more likely than most of this other shit.

      • Also tell your kids to not play “Tease the Protesters”. Even the antiwar ones will happily kosh you on the head with their signs…
      • No – it really doesn’t. Just like the guy that tries to disarm a mugger when he could just give him his wallet and walk away alive. Nothing is gained by allowing campus cops to harm you (other than, I guess, a possible monetary settlement from the university). It certainly doesn’t bring publicity to the issue they were there protesting. If anything it distracts.
  3. I really, really hate protests. They are quite often designed to provoke the police. Protestors actually have a pretty good understanding of police tactics and generally know that police are authorized to do things that seem barbaric when shown on the evening news.

    This confuses things quite a bit (not from your pov, of course). First, the point of a protest is to bring public attention to an issue. Second, it’s a right guaranteed by the Constitution (which conservatives claim they care about more than godless liberals). Third, the fact that police engage in ‘barbaric’ actions is a judgment that falls on cops and not on protesters, unless of course blaming the victim is a legitimate tool in the argumentative tool-box. Fourth, learning about police brutality, and how to avoid it, is standard training in public protests. Fifth, part of the protest might have become a protest against excessive police force. Sixth, aren’t conservatives – like yourself? – who think arming up against the inevitable government takeover of civilian life fully expecting to engage in the exact same type of ‘mod action’ you condemn in the OP? Seventh, as someone already mentioned, TPers.

    • Sixth, aren’t conservatives – like yourself? – who think arming up against the inevitable government takeover of civilian life fully expecting to engage in the exact same type of ‘mod action’ you condemn in the OP?

      I’m not in that camp.

      • It’s hard to say “well, that’s good to know” without it sounding condescending. But really, I’m glad you aren’t.

        But why are you opposed to public protests? What other avenues are there for citizens to express their dislike of certain policies or states of affairs? Letter writing campaigns? Even more central, tho, is that public protest is necessary part of peaceful demonstration leading to change, on way or the other. I mean, there are aspects of public protest I don’t like either (eg, those creeps who show up a military funerals to say they hate fags) but I tend to think we’re a much worse society if we prohibit it. Or even restrict it.

      • My personal opinion is that protests accomplish almost nothing and only cause problems like the incident at UC-Davis. I don’t think they should be illegal, I just wish people wouldn’t do it.

        And with the social media tools we have today, there seems to be plenty of alternatives.

      • Well, the OWS protests placed income inequality front and center in people’s minds, which got Romney back-pedalling, which could tip some votes away from him, which could tip the election….
      • Conversely, I think it’s impossible to say that TPGOPers would have been elected to office without all the protests and other grass-roots  astro-turf efforts of cranky old people.

        Heh. I kid!

      • I’m with you on that, Mike.
        Protests are pretty stupid.
        From the Iraq War protests to the Tea Party. All of them.
        I would routinely refer to the Tea Partiers as “hippies” at the few conservative sites I visit.
        I keep thinking, “Is that really the most productive thing you can think to do?”
        I don’t get it.
        You get a bunch of flakes together, and they think that someone’s supposed to give a darn about what they think, for the sole fact that the most productive thing they can think of to do is sit around and be flaky.
        Right.
      • Yanno, Stillwater, freedom is a very dangerous word.

        Das, was nicht verboten ist, ist unbedingt erforderlich!

      • Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose but Principles and Pride if these damn kids don’t get off my lawn!
      • yeah, I think Koch’s plan was pretty dumb too. But “there’s no such thing as bad publicity!”
      • I agree that protests are usually pretty stupid.  I see them as a blunt instrument that does not necessarily or usually accomplish what their participants want them to.  Thing is, the first amendment recognizes the right of people to assemble peaceably; I imagine most state constitutions do, too; even if state constitutions don’t, then that right to peaceable assembly is probably incorporated against the states via the 14th amendment; even if it’s not incorporated, I see that right as a basic human right, even if most people who do it are, in my opinion, being stupid.

        To establish that most protests are stupid is not dispositive exoneration of the police in this case.

      • Mike,

        I’d love to invite you to come to a Pittsburgh Protest sometime. We ain’t raised a fuss about the Police kicking the OWS people out (they did hum the darth vader tune, while peaceably allowing the police to do their job).

  4. The more I think about it the more angry I get about the way so many people are criticizing the police in this situation. By all accounts the students were asked to leave multiple times and several physically resisted removal.

    Mike, the students knew they had a legal right to be there. They’d consulted with the university’s legal department prior to the protests to make sure. What responsibility do they have to respond to an order by the police that demands they stop doing something they are legally allowed to do? Should they do anything the police say, simply because the police say it?

    • Actually, I believe that is the law; that interference with law enforcement is criminal.
      The proper response would be to honor the request, even if stating verbally that compliance is done under protest. Then initiate whatever approved grievance procedure is in place.
      • I’m with Will also. It’s really not the job of citizens to question police commands at he time they are ordered (and resist). Comply with the order and lodge a complaint afterwards. The students suing the campus are well within their rights to do so and I support that BUT couldn’t they have instead sued the police for making them leave?
      • It has already been established the students were neither an unlawful assembly nor were they trespassing.   As such, they were within their rights to peaceably assemble.   We ought to obey officers of the law, not some jackass with a uniform.
      • Dudes, don’t you know that “just following orders” is always the right thing to do?
      • When I started working for government I was sent on a course for new public servants that explained how our government works.  One of the central lessons of that course was this:

        When you are acting as a public servant you are not a citizen – you are the government, and governments do not have rights, they have powers.  While a private citizen is free to do anything not prohibited by law, a public servant may not, in their official capacity, do anything unless they have been empowered to do by law, or been delegated the powers someone else who was empowered by law.

        If a private citizen is doing something legally, the government does not have the authority to stop them.  And what the government cannot do, no part of government can do, including police officers.  Soldiers are permitted to disobey the illegal orders of their superiors, what you are proposing is that the citizens of an allegedly free country have a greater obligation to obey police officers than privates have to obey generals.  The rule you are proposing would grant police officers the powers of a king.

        Which I guess is a long-winded way of saying I agree with BlaiseP and Jonathan McLeod.

      • It’s a lawful order if it’s coming from a police officer acting in his official capacity.
        Even if you’re an attorney, you comply, then go file a writ or something.
        Compliance with a direct order comes first.
      • No it doesn’t.  In this case, the officers were not acting their official capacities.   They were disobeying their own lawful orders, given to them by their duly constituted and sworn superiors.   Their oath is to uphold the law, not to order people about.
      • That was actually the big turning point in civil rights back in ’61 when it was determined that police officers, even if violating state law, could still be acting “under color of law.”
        And if the people in that case (Monroe v. Pape 365 U.S. 167 (1961)) would have resisted, it is likely they would have forfeited their claim.
        This is the law.
        There’s a lot of shortcomings to it, but we all have to abide by it.
      • That’s bullshit sea lawyering and you know it.  Street v. Parham says otherwise.

        If the relevant law was clearly established, an officer is only entitled to immunity if he claims “extraordinary circumstances and can prove that he neither knew nor should have known of the relevant legal standard.” Harlow, 457 U.S. at 819, 102 S.Ct. at 2738. When the jury answered Instruction No. 18 in the affirmative, it decided that the force used by the officer was unreasonable under all the circumstances. There could, therefore, not be any exculpatory “extraordinary circumstances” excusing the defendant’s conduct. No officer could reasonably believe that the use of unreasonable force did not violate clearly established law.

        Not only clearly established First Amendment law, but the explicit rules of engagement in this instance.

      • It’s the procedure which is at issue.
        Procedurally, immunity is a matter for the court to determine.
        You don’t determine that for yourself right on the spot.
        You know better than that.
        If those lights come on behind you when you’re driving, you pull over, regardless of whether you believe the officer might have had probable cause.
        If you don’t, then he can do whatever it takes to get you stopped.
      • I believe Street v. Parham is talking about something totally different.
        Monroe v. Pape has to do with actions that are illegal under state law.
        Street v. Parham looks to be in relation to acts which are legal.
  5. Awesome. You may be setting a longevity record for being the last guy left on the Internet still able to find a way to blame these kids for the actions of a vicious rent-a-cop.

    Also, perhaps if you’re opposed to one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed in our founding legal documents, you could stop describing yourself as ‘rule-of-LAW’ oriented? Bit misleading. Try ‘rule-of-authority’ oriented. If only there were a shorter term for that…

    • Personally, I don’t think they were vicious enough.
      I would have liked to seen the nightsticks come out and some heads cracked open.
      Nothing like sending a few of their classmates to the hospital for a week or two to keep the kids in line.
      If they don’t want to follow the rules, bust them up. Break some bones.
      One good slaughter, then maybe some people will learn how to mind their manners.
  6. Complete bullshit from top to bottom.   The campus police had been issued rules of engagement by their superior officers, rules they did not obey.   The students had done everything within their power to notify all concerned.   They’d consulted legal authorities.   They were not trespassing.   They were, in fact, a lawful assembly in every sense of that word.

    Who’s the Problem Child in this situation?   The students, who had done their homework, or the campus police, who were in violation of their own rules of engagement?

    • See this is kind of funny because back in another thread you proudly declared that the protestors had no right to complain because they knew what they were getting into.
      • Go boil your head, Duck.   The day you have anything intelligent to say there will be two moons in the sky.   I never said anything of the sort.   I stand by my statement, the campus police had been issued rules of engagement and did not abide by them.   The students did everything right, notifying everyone, checking with legal authorities and otherwise exercising their First Amendment rights and their rights as enrolled students on the school property.
      • Oh Duck.   Dear ol’ Duck.  Our troops have ROEs, too.   They have to obey orders or they get a daily subscription to Stars and Stripes, delivered to their cells every day at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

        Now those campus cops had ROEs, too.   They didn’t obey them.

      • …so you’re agreeing with me?

        Or maybe you’re saying that the cops are violent bastards who were inevitably going to vastly exceed their authority, but that the kids were dumbass babies who should’ve expected that would happen and therefore kindasorta deserved what they got?

        Too bad the entire world isn’t as super-smart as Papa BlaiseP (who totally killed people, you know, so you babies better listen up.)

    • I disagree. This is from the UC Davis review of the incident:

      The Police Department’s pre-event November 15 operations plan, however, stated that “the use of force is highly likely in this type of situation based on past events,” and it forecast the potential use of pepper ball guns and pepper spray (although not the MK 9 canister that they actually used in the event). Senior officers in the Department also believed that the use of physical force might well be required to conduct the operation.

      • Mike, all that means is that the review concluded that the cops were prepared to use force and pepper spray based on a precedent for ‘these types of situations’. It doesn’t justify the use of that force.
      • Heh.  You’re a piece o’ work, Mike.   Let’s just do some cut ‘n paste from the table o’ contents here.

        Section I – Deficiencies in the Decision- Making

        Process and Substantive Mistakes at the Administrative Level

        A. There Was a Failure to Investigate Whether or Not “Non- Affiliates” in the UC Davis OccupyEncampment Were Present
        B. The Administration Decided to Deploy Police to Remove the Tents on Nov. 18 before Considering Other Reasonable Alternatives
        C. The Scope of the Police Operation to Remove the Tents Was Ineffectively Communicated, Not Clearly Understood by Key Decision- Makers, and, Accordingly, Could Not Be Adequately Evaluated as to Its Costs and Consequences
        D. There Were No Clear Lines Delineating the Responsibility for Decision- Making between Civilian Administrators and Police
        E. There Was Confusion as to the Legal Basis for the Police Operation
        F. The Leadership Team’s Informal, Consensus- Based Decision- Making Process Was Ineffective for Supporting a Major Extraordinary Event

        Section II – The Conduct of the Police Operation

        A. The UCDPD Failed to Plan for the Intended Action According to Standard Operating Procedures
        B. Notwithstanding the Deficiencies in the Operations Plan, the Incident Was Not Managed According to
        the Plan
        C. The Decision to Use Pepper Spray Was Not Supported by Objective Evidence and Was Not Authorized by Policy.
        D. The Pepper Spray Used, the MK- 9, First Aerosol Projector, Was Not an Authorized Weapon for Use by the UCDPD
        E. There is a Breakdown of Leadership in the UCDPD
        F. Other Police Procedural and Tactical Irregularities

        Section III – Individual Responsibility

        A. The Chancellor Bears Primary Responsibility for the Decision to Deploy the Police at 3 p.m. Rather
        than During the Night or Early Morning, Which is a Tactical Decision Properly Reserved for Police
        Authorities
        B. The Chancellor Bears Primary Responsibility for the Failure to Communicate Her Position that the Police Operation Should Avoid Physical Force
        C. Many Members of the Leadership Team, Including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor Meyer, and Vice Chancellor Wood, Share Responsibility for the Decision to Remove the Tents on Friday and, as a Result, the Subsequent Police Action Against Protesters
        D. Chief Spicuzza Bears Individual Responsibility for Failing to Challenge the Leadership Team’s Decision on the Time of the Police Operation and for Not Clarifying the Role the Police Were Expected to Play During the Operation. She is also Responsible for Numerous Deviations from Best Police Practices Both Before and During the Operation as Detailed in the Kroll Report
        E. Officer P Bears Individual Responsibility for Abdicating his Duties as Incident Commander
        F. Lt. Pike Bears Primary Responsibility for the Objectively Unreasonable Decision to Use Pepper Spray on the Students Sitting in a Line and for the Manner in Which the Pepper Spray Was Used

      • “the use of force is highly likely in this type of situation based on past events,”

        That is to say, the cops have over-reacted in the past, and we’re pretty damn sure they’ll do so again.

        I couldn’t agree more.

  7. The key point of conversation is what challenge the Occupy groups represent to public safety (if any). Do they, in the most heated moments, represent a potential threat to public safety?

    Haven’t you stacked the deck in your favor here? “[I]n the most heated moments” nearly anything could be a threat to public safety. Also, having been to the NY Occupy camp, I can say firsthand I did not see the precursors to mob violence on show. Establishing a library isn’t exactly the first step in sowing chaos and mayhem. And I certainly didn’t feel unsafe there, it was people peacefully protesting. If anyone’s behavior was a threat to public safety, it’s been that of the police.

    Also, aren’t protests just an exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of association? I agree with some protests, I disagree with some protests, but I don’t see how we could have a free society without them.

    • When I shit on a tree in the park, it’s disgusting.

      When ten thousand people shit on trees in the park while chanting “this is what democracy looks like”, it’s an exercise of freedom of expression.

      When ten thousand people vote against gay marriage, it’s a disgusting act of bigotry.

      • I’m also baffled by this utter misrepresentation about sanitation at the NY Occupy camp, I recall CNN repeating this nonsense. There were sympathetic people in the neighborhood, or restaurants, or whatever to take care of the sanitation/garbage/cleanliness issues. Really, I would have noticed if I walked into a cesspool in Zuccotti Park.
      • Are you really baffled? It’s of a piece with the right’s scorched earth approach to everything that strays outside the authoritarian worldview.
      • Dirty hippies are, in fact, dirty. It’s “factesque”.

        Like the rape gangs at the Superdome after Katrina. Welcome to the modern media. They don’t report on facts — they report on what people said. With equal time for someone saying the opposite.

        Unless it’s Sunday, in which case it’s 70% Republican.

  8. one of my favorites is a work from 1950 called, Principles of Police Work with Minority Groups prepared for the Louisville Police Department.

    Thanks. This entire post is comic gold, especially that grace note above.

    (I mean this is a parody, right? Right?)

      • Chris – define ‘police violence’.

        And before you do, you are aware they all carry weapons, right?

      • Look on the bright side. If it had happened in Florida, the kids could have shot the cop in self-defense!

        Off-duty cop, right? illegal orders? Lawful assembly?

        It would have been practically revolutionary! 1776! Everyone would cheer!

      • Heh. My local high school has an off duty cop there as ‘security’ every day. (Back when I was there, he was basically there to break up the occasional fight and keep kids from wandering the halls. Now days they’re also responsible for herding visitors to the office so no one without school approval is there).

        Anyways, one particular officer was known as “Officer Friendly” by the staff. (Note: This was not a compliment).

        he was famous (if a few years after my time).  I once mentioned to a very nice, conservative lady who works at the school about my brother getting pulled over for speeding. Two blocks from a hospital. With my father — who is on blood thinners — bleeding profuseful from the leg. I’m talking “blood soaked towel wrapped around his knee” bleeding. (In terms of damage, it was basically a skinned knee with a few deep cuts. Didn’t even need stitches. However, to a man on blood thinners, when he couldn’t get the bleeding to stop….this was a problem).

        The officer pulls my brother over, asks why he was speeding. My brother says “i’m taking my dad to the hospital”. The officer glances over, sees my father clutching the blood soaked towel, tells my brother to “stay there” and goes back to his car for a few minutes. (Running my brother’s license, no doubt).. He comes back and my brother says “If you want to give me a ticket, that’s fine. Can I just get my dad into the hospital first?” (the one two blocks down the street.

        The cop then takes my brother’s insurance, goes back to his car, screws around for another five minutes, before telling my brother he can drive to the hospital. He follows my brother — in case the man soaking the car seat in blood was some sort of trick — and lingers around giving my brother the evil eye as my dad is taken in.

        Ultimately does not give my brother a ticket. But did make my dad spend 10 minutes bleeding onto a car seat two blocks from the ER.

        When I related this story, the very nice conservative lady says “Was it officer so-and-so.” I told her that yes, indeed, that was the officer’s name. (My brother had noted it for a later complaint).

        She sighs and says “We call him “Officer Friendly”. We’ve been complaining about him for years. He’s a dick.”

        I’d never heard her use that word before or since.

        In short: Police, like every other human being, can be dicks. Since they have the mandate of the state and the ability to use violence in support of the state, it always shocks me when people say “Don’t provoke the police” instead of “The police should be far less easy to provoke than a regular person”.

        Because a regular person doesn’t get to taze you, shoot you, or pepper spray you in the face without it (generally) being a crime.

      • For our purposes, I think it’s safe to say that any definition of police violence will include pepper spraying people.

        I think kettling is an act of violence (I’ve been kettled; I’ve also been hit with a club and shoved with a shield, in both cases as a direct and inevitable result of kettling), but I suspect you’d disagree there.

        Look, I spent my entire youth as a participant in and organizer of protests. I don’t recall a single meeting in which it was suggested, much less agreed upon, that provoking the police was our goal because if we got tear gassed or beaten, it would get us more attention. Never, not once. I do recall peacefully protesting and having the police kettle us from all 4 sides (leaving no escape route) into a smaller and smaller space, so that confrontation became inevitable. I’m not going to lie, my respect for police is minimal (some level of policing is necessary in our society, though not the current level), and I find the idea that we should simply obey them and complain afterwards to be… abhorent. Honestly, fuck them. If I have a right to be here, I have a right to be here. Leave me the fuck alone.

      • For our purposes, I think it’s safe to say that any definition of police violence will include pepper spraying people.

        So, cop pulls someone over for a DUI. The driver is taken out of the car and resists arrest. Cop pepper sprays him to gain compliance.

        This is violence?

        Or how about a cop simply returning fire with a fleeing bank robber? Also violence?

         

      • Of course it’s violence. Do you not know what “violence” means? I recommend a dictionary.

        You seem to be confusing violence with “unjustified” or “inordinate” or something to that effect. Violence is violence, regardless of what predcipitates it. If somebody’s pointing a gun at a cop, and the cop shoots him, the cop may have done the right thing, but it was still violence.

      • That’s tough to do. I will say “most of it,” though.

        We’ll start with the assumption that any violence when no one is in immediate physical danger is unnecessary, and then consider things on a case by case basis. In order to detain someone who has committed a crime, it might be necessary to violently restrain them, if they are violently resisting being detained.

        I suppose my basic definition would be: violence by police is unjustified if it is not itself a response to violence. It is also unnecessary if it is out of proportion with the situation: a taser is unnecessary for a nonviolent civilian, a gun is unnecessary when a taser would do, and so on.

      • And before you do, you are aware they all carry weapons, right?

        I think that’s the problem, or at least the core of it.  You let your police officers walk around carrying guns all the time and they start to think they’re better than everyone else.  Especially in urban areas where carrying guns is heavily restricted for everyone else.

      • Tasers are massive contributers. Give a cop a cattleprod-on-a-stick and he sees a pain compliance device. On the one hand, i can’t blame him.

        Tough job, long hours, often dealing with the dregs of humanity. How tempting it must be to know you can short-circuit a tedius process and arrive at the same end result with ten thousand totally harmless volts. To mitigate or negate risk entirely.

        Except, you know, that leads to cops using it as a tool for everything. Say something the cop didn’t like? Taser. Look at the cop funny? Taser. Loiter suspiciously? Taser. Cop had a bad day? Taser. Taser. Taser. Taser. Because who’s in charge? THE GUY WITH THE TASER.

        Best of all, it doesn’t leave much in the way of marks! Not like a good ol’ nightsticking or pistol-whipping did. Frankly, unless they actually die there’s really nothing they can do about it. It’s practically risk-free.

        Which is why it’s abused to hell and gone.

      • The best thing about a taser, in the cops eyes, is that it doesn’t leave a mark. That makes it easier to use indiscriminately. A billy club or a bullet leave a mark, so they’re more likely to us it only when needed.
      • People internalize and empathize with visible pain — broken bones, nasty contusions, bloody wounds. Contrast that with purely internal pain — the sort the body forgets (or rather, your memory of it becomes faded).

        I dislocated a knee. I remember thinking how insanely bad the pain was. How truly, mind-boggling, horrifyingly INSANE the pain was. I cannot, however, actually remember the pain. I remember my reactions to it, but I can only summon up the dimmest flickers of a memory of the actual agony. It’s an intellectual understanding.

        However, just thinking about — say — jagged bone poking from a wound, or a deep and bleeding cut, or even swollen bruises — and my mind is quite capable of giving me a very gut-level understanding of “that hurt”.

        Which leads to tasers. Because it leaves tiny marks, barely visible. To your gut, that means it can’t possibly hurt that much. Or really at all. It’s like whapping a child on the butt — doesn’t even leave a mark! It’s nothing!

        Even if you’ve experienced it for yourself, been tased as part of training — that memory of pain fades. You don’t have a gut-level reaction to that sort of pain.

        Which means it’s a lot easier to inflict it on someone else, because you’re missing a vital component for empathy. It takes a frightened or angry man (or a out and out sadist) to pistol-whip someone. The blood, the bruises, the broken bones — you know, without having to think about it, how much damage you’ve done and how it must have felt.

        But tase someone? You can do that in cold blood, jokingly. It doesn’t trigger those old, instinctual reactions. Lion’s weren’t tasing us on the savannah.

      • Chris – define ‘police violence’.

        And before you do, you are aware they all carry weapons, right?

        I’d define “police violence” as violence done by police.  Being aware that police carry weapons suggests to me that they have more means at their disposal to conduct violence.

        I’m not sure how I’d define “violence,” but I would start with saying “inflicting physical harm on someone.”

  9. Hmm. I keep reading this whole thing as “That protest was dressed provacatively. If it had only dressed in modest, conservative clothes, it wouldn’t have been hurt.”

    So keep that in mind, everyone who wants to exercise their first amendment rights. Don’t do so provacatively. Be conservative. Unnoticed. Don’t get all crazy with giant puppets or liberal politics. Just wave a gun around or a picture of an aborted fetus, and it’ll be all right.

    Protesting: It’s your right, as long as no one notices.

    • FWIW, I don’t read it that way.

      I think Mike is wrong, but I’ll credit him for an honest appraisal of the situation.

  10. Yes, protesters do things deliberately designed to provoke the police into using force that looks excessive. Do you know why it looks excessive? Because it is, in fact, excessive. Do you know what the police and do about that? They could refrain from using excessive force. Do you know precisely how much sympathy I have for the poor, provoked police officers with their riot shields, helmets and cans of tear gas spraying pepper spray into people’s faces for the horrible offense of sitting down? Less that this ->.

     

     

  11. Mike, as a law and order conservative, doesn’t this count as law?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Since the kids at Davis weren’t breaking any laws while sitting in the quad and were being peaceful, I don’t see why it needed to be broken up in the first place.

    • Mike’s not a rule-of-law conservative, he’s a rule-of-authority conservative, otherwise known as an authoritarian. It’s pretty straightforward (though he’ll do his best to muddle it so as to avoid the word.)
  12. I think the worst part of this is that the nightsticks didn’t come out.
    I would really like to see some heads busted up.
    I don’t see them protesting much these days down at Kent State.
    Sometimes you just got to teach those hippies a lesson.
    I don’t see why the campus police have to be wusses just because these are some college students.
    Go ahead and mow them down.
    They’re there to learn things, right?
    So teach them what the real world is like.
    There’s no reason in the world that a single one of the ‘protesters’ should still be ambulatory at the end of the day.
    That those hooligans are still walking around is nothing short of a shame.
    I say the police ought to find where they live, and go bust them up.
    Leaving the job half-finished isn’t helping anyone.
  13. Pingback: Today’s musings § Unqualified Offerings

  14. Mike, this is admittedly uncharitable, but here is how your post reads to me.

    The First Amendment protects the right of the people to peaceably assemble, but damn I hate it when people assemble, and since we’re pretty sure they can’t do it peaceably, let’s violently break up the assembly before it gets violent on the grounds that it will inevitably become violent.  No constitutional problem.

    Seriously, you’re angry that people are criticizing the police for breaking up an assembly that is a) constitutionally protected, and b) carried out with scrupulous attention to the rules of the UC?  I don’t like to think that “rule of law conservative” = “fuck the Constitution” conservative, but damned if you’re not coming across that way.

    • James, have you ever banned people from your comments section for trolling?

      If so, then you Removed Key Individuals via an Adequate Show Of Force.

  15. Lotta good comments here but this line from the post is my favorite:

    …but their job transcends the need for public approval.

  16. I am assuming this post is a parody?

    I love the subtle transition from:

    1) Initial Stage – An initial incident. Individuals in the milling process.

    2) Stage of collective excitement – Crowd becoming unified by circular influence. Stirred by action of key individuals.

    3) Stage of social contagion – Crowd accumulating masses of innocent bystanders as well as some trouble seekers.]

    to use of force in this particular instance. Were there people milling around? No, they were all sitting on the ground, or scattered in their tents.

     

  17. The more I think about it the more angry I get about the way so many people are criticizing the police in this situation. By all accounts the students were asked to leave multiple times and several physically resisted removal. Plain and simple, getting the police to do something like this was their goal. Mission accomplished. We could criticize the police for not avoiding the obvious trap, but their job transcends the need for public approval

    Horse hockey. There was a guy in the masthead of this very site (I can’t remember who it was) who was removed from the Iowa Capitol grounds during one of the protests that preceded this one, without the use of pepper spray or anything else that cause long term damage.  The UC Davis cops were lazy and stupid, completely lacked any discipline,  and were actively contemptuous of the regulations (and person) in authority over *them*

  18. Like almost all of you, I have mixed feelings about the police. As a law-abiding tax-paying citizen with property that needs protecting, I am in favor of a coercive force that keeps the “bad guys” in check. As a libertarian minded citizen, I am concerned always and everywhere with “coercive” forces. Long ago, Patrick had asked me to write about this, but the memories were a bit too painful at the time. They still are, but enough time has passed.

    Back in 1999 I was in Seattle making presentations on a company I had co-founded to a few VC firms there. I had flown in for the day and intended to fly out that evening. What I had no concept in the world of (being head down focused on business issues and the presentations) was that there was this little thing called the WTO Meeting. This was Nov. 30th, 1999. After a flight that arrived early that morning and several stops at VC’s I was physically and emotionally drained. I was also completely unprepared for what greeted me when I stepped out of the building onto the downtown street around 5:00 P.M. Thousands of protesters, many wearing costumes were running around and there were perhaps hundreds of police chasing them. I stood on the street corner, (foolishly waiting for the light to turn green) gaping slack jawed at the scene in front of me. Up in the offices of the VC firm, haggling over financial projections and valuations, I had not one clue in the world that chaos was reigning right outside.

    While I was standing there wearing my own costume, (that of a businessman trying to raise funds, suit, tie, polished shoes and a briefcase holding marketing collateral and my notebook computer), someone jabbed me HARD between my shoulder blades and yelled something unintelligible in the crowd noise. I thought it was a gun and I did what years of martial arts training taught my muscles to do without thought. I spun around and locked the guy’s arm while sending the “gun” (actually an L-shaped billy club) skittering to the ground. Then I realized he was a cop. I said, “What the hell did you do that for?” while bending down to pick up the club. Meanwhile, he was drawing his gun on me. Yet again, muscle memory and reflexes took over and I smacked the gun out of his hand with the club I had just picked up. Again I said (quite a bit louder this time, in case he was going deaf), “What the fuck are you doing? I’m not one of THEM!”, gesturing to the crowd on the street. Meanwhile, he was scampering for the weapon, so I put my foot on it and said, “No no no, not until you learn to behave”! Now of course, he’s on the radio screaming for assistance, assistance I am totally in favor of, since he needed a good talking to about common courtesy and proper appraisal of likely combatants. I am to this day 100% certain that not ONE protestor was dressed as I was at that moment.

    Now the cop was very agitated and I knew when the other officers showed up, they would request i give him his weapon back, but I don’t want him accidentally on purpose putting bullets into me, so I demonstrate for him the proper technique of magazine strip, cartridge ejection and slide removal. Since I do competitive pistol shooting, I’m pretty adept at this, takes about 4 seconds. I hand him the base and the magazine but keep the slide assembly for good measure (I might want to inspect it later). The other officers show up (three of them) and quickly surround me. I politely let them know that the first officer had unnecessarily hit me with this baton (gesturing) and had also pulled his weapon and showed them the slide. At this point the one behind me smacked me HARD on the head with his baton. Again, reflexes before thinking and I’ve smacked him with the briefcase (which I’m holding in the same hand as the baton I took earlier) in the jaw. I don’t want to drop the briefcase (it has my computer in it!) but the two in front of me have decided to use my head for billy club target practice so I use the briefcase to fend off the blows. Now I’m not so sure about the notebook anymore so decide to play with the baton from earlier. Dropped the slide and briefcase and now use it to pretty good effect (they’re holding theirs backwards to me), I use the “L” part to hook their batons which they’re holding with the “L” part by their hands.

    Now I’m no Jackie Chan and I was too old and out of shape for these games. The one behind me has decided to take a break and the two in front haven’t got their batons any more so I decide everyone is even and hold up my hands in the universal motion of surrender while dropping the baton. The first cop, who had started all this decided now was an excellent time to show me he was a star high school football player and piles into me, ruining a thousand dollar suit and $300 shoes as I slide along on my back and side on the concrete. The only thing left to do is roll into a ball while they play blanket party on me without the blanket. Very luckily for me, someone /else/ in a suit shows up, and even more fortuitously he is a detective. Never found out why he was there, I guess by now they have called out all the cops they can find. He does what none of them had done, asks me for ID, asks why I was there and then ignores their admonitions that I be charged with assaulting an officer and has a discussion with them about common courtesy and proper appraisal of likely combatants. He offers me a ride to the airport as long as I agree not to press charges. I readily agree happy to put as much distance between me and Seattle nutjobs as possible. On the flight home someone asked me what had happened and I said “the protests”. He said, “They must have thought you were with the WTO” and I said, “Yeah, right”.

     

     

    • Ward can you imagine that if your demographic characteristics were different the police would have treated you very very differently?
    • Great story Ward. It’s amazing you escaped from that without bullet wounds. Or a cracked skull. Or jail time.

      I second Simon’s suggestion about FPing it. As is.

      • I keep thinking about this story, Ward, and I just re-read it, and I want to say one other thing about it. What you did is off-the-charts cool. Like, unbelievably so. On a bunch of levels.

        Good on ya, man.

      • I’ve gone over this a thousand times in my head and 999 times it ends up worse than it did. If I hadn’t been so tired, and cranky and stressed out, I wouldn’t have been in condition white. Since then I never can get below condition yellow.
    • Its always a shame with a proper business man is roughed up by mistaken identity. Foolish police.

      Myself, I made the mistake of being stationed in Norfolk for a while and living in a predominately poor and Hispanic portion of town with my girlfriend. While I speak Spanish fluently, I look white and can speak English with no accent (I spent most of my childhood in Baltimore). So on a regular basis, I would get stopped by this sheriff deputy who assumed that as a “white” person, I had no business in the “spic part of time”. The assumption of his was that I had to either be a drug mule or a dealer picking up my drugs from those “Godless Mexicans”, not doubt selling drugs to my fellow whites as a turn coat to my race or some crazy KKK inspired shit. I honest wish I was describing something occuring in the 50′s but this was in 2004. After getting stopped 3 times in one week, and letting the cop search my truck, I finally had enough and said no during a forth stop.

      I got to sit next to the road, in handcuffs, for two hours while we waited for a K-9 unit to come…which never did. As this prick was letting me go, he said “Boy, when are you gonna learn to stop coming hear?” to which I responded “when are you going to learn I live here?!?”

      That got me a wack in the lower back with a baton. The sick f- literally walked five feet, took out the baton, and smacked me in the kidneys on the side of the road. I was pissing blood for a week. But as my momma always said, “Words can hurt so think before you speak”.

      Filed an official complaint at the local station after that. I literally drove start to the station. Demanded they took photos of my back, which was already turning purple. You learn in the military that local communities, especially cops and courts, view military members in their locals as quick money. We generally don’t have the time or legal support to fight things in court. So it takes a lot of shit for one of us enlisted to go to the cops. That was an unmitigated disaster. My command was contacted, saying that there was an active investigation against me for drugs and my apartment got raided as soon as I was out to sea a few weeks later. They ended up holding my then girlfriend for five days to verify she was legal (never mind she had photo ID and documents) and they threatened her the whole time she was getting sent back to Mexico (She is from PR).

      I had to put up with this sort of harassment for over 8 months until I left the area for Portsmouth. I ended up trying to live my life around this guy schedule as he was basically stalking me. I remember one night, I needed to pick up something for dinner and remembered that this cops shift had started…so we ended up just changing what we were cooking. I was literally that powerless to do anything. You can file complaint after complaint but if no one in Internal Affairs gives a shit, you are just making a bigger target on yourself.

      It sucks you got assaulted. For a lot of people though, its the systematic, day to day act of f-ing with people every single day that pisses of folks. I recognize that not every cop was like this deputy…but I can’t say that he doesn’t influence my fear of cops every time I see one.

      • Fucking Christ! All for being a white-looking guy in the ‘wrong’ part of town? You handled it well, I must say. From the outside looking in, it seems like a situation where it’d be easy to do something stupid – like act *normally* – and end up getting whacked.

        I’m thinking we should start compiling these stories. See how out of the ordinary they really are. I’ve never had an experience like this, but my wife has a story not nearly so intense as yours where she, two white guys and one black guy were hanging out in La Jolla. Cops came busting into the car park where they parked, told them all to not move, freeze, whatever – started shaking down the black guy for his papers and story. They roughed up thet guys and pulled guns on them. My wife looked at the cops when the whole thing was getting intense and said ‘you have no reason to be fucking with us, I’m outa here. You can shoot me in the back if you want to’ and walked out. They let her go but beat the shit outa the black guy and took all the others to the station.

        BBILJ, I guess.

  19. LA Police had a bad reputation for dealing with protests.  Chief Bratton (the man to whom Guilianni owes his carrer, if not his life) met with community organizers — as he had been in the habit of doing since he came to LA — and conducted dialogs.  Next protest in LA  have been incredibly peaceful.  Every protest since, including the Occupy LA protests — where occupiers were friendly with police and vice-versa — has gone the same.  When the police are seen as part of the community, instead of its “guardian” or whatever, the community works with the police.

    I have nothing but respect for Bratton, becuase he’s earned it.  Every time one of his officers screwed up, he IMMEDIATELY took them off the street, met with affected members of the community and took practical steps to make sure that screw-up wouldn’t happen again.  He NEVER made excuses for the cops.  The reputation of the police, which was pretty abysmal during the Ramparts era, has completely turned around.

    • I liked Chief Bratton quite a bit while he was here.  I have no opinion about his New York career.
    • I was in those protests, and yes the LAPD did a good job.

      Its funny that the post quotes approvingly of a police manual published in the 1950′s; I recently read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which demonstrates effective counter-moves to the tactics mentioned in that manual.

      Namely that provoking the police into over-reacting is effective propoganda. As Jeff notes, modern police departments have formulated an effective counter-counter move to Alinsky’s tactics- of cooperating to the maximum extent, of isolating troublemakers while giving freedom to the main organizers.

      This gives the organizers the ability to make a noisy march and get media coverage, while only blocking traffic and sidewalks for a short time.

      Good protests aren’t aimed at actually forcing anything to happen; it isn’t about actually stopping a rail shipment of weapons, or forcing a Congressman to sign a resolution or anything like that.

      The purpose of protests is to rally the faithful and persuade fence-straddling people to join the cause. Protests are the weapon of those who can’t put on a 30 second TV ad, or send out mass mailings or robocalls. Occupy was able to singlehandedly change the national dialogue from deficit hysteria to wealth inequality, without spending a dime.

      So blocking an intersection for a short time, getting on TV and (hopefully) having a short interview with a articulate spokesman is a good way to disseminate your message.

      If the cops want to play the part of Imperial Stormtroopers and make a viral-friendly video, so much the better.

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