Inalienable: Some Rights Belong to Everyone
Join now to read essay Inalienable: Some Rights Belong to Everyone
The latest in a long list of incidents of excessive force by LAPD officers should serve as a clear indication that something is terribly wrong with our approach to “law enforcement” in America.
Police expected a much larger crowd than the 10,000-15,000 people attending the immigration rally at MacArthur Park on May 1st. Perhaps if there had been a larger crowd, they would have used better “judgement” before attacking peaceful protestors and reporters with clubs and rubber projectiles leaving several victims with bloody welts, two inches in diameter.
But that would have required a certain amount of courage that the LAPD has repeatedly demonstrated it lacks. Greatly outnumbered, they would have placed considerably less faith in their guns, batons, and body armor to protect them when they attempted to disperse the participants who were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to Free Speech and Assembly.
They might have thought twice about endangering the elderly and children at the rally by indiscriminately firing rubber bullets into the mass of frightened humanity fleeing before them. They may have questioned the wisdom of attacking reporters documenting the previously peaceful event, striking and pushing them along with everyone else, while seizing and throwing press cameras across the park.
If the gathering had been a very large one, I have little doubt that the LAPD would have conducted themselves as police officers should. They would have kept a watchful eye out for fights, vandalism, and other such significant crimes, interfering only if necessary to keep the peace instead of breaking it themselves. They would have targeted their efforts only at the few troublemakers inevitably found at any large gathering, making every effort to avoid confrontation with the main body of the group who were behaving lawfully.
If police can act properly in the presence of a huge crowd, what excuse can be made when they show so little restraint with a smaller, more manageable one?
When officers provide security at other political events, such as campaign rallies, they seem to be perfectly capable of observing the boundaries of the law. Can you imagine police in full riot gear firing rubber bullets into the main body of voters who came to hear a stump speech by their favorite politician? And to then proceed to advance on the crowd in an effort to drive the whole assembly from their chosen meeting place, swinging batons and shooting at anyone they decide is not moving fast enough?
I wonder what would happen at an outdoors Presidential debate if a small group of protestors mingled with the crowd were behaving unlawfully? Would the LAPD indiscriminately apply the same amount of force they used in MacArthur Park? How outraged would the country be after watching video of Elizabeth Edwards running in terror, hunched over trying to shield her baby grandchild from projectiles that might only injure an adult, but could easily kill a child?
What do you think would happen if reporter Greta van Susteren was covering the debate, when she was suddenly knocked to the ground by police, breaking her wrist, and watching as an officer yanks the newscamera from her operators grasp, hurling it through the air?
Imagine being in the middle of that crowd with your elderly mother, who is not physically able to move fast enough to stay ahead of the riot line. I usually have an easy-going personality. Im not easily angered. But if you want to see me turn into a crazed primal maniac, just harm my mother, my wife, or my kids. I dont