The Land of the Free

Sometimes I think that Radley Balko is the most important blogger in the world for his tireless work in documenting daily the atrocious injustices that go on here in The Land of the Free. Of course, everyone knows we’re all human, that mistakes resulting in cruel injustices happen even in the wake of good intentions and generally prudent and reasonable policies.

But what if that’s not what America is, today? What if the cruel injustices are far too common? What if they are perpetrated on the innocent with bad intentions–intentions rooted in political and bureaucratic self-promotion at the expense of people who aren’t hurting anybody?

I’ve come beyond the point where I can keep up anymore. What’s more, it would be kind of silly to have every–or every other one–of my blog entries point to some new cruelty at Radley’s place. So here’s an idea: I’ll give you about a two-week wrapup of some of the stuff I consider most important. Maybe I’ll do it regularly. We’ll see.

– The Drug War against math nerds

Drug cops in Falmouth, Mass.
sent a hot, young female cop to pose as a student at the local high
school. She befriended several adolescent boys with low self esteem by
pretending she was interested in them, then she asked them to get her
marijuana. If you’ve ever been a high school boy, it won’t surprise you
to learn that they came through, even though most of them had no
history of drug use at all, much less of drug peddling. Of course, they
were promptly arrested, booked, and touted out as the latest Drug War

– Creating Crime

– Stupid Immigrants (are you sure it’s who you think?)

– Another Isolated Incident of "TACT"

A. L. Bostick and his wife,
Lisa, both in their 80s, were rousted early Wednesday morning as
heavily armed members of the city’s Tactical Apprehension Containment
Team smashed into their house on Allen Drive searching for the meth lab. […]
A. L. Bostick remained hospitalized Thursday with bruised ribs and a torn spleen. […] Lisa Bostick was treated for a dislocated shoulder and a broken collarbone…

– "From a federal standpoint…" (Where ATF thugs promoting "Project Safe Neighborhood" forget their G.I Joe wannabe costumes, but nonetheless undertake to "defend" the U of Georgia campus from a costumed Ninja.)

– No Place Like Texas

In case you haven’t been paying attention, let’s summarize:  These alcohol control agents are dressing in SWAT gear to raid bars where people are drinking.

– SWAT to the "rescue"

Yes, the picture to your left is from Buffalo, New York.  Not Iraq.  Or some third world junta-dictatorship. […] Note the artfully written third
paragraph. Police "rescued" the boy, they didn’t endanger him by
tossing a flashbang and firing weapons into the home he was in in the
first place.

"We are declaring war […]," said Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson…

– War on Doctors (just wait until you or one of your loved ones writhes in chronic pain)

Another doctor and pharmacist go down for administering opiate-based pain relief.

– Too Many to Name?

A baffling development in Los
Angeles, home to some of the more notorious police abuse cases over the
last several decades. The chief of police there has apparently decided that he will no longer release the names of any police officer involved in a shooting or excessive use of force case.

– Constitutional

The city of Seattle seized an independent coffee shop via eminent domain […] The project eventually failed […] The city sold the shop back to its original owners […] All in all, the owners of the
shop lost some $120,000 between legal fees and the $70,000 extra they
had to pay above what the city originally paid them when it seized
their property.

– Yea, But it Can’t Happen Here

In February of last year,
I told you about Lester Eugene Siler, a Tennessee man who was literally
tortured by five sheriff’s deputies in Campbell County, Tennessee who
suspected him of selling drugs. The only reason we know Siler was
tortured is because his wife had the good sense to start a recording
device about halfway through the ordeal.

The audio is now available online (read the transcript here).
Drug war outrages lend themselves to overuse of superlatives. But I
gotta say, this may be the most horrifying 40 minutes of audio I’ve
ever heard.

The police are attempting to get the illiterate man to sign an admission of guilt
consent form to search his house without telling him what it says. They
beat him, over and over, hook electrodes up to testicles and shock him,
threaten to kill him, and threaten to go after his family. Early news
accounts reported that the torture continued well beyond the end of the
recording. After the tape ran out, the same deputies apparently
repeatedly submerged the guy’s head in a fish tank and a bath tub,
threatening to drown him unless he confessed.

You know, one of the categories under which this is posted is "Shame and Disgrace." I used to call it "The Hate File," but found that hate can really take you only so far. This, really, is far, far beyond hate. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m nearly at the point of embarrassment over being a human being. Still, to this very day, I have people telling me: "they’re breaking the law," even over trivialities like kids crashing a condo swimming pool on one of the first hot afternoons of the year.

I’m not justifying trespassing. It’s wrong because it’s not their property. The "law"–whatever the fuck it says about it–is completely inapplicable to such a situation.

What has this one thing to do with the other–with Radley’s litany of contemptible and evil abuse perpetrated by goons against innocents? If you don’t immediately know, you’re actually part of the problem.

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  1. Don on May 1, 2006 at 23:52

    There are just too many incidents like the ones you mentioned above to keep track. Also, you kind of get mad and depressed after finding so many. I really liked the one about the hot cop who wanted nerds to get her drugs. That's a classic. What boy wouldn't?

  2. Jonathan Arnold on May 2, 2006 at 08:48

    You might be interested in checking out an organization that a friend of mine runs. It is called "LEAP" – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

    A 5000 member strong group of concerned current and former members of law enforcement who want reform in our drug laws.

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