Archive - Jul 2015

July 22nd

Still Didn't Comply Enough

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Memo to Mindless Cop Defenders: IMPRESSIVE.

As the subject of police overreach has grown in prominence, we here at You Are Dumb Dot Net have tended to focus on the people willing to defend the police from charges of overreach, because when all is said and done, they're why nothing will ever change.

And the mantra of these people, though they will never say it out loud, is that if you are a member of any class they personally don't like - a minority, a poor, a liberal, a hippie - you can never comply enough. Because the police took action against you, you must not have complied enough. If you'd only complied enough, the police, being good people doing a tough job correctly 100% of the time, would not have caused your death.

Sandra Bland did not comply enough, and in doing so, has lowered the bar considerably for "not complying enough", which is impressive, since in previous incidents, stealing cigarettes, not paying child support, and selling cigarettes were all declared capital crimes. Sandra Bland's capital crime was not extinguishing a cigarette.

She was pulled over for not signaling her lane change when she tried to yield to the officer that arrested her, thereby not showing proper deference to the dignity of the Texas police. The officer asked her to put out her cigarette, and Bland refused on the grounds that it was a ridiculous request outside the jurisdiction of law enforcement. For her intransigence she was ordered to leave the car, threatened with a taser when she refused, dragged out of the car, handcuffed, and eventually charged with "assaulting a police officer" for allegedly kicking him in the shin while he was arresting her for not using her turn signal.

Sandra Bland died in custody at the Harris County jail, hung by a plastic garbage bag that ended up in her cell. Now, this is suspicious on a number of levels. There's some weirdness with the dash-cam video, the officer failed to mention the cigarette, the taser threat, oh, and he lied about when he arrested her; there's alleged weirdness with with the jailhouse surveillance footage, and as I write this, there are reports that after releasing the body to the family, the police are asking to do a second autopsy. And sure, she threatened the cop with a lawsuit repeatedly on the dash-cam tape, which makes for the classic trifecta of motive, means, and opportunity. All of that is weird. All of that is suspicious, and none of it matters.

Because even if Sandra Bland managed to take her own life in a jail cell despite the best efforts of Texass police to keep that from happening (unlikely, but let's go with it), she was still in that jail cell for one reason, and one reason only. A cop decided to assert his authority for shits and giggles, and then, when that asserted authority wasn't received with 100% obeisance, he escalated the situation and made an arrest that every non-Fox legal observer anyone's asked has called wildly unprofessional at best, and completely illegal at worst.

You can claim it's not racist, but the fact remains that what is considered a failure to cooperate for Americans of color is a hell of a lot lower than it is for white ones. You can claim that even during an unlawful stop, your best bet is to comply completely, don't argue, and then, if you don't end up "killing yourself" in your jail cell, file a civil suit later, but what the hell kind of world are you defending? One where the authorities can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and if you have enough money for a lawyer, you might get some kind of justice three or four years later?

Just stop. Stop defending it. Stop defending it even more when it happens to a minority, though it's difficult to tell how much more, because it so rarely happens to a white person. I promise you, you can safely not defend the absolute outer fringe of egregious police behavior without handing your hated enemies - the aforementioned minorities, poors, liberals, and hippies - somehow scoring points or gaining ground against you. And there's a slim chance you could even regain a tiny shred of your lost humanity.