Police Need to Tone it Down

wvpUnfortunately the promise of feeling powerful and important as a police officer attracts a lot of bad characters to the profession. Some of these cops really seem to get a rise out of harassing innocent people walking down the street. Remember, in America, you are still innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof rests on the accuser. That is why internal affairs is investigating the behavior of two Philadelphia police officers whose profanity laced tirade against two black men walking down the street was caught on video by one of the men being detained.

First the police pull up alongside the two men and immediately demand identification. This is already illegal; the Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable search and seizure, but these police are not concerned with rights. They illegally search both men, and find nothing illegal on them. The police inform the men that they are being searched because they said “hi” to a third man sitting on a stoop. The man informs the officer he has committed no crime, and the officer then goes on a confusing rant saying, “How do we know that? How do you know we didn’t get a radio call… Everybody thinks they’re a f**king lawyer and they don’t know jack shit”. One officer then responds to the victim who says he feels threatened, by saying “I feel threatened!”. Well, the officer is the aggressor who initiated an illegal search with no evidence of a crime, and detained an innocent man. The officer also has a gun, and the other man is unarmed, so who should feel threatened? Especially when police officers have murdered innocent unarmed people on numerous occasions.

The officers also make derogatory comments about the men saying they are freeloaders, and dirty, despite at least one of them having a job. The officer says “We don’t want you here anyway, all you do is weaken the f**king country”, and should go back where they came from… presumably talking about Camden, New Jersey where one of the men says he lives. Are we okay with innocent people being treated like this by officers who have a monopoly on the use of force? We must submit to “authorities” who belittle and berate us despite the fact that we have done nothing wrong? We’re supposed to respect cops who threaten us with arrest because we “don’t cooperate” when they are violating our rights and hurling insults and expletives our way?

“We should take that one just for his big f**king mouth”.  “Well they crossed the street on a red light so…”

Oh I see, so now this is about jaywalking. A minute before the officers say “Why are you saying hi to that guy on the street? That’s not something you do in this neighborhood”, but now that the cops have gotten attitude from the people they are harassing, they search around for a crime to hold them for, since after the illegal search no contraband was found. One of the men does not want to give the officers his name or ID, and he doesn’t have to, yet he is constantly threatened with detainment for not giving up his papers. Then there is the following exchange, for which I commend the man being harassed by police. He stays calm while having his rights violated, yet the cops who are the aggressors fly off the handle frequently.

Cop: “Obviously you have something to hide… All he had to do was tell us his name…”

Victim: “I value my privacy that’s it, don’t you, don’t you value your privacy? You don’t want me to know where you live at do you, or anybody on the streets?”

Cop: “I don’t want strangers to know where I live at, but we’re the police.”

Victim: “Well you’re strangers to me.”

Cops are not above the law, they are not better than other people, and they are certainly strangers to many. This man is correct that the police officer has as much right to look at his ID and know his address as the man does to know the cop’s address. These men are rightfully skeptical of “authorities” who conduct illegal, intrusive searches while obviously becoming agitated and agressive. Why would you want to deal with an officer who is threatening you and saying you’re worthless, and making fun of the neighborhood and city in which you live? He has not exactly built up a good reputation with his victim of an illegal stop and frisk policy.

One of the last statements the officer makes in the video to the innocent man he detained is, “You know what happens when people run? We run them over with the police car.” So now they have been threatened with physical violence, just for running from an officer, who has no right to stop them in the first place. If these men had not submitted to this authority, and allowed an illegal search and violation of their rights, would they have been murdered by the police; run down with their car?

There is no need for these police officers to use this rhetoric, to insult their victims, and to scream profanities at innocent people who are simply questioning why their rights are being violated. Stop and frisk is completely illegal, in violation of the Fourth Amendment which guarantees the right against unreasonable search and seizure. Unfortunately many today, especially minorities, have little choice but to allow these officers to harass them. Otherwise they would have been detained, possibly missed work and lost their job, or worse, based on some of the threats these cops were throwing around.

Officers like these need to be made an example of, and fired, because these are the same type that will eventually fly off the handle, and shoot innocent unarmed people, and get away with it. Just because someone has a shiny piece of metal does not make them better, more trustworthy, and does not make it okay for them to violate rights. The whole attitude that a police officer is in a position to issue orders to civilians needs to be reversed. These victims in the video handled themselves quite well in this situation. Now think about how you might have handled it if these cops had rolled up on you in your neighborhood and acted the same way because you said hi to a friend sitting on his front steps.

6 thoughts on “Police Need to Tone it Down

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