When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That is why police arrested two journalists the other day in Ferguson, MO before releasing them without charges. Had the journalists done anything wrong, or committed a crime? No. Were they taunting police, or causing a disruption? No, they were eating at McDonald’s, when it was stormed by a SWAT-like unit of police. Maybe the police were hoping one of the journalists’ hands would leave their view so they could shoot him with impunity. But how stupid must these cops be to think arresting two mainstream reporters would help their image, or improve the situation?
This stomping of First Amendment rights—or just human rights, natural rights against being harassed for normal, non aggressive activity—will only lead more to wake up. I am glad, for the sake of public awareness, some mainstream media personnel are going through what amateur videographers and bloggers go through daily. We are starting to hear whispers: is the public waking up from their dream of a peaceful 1950’s Officer Friendly neighborhood, to find themselves in the cold dark reality of a police state?
“From the beginning of this situation, the police have made conscious decisions to restrict information and images coming from Ferguson,” David Boardman, president of the association, said in the statement. “Of course, these efforts largely have been unsuccessful, as the nation and the world are still seeing for themselves the heinous actions of the police. For every reporter they arrest, every image they block, every citizen they censor, another will still write, photograph and speak.”
…“That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news,” Baron said. “The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous. After being placed in a holding cell, he was released with no charges and no explanation. He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him.”
This comes after the Ferguson police attempted to ban low flying aircraft over the city, so that news helicopters could not see what was happening on the ground. Through every step of this recent tragedy, the police have done the wrong thing: becoming violent and militarized, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, and suppressing the filming and reporting of the events. There were in fact riots; so why are the police bothering to harass innocent people while they could be stopping looting and actual violence?
Of course the whole situation in Ferguson between rightfully angry protesters and militarized police started when an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by police. The police are now saying he was a “strong-armed robbery” suspect: he allegedly shoplifted and intimidated the clerk. But why does that lead to a death sentence, carried out without judge and jury, by an arresting officer? If the suspect was dangerous, get more officers to subdue him without incident. If the suspect was not dangerous, then why is he dead? Again, the police only know how to do one thing: use force, more and more often excessive force.
Situations everyday are exacerbated by a police presence that looks like it dropped from the sky out of a war zone in the middle east—the training ground for a new generation of police. There are SWAT raids for non-violent crimes, often no-knock raids in which people are accidentally shot, or shot on purpose when they respond how anyone would respond to random unidentified violent people breaking into their homes!
Many of us lowly bloggers have been attempting to raise the red flag about the way police are acting these days. Unfortunately there is an attitude that it is always “the other side” being harassed by the police. And that is another product of the fascism which splintered into both mainstream political parties: one loves the nanny state, one loves the police state. And as a former police state apologist (many moons ago), I see it as my duty to wake people up to the fact that the dog will bite the hand that fed it.
When all you got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.