Any smug assumptions that we are somehow immune to the cult of authoritarian manipulation and triumph has disappeared in a fog of pepper spray.
By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (6/8/20)
For Americans who like to assure themselves that somehow we are exceptional; that our supposedly democratic institutions and principles are a vaccine against the virus of authoritarianism, this past week has revealed we are as vulnerable to tyranny as any poverty-crippled third world nation. Our dank, corrupted institutions have proven to be beyond brittle. Any smug assumptions that we are somehow immune to the cult of authoritarian manipulation and triumph has disappeared in a fog of pepper spray.
As in any other fascist backwater, we even saw ranks of coronavirus-infected secret police encircling the (very) White House. The cowardly bullies swept the streets of peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights so that our tawdry little potentate could strut to a nearby church he would never normally attend to hold up a Bible he has never read … appropriately upside down. Just like the rest of the nation.
Freedom is not a convenience. In fact, freedom is a pain in the ass. We are learning it is a tough job we have to work at.
Journalists have been intentionally targeted for arrest, beatings, gassing and one young photographer lost her eye to an intentionally crippling police rubber bullet. Those defeating freedom tolerate no witnesses.
Freedom, we are learning is not a thing; something to be picked up like a six-pack of Coors Lite on the way home at the corner convenience store. It is a process; an activity; an exercise; a way of being. You beathe it. Or not. If fed a junk food diet of cheesy flavored news bits and swigs of sugary rumor and salty slices of prejudice and heart-pumping menthol-flavored fumes of hatred, freedom dies — just like any other neglected life process.
God bless the protesters. If we have any hope it will not come from our supine corporate-owned Republicans or corporate-suckling Democrats, all of whom long ago traded in their cramped little souls for corporate Gummy Bear treats and fart-inducing chocolate flavored Wall Street handshakes.
No, our only hope is an activated, angry, resolute and fearless multi-racial, motivated, noisy citizenry. Freedom is not a convenience. In fact, freedom is a pain in the ass. We are learning it is a tough job we have to work at; a finicky garden that needs constant weeding and tilling and tending. Freedom is a process that without courage, risk and sacrifice can quickly become just yet another corporate takeover; just like everything else in our sold-out nation.
Support our patriotic protesters!
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2020. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Protests About Police Brutality Are Met With Waves Of Police Brutality
By Adam Gabbatt
The Guardian (5/6/20)
The nationwide anti-police brutality protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the US have been marked by widespread incidents of police violence, including punching, kicking, gassing, pepper-spraying and driving vehicles at often peaceful protesters in states across the country.
The actions have left thousands of protesters in jail and injured many others, leaving some with life-threatening injuries.
From Minnesota to New York, Texas, California, Washington DC and many places beyond, from small towns to big cities, police officers have demonstrated just how problematic law enforcement is in the US, drawing condemnation from international groups as well as domestic civil rights organizations.
The International Crisis Group, which monitors unrest around the world, said the police had used “excessive force”. The UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said: “All police officers who resort to excessive use of force should be charged and convicted for the crimes committed.”
Numerous incidents of police violence have been exposed in disturbing videos and press accounts in recent days, with little sign that police are adjusting their tactics.
New York City alone has seen numerous incidents. On Saturday 30 May, officers in a police SUV drove at a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn, knocking several to the ground. A day earlier, a police officer was caught on camera violently shoving a woman to the ground during a demonstration. The woman, Dounya Zayer, was taken to hospital and said she suffered a seizure and concussion.
At another New York protest, an officer yanked a facemark from an African American man who was standing with his hands in the air, then pepper-sprayed him in the face.
In Buffalo, in western New York state, two officers shoved a 75-year-old man to the ground. A video showed the man hitting his head on the ground, causing his blood to spill on the sidewalk. He is now gravely ill in hospital.
On Thursday, a video posted to Twitter showed a group of police beating peaceful protesters in Philadelphia. One officer is seen using a baton to hit a man on the head, before he and another officer pin him to the ground.
Protesters in Minneapolis, where four police officers have been charged with murder over the death of George Floyd, have also been subjected to violence.
In one incident police shot paint canisters at a woman who was standing on the porch of her own home. Footage showed an officer shouting, “Light ’em up” before police opened fire. Minneapolis police have also used teargas, flash-bangs and rubber bullets on a peaceful protests in the city.
In the south-east of the US, a black woman who was kneeling with her hands in the air was shoved to the ground by police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In Los Angeles, as in other cities in the US, police have also repeatedly fired rubber bullets at protesters. Among those struck was CJ Montano, a military veteran, who said he had his hands up when he was shot in the head, hip, legs, stomach and ribs. In Austin, Texas, police are conducting an internal investigation after a pregnant woman was reportedly hit with a round to her stomach. …
The Police Are Targeting Protest Medics
This would be a war crime in a combat zone.
By Jeffrey Young
Protests can be dangerous places, especially demonstrations about police violence where officers use batons, shields, tear gas, rubber bullets and their fists on the participants.
That’s why people with medical training ― emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors and others ― usually come to provide aid, just like they do at other large gatherings. In addition to assaults by police officers, protesters have to worry about violence from counterprotesters, not to mention injuries from simply being in a large crowd and other health care emergencies, like heatstroke. The need for rapid medical assistance is real.
During times of war, soldiers aren’t allowed to attack military medics.
Whether these volunteer medics support the aims of Black Lives Matter protesters or not, their purpose is to help anyone who becomes sick or injured.
But as police across the United States have made plain ― particularly now, as people take to the streets to protest racism and police violence against Black Americans after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd last week ― it doesn’t matter who you are or why you’re there: The cops will take you out.
On top of instigating violence with peaceful protesters and escalating the demonstrations with shows of force and military-style gear and vehicles (and the actual military), police officers have targeted essential workers such as health care personnel and food deliverers, as well as journalists, including a HuffPost reporter.
Police brutality is wrong under any circumstances, but the instances of medical personnel being assaulted or harassed are deeply troubling.
Police used shotguns to fire bean bags filled with lead pellets at an injured protester and the medics trying to assist him during an Austin, Texas, demonstration.
Police arrested a physician and journalist who attended a protest in New York City to offer his services as a medical doctor. …
57 Cops Resign To Support Officers Fired For Shoving 75-Year-Old
The Guardian (5/5/20)
More than 50 police officers in Buffalo have resigned in support of two colleagues who were suspended after video showed them shoving a 75-year-old peace activist to the ground who then cracked his head and was hospitalized with severe injuries.
The resigning 57 officers comprised the entire Buffalo police department (BDP) emergency response team. They will still be employed by BDP and be paid, but they will no longer work on the emergency response team.
The shock development, which triggered a wave of social media outrage, is likely to heighten tensions in the city in New York state, which like many other places has seen widespread anti-police-brutality protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
The protests have been marred by widespread incidents of police violence against demonstrators and the media that have triggered condemnation by civil rights groups in the US and overseas. Many of them have been filmed and spread via social media.
The brutal attack on Martin Gugino by the Buffalo police seemed to strike a particular chord.
Video from the public radio station WBFO shows Gugino approaching a line of helmeted officers holding batons as they clear demonstrators from Niagara Square around the time of an 8pm curfew. Two officers push Gugino backward, and he hits his head on the pavement. Blood spills as officers walk past. One officer leans down to check on the injured man before he is urged along by another officer.
Prosecutors are now investigating and two officers have been suspended.
Simply executing orders
“Why? Why was that necessary? Where was the threat?” asked the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, at his daily briefing on Friday, saying he had spoken to Gugino. “It’s just fundamentally offensive and frightening. How did we get to this place?”
But the local police union boss defended his officers. “Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” said John Evans, PBA president, according to WGRZ. …
Condemning Police Conduct As ‘Disgusting,’ Federal Judge Bars Denver Cops From Using Chemical Weapons On Protesters
By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (5/6/20)
A federal judge late Friday issued a temporary order barring the Denver Police Department from using projectiles and chemical weapons such as tear gas against peaceful demonstrators, condemning the conduct of some officers against protesters across the nation in recent days as “disgusting.”
“The time is past to rely solely on the good faith and discretion of the Denver Police Department and its colleagues from other jurisdictions,” wrote Judge R. Brooke Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in his 11-page order (pdf). “The Denver Police Depart. has failed in its duty to police its own.”
The restraining order, which took effect immediately, comes in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of four Denver protesters who said the use of “pepper spray, pepper balls, rubber bullets, flashbang grenades, and tear gas” by city police during a May 28 demonstration against the killing of George Floyd violated their constitutional rights. Jackson’s ruling came just hours after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, imposed a 30-day ban on police use of tear gas, which is banned in warfare.
“If immediate relief is not granted, plaintiffs’ speech would be chilled and outright denied over the next several days or weeks of demonstrations,” Jackson wrote. “Indeed, irreparable harm has already occurred in the form of physical injury and the suppression of speech.”
“People have an absolute right to demonstrate and protest the actions of governmental officials, including police officers,” Jackson continued. “It is one of the many freedoms on which this country was built… Citizens should never have to fear peaceful protest on the basis of police retaliation, especially not when protesting that very same police violence.”
While Jackson’s order was described as “extraordinary” and applauded as a positive step that should be replicated nationwide, it is not without loopholes. As the Colorado Sun reported, Jackson’s order allows Denver police to use chemical agents and some projectiles against demonstrators “if an on-scene supervisor at the rank of captain or above specifically authorizes such use of force in response to specific acts of violence or destruction of personal property that the supervisor witnessed.”
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