Toddlers, Perspective, Drugs, and Flashbanging Swat Raids.

My family is a diverse  and divided one, and I love it.  Not just racially, but politically and on all those “controversial” issues which you aren’t supposed to bring up at the dinner table at family parties.  Well I’m a true rebel and I bring up that crap anyway.  So I somewhat… started up a huge debate on gun control with my family. (My aunt for a while was of the opinion that we didn’t need guns because the cops would always be there in time to protect people. Note I live about 50 minutes from Chicago.)

It ended up in everyone shouting, my Uncle putting my Aunt in an armlock, my Uncle yelling at my Grandpa for bailing him out of jail – I didn’t even know that happened – my Dad yelling about my Aunt being a cop and it distorting her perspective. It literally looked like something out of a movie.  Wait.  Right there, that magic word – Perspective.

Me and my Dad both hold rather “anti-cop” views – according to cops that is on PoliceOne – the site where if a cop blows up kittens on public television – the use of that force must somehow be justified.  My aunt is a cop and tends to view things from their point-of-view, even if the video evidence is pretty damning. She points out that there are always two sides to the story. I’m not sure what other “sides” to the story there can be in some of the headlines over the years that I have seen – and the one’s I’ll list are just three out of the hundreds.  So just for background:

1. The Kelly Thomas beatdown – that homeless man in Seattle who they literally beat to death as he called for his dad for over 10 minutes.  Seriously, watch the video. It’s sickening and disturbing. I’m EXTREMELY manly, but it made me cry.  Image

2. A “no knock” recent swat raid on a house in Georgia where they “suspected” drugs were located. It’s “unclear” whether they found drugs or not – That means they did not – but they did throw a flashbang in the house that melted off part of the face of a two year old toddler, burned a hole in his chest, and now has him in a coma.  It reads like something out of a movie where everything goes wrong for a family, but the video of the kid really shows how – fucked up – this really is.

3. An 80 year-old man killed in his own bed in a swat raid where the police were looking for Meth. They didn’t find any and were forced to change their story after bloodstains in the man’s bed indicated that he had been sleeping.  “Put the gun down!” apparently was shouted after the six shots were fired… not before.  What side could the deputy who pulled the trigger have to justify his actions?

Sidenote: Below, courtesy of Cato is a map of many botched Swat Raids. It should trouble you. Their site has the “interactive” map for you to scour through.

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I list those three examples specifically because of the perspective on the other end toward what happened.  The perspective of the district attorney and the GBI (George Bureau of Investigation) emphasized by the County Sheriff (Terrell) on the injured Toddler story mentioned above blew my mind.

“I’ve talked to the D.A., I’ve talked to the GBI,” Terrell said. “I’ve given them the whole information and they say there’s nothing else we can do. There’s nothing to investigate, there’s nothing to look at. Given the information given, GBI’s SWAT team would have done the exact same thing – they’d have used the exact same scenario to enter the house.”

As Radley Balko points out in his article on the Washington Post about this story and the SWAT policy for raids:

If your drug cops conduct a raid that ends up putting a child in the hospital with critical burns, and they did nothing that violates your department’s policy, then there’s something wrong with your policy.

However, I’ve seen cops defend this burned toddler pointing to the perspective of the SWAT team, notably at the fore-mentioned PoliceOne facebook page where what I assume is mostly officers exchange stories of “winning”. Note some of these perspectives:

  • “As sad as this is this is not the fault of the Police. The scum bag mother is to blame here.”
  • “WOW, REALLY? I CAN’T BELIEVE THE NUMBER OF “SO CALLED” OFFICERS ON THIS THREAD THAT ARE BLAMING THE POLICE ON THIS ISSUE! DID YOU READ THE ARTICLE?  THIS WAS NOT THE INJURED CHILD’S HOME. THE FAMILY WAS VISITING FROM OUT OF TOWN. THE PROBLEM IS THEY WERE SLEEPING IN A DRUG PUSHER’S HOME!!!!SAD, YES, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. THE CHILD SUFFERED FOR HIS PARENTS STUPIDITY. DON’T BLAME THE OFFICERS WHEN THE RESPONSIBILITY LIES WITH THE ADULT PARENTS IN THIS SITUATION!” –   (What is this Tumblr with the all caps?)
  •  “They did nothing wrong. Don’t take a infant to a drug house and this would not happen.”
  • ” Here’s an idea. Don’t sell drugs and cops won’t throw flashbangs into your house.”
  • “Dont commit crimes and things like this wont happen…..yeah blame the police for doing their jobs arresting POS criminals. This is the families fault this baby is injured. NOT the police.”
  • “Meanwhile, keeping a toddler in the home of violent felons, meth labs, dangerous criminals walking in and out on a daily basis high on dope, and complete disregsrd for any care for a toddler is ignored. Charge the parents an extra felony for the innocent childs suffering.”

The Facebook posts to the article go on and on.  What’s fascinating is that the drug fiend they were looking for was the husband’s brother who didn’t even live there, nor was there at the time when the raid occurred.  Essentially, we all better hope that none of our friends or family does, partakes, deals, ect – with or without your knowledge – and come’s back home for Thanksgiving because a SWAT team could bust through the door and toss military grade hardware your way.

What this all boils down to is that no matter who gets hurt, the cops they will justify whatever happens because from their perspective, it appears to be us vs. them; they are first and we are a distant second.  I love my Aunt dearly, but she said something that has disturbed me in conversations over things of this nature, “I will do whatever I need to do get back home safe to my family.”  I understand that, but imagine all the other cops who think like this. I hope I’m not deemed an obstacle to said safety from their perspective.

I don’t have a particular vendetta, even though my aunt believes I do. I have no criminal record, though I am still perturbed at some of the bullshit traffic tickets I’ve gotten. I won’t pretend to say I don’t have a bias, but when I see injustice like this excused it angers me. When a toddler has part of his face burnt off, a hole in his chest, and is in a coma in what is essentially an appeal to “safety” for the SWAT team by flashbanging without knocking or investigating to see if children were present, we have a deep problem.

Seriously. Justify it. I dare you. Look at it from “their perspective” and justify the botched raids and what happened to people like Kelly Thomas.  Even if “use of force” is/was justified, their deaths certainly were not.

We need to be deeply worried about the prevalence of this assumption among Law Enforcement that “resisting” arrest automatically means it’s acceptable to use lethal force to subdue a “suspect.”  I seriously don’t give a fuck if the suspect is resisting or not. It doesn’t mean you need to kill them or use excessive force. 

I strongly suggest LEO’s would be less likely to endorse excessive force of they or their families were subjected to their all too common playbook.

Everyday there is a story of excessive force by the police, brutality, mistaken shootings. We need to address this growing epidemic of state sponsored brutality before we, our families, and are friends become suspects and subject to this treatment.

 

 

 

 

School sexual harrasment policy harrases six year old.

I saw this rather amusing, yet disturbing article from the Washington Post a week back on Drudge concerning the supposed sexual harassment of one student by a fellow student who is six years old. That’s right, six years old. What exactly did he do? Nothing. It’s what he said to his fellow female student.

“I’m sexy and I know it.” quoting a line from that pop/hip hop sensation LMFAO. The schools policy regarding lyrics such as these expressed at school is quite rigid.

School officials issued a statement saying they couldn’t discuss the case, but they pointed out a school board policy that defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance. There is no age limit.

From my perspective, this is quite interesting. Philosophically or at least specifically in the matter of jurisprudence, I strive to be a kind of “All or none of the above guy” concerning actions and speech.  However, this isn’t a legal matter where exceptions make for bad law. School policy with no flexibility where six year olds are concerned is disturbing.

Ideas on school policy always have unintended and unforeseen consequences.

What does this tell us about the relationship between modern culture and the middle-school and younger children? Apparently, they are now quite aware of what sex is at their age, as well as what constitutes sexual harassment. No tolerance policy means no tolerance.  Even though the school is obviously going to need to take another, much closer look at their sexual harassment policies, they probably aren’t too off in setting policy that will be effective for the future.  Just imagine the lawsuits that are about to take place concerning every possible angle of this policy, sexual harassment in general, and the money certain lawyers are about to make.

Believe it or not, young kids these days, and I’m talking about your 7-10 year olds have a pretty good idea of what “sex is” thanks to our over-sexed culture. The self-proclaimed 7 year old on 4chan isn’t too far from gaining a very deep understand of the concept of sex, and I’m pretty sure the 10 year old on xbox live threatening to doggystyle my mom after a loss in Modern Warfare 3 has a pretty good idea about the topic now.  I used to think they were just spouting insults they had heard, but more and more, the innocent nature you want to believe is there has been forcibly perverted. I’m personally going to blame Glee for this growing epedemic, but there’s plenty of blame to go around.

South Park has yet again called this issue way in advance with the most effective and humorous commentary about “sexual harassment” in schools. In fact, they called this over 10 years ago. Witty, raunchy, over-the-top, but the points made are note worthy.

Seriously, why it is so hard to distinguish between actual sexual harassment and a six year old who doesn’t know what sex is? The waste of tax-payer dollars both through lawsuits and misspent “education” budgets, rash and under-thought policies by school boards, and reputation/avoidance of bad publicity isn’t just going to plague our schools in the near future, it’s going to scar kids like we never could have anticipated.

Instead of calling for some sort of regulatory or further oversight from some educational Czar, we need to encourage accountability in a much more important and close fashion.  The only real solution is for communities to come together and address these issues themselves. Perhaps stories like this, and the numerous that will undoubtedly occur will cause school boards and their perspective teacher’s unions to finally realize the impact of not letting parents have a substantial say in determining their own schools policy.  It seems only a matter of common sense that if you are paying tax dollars into a district, you should at least have a say in the policy and in how those funds are spent.  Radical, huh?