Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sandusky

Sandusky may be my favorite place name, although Flatonia, TX and Streator, IL, are up there, too.


But yes, back in Ohio, from whence I came. Even with the lollygagging I did I got up here early enough to actually get one of my stops unloaded this afternoon, so I am ahead of schedule and under less pressure tomorrow, and I can fool around tonight with the computer. I am parked in between a little shopping center and a Holiday Inn that is graciously providing a free wifi signal, and I'm on a side street where I doubt anyone will bother me.


Speaking of cops, I see on the internet where the Albuquerque police think they have come up with a way to prevent being videotaped doing illegal things. If someone is taping them with one of those cell phone cameras the cops just walk up to them and tell them they have to confiscate their cell phone for evidence.
A cell phone video of this happening has just surfaced, involving a man who had been handing out free food to homeless people on a street corner across from a fancy shopping district. The cops came and said he had to leave because he didn't have a food license, and he did leave, or try to. First he went back and forth with them for awhile, then they told him to leave, and as soon as he started to leave the cops arrested him -- for distributing food without a license, and also for resisting arrest and inciting a riot. You're thinking, What? They couldn't find something under the Patriot Act to charge him with that carries 20 years in prison for terrorism?


Anyway, the tape, which, as I say, local TV has just got hold of, shows the cops confronting a couple different people who were taping the incident with their cell phone cameras. First the cops tried to make them stop taping, but the people knew they were within the law, so then the cops tried to confiscate the cell phones "for evidence."


That part of it is what is chilling to me. It's bad enough, of course, that the cops make up all kinds of bogus charges to throw at him, charges that go way, way beyond what he was actually doing. That's been done before, and there are safeguards in the system that keep that from going too far. One, prosecutors are the ones who finally decide what charges get filed before a judge. And two, the judge is there, and judges hate having their time taken up with bullshit. And then of course there is the jury, if all else fails.


So cops have always misused the law in that way, but this thing they are doing now is something new, this creating new laws. It's part of the process of taking unto themselves extra authority, and extra legal authority. It's a shift in mind set, just as is their immediate resorting to killing when they see a knife or anything they can later claim looks like a knife. In the last two killings in Albuquerque, the victims had a screwdriver in one instance and a butter knife in the other.


As I have said before, cops have been given more and more leeway in what they can get away with, which means they also are at liberty to just make up their own rules. Cops and corporations. The two cannot be separated, either. Corporations are at the height of their power as far anything I have experienced in my lifetime, and as anybody who is awake can easily see, they are more and more arrogant about it, too. Things were worse than this during the industrial revolution, and it got very terrible from the latter 1800s on up to the early part of the 20th century, at which time Labor got itself organized and socialism became a force in the United States.


Well, anyway, as I was going to say, I lollygagged a little on the way up here. I was born not far from here, and had opportunity to come up through, not my hometown itself but a couple of nearby towns that used to be very familiar to me, one being the tiny Ohio farm country village where we went to church.


It looked foreign at first, since it's been what, since the late 1950s that I was last there. That's 50 damn years. But the little white church on the little green hill still stands, unchanged it seemed, the longer I was there. Of course the gravel driveway down to the road was long then, and the front lawn was vast. In fact my perspective was so far off at first that I didn't even notice the elementary school across the road until it got into the frame of a picture. The last I remembered of that elementary school was one Sunday when my Mom grabbed me by the hand and drug me across the road to that school and up the stairs and inside the building and into one of the classrooms, and found a ruler in the teacher's desk and pulled my pants down and laid me over her knees and gave me the spanking of my life because I was throwing gravel at other kids after church.


So parents lose their tempers sometimes. My Mom was really young then, too, in her twenties. And the police in the cell phone video, I noticed, were all young, in their twenties for the most part, and for the most part were just trying to gain control of the situation, and when they couldn't, it wasn't long before, at one point, they went suddenly and immediately to force.


Oh, and lest I forget, the TV station whose web site I saw the video on deserves a lot of credit. Each time the police did something illegal the TV station stated plainly that what the police were doing was illegal. Of course they have their ethical responsibilities as journalists, but small town media often are not that concerned about that. Even the big media now, when it comes to profit, think only of profit. But a local TV station in Albuquerque has to think of it as a practical matter, too, because if the police are able to establish that they can take a cell phone camera "for evidence," they can easily take a news photographers camera "for evidence," too. They can take a reporter's notebook or a tape recorder, and if they can get away with that kind of thing they can just take the reporter into custody for evidence, because the reporter knows things, and the police can just say that it's evidence.


So that was a good thing to see. Courage. It was good, too, that the cops didn't pull out their guns and kill the guy this time. Eight times already this year they have done that in Albuquerque. Eight times somebody has died, because the cops went directly to lethal force, because they couldn't think of how to handle it any other way, and because each of those other eight times there was no one there with a cell phone camera.

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