Saturday, June 28, 2014

Seen on Facebok

This was on a Facebook site called Cop Block, which also maintains a regular web site. It's a good example of citizen journalism. The local media kept Jason Peck's identity secret, but anyone who is familiar with the internet, and who looked at the many online postings of video of the march in question, can easily identify him.

Cop Block is one of a number of web sites that publicize abuses of power by law enforcement and have as their guiding principle Benjamin Franklin's warning that "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The Albuquerque media have done stories on Albuquerque Police Department's surveillance of marchers at last weekend's march protesting APD violence, but I haven't seen any articles or segments that have gone into the constitutional and legal issues that make it dangerous to allow this kind of surveillance, in which information about law abiding citizens who are not committing any crimes is being gathered and filed away by APD, and which is exactly what the NSA is doing with its almost unbelievably massive surveillance of American citizens.

Some of the marchers interviewed by local media seemed to be aware of the implications but didn't express them very well, which is entirely understandable given their inexperience with the issues and with dealing with media questions. They're just people who got fed up with the Albuquerque police killing people for no good reason and are trying to do something about it.

But of course we, by granting our government permission to spy on us, are creating the conditions for the abuse of power that the whole American system of "checks and balances" is designed to curtail.

The "founders" had experience with hereditary rulers who had known no limits to their power, and they had seen played out the saying that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." You might trust our current political class under the current circumstances, but you have no idea who will be in power 20 or 50 years from now or how much the potential for abuse will have grown in during that time, with more of these newfound capabilities for spying coming into use, with the authorities becoming better able to exploit them, with more dislocations of populations caused by global warming, more fear mongering, more xenophobia, more economic insecurity, more everything.

And the implications go deeper than the United States and its form of government. They have to do with human psychology. When you know that you have no privacy, that everything you do is known to the powers over you, it changes your behavior in ways you're not even aware of.  You become self censoring, first in your behavior, then, as any behavioral psychologist will tell you, in your thinking.

Corporations, which are also spying on us in the same ways as government and collecting the same kind of information, don't spend billions of dollars a year on advertising for nothing. They know for a fact that they can influence human behavior with advertising, and they plan to use the information they're collecting about us to influence our behavior as much as they possibly can, and they have better experts than the government does.

And government will never be far behind, and since we know that power has the ability to corrupt, and will corrupt, we can predict with pinpoint accuracy the future we'll have if the kind of surveillance that corporations and the NSA and the APD are doing is left unchecked.

So it's not just the possibility that dissidents will be herded into internment camps by a government drunk on its own power and paranoid about losing it. What's also at stake is maintaining our ability to think and act freely, in our own interests and not in the interests of a corporate board or big stockholders and not in the interests of some future incarnation of a political class made up of corruptible human beings.

Every freedom we have is at stake, and with the court system compromised by years of conservative court packing, citizen journalists are now leading the way in protecting them.

So Check In Once In Awhile

It's critical that the authorities know we're watching them. Just as their surveillance modifies our behavior and thought, their knowing that we're watching them modifies theirs and in a generally positive direction. Many blog writers and readers know this already, which one reason they blog and read. In this regard people like Jim Baca and Joe Monahan provide an invaluable service to New Mexico.

Here are some more web sites that are keeping an eye on law enforcement:

Police Complaints (Albuquerque) Facebook and web

Albuquerque Copwatch Facebook

Albuquerque Cop Block Facebook

National Cop Block Facebook and web

APD Forward (Albuquerque) Facebook and web

October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality (Albuquerque) Facebook  (Family members of victims of APD violence were involved with starting this.)

Eye on Albuquerque Facebook and web

Photography Is Not A Crime Facebook and web (Tracks the nationwide trend by governments to try to make it illegal to photograph the police while performing their duties. Publicizes cases of police (illegally) arresting people for photographing them and (illegally) confiscating their cameras and cell phones. Many instances of police misconduct are only known because a private citizen had a camera or cell phone and used it. Think Rodney King. Law enforcement generally resists being recorded, which is why it has to be done.)

Carlsbad Cop Watch Facebook

Police the Police (national) Facebook


  1. Disturbing. I don't know enough about New Mexico politics and traditions...

  2. New Mexico politics as to how it affects people should be no different than the goal of all law enforcement which is to protect and serve .... us the public. Unfortunately, in NM, we don't get or demand the honesty from our representatives that we deserve.