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How about a political movement to oppose police brutality? - Input Junkie
August 14th, 2014
12:58 pm

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How about a political movement to oppose police brutality?
I was thinking about Ferguson, and about how none of the usual things that people do such as journalism (much as I respect it) or going through the legal system, which sometimes gets victims and their families large cash awards (which is much better than nothing but which doesn't change policy) are not working. Armed insurrection is not a good idea.

What remains is politics. I have a notion that if police commit murder, there are politicians who should not be re-elected. I was assuming it would be mayors, but dcseain told me that local political structure varies a lot, and where he lives, it would be a board of county commissioners. Correction It's Board of County Supervisors. There's a reason I don't do practical politics-- I have a lot of trouble focusing on that stuff. I asked him twice, wrote it down, and still got it wrong.

I believe this would take voter drives. It would probably take work on getting IDs*. And I think it would take convincing people to be one issue voters.

I'm not sure to what extent it would take getting the federal government to control local governments.

The thing is, I don't know much about practical politics**. Calls to action aren't my strong point, either.

On the other hand, I haven't seen discussions of political solutions to police brutality, let alone an actual movement, so I thought I would bring up the subject and see whether people who know more about such things think the idea makes sense. If you do think so (or that some related project makes sense) please pass the word. The police are getting worse.

I believe there will be opposition, but I'm inclined to think the difficulty is in the same range as marriage equality, and a lot of progress has been made on that in a moderate number of years.

Terry Karney has a good essay on the problem, including details of seriousness of the situation, the lack of effect of current policies for controlling bad police, and that the police are better armed than he was as a soldier in a war zone.

*I would like to see a campaign to make ID more available. Lack of ID limits people's lives in many ways, not just voting.

**Practical politics is the specifics of getting things to happen. I came up with the term when I noticed there were people who focused on details that I wasn't interested in because I like theory better.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1053665.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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From:metahacker
Date:August 14th, 2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
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There's a change.org petition on this topic getting signatures right now...might be a place to find kindred souls.
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From:nancylebov
Date:August 14th, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC)
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This one? It's about requiring police to wear cameras and record interactions with the public. I think it's a good idea, but it may not be enough.
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From:metahacker
Date:August 14th, 2014 06:34 pm (UTC)
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Wow, there are a lot of relevant ones!

This one has more than 100,000 signatures, so perhaps it's the one to track:
https://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-please-enact-new-federal-laws-to-protect-citizens-from-police-violence-and-misconduct

Edited at 2014-08-14 06:35 pm (UTC)
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From:nancylebov
Date:August 14th, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. That looks sensible. I've signed it.
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From:stripeyseven
Date:August 17th, 2014 12:57 am (UTC)
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I signed that on paper at the vigil the other night, or something like it.
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From:heron61
Date:August 14th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
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If wearing cameras were mandatory, I think much of the problem would go away, and it would also protect those cops (not nearly enough) who weren't brutal thugs from false accusations of brutality. Rules like this have worked well in the UK in places they've been tried. However, I imagine that the worst cops are seriously against these rules.
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From:nancylebov
Date:August 14th, 2014 08:41 pm (UTC)
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Camera are required in a few places in the US, too, and they've worked out well. I'm not sure they're enough.
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From:siliconshaman
Date:August 14th, 2014 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Mandatory cameras only work if they don't 'malfunction' or get turned off by the officers. Which was one of the things found in the UK trials. They also found they actually cut the number of complaints about police behaviour... I guess if people know they're being recorded as well as the officers, they're less likely to make false accusations as well.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:August 15th, 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
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Or the records get 'lost'. A large proportion of them.

Drone cameras, anyone?

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From:siliconshaman
Date:August 15th, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Nah... the technology for this has been around for a while now. Always on body cameras, dash-board cams...and wifi that connects to a 4G link that streams the video to servers overseen by Internal Affairs and that ordinary officers don't have access to. If the link goes 'dark' it's assumed that an officer is in trouble or at least has a technical issues and a patrol car is dispatched to the last know location.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:August 16th, 2014 12:55 am (UTC)
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I meant the journalists should send out drone cameras! In these situations where they're not allowed in, and their news helicopters aren't allowed in either.
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From:siliconshaman
Date:August 16th, 2014 10:40 am (UTC)
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Except the FAA has made commercial use of drones illegal... well except for government agencies. Plus it's a trivial task to jam the signals. Not that it would necessarily stop the journalists doing their job... but why give the police an excuse to arrest them [not that they seem to need one.]

Edited at 2014-08-16 10:45 am (UTC)
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From:stripeyseven
Date:August 17th, 2014 01:04 am (UTC)
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Drones may soon be inexpensive enough to make them practical as a way for civilians to monitor police.

Edited at 2014-08-17 01:05 am (UTC)
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:August 17th, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC)
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No single police is likely to be "enough," but cameras have reduced use of force by 60% where they are mandatory. (That's counting all situations where force is used.) It's really substantial.

Local political pressure isn't "enough," either. Look at stop-and-frisk in NYC. A judge told the police to stop it (or at least to do less of it). The mayor told them to stop it. And yet the police keep doing it.
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:August 17th, 2014 04:37 pm (UTC)
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I don't mean to say nothing will help and we should give up. I mean we need to use partial solutions.
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From:dcseain
Date:August 14th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
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Here, it's the Board of County Supervisors. Commissioners is used in some other states.
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From:kmusser
Date:August 14th, 2014 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Practical politics are local politics. Police departments are answerable to their local city or county officials. If you elect local politicians that advocate for demilitarized police, we might actually get them. Unfortunately advocated demilitarized police immediately gets you painted as "soft on crime", plus getting people to pay any attention at all to local politics is an exercise in frustration.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:August 14th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
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in haste....

We often see big reports of something the police did -- and months later in the small print, we see that they have been cleared of any wrong-doing by whatever internal panel they have. Do those panels ever convict any of them?

On a more practical approach ... when someone films an incident, is U-Tube in effect the only way to get it out, to hope it will go viral? Is U-Tube owned by some entity that pulls such videos at establishment request?

If so, then setting up our own grassroots network for spreading such videos might be worthwhile, and is certainly something we could do on our own, no politics necessary.
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From:jim_p
Date:August 14th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
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I would imagine that internal investigations clear the majority of cases before them because they are made of police officers; hence, they will interpret any situation from an officer's point of view. I imagine, too, that since they are investigating their co-workers there's a heavy bias against punishment ("he's got a wife and kids, is this *really* bad enough to cost him his job?"). Basically, they're wired to empathize with the cop and not the victim.

As for spreading viral video: Youtube is owned by Google, so to get a video taken down they would have to convince Google to do so. I don't know what Google's policy is on this score, though I can imagine ways that the cops could frame it as a DMCA takedown request which Google would be forced to honor (no, I won't post details; the dirty cops will have to think that up themselves)
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From:agrumer
Date:August 14th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
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There may yet be large cash awards — that kind of thing takes years (or even decades), and it’s been less than a week since Brown was killed. I imagine the Ferguson Police Coup will spawn many, many lawsuits.

Requiring cops to wear cameras while on duty has been tried, with pretty good results: Public complaints against cops dropped 88%, use of force fell 60%. Both cops and the public (when interacting with cops) became more polite.
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From:whswhs
Date:August 14th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Glenn Reynolds ("Instapundit") is advocating such measures as making it universally known that citizens have a right to videotape police officers performing their duties (apparently the courts have been fairly consistent in saying this); requiring police officers to wear videorecorders when on duty so there will always be evidence of how they handled a case; and generally demilitarizing police forces. All of those sound at first hearing like good ideas.

The trouble with lawsuits and damages is that they don't hit the police officers who make the bad decisions. The taxpayers pay the damages. Now, if you provided that payment had to come out of RICO funds, or from sale of equipment bought previously with RICO funds, it might have more of an incentive effect. RICO really needs to be drastically cut back anyway, though that's not the same issue; it's disturbingly similar to the financial arrangements for the property of accused witches back in the day.

I once read a piece by H.L. Mencken that talked about the Prussian court system having a separate set of courts for trying officers of the state who were accused of criminal conduct; Mencken claimed that they faced harsher penalties than ordinary citizens did. I don't know if Mencken had this right, but I can see some point to the idea.
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From:kalimac
Date:August 14th, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
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Fred Pohl was one who understood the nitty-gritty of practical local politics and how it worked. Sorry he's no longer around to talk with about this.

My own instinct is that punishing the politicians, while not to be abjured - anything can help - is not the most direct result. Videotaping the police, and letting them know they're always being watched, is a more direct curb on misbehavior, and if there's enough videotaping going on, then if they try to confiscate person A's camera, it'll be recorded by person B.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:August 15th, 2014 11:31 am (UTC)
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"Practical politics," as you've defined it, is broader than election politics. I think election politics is the less important part of it, since politicians can promise anything and then do the opposite. Making elected officials and cops accountable for what they do can accomplish more. This includes investigative work, publicity, and legal action.
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From:redneckgaijin
Date:August 15th, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Republicans pride themselves on being "tough on crime," to the point that a black man arrested, in their mind, has already been convicted.

Democrats won't oppose them because they remember what happened to Dukakis over Willie Horton.

I don't see much hope for a successful "demilitarize the police" movement anytime soon, even with Ferguson.
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From:whswhs
Date:August 17th, 2014 06:09 am (UTC)
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That doesn't seem to be uniformly true. I learned about the Ferguson incident from Glenn Reynolds, who has been arguing for demilitarization of the police. Of course Reynolds is a strange hybrid of conservative, libertarian, technophile, and sf fan—but he definitely leans Republican. And he's linked to other conservatives and libertarians with views akin to his. (Of course I would expect libertarians to favor demilitarizing the police!)
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From:stripeyseven
Date:August 17th, 2014 12:48 am (UTC)
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The usual response to police brutality has been to call for civilian oversight boards. But the results, even where they're instituted, have been less than satisfactory.

Some anti-authoritarians try to organize "copwatch" networks to deter police misconduct. I don't know how effective these have been.

In general it's difficult to persuade people to be single-issue voters, especially in a sustained way. It may be more feasible to solicit funds for a single-issue PAC. People could give to this as a way of pressuring politicians to change their behavior without constraining their ability to consider other issues when deciding how to dispose of their one indivisible vote.
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From:stripeyseven
Date:August 17th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
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Here's some info about a cop-watch app: http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=Tl4-cGNyLFk
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From:stripeyseven
Date:August 19th, 2014 02:19 pm (UTC)
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A national call to action has gone out. Here's the link if you want to get involved: http://docs.google.com/document/d/1ndUMa6hbSuh9-4bhqvcFlslrZCtPTJY76T1_4ZyO1kQ/pub
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From:stripeyseven
Date:August 20th, 2014 06:16 pm (UTC)
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No, but this should work: http://www.facebook.com/NMOS2014
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