This may be the most defensive post I've ever written, and I've thought more than twice about it, but after a number of recent accusations both on this blog and in Springfield/Northampton forums that I am a liar, filth, and damaging the lives (!!) of police and hospital personnel, I decided to go back and take a look at my previous posts to see: am I really too hard on law enforcement?
In the two years I've been writing this blog, I've posted 781 times. Fifteen of those posts have mentioned the police-- that's a bit under 2%.
In fact, I could have posted much more about the police than I do-- there are many items that catch my eye that I'd like to share. But I happen to have two very close family members in frontline law enforcement, and there are so many other things to write about-- why go out of my way to choose to write about things that might alienate my family? It's a balance I find myself weighing every time I post about the police.
Of those fifteen posts, I have never engaged in name-calling-- the closest I've come is calling the actions of the New Orleans Police Department in setting up homeless people by leaving valuable items in parked cars and waiting until a homeless person broke into the cars as "sleazy."
So: four of the posts were about police actions regarding homeless people-- cutting up their tents, arresting them at demonstrations-- facts not in dispute. One of the four was sympathetic to the position of the police.
Two were about people who died after being tasered. Facts not in dispute.
Two were about SWAT raid-- one where a 92 year old woman was killed in a botched drug raid where the ex-officer on trial said he was forced to lie to cover up the facts; one where a small town mayor's home was raided and his two dogs shot to death. Facts not in dispute.
Two were primarily about policy issues where the police were mentioned, one over police departments confusion over the new Massachusetts marijuana law, and one about the Mass. Supreme Court expanding the powers of the police to frisk people on the street. I did say I thought that would make the police happy.
Two of the posts were complimentary to the police, in particular about how swiftly they acted to catch the murderer of a local homeless man.
One was primarily about the rapes and beatings of sex workers in Springfield which quoted Sgt. Delaney of the Springfield Police Dept.
And five were personal.
Three of them were about friends and what I considered to be overzealousness on the part of Springfield Police when it came to finding their behavior suspicious. Guess those depend on who you believe.
And two were about my own experiences. One happened many years ago, when a police officer lied about how he obtained evidence when I was arrested for possession of marijuana. (The case was dismissed.) The other was about my being arrested at a protest where, besides being charged with disorderly conduct, I was also charged with assault and battery on a police officer. She had her hand on my arm, and supposedly I pulled myself out of her grasp and she sprained her wrist. It was entirely bullshit, and both charges were dropped when the officers failed to appear in court.
My recent post "Police Brutality in Northampton?" does seem to fall into a different category. What I did was repeat an entire email sent to me by someone who was at a Northampton rally about an alleged incident of police brutality. I've been trashed by a number of people and all I can say is that if I'm proved to be wrong, I'll admit it. But the truth is, I may never be able to be proved right. The truth may never come out.
The degree of institutional power held by law enforcement stacks the deck against the average person here in Western Mass. and everywhere. Last week Springfield's toothless Community Complaint Review Board was disappointed when only two people showed up at Springfield City Hall to hear the board's first annual report. Why should anyone have bothered? All the board can do is review the already completed decisions of Internal Affairs, and return them to IA if the board doesn't agree with IA's conclusions. This, however, mandates no action on the part of IA.
"Alejandro (board chair) said the board determined none of the 43 use-of-force complaints it dealt with merited being returned, though he said police officers in some of those cases were ordered to undergo additional training." Springfield Republican. Well, that makes me feel a whole lot better.
I remain as interested in the truth of the alleged brutality in Northampton as anyone else. Let's hope we get to find out.