Or: the grueling disparity between theory and praxis
By Mark Linnhoefer
A recent report in a German online publication caught my eyes a few weeks ago, stayed in my mind ever since, and has by now trickled down to my fingers which are therefore unable to rest until the implications such stories have on all of our lives are laid bare for the world to see.
A few cannabis enthusiasts in the German province of Bavaria (which is a literal hell-hole for anyone even remotely affiliated with Marijuana and its consumption) blasted their music a tad too loudly for their neighbors to bear, and so the cops were called. The officers arrived a few minutes later, told the guys to lower the volume – which they did immediately – and left. Only to return about ten minutes afterwards, kick the door in, thereby injuring one of the tenants, forcing the smokers to remain on the couch, preventing them from filming or calling their lawyers, and making a mess out of the entire place. And all of that for a lousy half a gram of pot. Now, our laws clearly state that a private residence cannot be entered unless invited or if there is danger to be prevented. Our laws also state that any police officer can be filmed while on duty. They furthermore state that calling your lawyer in that kind of situation is fully allowed. But did that help any of those guys sitting on that couch whilst their apartment was being destroyed?
It did not.
And that’s a problem we’re facing in so many areas of our daily lives: it seemingly does not matter what authorities are legally allowed to do, at least not when you’re actually dealing with them in person. Look at all the reports that have been coming in from all over the world; people being shot and beaten by officers, homes being entered illegally, and law-abiding citizens being terrorized by those supposed to protect them. The law itself is quite clear on these issues, but, alas, in reality there’s a hell of a lot of policemen who’re so pumped on the power their little badge grants them that they forgot that they’re actually public servants and not some renegade personal vengeance squad.
Another recent example, of course, are the Baltimore Riots. Another senseless victim of police brutality, in this case a 25-year-old named Freddie Gray, was mourned, which sparked protests, which then turned into looting, setting fires, and rioting, all of which is highly reminiscent of recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri. I am not endorsing or condoning the violence and looting, don’t get me wrong, but these brutal outbursts of stored up depression and anger cast light on the seedy underbelly of 21st-century American life, the still omnipresent racism within those governmental organs of force that should be there to protect the people . . . all of the people equally. Statistics show that the number of caucasian drug users heavily outweighs non-caucasian counterparts, and yet there are far more African-American, Latino, and Mexican citizens incarcerated for drug-related offenses. The reports of police officers attacking, beating, and even killing innocent bystanders also mostly revolve around citizens that are non-Caucasian. The majority of all abuses of police powers are directed at ethnic minorities, and that fact alone should be something that cannot be allowed to stand.
But, alas, these riots are always demeaned as irrational acts of rage perpetrated by lawless thugs, and the root of their anger is put out of the picture. Naturally, the people abusing these extreme situations to go around robbing and looting are fucking idiots and only hurting the cause in the end, but the frustration is certainly not idiotic . . . it is more valid than ever. Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tyree Woodson, Eric Garner . . . the list goes on and on, and all of these people were unarmed minorities that were shot down by police officers.
The worst thing about it is that no indictments followed these deaths until this week’s charges in Baltimore – the cops in the other cases simply got away with it! Now, of course, if you show those poor alienated souls living on the edge of society in so-called “ghettos” that the police can just shoot them down with impunity, you’re automatically breeding a generation of youngsters so dissatisfied with the authorities, so reinforced in the notion that they’re not worth a damn in the eyes of the law that they’d rather kill a few policemen than even try to cooperate with, or understand, them.
Which is dangerous thinking, obviously, and only creates situations such as the one we see in Baltimore – the National Guard, the fucking military, is now ‘assisting’ the police in breaking down the riots. You’ve heard that right, the military and the police are fucking cooperating to take steps against citizens. Citizens that feel so alienated, so oppressed, so disregarded by the authorities that their anger boiled up to a point at which the more simple-minded among them started trashing shit.
Violence is not the answer, but if the question was asked with brutality, it’s the only answer you can reasonably expect. The seeds of mistrust and anger have been sown far too long to just uproot the natural wariness that the oppressed minorities have developed when it comes to law enforcement. It’s an “us-vs-them” mentality, and it’s just getting worse the deeper we get entrenched in the notion that a policeman is a public hero above doubt. At least in a legal way. The general public is, as we can see, outraged about the number of cops that have gotten away with murder on account of them having a little fucking badge that apparently grants them immunity.
Something needs to happen to reinstate a notion of mutual trust between the citizenship and the authorities, because otherwise situations like the one in Baltimore will keep happening, and they will keep getting worse. We need to finally, almost 50 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated, get rid of racism in law enforcement, or else we’ll soon be caught in the throes of an all-out civil war between the cops and those they oppress.