October 4th, 2016

Stuart Miller, reporting in Do Not Resist: new film shows how US police have become an occupying army for The Guardian, writes:

Craig Atkinson’s documentary about police militarization, Do Not Resist, is filled with unsettling scenes like the one where a Swat team destroys a family’s home during a drug raid that nets small amounts of loose marijuana. But the most disturbing scene transpires during the relative placidity of a seminar when a hugely successful lecturer tells a room full of police officers: “We are at war and you are the frontline.

“What do you fight violence with? Superior violence. Righteous violence. Violence is your tool … You are men and women of violence.”

The speaker, Dave Grossman, is a retired army lieutenant colonel with a packed national speaking schedule. In the film, Grossman also promulgates the notion that one perk of violent encounters is that police often say that afterwards they have the best sex of their lives, which Atkinson, in an interview, sees as parallel to promising virgins to a suicide bomber.

“I wanted to show how ubiquitous his philosophy is and how it has been adopted throughout law enforcement,” says Atkinson, whose movie won best documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. It opens in New York on Friday and then gradually rolls out. (Grossman refused to be interviewed for this story.) “I don’t think they should be incentivizing law enforcement to commit violence. This is a rape and pillage philosophy versus a protect and serve philosophy.”

Justin Hansford, an assistant professor at St Louis University school of law, says this mentality has long existed but that the 9/11 attacks created a new level of fear among citizens and police and timidity among the politicians who should be preventing this escalation. “It’s a jambalaya of all the wrong ingredients,” he says.

The seemingly endless police killings—from Ferguson to Tulsa and Charlotte—are directly linked to this issue, Hansford and Atkinson say.

Militarization is a huge problem, but there is a deeper sickness present that makes the danger far, far worse.

I cannot say this enough times. As a nation we must immediately take these two steps:

First, no police involved shooting should be handled by internal affairs or a local district attorney with a pet grand jury. Only an independent prosecutor should be allowed to investigate and, if found appropriate, prosecute those involved. So far this year, The Guardian’s The Counted project has listed the names of 814 people killed by police in our nation.

Second, every county ought to have a police review board with the power to fire police chiefs. The panel should consist of elected volunteers representing the diverse communities in the county. I would recommend no more than five members on such a board. The board must have subpoena power to compel testimony at open meetings. The board must not be allowed to meet in private in any sense. The volunteers would be elected annually and serve for no more than two years.

These two steps are not the solution, but they’re one hell of a good beginning.

Leave a Reply

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image