One of the many lightning fast decisions police have to make in their daily struggle putting their lives on the line to protect our freedoms is what to do when they come across an intoxicated person in a public place such as a parking garage. That was the topic of discussion at a meeting in February of 2017 as Sergeant Gregg Lewis addressed his squad in Portland, Oregon. You have to exercise your judgment Lewis told the boys for example if it’s a businessman in a suit being publicly drunk in a rich seeming way you might not want to haul him off to detox because then he might sue you but on the other hand if it’s a black homeless person you can just go ahead and shoot them to death because they aren’t really people.
A number of officers present that day reported him soon thereafter Oregon Live reported which is somewhat heartening I suppose — not all cops baby! The exact phrasing of what he said in their accounts varied but the takeaway was the same.
“If you come across a guy in a suit and tie that came downtown and had a little too much to drink … he’s probably not the guy you want to detox straight out of the garage. He will most likely sue you,” one officer reported him saying. “If it’s a homeless guy, you will probably be safe. I doubt he’s going to sue you.”
“If you find a homeless black person make sure you shoot and kill him,” another recalled.
“If they’re black just shoot them,” reported yet another.
The remarks came a few days after a seventeen year old black boy named Quanice Hayes had been shot to death by police in the city. Hayes was a suspect in an armed robbery and when police found him they told him to crawl toward them on the ground but one of them named Officer Andrew Hearst said the boy seemed like he was reaching into his waistband so he shot him three times with an AR-15 including once in the head. (The AR in AR-15 stands for assault rifle.)
A while later they found a tan colored toy air gun a few feet away from his body. Hayes and his girlfriend has been playing around with the fake gun in a hotel on Instagram the night before according to this Longreads story. At one point they tried shooting it at the bathroom mirror but couldn’t get the glass to break but police are more precious than even glass so you can never be too safe.
Lewis who had worked on the force since 1991 wasn’t fired until a year after the remarks and the reason for his firing wasn’t made public until another year after that in January of 2019 none of which we would know about if the police union wasn’t filing a grievance on his behalf that could lead to his dismissal being overturned and putting him back in the line of duty.
While a number of the city leadership have expressed their dismay and disgust with the situation they’re set to offer a settlement of $100,020.53 in back pay to Lewis and to erase the fact of his firing retroactively in which case he would be considered retired and receive pension credit for his adjusted service time. That $20.53 is particularly galling in its specificity isn’t it. We can offer a hundred grand how does that sound? Fuck you give me every penny.
The city says the risk of going to arbitration in which case Lewis might end up being allowed to go back to work is too great so it’s better to pay him not to be a police anymore and just have the whole thing done with and maybe they are right.
The Racism Olympics are going to be a real close contest this month with images surfacing of Virginia governor Ralph Northam posing in either a KKK costume or in black face in a picture from his medical school year book at Racism Medical School and Liam Neeson confessing out of nowhere that he once harbored a fantasy about killing a black guy to extract a sort of cosmically balancing racist revenge on a man who had once raped a friend. But when it comes to the real uncut stuff you can’t really beat the cops like this one guy I just read about named Gary Steele a police officer in Detroit. Steele pulled over a black woman on a Tuesday night in February and found she had an expired registration so he had her car towed as local news station WXYZ-TV reported.
Steele offered her a ride home on what was a freezing night but the woman a twenty four year old named Ariel Moore refused so Steele did what anyone else might do in that situation he fired up his Snapchat and mocked her as she walked away. “Bye Felicia,” he can be heard saying on the video which he also went ahead and decorated with some lovely stickers saying “Celebrating Black history month” and “What black girl magic looks like.”
You may not be surprised to hear that Steele was charged with domestic violence in 2008 for assaulting his girlfriend and shooting a gun near her head not because he did this Snapchat business just because he’s a cop and cops loves to do domestic violence.
A while back the National Center for Women and Policing pointed to a pair of studies that found a marked increase in instances of domestic violence in the families of police officers.
“Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24%, indicating that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among police families than American families in general.”
The studies they pointed to are somewhat outdated by now but on the other hand those numbers might even be low for all we know because it seems likely we wouldn’t even have records of a significant number of such cases. Police violence barely gets tabulated nationally when they murder someone never mind something so "minor" as knocking their old lady around.
As the Atlantic noted in a 2014 piece on the topic “Research is so scant and inadequate that a precise accounting of the problem's scope is impossible.”
And even if the the domestic violence does go into the books it tends not to result in much in the way of punishment.
“[M]ost departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim's safety,” they wrote, adding that "even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution."
Something else cops love to do besides beating their families and getting away with it is stealing money from people over nothing. Greenville News in South Carolina has been running a multi-part investigation into the routine practice of civil forfeiture through which police departments in the state enrich themselves by seizing money and property from people suspected of, not even convicted of, committing crimes.
“The investigation found that in a fifth of forfeiture cases in South Carolina, no one is convicted of a crime. In 19% of cases, there is no criminal arrest. Law enforcement seizes property from black people 71% of the time, with the overwhelming majority of cases involving younger black men.”
Some of the police they spoke with said the process was fair because the people could always go in front of a judge to get their property back and spend the money they no longer have on a lawyer but as they also found in the study in 75% of the cases the police end up keeping all of the shit they take and in 19% people only get part of it back. In cases like this it’s not like a typical criminal trial instead the burden of proof is on the suspect to prove that they didn’t acquire the $500 in cash in their glovebox or whatever from criminal activity. The amount of money seized they found tends to be smallish amounts like that because well like they said in the Portland drunk hypothetically rich guys tend to be able to sue you and poor ones can’t.
Some of the other police they talked to cried about how hard it would be for them to do their jobs if they didn’t get to steal money all the time.
Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon said if police didn’t get to collect forfeiture money, it would hamper the department’s ability to conduct long-term drug surveillance.
“It could potentially shut down our K-9 unit,” he said. “Overall, our ability to conduct undercover narcotics operations could be stifled.”
Lt. Jake Mahoney with the Aiken Police Department said they’d have to divert money from the budget to cover drug enforcement.
Greenwood Police Chief Gerald Brooks said it would “sharply curtail our drug enforcement activities.”
The best response however came from a fella named Jarrod Bruder, the head of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association, who said the quiet part out loud.
Without being able to keep the money they take “what is the incentive to go out and make a special effort?” he asked. “What is the incentive for interdiction?”
Today would have been Trayvon Martin’s twenty fourth birthday and a little something I unfortunately always think of every year on this day due to I have brain troubles is just how much Ben Shapiro the famous respectable conservative intellectual was happy that he was killed.
He’s tweeted about Trayvon many dozens of times over the years but this one in particular tends to stick with me from 2016 where he posted that “Trayvon Martin would have turned 21 today if he hadn't taken a man's head and beaten it on the pavement before being shot.”
There’s also this one from the same say where he posted that “Trayvon Martin was 5'11" and 158 lbs,” which I want to say is funny because it shows how a 5’11” 158 lb. teenager would of course seem like a towering giant to Ben but that type of spite doesn’t particularly make me feel much better at the moment.
An interesting if depressing thing to look at is Shapiro’s history of tweeting about this topic. The first time he did it was on April 1 of 2012 a couple months after Trayvon’s death. For dozens of tweets for over a year Shapiro got almost no engagement on any of them. Most of Shapiro’s Trayvon content would go by almost entirely unremarked upon, often getting zero likes or replies for a while after that. The first that seems to get any sort of modest response is this one from 2013.
Then things dip back down again until a couple years later.
He didn’t stop riffing on the murder all that time mind you he kept at it but no one seemed to care as much as he did until later on. That’s how the greats get ahead by the way whether it’s an undersized white guy like Julian Edelman who just works harder than everyone else until he becomes Super Bowl MVP or an undersized white guy like Ben Shapiro who punches in to his job at the Racism Store every day and puts his head down and gets the work done.
Around 2016 something happened that seems to have increased the potential audience for racist tweets. All of the sudden out of nowhere sharing and trafficking in barely even concealed racism started to become socially acceptable, even downright beneficial for people. We may never fully understand what that shift was.