It's disturbing enough when police push regular people around for doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to speak, assemble and petition government officials. It's worse when law-enforcement authorities don't seem to care who's watching.
We've also seen Code Pink demonstrator Alicia Forrest assaulted by a police officer before being arrested and dragged away even as cameras were very obviously recording the incident.
Are the police getting more comfortable throwing their weight around, no matter who's watching?
They must be, if they're willing to roust network news producers accompanied by camera crews that are guaranteed to get their footage on the evening news. ABC's Asa Eslocker, who was standing on a public sidewalk, was forced into the street by officers before being wrestled into handcuffs and hauled off. His crew captured the whole incident on video.
That demonstrates a remarkable lack of concern about being recorded while violating people's rights.
No, I'm not saying that it's worse to harass professional journalists than it is to assault college kids and average people walking down the street. I'm saying that it should be assumed to be incredibly stupid to attack people who have access to satellite transmission facilities and teams of lawyers.
But the police in Denver seem perfectly comfortable doing their worst in front of camera lenses.
Do they not get it? Or do they just not care?
We'll have to watch events at the Republican convention to see if this is a trend.Update: I'm among the "left-wing" bloggers vilified over at Little Green Footballs for spreading the story of the assault on Alicia Forrest by Denver Police Officer Scott Stewart. (It's interesting to be characterized as such, by the way, just a few days after I wrote about underground economic activity as a logical response to excessive taxation and overregulation.) Copious additional photos and video are provided to demonstrate that Officer Stewart whacked Forrest in the head with a truncheon only after she provoked him terribly. And, besides, she wasn't badly hurt anyway.
But Forrest simply would not obey him (nor any of the other officers). Instead of backing up, she actually leaned forward, and started taunting Officer Stewart even more aggressively. As seen in the photo above, he had just finished trying to push her backwards, using his baton, which Forrest didn’t like, so she dared him to “Fuckin’ do it again!” At that point, Officer Stewart simply lost his patience with this annoying gadfly who obviously felt her pink clothes rendered her immune to criticism or to police enforcement. It was moments after this photo was taken that the scene depicted in the Rocky Mountain News video took place.Unfortunately for my critic, the scales haven't fallen from my eyes, and I have yet to embrace the righteousness of whacking women over the head with clubs when they're rude.
Here’s the contextless video again. You can hear Forrest saying “Fuckin’ do it again!”, and then Stewart taking her up on her offer and saying “Back it up, bitch!” as he clonks her on the forehead or on the sunglasses, causing her to fall backwards. The “crack” you hear is not the sound of his baton on her skull, but rather that of her pink plastic bullhorn hitting the pavement and all its batteries falling out.
Instead, my reaction after seeing more footage of the incident is: Officer Stewart really is a jackass.
Here's the deal: If you can't endure a little taunting without degenerating into a violent rage, put down the badge and get another job. And stay away from high-stress situations. Really.
Read me at Examiner.com on the proper role of police.
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