Thursday, August 28, 2008

Denver police: record this!

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.

This week, at the Democratic convention in Denver, we've already seen a mass arrest of almost 100 people, which is expected to result in a lawsuit against the authorities.

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.

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.
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.

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 on the proper role of police.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is simply that they know there will be no consequences to their actions. Almost daily supervisors, judges, and politicians say they will hold their officers to a high standard, but already have the high bar set to it's lowest point.

We see it in the most offensive situations, yet never see true punishments for the cops. I am amazed at some of the things that are blatantly criminal that cops get away with.

Remember the cop that told the airman to stand up, and when he did the cop shot him 3 times, the jury let him off because, "The jury believed what Webb's defenders said: Carrion put his hand near his chest just as he got up. Webb believed that he was reaching for a weapon, although it was determined afterwards that Carrion had no weapons on him. A tactics expert testified that the shooting was justified and an alcohol expert concluded that Carrion was intoxicated at the time of the shooting."

A passenger in a vehicle that may be drunk is almost killed because he did what the cop told him, and the cop got paid vacation time, then is lauded for his abuse.

August 29, 2008 4:35 AM  
Anonymous TC Bell said...

I live here in Denver and I can tell you for certain that these thugs out here really do not care at all.

August 30, 2008 12:44 AM  
Blogger Beth Wellington said...

Ah yes, the rousing has begun in St. Paul and more. See:

$160/hr for yardwork? Where do we apply? Conversely, it only seems fair that our friends in the twin cities should be able to charge the RNC the same if they DO spruce up their yards...

Thanks for your piece on the FBI rules. I'll link to you when I write about the issue tomorrow.

August 30, 2008 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story would be indeed alarming, if it were a true account of what actually transpired.

Unfortunately, it isn't.

Hitler used trumped up stories like this to invade countries like Poland.

September 1, 2008 8:38 AM  
Blogger Beth Wellington said...

To the last commenter about trumped up stories. How do you know that the stories are trumped up? Evidence, please. And what, pray tell, is the connection w. Hitler, a handy catch-all demon? Do you recall the reports in 2007 in the NYT of NYC police infiltration of activists protesting in 2007. And other reports such as the FBI recently having to apologize to NYT and WaPo reporters (as written about in the conservative Washington Times.)

September 1, 2008 12:04 PM  
Blogger DIIYO said...

This blog would be disturbing if it had any credibility.

September 2, 2008 4:51 AM  
Blogger Seawood said...

The truth:

September 2, 2008 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as soon as she got up and appeared to be OK, the cameras disappeared!
it's MAGIC!

September 2, 2008 11:14 PM  
Blogger LaFajita said...

It appears the flying monkey chorus from Little Green Footballs has found your site.

Zombie's narrative, the one you see at LGF, has a number of weaknesses. The part you point out is the weakest. I am stunned that zombie went to the trouble he did only to end up damning Mr. Stewart (I hope he will not be Officer Stewart much longer, and I question the honorific of "Mr.") with his own spin.

Other weaknesses include the claim that She was ordered to move away many times. It is clear from the available video evidence that these orders to "Move Back" were general in nature and not specifically directed to Ms. Forrest. From zombies' own photograhic evidence, Stewart appears to have broken ranks and stalked Ms. Forrest. That in itself is a crime by Colorado Statute.

Another steaming pile they serve up is their claim that Ms. Forrest "jumped up, clearly uninjured" when their own photograph claerly shows she has to be assisted to her feet. She also has the welts and bruises (documented elsewhere) that one can expect after being clocked by a raging coward.

Mr. Kochaniec explains the gap in coverage was due to the necessity of moving his equipment. Some indeterminate amount of time passes before the interview begins. Ms. Forrest has made a statement that this was something less than 10 minutes. Zombie claims she was walking around unharmed almost immediately, but he provides no photographic evidence of this. If he has such evidence, he has not presented it in his narrative.

Then we come to the interview/arrest. By this time, Stewart has not only realized he has made a complete ass of himself, he has done so in front of a camera, and he then conducts an arrest to silence Ms. Forrest.

From the weaknesses I have observed, I question whether zombie was at the scene as he claims. This appears to be an attempt to whitewash Stewart's reprehensible behavior, possibly by a colleague of Stewart. I have no proof of this, but these are questions worth asking until someone can actually identify zombie as being in the crowd and can provide his actual name. I doubt that he will make himself available to the court.

To see the complete Kochaniec video search Youtube for "DNC Uncut:" etc...

September 3, 2008 6:54 AM  
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March 19, 2009 1:45 AM  

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