CSPD Officer Erwin Paladino of 2003

Come to papaHas it been made clear enough in the multitude of retellings of the events of St. Patrick’s Day 2007, that an Officer Erwin Paladino was the chief agitator in the police camp? He directed the arrests and handled most of them with two chief accomplices, guy with taser and guy of choke-hold. (Maybe not coincidentally the three men in blue in our T-shirt advert image at right.) The other of the fourteen policemen on the scene stood in the wings to receive us as we were removed from the parade route.

If the police had been interested in removing us efficiently from the street, the officers could have handled it on one swoop. Instead Paladino was let to do the dirty work, dirtily, throwing me to the ground, yelling at us pell mell, acting over-taxed when in fact the police outnumbered us.

Police misconduct, 2003
Imagine our surprise when Mark Lewis, reviewing the videotapes from the wrongful arrests of peace activists in 2003, discovered that the chief police bully in that case was the same Officer Paladino! You can hear him on the tape telling a woman she could walk to Boulder because he was impounding her car, then handcuffing her before she could even do that. She and friends were standing outside of a Dairy Queen, where they’d parked, after the tear-gassing of the antiwar rally.

The Dairy Queen Dozen won a settlement from the city of Colorado Springs, an admission that the police had acted improperly. And yet four years later, here’s the same wrongdoer, Officer Paladino, pulling the same uncivil behavior, the same abuse of authority, the same escalation of brutality, worse actually, in the midst of children and elders.

We’re told that any admission of wrongdoing on the part of CSPD could never include a reprimand of a particular officer, certainly not one like Paladino who wraps himself in a flag whenever there’s a fallen officer memorial.

To tell you the truth, I got the very strong impression, on St. Patrick’s Day when we were trying to learn his name from the other officers, that they weren’t too proud of his actions either. Most of the police bent over backward to treat us with consideration, as something of an apology for what went wrong on the street. Paladino would not tell us his name when we requested it, and when it came time to record it on most of our arrest forms, the officers filling out our paperwork pretended amnesia it seems, they didn’t want to betray his name either if he wasn’t brave enough to give it himself. That’s a man not likely respected by his colleagues.

Until our trial, until criticism can be brought on police misconduct, who might Paladino be mishandling today? We were fortunate to have cameras focused on us at the parade, and to have a large crowd protecting us with its gaze. What of the hapless vagrant in a dark side street? He bears the brunt of the policemen’s abuse of authority, regularly beaten and harassed by officers with aggressive personality disorders and the means and opportunity to vent them.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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