Excessive force

Excessive force
If a limited number of policemen are charged with stopping an unruly crowd, you might excuse them having to scramble around to contain everyone. Perhaps they’d have to do what it takes to immobilize each arrestee and move on the the next.

Is that what you see in this picture?

I see four officers, among the forteen who were there, two of whom are fastening handcuffs on me. They are about to leave me laying next to Esther who was pushed down beside me, to wait in the middle of the street while they apprehend six others. Examine the pictures. The same two officers handled [mishandled] us while the other dozen filled out the paperwork. If they were trying to get us off the street, why leave us in the street?

I did not resist being pulled from the truck. Why was I not escorted straight away to the sidestreet?

The seven arrestees were cited for “failure to disperse,” not “resisting arrest.” Why then were we treated as if we were resisting? Why the choke holds, pressure holds, the bruises and abrasions? If I was following the policeman obediently, why then do I have a bruise the size of a boot on the back of my leg, an edge of which broke the skin, and a bruised rib cage that pains me to laugh or lie down? As the video evidence shows, and watchers can testify, and the shock of their children attests, we were treated with excessive force.

If an officer shows up on your doorstep, and arrests you for some crime, you don’t begrudge him his actions, he’s doing his job, a tough one. If he’s caught the wrong person, still, people make mistakes, it’s fine, everything will sort itself out, no harm done.

If he wrestles you to the ground, because he thinks you might be armed, because you might be somebody dangerous, again you can excuse him. It is a big responsibility, to protect and to serve. Even if you are hurt. You forgive him.

But if he knew you weren’t a threat, even knew you weren’t guilty, but still threw you to the ground, trying to flex his muscles, to demonstrate his authority in front of hundreds of onlookers, to humilate you and teach onlookers that they’d better not speak up themselves, that’s another story. That’s not an excusible miscalculation of law enforcement. That’s excessive force, that’s injustice. That’s criminal authoritarian jackboot thuggery. Let’s see how far that’s going to fly.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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