Yesterday, I spent some time at the library reading my local newspapers. After finishing and wandering among the books something hit me. In just one days reading of local newspapers here is what I found about police, power and the public:
- Jail Time -- The Valley Times reports that the local city is being sued by two citizens for two separate incidents. It seems that Tiffany Stewart was being investigated for selling alcohol to minors at her local grocery store. The police took her to a store room and a fracas of some sort ensued. Ms. Stewart was subsequently acquitted of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. The officers admitted striking Ms. Stewart in the face and stomach to subdue her.
Mr. Vang filmed the police detaining one of his friends in a parking lot. A police officer confronted Mr. Vang, confiscated his filming device, erased the film and arrested Mr. Vang for “intercepting a communication without permission.” He was booked and released the next day. All charges against Mr. Vang were later dropped.
- Death by Killing -- A major local newspaper reports about the killing of James P. Chasse by local police. The allegation by the police was that Mr. Chasse was urinating in public. A slightly built man, Mr. Chasse walked with a limp due to a recent accident, so hardly was a risk of flight from a police arrest. Mr. Chasse died from chest wounds and broken ribs when one of the police officers tackled him to the ground. The scene photo shows eleven (11) uniformed police and other officials chatting casually around Mr. Chasse’s dead body lying on a local sidewalk. The newspaper’s report stated the police chief pronounced the killing of Mr. Chasse as “acceptable.”
A young man was drunk sitting in his parked Corvette sports car. The police tasered him through the window. The shock sent him and his car over the curb into a fence whereupon the police shot him to death.
Extreme Touching -- Local law requiring mandatory jail sentences for certain heinous crimes fell heavily on Ms. Rodriquez and Darryl Buck. Ms. Rodriquez had, in a public setting, brought a thirteen year-old boy's head back in contact with her clothed breasts. Mr. Buck had been fishing next to a thirteen year-old girl and brushed the dirt off her shorts when she got up. The judge found that the touching was outside the clothes, without fondling and was not forced. Nevertheless, the mandatory jail sentence for both was six years. Neither had a prior criminal record.
One day’s reading of local news may be a microcosm of us in these United States. If so, then I gather that it is O.K. for the police to punch you in the face and the stomach and arrest you even though no crime is being committed . Moreover, they can arrest you and put you in jail for filming them harassing your friends. Again no crime is being committed. I wonder where Rodney King's photographer is now?
In fact, they can kill you for urinating in public (even though that charge was never proven against Mr. Chasse). They can kill you for being drunk in public in the privacy of your own parked car.
But don’t you dare demonstrate affection for a youngster in public nor brush off the dirt from the fanny of a young fishing fellow because that could land you in jail for six (6) years. And these police we speak of above, they suffered no punishment at all for punching, jailing, shooting and killing innocent members of the public. As I have said before, we are hiring the wrong people to serve as public safety officers.
All of this in just one day's reading of local newspapers about local events.
Response: Judge Ray HardingBULLETINS FROM ALOHA - WEEKLY BULLETINSl - POLICE, POWER AND THE PUBLIC