Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Why we shouldn't have an armed police force

Because they murder people:

Captured by a video camera on one of the officer’s helmets, the slaying by Albuquerque police of a homeless camper in the foothills outside the city two weeks ago apparently leaves room for interpretation. The city says it was justifiable self-defence. To others it looked like extra-judicial execution.


For James Boyd, the fury comes too late. With a long history of mental problems and episodes of violence, he was challenged by three officers on 16 March for camping in an unauthorised area near the city limits. They woke him from sleeping. A three-hour stand-off ensued until, at dusk, he is heard telling the officers he is done arguing and was “going to walk” with them. That is where the episode might have ended.

Instead, as Mr Boyd gathers up his things, one of the officers shouts “Do it”. A flash-bang device is fired at his feet. A startled Mr Boyd drops his bags and seems to take out a knife. He turns away from the officers, two of whom shoot multiple live rounds into his back. Mr Boyd falls, a dog is loosed to check he has been immobilised, the officers approach and cuff his wrists.

He was pronounced dead later in a city hospital.

There's a video of the murder here (no, I haven't watched it; the stills in the piece above are bad enough). The good news is that the people of Albuquerque finally seem to have decided that a police force which regularly murders them (in the past four years, they've shot more people than the NYPD, which polices a city 16 times bigger) needs to be policed. There have been protests directed at the killer cops, which have been met as usual with tear gas and batons. Which when its the police who are the focus of the protests, looks like an awfully self-interested use of force. The question though is whether this will actually produce change, or whether America's murderous cops are now effectively beyond any democratic control.