Police Brutality in St. Louis

Today the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has committed an act of journalism and reported on police activity last weekend. A bit slow, there, but better late than never.

It appears that last Sunday night, some vandals broke some windows and flower pots, and the police conducted a sweep that covered several blocks. Among those arrested were an undercover cop, who was beaten by his own “brothers.” Another was an air force lieutenant who was standing outside his home, watching. Another was a photojournalist working on assignment from Getty Images. Another was one of the stage crew for U2, scheduled to give a concert on September 16, who got caught in the sweep when he stepped out of a bar. This may have something to do with why U2 canceled the concert.

The police were congratulated by their acting police chief, who said they “owned tonight,” and got praise from Gov. Eric Greitens for their tactics. But as more details emerged about heavy-handed police tactics, criticism mounted. A lawyer for the Post-Dispatch condemned the “inappropriate and disturbing” arrest of one of its journalists. A lawsuit on Friday alleged that the police violated people’s civil rights. And two top city officials on different days used the word “disturbing” to describe allegations of abusive police.

On Friday, Mayor Lyda Krewson asked the director of public safety to investigate how an undercover officer became bloodied during his arrest Sunday when he was mistaken for a suspect believed to be carrying chemicals that could be sprayed on officers.

It gets better.

Lt. Alex Nelson, 27, who works in cyberoperations at Scott Air Force Base, was walking around his neighborhood with his wife when they became trapped between quickly closing police lines. He said he was kicked in the face, blinded by pepper spray and dragged away.

“It’s our street,” he said. “I hear the police say it was their street, but it’s literally my street. I have coffee on that street, and I own property on that street. We were not active protesters. We were looking into the neighborhood to observe events that were unfolding.

“I’m very sad how they treated me and my wife through the escalation of violence they used on me. It was incredibly unnecessary. I’ve had training on how to arrest and be arrested, and I capitulated to every demand that was made of me, even before I was on the ground. We were told to move back, and we moved back. We were told to move this way, we moved this way. We obeyed every command that we heard. We were never given an order to disperse. Not once.”

He said while waiting to be loaded into a police vehicle, he said he was an officer in the military. He said the police officer replied, “Shut up. Stop. I don’t care.”

 William Waldron, part of the U2 crew: “They threw me on the ground and told me I was being arrested,” he said. “The guys inside were trying to come out and tell them I was a part of their crew, and police told them if they opened up the door they were going to arrest them.”

Several people who said they were complying with police orders were pepper sprayed anyway. A number of people — some were taking part in the demonstration, some just happened to be in the area — suffered injuries from being slammed to the ground and dragged around by police. One observer suffered nerve damage from having his hands bound too tightly.

Another observer said, “As they told people to disperse, they wouldn’t let people leave. We were there for about 30 minutes, and then the police gave the final warning to disperse, but wouldn’t let people leave. That’s when the police started rushing and macing.”

Also:

Fareed Alston of East St. Louis was filming the protests for his company City-Productions and Publishing when he was arrested.

“It was like imminent danger, a wall of police circling around us,” Alston said. “They told us to get on the ground and everyone complied. Even as we did that they started pepper spraying us and kicking us to the ground with their foot and taking people’s phones.”

Alston, 28, said as he was being taken to the police van he saw officers giving high fives, taking selfies and smoking cigars.

 It has been widely reported that when the sweep was over, police were chanting “Whose streets? Our streets.”

There is an acting chief of police now because the former one resigned in April of this year when the newly elected mayor, Lyda Krewson, was sworn into office. Krewson had no role in the Stockley verdict that touched off the recent protests. However, she does need to step up and take charge of the police department, and fast.

12 thoughts on “Police Brutality in St. Louis

  1. I had a discussion with a wingnut about law enforcement power.

    The main reason why price gouging isn’t usually allowed after natural disasters is to avoid civil breakdown. If all sellers of vital products engaged in price gouging then destructive riots and looting would be inevitable (let alone all the humane reasons). Yet some libertarian economists say price gouging would lead to a more rational economy. How could this possibly be achieved? By increasing law enforcement power. Yup. True liberty could only be achieved if we lived in a police state.

    What can you say. Some people are just plain nuts.

  2. veryfascist. Trumpism has led to this. Not that this is not an old story , but it has been enabled.
    I live in a town where an off duty policeman killed a young man . The officer threw his 18 yr old daughter out of the home, the young man half black half white offered to let her stay at his family’s house rather than be homeless. The officer drove there and killed the young man in front of everyone and 3 trials later still has not been convicted, because as a policeman he is always presumed to be righteous.
    We have an authoritarian racist problem in this country.
    Check out the trump tweets now fighting with black athletes. They are bigger celebrities than he is and do not want to give him the photo ops. So he goes to Alabama to demand athletes be fired for taking a knee. Why is a black man taking a knee, a passive act, so threatening to a white politician?

  3. If anyone reads American history, it’s tough to be surprised by what we are seeing. White people have always reacted badly to non-white change. A black president was just too much for many white people to take, even some who may have voted for him. Law and order, in variations going all the way back to reconstruction, is the rubric of control. Nate Silver wrote about Trump getting white people to vote as a pseudo-ethnic block–I hope the same doesn’t happen in 2018.

  4. Yeah, t-TRUMPism requires a growing, ever more bigoted snd violent Police State.
    Invest in brown cloth which can be used to make shirts, and/or cover Kevlar.

    We’ll see what shakes out at today’s NFL games.
    But t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin, by stuffing his tiny delicate foot into the big gaping maw on his ugly and fat orange face in Alabama on Friday night, may have inadvertantly done more to unite the races in America – sans his “Deplorables,” of course – than anyone in recent memory:
    ‘The the enemy of my enemy is MY friend…’

    Even if you hate professional football, I recommend that you tune-in, just to see what – if anything – happens before the beginning game, when the National Anthem is played.
    If the white players kneel with their black teammates – in an ‘in-your-face’ response to t-RUMP – then it may signal the beginning of a long-needed/wanted healing process.
    This will, of course, be lIke – prior to releasing them – poking sticks into the caged, crazed faces and (tiny) genitalia of the rabid gorilla’s of the bigoted conservative ‘punTWITidiocy’.
    But who cares?
    It takes almost nothing to get them crazed anymore.
    This, THIS, should be fun to watch!!!

    Oh, and on the sports radio stations I listen to in Upstate NY – they broadcast from NYC – I noticed the beginning at least one planned conservative meme in response to any possibke unifying reaction(s)ftom the plsyers:
    ‘I’n not saying I disagree with their reaction.
    But sports are the candy store for adults! Leave the news out of it!!!’

    Sounds nice, don-t it?
    The only problem with that analogy, is that everywhere I grew up and/or lived, had newstands either in the front of, or in, the damned candy stores!
    Fools…

  5. “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

    –Voltaire

    I’m not sure how good the translation is, but the thought rings true. Just judging from the various “discussions” that I’ve observed on social media, it’s seems that it’s difficult to avoid believing the occasional absurdity. In an atmosphere where there is so much distortion and misinformation, even the most level headed people seem to swallow some of it. The wingnuts and crazies have always been with us, but, it is worrisome to see rational people capable of critical thinking regurgitate some piece of propaganda. Most of the time, my more sound minded friends can accept their mistake and think their way out of it. But, when there is a blitz of disinformation, we all get tainted a bit. Some people, (like most who comment on this blog) try to weed out the distortion, but others don’t care. They see themselves as being at war with the other side, as victims fighting back, even when they are themselves the brutes. The sense of victimization justifies brutality and validates rancor. At that point one believes absurdities. I don’t think my wingnut friends are so stupid that they can’t see through some of the lies they propagate, but, instead, I think they see the distortions as weapons in their arsenal. They are “lying for the Lord,” as absurd as that sounds. Believing absurdities unites them.

    I think we’re seeing what happens when a critical number of our fellow citizens have made the journey to Wingnuttia and institutions like the police force have been thoroughly corrupted. As soldiers of the realm, they do what is expected of them.

    As a callow youth, I found myself in Paris in the summer of 1968. I was a small town kid with little experience of the world. I was wandering around, and I found myself in the middle of some commotion. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow, I found myself in the middle of a street with a huge group of students on one side and phalanxes of police on the other. As they drew closer, I looked up and a gendarme made eye contact with me. He moved quickly to my side and guided me to the sidewalk. I have to admit that I was pretty obviously a tourist, but, I was the same age as some of the younger student protestors. I like to think that it was possible that someone might have mistaken me for one of the Parisian students.

    That seems like an example of good police work with a bit of bravery thrown in. The gendarme was perceptive, efficient and calm. In today’s “great” America, he would simply be an anachronism.

    This seems appropriate:

    https://youtu.be/hn1VxaMEjRU

  6. OT – I got an email from Dave Brat, who is a leading member of the Freedom Caucus. I don’t agree with him, but the Freedom Caucus has been driving the GOP leadership nuts for years and what they want is worth understanding.

    “In their recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows explain the frustration across the entire Republican conference, now that the same play is being run again on tax reform. Members are being told: Don’t introduce your tax reform. Wait for ours. But we won’t show it to you until you vote for the 2018 budget. Does that make sense to you? Here’s how Jordan/Meadows described it:
    If a car salesman shows you a picture of a car and demands a nonrefundable down payment, you’d probably say, “Wait a minute. I’ve got a few questions. What’s the model year? What’s the car’s condition? How many miles are on it?” You might even ask to see the car. That’s the situation we face with tax reform—except we haven’t even seen a picture…

    The biggest question: Why the secrecy? Congress has been in session almost nine months. The NFL can play an entire season and half another in that time. The Indians could have ten streaks of 22 wins in that time. Why the reluctance to show the American people the plan? Is the bill being written behind closed doors because it will only help the connected class and their high-paid consultants? Is it being hidden away only to be rolled out at the last minute when members will be told again to take it or leave it, it’s a binary choice?

    When it comes to tax reform, we want to see a plan from leadership that will actually cut taxes for families, simplify a ridiculously complex tax code and create jobs. A good starting place is to have basic questions answered: What are the personal rates? What’s the corporate rate? What’s the repatriation rate? How are small businesses treated? Right now, a few people in leadership are the only ones who know those basic details.

    Everyone should be able to agree that reading bills and knowing the details before voting on them is essential to good governance. There should be no debate about that at all.”

    While Dave Bratt is focused on changing GOP leadership positions, he’s close to John McCains position on “Regular Order”. If the GOP looses seats overall, and the Tea Party gains seats, GOP leadership will be in a precarious situation. Much as the DNC is with activists who reject the Clinton style of getting in bed with Wall Street. Can the rebels on the right and thee rebels on the left form a rebel alliance on the issue which drives the establishment wings of both parties management – money in politics?

    For those who say such an alliance is impossible, here’s a quote from Brat.

    “If there is one thing that unites both parties up here, it’s money. My principle that cuts across all of that is representing the will of the people. And I’m called a hard-right conservative for some reason for being with Adam Smith, a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher.”

    When he ran against Eric Cantor, Brat had this to say:

    “I’m an economist. I’m pro-business. I’m pro-big business making profits. But what I’m absolutely against is big business in bed with big government. And that’s the problem.”

    So if the Tea Party is ascendant while the GOP looses seats overall, and if the gains by the democrats also reflect a progressive bend, could Bernie sit down with Brat, agree they have VERY different views on the role of government, but seriously investigate areas of agreement on ending the domination of big money in DC?

  7. “If anyone reads American history, it’s tough to be surprised by what we are seeing.”

    As true a statement as ever been spoken. But that’s one problem; people aren’t reading at all, let alone American history. They are increasingly getting their “news” and “education” from internet sources controlled by groups that fit their world view. And that news and education is based in the old stereotypes — the same warmed over bull that seeks to promote white supremacy. What we are seeing is what those who “wanted their country back” all these years want to see. They feel now its “their turn” and feel justified in feeling this way.

    “The wingnuts and crazies have always been with us…”

    Yes they have, but the difference today is their world view has been validated by the nut in the white house, and by extension their world view is being mainstreamed as a result of the constant attempts at normalizing the hatred, bigotry and craziness of Trump. If Trump is “normal” then they are as well. And the “they” includes the bigots, white supremacists, neo nazis, anti-government militias, representatives of whom have all said that they support Trump because he is one of them, essentially.

    In this environment, police brutality is the normal order of things, when that brutality is focused as extra-judicial punishment against non-whites. Sessions has basically said, the DOJ will not focus on brutality cases, which really isn’t saying much since in the entire eight years of the Obama DOJ, not one federal civil rights case was ever sustained against any of the cops who killed unarmed blacks while “fearing for their lives” (and My God, why isn’t it obvious — that essentially says, legally, that just being black is being armed!)

    Need any more evidence that police brutality is the normal order of things? Forget the ideal that BLM is “violent” (and we know they’re not) but when a simple gesture like taking a knee at the playing of the national anthem, as benign and non-violent of a protest as it gets, gets a rebuke from the President of the United States referring to those who do this as “sons of bitches” then not only is police brutality normalized, protesting against it is not even to be tolerated.

    Yesterday I waded into a looney bin of a wingnut dominated thread on this issue, just for kicks. And a woman who claimed to be a medical doctor said she disagreed with Trump on everything, even voted for Hillary, but she agreed with him on what he said to NFL owners and players about kneeling during the national anthem. This is an example of the impact of propaganda; that even “sane” people start to believe insanity.

    The deck is as stacked today in the favor of police brutality and extra-judicial killings of unarmed black people as it ever was. The “legal reasoning” the judge in St. Louis gave to acquit that cop, even though its in evidence that HE SAID he was going to kill him, sounds like the kind of crap judges and juries used decades ago to justify ignoring evidence and acquitting obviously guilty suspects, like those charged in the Emmitt Till case. So nothing has changed on that score. A cop reasonably has about as much to fear from justice when he or she kills an unarmed black person as I do from a butterfly landing on my shoulder. Its bad enough that has been the case, even during the years when they felt they needed to get their country back. But the normalization of bigotry and white supremacy now says that cutting off the only outlet left, protesting this situation, is not to be tolerated.

    Used to be, when discussions of race would come up, the common bullsh*t push back from the “moderates” was, “well, we’ve come a long way.” Today its “let’s wait for all the facts to come out.” They both have the same intent, of shutting down any attempt at acknowledgement of the issues from the perspective of those being oppressed. But we can measure the times we’re in now by current the phrase du jure.

  8. “what I’m absolutely against is big business in bed with big government. And that’s the problem”

    Sort of a pointless statement don’t you think? I mean where do you draw the line, it sounds good but what it really results in is: zero regulations, zero tax incentives, zero planning for the future, it results in a society controlled by and at the Mercy of the 1%, brat and his ilk are simpleton libertarians, what they want can already found, it’s called Somalia! There is no compromising with the tea-tards, they are nihilists!

  9. The police and ICE – the new Gestapo. Act like it, sound like it and need only the uniforms of the Gestapo to make the transition complete. Sickening.

  10. Rick,
    The Gestapo and the Waffen SS wore a lot of nifty-looking leather coats, caps, boots, and belts.

    Our modern American version would too – except they’re probably too ‘fraidy-scared to wesr them, because the ladies in PETA would come down on their heads harder than the wrath of God!

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