There are certainly good cops and bad cops, but the good cops are for the most part not heroes. They’re decent people doing their job properly, just like most of the rest of us in this society, whether we’re janitors, teachers or even journalists. The problem is that the bad cops -- and there are way too many of them in police departments across America -- are a menace because of the unchecked authority they wield and the weapons they carry.
As MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell put it in an opinion piece called “Last Word” on the cable network that was sadly unique for television in its brutal honesty, “Every day in America police are too tough, every day in America police cross the line and abuse citizens, every day in America police get away with that,” and nothing is done about it. It gets covered up by any “internal investigations” that get done.
Supervisor Anthony Bologna using pepper spray on retreating demonstrators (oink, oink)
Back in the late 1960s, the Black Panthers, an organization established to defend black communities from the police thugs who then as now occupy minority neighborhoods like an alien army, took to calling the cops pigs. Sad to say, it was an apt description. Police, back then and even now, routinely batter minority people who have already been handcuffed and arrested, using batons, kicks to the groin and head, choke holds, and other methods, as well as tasers, mace and pepper spray. They engage in such sadism not to control subjects in their custody, but simply because they are twisted brutes drunk on their power, and because they can get away with it. Tasers, which can kill, are particularly popular torture devices, used with increasing frequency.
What we are witnessing now, in the videos surfacing showing the police reign of terror on Wall Street, is the action, once again, of pigs. Someone like Police Assistant Supervisor Anthony Bologna, who is shown clearly on videotape on two separate occasions spraying pepper spray, first into the faces of young women, and then at retreating demonstrators, is a classic pig. (Bologna, who is supposed to be providing supervision to lower-ranking cops, was reportedly already guilty of gratuitous pepper spraying of legal demonstrators during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.)
If Mayor Bloomberg were a decent human being, he would first of all demand the arrest and firing of Bologna as a sign that he was serious about defending the people of his city from lawless thuggery by men wearing the uniform of the New York City Police Department. Then he would withdraw his uniformed pigs from the streets of lower Manhattan and announce that the occupation of Wall Street would be allowed to go forward unharassed. He could send in traffic control officers to keep vehicles flowing if he wants, but no other police presence should be in evidence unless the kids start to misbehave.
The heroic sacrifices of a few dozen New York City cops back on Sept. 11, 2001 were taken advantage of by police not just in New York, but all across the country, who shamelessly basked in the glow of public adulation of their uniforms that was really only deserved by those who had actually raced up the stairs of the burning buildings. Politicians like Mayor Bloomberg and virtually every elected official since 9-11 in Washington, have wrapped themselves in the flag and the uniforms of those martyred police officers too, helping to flog the public’s mindless hero-worshipping of the police, and benefit from the reflected glow.
But that carefully cultivated hero-worshipping has come at a heavy cost, as police since 9-11, with the encouragement of political charlatans, have been increasingly adopting police-state and para-military tactics towards dissent of any kind.
It took the Occupy Wall Street kids to show the police for what they really are.
What we got has been an ugly display of pigs on the rampage this week in New York.
Even the corporate media, which for days had tried to pretend nothing was happening in Lower Manhattan, have finally been forced to report on the despicable police abuse of these brave kids.
The farcical mythology of police as heroes in blue is over.
NOTE: The folks at Occupy Wall Street, on their website, are claiming that they have received information that as many as 100 New York City cops have refused to play a role of Pinkerton marcenaries to protect Wall Street, and have boycotted their assignments to police Wall Street. There is no independent confirmation of this claim, which may just be wishful thinking, but if it is true that even a handful of New York Police are putting principle above career, it would be a wonderful sign that there are really honorable and good people in the nation's largest police department. These people should do the city and their employer a favor and speak up about their actions. Maybe more good cops will get the courage to join them!