After writing the recent fact-check of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain George Brown’s remarks which were taken out of context, I got a lot of blowback from people who accused me of being a law enforcement “boot-licker” and other unprintable remarks. This was especially evident in a long-winded, angry email that I received from the person affiliated with a branch of Cop Block who admits to “exposing” the remarks that initiated the whole smear campaign against Captain Brown. Here’s a brief excerpt from the email, which was also posted by the same individual in the comments on that article, as well as on my Facebook page:
“Some extreme left website has come out to be an apologist for rapist cops by hiding facts, not telling the whole story, and lying. I was the first person, that I know of, to mention how what Captain George Brown was saying was completely outrageous. My comments were picked up by some other people and it went viral, as the saying goes.”
“Extreme left website” and lying? I hardly think so. While my personal beliefs are all over the map depending on the issue, I couldn’t call us an “extreme left website” because that would be a huge stretch of the truth. Yet, even after the full video came out of Captain George Brown’s remarks, people still insisted that he made the remarks that were taken out of context by Cop Block and many left-leaning websites like Raw Story and Huffington Post (which later corrected their story). Some of them also accused me of defending someone for comments that they did not make, and these weren’t just anti-government libertarians either.
The problem is that there exists on the fringes of both the far left and the far right, a very real anti-government agenda which includes a hatred of law enforcement. Cop Block along with some members of the militia and Open Carry movement have a very vested interest in deepening the mistrust of police officers and other government entities – and too many people on the left are being manipulated into going along with this agenda. Take for example this article from Reason.com (a libertarian website) that argues AGAINST police body cameras, something I fully support.
While there are often abuses of power, there are also plenty of decent, hard-working officers and people who work in government every day – and we need to remember that. Allowing ourselves to be drawn into the trap of demonizing all members of law enforcement because of the actions of a few only furthers the agenda of anti-government types like Cop Block who count on easily manipulated people on the left to further their agenda. What’s more, buying into the ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) mentality creates a lot of needless friction with the police.
We can demand justice when a member of law enforcement or a department acts inappropriately or abuses their powers without feeding into the paranoia and mistrust of the police that anti-government extremists want us to embrace. At the same time, police need to do a better job of interacting with their community, as President Obama recently stated.
“It makes folks who are victimized by crime and need strong policing reluctant to go to the police because they may not trust them,” he said. “And the worst part of it is it scars the hearts of our children,” leading some youngsters to unnecessarily fear people who do not look like them while leading others to constantly feel under suspicion no matter what they do.
“That is not the society we want,” Obama said. “That is not the society that our children deserve.” (Source)
Our job is not to allow our demands for social justice and better policing to be hijacked by the radical anti-government types that exist on the fringes of the political spectrum. Issues of police brutality, excessive force and violations of people’s civil rights do happen on a regular basis – but they are extensions of a much greater problem within government itself. For example, we have serious issues with a criminal justice system that favors the for-profit prison industry. Don’t believe me? How about the fact that CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) is a for-profit and publicly traded company under the NYSE on Wall Street? CCA also has a lobbying group, a PAC and contributes overwhelmingly to Republicans who often push for privatization of prisons, promise to “get tough on crime” and demand harsher penalties for various offenses – all while standing in opposition to repealing laws like the federal ban on marijuana, which would put fewer people behind bars.
Again, there are police out there who aren’t upholding their oath to serve and protect, but feeding into the outrage stories from Cop Block, Policestatedaily, Reason.com and other organizations with an overall anti-government agenda isn’t going to fix the issue. The way we fix the system is putting people into government who represent us and demand police accountability, rather than those who represent Corrections Corporation of America or weapons manufacturers who undoubtedly want the increased militarization of local police forces.
Do you want to change the system or do you want to just sit behind a computer and complain? Do you want your local representatives to vote in a way that favors the community and not corporations? Do you want all members of your local police force to wear body cameras to record every interaction with the public? Do you want officers to have more training and be better paid? If so, you have to vote.
Again, here’s what else is at stake besides local elections where you can make changes happen in your community.
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Are you registered to vote? Do you know where your local polling place is? If not, turn off the TV, get off Facebook, and make sure that your friends and family are registered as well. If we don’t vote, we let CCA and other corporations who represent the for-profit prison industry make decisions that affect us and our personal liberties for generations to come.
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