Saturday, November 18, 2006

Respect : Activism is not a dirty word

More on the use of cameras by ordinary citizens to document the abuse of of police power:

My main points:

Police work is tough, it is necessary, and police deserve our respect. They are public servants. According to an 84 year old civil rights lawyer whose lecture I attended a couple years ago, police start out idealistic, with the goal of service in mind. It is common for what can be described as psychological problems to occur after a few years on the job. Police become jaded and burned out dealing with the worst, most troublesome and dangerous element of the human species. After a while they may begin to identify anyone they come in contact with on the job with that element. Rights can be violated, power mis-handled, etcetera.

Us civilians do not have to put up with that, even in the paranoid social climate the Bush administration has helped create. It is our duty to not put up with abuse of police power.

That is why we are seeing more news stories about people whipping out the ubiquitous cell phone camera and filming police when police start making mincemeat of people. You have to be brave to do so, but humans are a brave species and we have instincts to take care of each other, keep each other in line, help each other out. Everyone benefits: "Hey! You're losin' it! Back down, you're losing sight of your humanity."

Here is another news story about this topic which describes the phenomena of police overreaction, citizen documentation and organization. The story quotes activists, police leaders, and ACLU folk.
"This police department was a cowboy department, a department that was very quick on the trigger and it is hard to root out those practices from the past. That's why the cameras are important," Ripston said.

"If the police were not overreacting there would be no photographs to take."

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