Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Empire Strikes Back

A number of police unions are responding to public hostility to cops in the wake of the George Floyd execution.

I watched a video yesterday posted by the head of the RCMP officers' union in reaction to the claims of systemic racism at play in the Mounties' ranks. My, my, you would have thought butter would not melt in their mouths.

As the Dudley DoRight spiel played out my thoughts drifted to Robert Dziekanski tasered to death at Vancouver airport by four of the red-serge boys who later concocted a cover-up only to be exposed as liars by a passerby's smartphone video. I thought of the Mounties appearing at the front doors of some law-abiding British Columbians who protested the Trans Mountain pipeline. Their message was clear - we know who you are, we know where you live, we're keeping an eye on you so watch yourself. Pure intimidation. That's Stasi-grade shit. I thought of the Mounties in combat gear with assault rifles raiding Wetsuweten protest sites manned by unarmed tribal members. I thought of the set-up job they pulled on Mike Duffy trying to bury him under 33 charges, all of which were dismissed at trial. I thought of the job they pulled on Paul Martin by alleging, in mid-election, that Ralph Goodale was under investigation. I thought of when, in February of this year, the RCMP tried to keep the media away from their Wetsuweten raids, threatening to arrest them for the crime of journalism. I thought of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team that merged the Canadian Border Service Agency, CSIS and the RCMP into a domestic spy agency. I thought of the sexual discrimination and affronts to female members by the male-dominated RCMP. I expect if I dwell on this I'll easily pull out another half dozen "I thoughts."

Yet the union spokesman would have us believe these are a bunch of choirboys. Racism is only part of the systemic rot in the RCMP.

This nonsense is really on a roll in the States. Yesterday the New York P.D. union pushed a story about three officers who had been poisoned with bleach-laced milk shakes at a Shake Shack. Oh it was a horror story. They implied their officers had been attacked by one or more of those protest sympathizers. They were warning their members not to go anywhere alone, only to eat at restaurants they knew and trusted, to be on high alert.

The union had to backpeddle a bit when the NYPD announced today that no one had been intentionally poisoned by the staff of Shake Shack and the business about bleach was not true.

Worse yet are the shootings of police officers at BLM protest marches. The most recent happened in Las Vegas where an officer remains paralyzed from the neck down after being shot in the back of his head. Of course the cops and rightwing media depicted this as the work of antifa radicals. It turns out that extremists have been resorting to armed violence only they're rightwing extremists, the Boogaloo boys.
President Donald Trump has warned repeatedly that antifa, a favorite bogeyman, is behind the violence during recent waves of protest. But while scant evidence supports Trump’s claims, another loosely organized movement has become a prominent sideshow at nationwide demonstrations and been linked with attacks and plots to create chaos.

Adherents of the far-right movement known as Boogaloo have shown up at various protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, attempting to use the demonstrations to further their own cause and in some cases carrying rifles.
Boogaloo devotees have also carried out violent attacks against police. This week, a California district attorney said that Steven Carrillo, charged with the ambush shooting death of a sheriff’s deputy in California’s Santa Cruz County on June 6, had ties to the Boogaloo. Carrillo had written some of its slogans in blood on the hood of a nearby car before his arrest. Authorities are reportedly looking into whether Carrillo was connected to the May 29 shooting death of a security officer at the federal building in Oakland, California ― a shooting that occurred during a large protest in that city over Floyd’s killing. 
The Boogaloo movement is a somewhat amorphous anti-government community that under its umbrella includes militias, gun rights activists, libertarians and white supremacists. What they share is a core set of symbols, terms and ideology centered on the belief a second civil war is coming to the U.S., as well as a fervent opposition to the state that extends to law enforcement. 
The pushback from the cops seems hollow, laughable to some but, in societies that are becoming deeply, even dangerously divided, there's another half that buys this stuff if only because of confirmatory bias.

The current unrest is unusual in how broadly based it is. It has traction not seen in earlier protests and riots. It doesn't seem as likely to fade away as we saw in the earlier unrest.  I wonder if this has reached some critical mass in which it transforms from unrest into something more in the nature of an uprising. There is a tipping point to be sure but where does it lie?

The Boogaloo movement has been looking for a hook, something to launch their white supremacist civil war. They show up to protests heavily armed, intimidating the protesters, seemingly spoiling for a fight. At times they have gone from provocateurs to armed violence. That's a big notch up. Could there be something bigger in store, something resembling a Timothy McVeigh incident?

If tensions between the two camps escalate, I wish I knew which side the police would be on. Police unions are treating the protesters as their adversaries. It is the protesters, after all, who are driving the movement to reform policing in ways many cops oppose.

The radical right clearly has the backing of this president. He wants antifa declared a terrorist organization but not the hate-fueled clowns with the assault rifles, the people doing the shooting.


Trailblazer said...

Just a thought!
After seeing the short videos of the tasering I thought as you do.


Now I am not too sure.
The journalist that wrote the book explains that neither of the officers had any clue on how to use a taser and what effects it had.


The Disaffected Lib said...

I read the Petrovic interview and found his views unconvincing. He wasn't writing as a journalist but as a guy looking for a hook on which to sell a book. There's a big difference. He went to these guys. They predictably fed him exculpatory claims. He swallowed them and spun them into a book.

Where's the proof that the RCMP issue weapons that, wrongly used have caused many deaths, to their officers without training? And what kind of officer uses a weapon without knowing what it does? Dziekanski was the 16th death by Taser in Canada since the weapon had been introduced here in 2003.

And the petard on which these officers hoisted themselves was their written statements submitted to their superiors immediately after the death that were plainly inconsistent with the video.

I am familiar with Tom Braidwood, having argued cases before him many times. He doesn't jump to conclusions. He heard evidence from both sides, including these officers' counsel. He had video and documentary evidence. No, I'm sorry, but I'm not remotely swayed by a guy trying to make a few bucks writing a book that comes out some 12 years after the events.

When I was a journalist I learned never to trust lawyers. When I became a lawyer I quickly learned never to trust journalists. This brings back memories of a phone call I got one day from a Vancouver newspaper reporter about a trial I was doing. I told him I had nothing to say to him. That caused him to become quite indignant. He demanded to know why not. I explained to him that I had previously been a journalist. With that I took the wind out of his sails and he said something along the lines of "oh, alright."