"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Takin' It to the Streets
Exclusive to STR
September 4, 2007
A call to action.
The increase in police brutality and the militarization of the police are becoming ever more frequent laments of peace-loving people. Every day it seems I hear more stories of two kinds: First are those reports of totally uncalled for police brutality of innocent people or brutality on those who have already been secured and no longer present any threat to the officers involved; second are the reports of fed up "citizens" gunning down police.
We have a problem here, Houston. The problem, of course, is government--the concept that some people have authority over others. This leads, as surely as flowers follow the rains, to people acting without accountability for their actions. (If I have "authority" then it is obvious you can't hold me responsible.) Examples are numerous. Even in the rare instance where a government "employee" is found to have committed an offense, it is the taxpayers who pick up the tab, not that employee. In effect, "we" taxpayers get to pay the "employee's" wages, then the costs of the investigation and the trial, and finally we get to pay ourselves for the harm we've sustained. Is this insane, or what?
Retribution is such a natural desire. Whenever I hear of some poor slob who was gunned down because the police had the wrong address for a drug raid, or of someone thrown face down on the street with a knee in his back for the offense of driving while black, I want to render justice on those police NOW! in the most painful way possible. But the rational side of me knows that violence only begets more violence, and that it is restitution, not retribution, which will ease the pain and heal the wounds. Peace is my goal, not evening the score.
There has to be a better way, and it needs to happen soon, for this insanity is escalating rapidly to the point of combustion. I have a germ of an idea which I really believe may be able to begin to turn the tide.
On a recent FreeTalkLive show, I heard the story of a man who was accosted by police in New Hampshire for doing nothing. He got out of his car and was walking to the local pub for a regular meeting with some fellow "Free Staters." They do this every week at the same time in the same place. The cop in question, who called for backup support, detained this man for wearing his pistol openly on his belt, as he regularly does. This act is not only guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but it is also perfectly legal and allowable under the local laws of the State of New Hampshire.
What happened next was magic. The man immediately picked up his cellphone and called a special number, leaving a message detailing the nature of his problem and his location. This telephone number goes to some new system that a clever Free State member has created which, as soon as the call ends, creates an audio computer file of that conversation and immediately sends it out to everyone who has signed up to be on that list. Within moments of the detention of this man, there was a crowd of observers and video cameras to witness and record the actions of the police and to be available to lend such support as might be appropriate.
Think of it. Instead of this man being alone against the awesome and unaccountable force of this fellow dressed up in a costume claiming to have superior (in fact life and death) authority, this clever implementation of modern technology combined with caring and concerned people created a situation where the power was not so one-sided.
After a short bit of discussion, the man was allowed to go peaceably on his way and get to his meeting, if a bit late. The crowd dispersed. Everyone went back to their normal lives. I was impressed.
But the problem of the lack of accountability of the individuals who make up the force of government still remains. And here is where I think I have an idea perhaps as powerful as that of the phone notification system.
Police are people. They have wives, husbands, neighbors and families. They try to hide behind their "thin blue line" and protect each other from being responsible for their actions, but they ultimately live in the same world as those they abuse. It is not the chief of police nor the city commissioners who are the ones who intimidate, beat, and often kill perfectly innocent people, it is the individual police officer. So it makes no sense to demand justice from the 'city,' for the city is us!
Voluntarianism is an idea that comes as close to the most moral, ethical means of organizing a society I can imagine. After all, there are only two ways of interacting with others, voluntarily or by the use of force. Which world would you prefer to live in?
The peaceable means of dealing with someone you have a problem with is not to beat him into submission, but rather to stand up, voice your opinion and let the other person know that you find their behavior out of line. If this fails to win the argument then broadening the conversation to include other members of the community is also an option. There are societies that never resort to violence at all, but will in the most egregious cases simply shun the offending individual. Freedom of choice, freedom of association. There is no need for violence outside of immediate defense--if then.
Okay, so here's the plan. When a policeman, or other person claiming to act with the authority of the government, acts in a violent or abusive manner, get this person's name. Find out where this person lives. Then, using a computer meet-up group or other method of organizing with others, go to this person's home and picket. Stand up and voice your indignation so that all of this person's community is aware of what he or she has done. Talk to those who are open to hearing. Be respectful, but be firm. Make it clear what this person has done and why you find it unacceptable behavior from a fellow member of the community. It is likely that if there gets to be a regular parade of people out in the street in front of this person's house, he or she will have to start behaving a bit more respectfully or find that living in his community is too uncomfortable to stick around.
Just because a person is no longer "on the clock" does not absolve him or her from anti-social behavior. Take it to his street. Let his friends, neighbors and family know who he is and how he treats others.
We might be able to turn our fascistic Law Enforcement Officers back into Peace Officers. Wouldn't that be nice?
Note: Discussion on the Strike The Root Forum on the above referenced incident is HERE.