Friday, August 22, 2014

Drawing a Gun in Ferguson - The New Yorker

"In the eleven days since Michael Brown was shot and killed, we’ve been reminded of the many things that are not illegal (recording police actions) or, if they are, do not carry a death penalty (stealing cigarillos, jaywalking). Cursing police officers is on both of those lists. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post this week, an officer named Sunil Dutta wrote that the way to prevent police shootings is simply for people to show more respect for police authority. ('Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge.') That is not how it’s supposed to work, in this country, anyway. We respect the police as professionals because their job is so hard, and so important; it can involve chaotic nights and yelling crowds, or opening the door to an apartment where anything might be happening. Police officers don’t get to wave a gun whenever they think it might make everything easier—when they think it will just make people behave. That is not the sort of authority, in any sense of that word, that will calm the streets of Ferguson, or any city."

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