For anyone who thinks that our governments cannot be corrupt and racist, Exhibit 1 must be the federal indictments and arrests of four officers in East Haven, Connecticut on charges of violating civil rights and obstruction of justice.
I have spent much time over the years discussing police misconduct. There are many good and honorable officers out there. We are all human, though, and subject to failures. Racism and corruption must not be tolerated at any level of governance, although its insidious grasp seems everywhere.
When police officers fail to police themselves, and the cult of the blue line of silence persists, terrible situations arise.
The terrible situations visited on certain kinds of people in East Haven including stalking, harassment and beating by Sgt John Miller and three underlings: David Cari, Dennis Spaulding and Jason Zullo.
Should it come as any surprise to anyone with half a brain that this class of people targeted by police terrorism was not white? These officers tormented Latinos with impunity.
Cops who knew of the behavior said nothing. It was a priest’s arrest that blew the lid off the whole thing. And when investigations started, someone left a picture of a rat on the bulletin board in the East Haven police department, and it said – “You know what we do with snitches?”
Truth tellers are not popular in America. We vilify them alive, then deify them when then die. Consider our nation’s obsession with the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin’s image has been twisted and lifted so as to make us think racism is a thing of the past.
Sure, in the 43 years since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, strides have been made. But not enough.
For years in greater Hartford we have heard stories of racism in the suburban police departments, and in Hartford itself. They haven’t been caught like the East Haven cops.
The East Haven cops pled not guilty in federal court Tuesday morning, January 24, 2012. Do not think for a second that they are the only officers in uniform who employ these tactics. And it’s not just discrimination of skin color, but of political and religious affiliation, too.
The New York City Police Department this week was forced to admit that more than 1,500 officers watched a training video that exaggerated the threat of Islam in the United States.
For years, the NYPD played the movie “The Third Jihad” at training sessions and in police barracks. It’s theme is that the true agenda of Islam is to dominate America and subvert our way of life.
At first NYPD denied the film was used, then it said a few officers saw it, then it was mistakenly shown to hundreds. This is laughable.
With the help of the CIA, the NYPD spied on as many Muslims as it could. The film, with images of a Muslim flag on top of the White House and graphic images of violence, was produced by the Clarion Fund. Right wing funders of the Clarion Fund include billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
If Adelson’s name sounds familiar, it should, because he and his wife each just gave a Newt Gingrich super-PAC (political action committee) $5 million. That’s $10 million total. You and I cannot buy that kind of speech.
The attacks we hear from Republican presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich savaging welfare and food stamps are coded messages of racism. But it is also standard in the GOP playbook.
But it is not just the GOP. Plenty of white liberals like Ron Paul, despite his espousing of racist economic policies. Writer Tim Wise has taken the white liberal intelligentsia to task for their support of racists like Paul because of his support for civil liberties and ending wars.
The white liberal class cannot like Newt, though, yet he won the GOP South Carolina primary. There’s a reason. South Carolina’s state capitol still has monuments to the Conferderate flag – a powerful symbol of white power.
We have a black president, but in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, his one statement on race and equality ignored the elephants in the room.
Obama did not discuss the fact that proportionally, America now has more black men and women in jail than South Africa did at the height of the apartheid state.
“Our criminal justice system does in fact more-operate more like a caste system than a system of crime prevention or control,” said lawyer and writer Michelle Alexander on a recent appearance on Democracy Now! (January 13, 2012).
Of the 600,000 people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in recent years, more than 90 percent of them were black or Hispanic, according to journalist Juan Gonzalez of DN! And the New York Daily News.
The East Haven cops are part and parcel of this. They just got caught and are being prosecuted because they were so blatant about it. This matter doesn’t arise in Obama’s State of the Union, which did not use the word police or prison once. He focused on military service and racial equality, instead.
“Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops,” Obama said. “When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight.”
Um, actually, it does. U.S. Army private Danny Chen served in Afghanistan with the 25th infantry division. On October 3, 2011, Chen was found dead in a guard tower of what the Army called “self-inflicted gunshot” wounds.
Chen, though, was continually and constantly tortured and tormented for being Chinese by his fellow soldiers. Eight solders, six of them higher in rank, have been charged with in Chen’s death.
According to New York Magazine, they used racial slurs, “they forced him to do sprints while carrying a sandbag. They ordered him to crawl along gravel-covered ground while they flung rocks at him. And one day, when his unit was assembling a tent, he was forced to wear a green hard-hat and shout out instructions to his fellow soldiers in Chinese.”
This torment ended in his death. Chen was an only child. His mother pled with him not to join the Army. Two days ago, the Army dropped the most serious charges, involuntary manslaughter, against the ringleader, Ryan Offutt, a 32-year-old sadistic criminal from Pennsylvania.
Offutt, 32, before entering the Army had pled guilty to simple assault and did prison time for smashing his girlfriend’s head into the headboard and choking her and attempting to rape her. Nice guy.
Finding good people like Danny Chen, 19, who wanted to be a cop, to serve in the armed forces is hard. Not too many smart people seek to serve in America’s racist wars of aggression and imperialism and die for corporate profit. The Army, as has been well documented, has lowered its recruiting standards for accepting potential soldiers.
I’m not even sure what to make of President Obama’s sentence preceding the statement of equality. The “Those of us who have been sent here to serve” clause sounds something like pre-determinism, and coded Republican-right wing Christian language of the Purpose Driven Life. I’m not sure I like that kind of deism in the State of the Union.
Obama does merit applause for his focus on economic injustice in this country, which disproportionately impacts people of color, Obama did not couch his language in terms of racial injustice like Martin Luther King, Jr. did.
Michelle Alexander and others do, though, and these experts on racism in America say the time is ripe for a fourth wave civil rights movement to again correct the political gains that racism has made.