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The Boys in Blue

over romanticized, entitled, and not answering to the laws they enforce

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

So, here's the thing.

The supposed riots in the streets of Baltimore remind me more of the once traditional sofa burnings in the streets of Boulder a decade or more back than the sack of Rome. I would be in disagreement with FoxNews and CNN, who went full elderly ignorant white female hysterical in their coverage. President Obama clocked the media for only noticing Baltimore's problems including police brutality issues since the death of Freddie Gray, a guy who was arrested for nothing and had his spinal cord severed in police custody.

That's a difficult sentence to say. Severed spinal column. Nobody knows how. Gray died a week later, rather predictably, and has absorbed to his legacy the not dissimilar fates of many non white suspects who have died over the years in police custody in this nation.

The explanations by Baltimore authorities have been infuriating and the facts - whatever they are - totally absent from the offerings of this diseased bureaucracy. Liberals like me have liked to think we knew all about Baltimore's police issues because we watched The Wire, primarily about the Baltimore PD and the best program on HBO and therefore television for its run years back now available again. That still remarkable show referenced issues like police brutality in graphic detail, to their credit, and other horrors, but emphasized that it was a real war zone and some things could be inevitably expected. Virtually everyone was corrupt at some level.

It's the severed spinal cord, though. It seems sometimes Baltimore cops don't strap in their suspects and take them for a rough drive in a van with screeching tires, racing turns, and dark rubber speed stops. The suspects - and Gray was no more than that, if that - get thrown hard against the side of the containment area and could have broken his neck.

H. L. Mencken's olde employer, the Baltimore Sun, did an actual in-depth investigation and came up with stats that ought to have been national concerns for years. To start, in the last four years alone over a hundred people have won court judgments or settled out of court for allegations of police brutality and civil rights violations in Baltimore. Included victims are - this from an article in The Atlantic - a "...15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson..... Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement."

Making it worse "...in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims — if charges were filed at all." So the Police Union ought not to be surprised at public resentment, and probably ought not to reference protestors as a “lynch mob”? The protestors have tolerated a lot for a long time. They're not enraged for nothing. Also, 'lynch mob' is not the verbal image that sells to African Americans, who have been the victims of such far more than whites. Oh, don't forgot the police are primarily white and the victims near uniformly black. Coincidence, of course.

When a police officer here in Boulder two years back rather unbelievably shot a male elk in full rack on New Years Day, there was a photo of this Natty Bumpo posing with his kill. It infuriated Boulder. It was upsetting because it was clear evidence he expected to get away with it and expected peer support. Despite numerous witnesses that inexplicably took offense that police were shooting at midnight on their lawns for giggles, Sam Carter and friends clearly thought this would all fizzle out. It was beyond mere arrogance in his expression. It was entitlement.

Killing innocent people is far worse than the fate of Boulder's elk, but the same sense of institutional entitlement can be felt in all recent police brutality cases. 'We risk out lives and so we're worth more and entitled to take steps to reduce our peril in Baltimore. Even if it's actually counterproductive and increases our danger, it's still enjoyable for us and we should be so allowed.' This isn't so far away from Sam Carter's assumptions. But Carter was wrong about Boulder. They've been right in Baltimore.