or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Police (?!?!?)
Over the past decade, I have been harassed by police officers on numerous occasions, most of which I have only told close friends about. But nowadays I feel a very welcome atmosphere to sharing nightmare cop stories. Mine range from getting made fun of by cops my age at the time, early 20s, for carrying a tiny Tao (Zenlike philosophy) book on me along with a backpack (was detained for being mad at a payphone, slamming it on the receiver out of frustration), and then dropping me off in the middle of one of the worst ghettos in town at 3 A.M., literally in the middle of the street (after they asked me where I lived and saying they would take me home)… to six cop cars surrounding and detaining me and a friend at 19 years old for walking outside a bank after they closed and the janitor inside being “concerned”… to being suspected of robbing McCarran Internation Airport because I walked out of the downstairs entrance- where the bus stop is- because I had a backpack and went in and out of the airport (I was helping a friend with belongings to the terminal) through a non-common entrance- because I was doing the insane action of taking the bus- and then having my backpack searched vigorously and being suspected of being a democrat for Hillary, blech (under Bush) until the “chief” saw my Selective Service card, mistaking it for an actual military ID, and suddenly respected me and talked about his Air Force son and let me on my way after trying to cover his ass… to getting arrested and sent to jail for 4 days being charged with “Pedestrian walking down a highway” when I was actually walking down a sidewalk, but committed the holy sin of putting one foot off the curb at one point. And much, much more that are simply too many to mention.
I must at least briefly cover one of the most recent stories (there actually have been a couple more recent but pale in comparison), even though I and other parties feel intimidated to identify ourselves in this, simply because this corrupt system has shown that they keep targets in crosshairs and do not take dissent well at all. Well as for me, I do have reasons to avoid getting arrested at all costs. The mission of seeking truth and justice and exposing/fighting the police state may be at odds with that but I try to be careful, and follow the rules.
The day after the Fourth of July of this year, when we’re supposed to celebrate our freedom, I was hanging out downtown (Las Vegas), in the recently revitalized and vibrant Fremont East district, with a couple good friends. To cut things down from an article I was going to post but decided not to after legal shit, we saw a girl getting beaten brutally by police, and after my best friend (who runs The Liberty Movement Facebook page) videotaped some, I got handcuffed for yelling something about being too rough with the girl at the police, and then my friend (ended up back inside when she went out of sight) saw me through a bar window getting pushed against a wall, came to the door to see what was going on, and basically got pulled violently by police out to a cop car and hauled off to jail. She was told she was resisting when she was clearly not. She got charged with battery of a police officer when they were the ones who handled her, and this was a horrifying sight for me to see, just as they let me go *after* they threw her in the car (I had asked why I was being detained, and after they said I was obstructing them- which I wasn’t- I calmly complied with whatever they said- and they said they’d let me go). They kept her in horrible conditions for a day while harassing her in multiple ways. This experience was traumatizing for us all, including the hundreds there, dozens of which were pushed around by police and police on horses, at least a dozen of which were taken to jail simply for being there or especially videotaping (young, petite girls were about all who got arrested).
I went on a police brutality Facebook posting rampage the next day while I awaited any word from the jail on my friend (and kept contacting them but all their stories were mixed). It seemed to be quite a coincidence that I was seeing new police brutality videos and stories basically every half hour or more that day. My heart kept pounding with every new video and with every thought of the night before. My head kept going over how it was clear they were trying to cause chaos, likely even a riot, and even though they may have felt overwhelmed, they reacted in the worst way possible. Eventually my friend got out but I was determined that this had become my primary fight- against the police state, police brutality, and this worst of all fronts of the tyrannical direction our country was taking. Then I got wrapped up in the legal intimidation of it all and resisted a very exposing, angry article.
Since then, the police presence at Fremont has beefed up very noticeably and has been the subject matter of numerous local articles and cover stories, such as the very misleading (this article was based on a reporter there that very night) “Police crackdown on Fremont East after First Friday raises questions”
Just as my friend was told in jail, the best advice is to “stay away from Fremont”, as detail was being ordered to “clean up the area”. Is this how they want to clean up the area? Scare all the local artists, who have been the foundation of this scene, away by intimidation and violence? They are apparently cleaning up for the “new downtown”, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s vision for a clean, pristine, hipster landscape, somehow devoid of the prostitutes and pimps who have owned basically everything east of 6th on Fremont East (about 90% of it) for decades. So of course, the gestapo comes after the young clean locals and tourists. Already they are scaring away tourists, the prime source of our city’s income, as is shown in the above article.
It has just come out that $38,000 for trauma after pepper spraying students calmly sitting on the ground. Also, the other day here in Vegas (I can’t even keep up, this happened after I wrote most of this article), a man mistaken for a homicide suspect was shot in the stomach by a cop, after backing up, repeating he wasn’t their suspect, and merely putting his money in his back pocket:
Las Vegas Cop Shoots Innocent Man in Gas Station (VIDEO)
No Metro officer has ever been arrested in Las Vegas for shooting or killing anyone, including innocent victims. And until recently, not one was ever fired. Mostly just given paid leave, so, paid vacations for murder (ok, some may have been called for). Shockingly to the city, Sheriff Doug Gillespie recently complied with the local police force’s “unprecedented” suggestion to fire officer Jesus Arevalo for the wrongful shooting death of Persian Gulf veteran Stanley Gibson, after Gillespie already gave Arevalo nearly two years paid time off. Arevalo had told his wife months before the shooting “on several occasions that he should shoot someone so that he can take six months off”.
(Sources: Metro fires officer involved in war veteran’s shooting death and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The LVMPD’s Killer Reputation)
The fact that this was considered unprecedented is disturbing. Gladly one officer has been fired, but still, not one has been charged with any crime. Countless times, the shootings are seen as wrongful and unprovoked, but of course Metro (along with many other police departments around the country) has their officers’ backs, and especially their reputations on the line.
However, this of course needs to change. And it has become clear that across the country, citizens have become increasingly vigilant of police overstepping their boundaries and pushing this police state tighter upon us. Grassroots citizen action groups around the country have stepped in where the police departments and system-run procedures such as the locally-shunned and deplorable Coroner’s Inquests have not been holding their officers accountable.
The local Southern Nevada Watchdogs group has become very active and noticed in recent months, focusing on cop activities as well as local County Committee and City Council hearings. Recent victories were made with standing-room only appearances to fight the “More Cops” sales tax and made waves in local media and clearly impacted the Sheriff directly. Also, the Nevada Cop Block group has been very active in the activist community, and recently grabbed headlines when the “Sunset Four” of this group were arrested for protesting in the form of sidewalk chalk.
To sum up the recent trend (without going into every single story, would take forever to read) that has become impossible to ignore in Las Vegas, as a microcosm for the country’s transformation into a total Police State, the cops have become a villainous caricature, hovering out the side of our eye everywhere we go, the image of murderous intimidation replacing the image of protecting and serving. The terror I felt the night of my best female friend and many others getting thrown around and tossed into jail for nothing, and the subsequent rage that surfaced when seeing dozens of videos after videos (without searching) the next day as she sat in the overheated, shit-filled holding cell, made clear to me I must fight this more than ever- it became my activist raison d’etre. However the legal implications prevented me from going nearly as far as I wanted to, and I held back in frustration. Now wait- this sounds pretty damning and negative, huh? Where does viewing them as equals come in, you ask? Why?
Well after the most recent overblown takeovers by police and Naziation of Fremont/Downtown, and walking by cops occupying art galleries, seeing more than ever before on a nearly daily basis- many of them casually strolling and looking calm, others looking tough, I’ve come to a paradigm shift in my perspective.
From now on I will not have fear or distaste when I see a uniformed officer around me. I will see the beige/khaki/tan, the black and silver, whatever they wear, as regular clothes. I realize we are supposed to respect their uniforms, and in one way I’m sorry to my cousin and anyone else I’ve known who has worn the badge and upheld it with respectful pride, but at the same time I think they’d appreciate it, rather than be looked at as the way they increasingly are because of the bad ones; as thugs. I think it’s very understandable that we’ve come to a point where the uniform strikes many as criminal, as an intimidating goon costume. It is supposed to deserve respect, but the actions of an increasing number of officers and apparent diminishing punishment of those “above the law” thugs do not show us that we should respect every uniform.
I hope all of us can see them as one of us eventually, and they can see themselves as one of us as well. Because the more they see themselves as the enemy, the more they will act that way. If we don’t give them the reason, maybe they will see where they have gone wrong. And perhaps we can feel a little more relaxed ourselves, as well, and not so worried that they might just shoot us if we make an accidental move.
No, I am not suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I am as about anti-police state/brutality/corruption/assholishnes as you will get. But I am not anti-police. There are many bad guys out there. Many of which are police. But we need good people policing the streets, and yes, strength sure helps. I’ve known numerous good cops- my cousin, a couple friends’ friends/family members, ones that have driven my grandma home from getting lost, ones who’ve been very polite and even supportive at protests, ones who’ve caught guys who robbed and beat the shit out of me, and more. But the bad ones seem to be increasingly patted on the back for their unpunished crimes.
We’ve come to a scary point in our history when the police in general verge on or cross the threshold of viewing the general public as antagonists/threats, and vice versa. It’s not supposed to be a war of us versus them. It’s supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship of them alongside us, fighting the “bad guys”, and we’re supposed to feel safe around them. In general, I usually still do feel safe when it’s me, them, and say a gang of armed or intimidating thugs. But I don’t expect them to just shoot the thugs without just cause or threats, and I don’t expect to be treated as a criminal at risk of being shot myself just because I’m around them, or look like one, or nervously put something in my pocket, or maybe asleep in my car.
No, I don’t think we’re going to change the behavior of all police or this worsening dynamic simply by shifting our perspectives. But I think it is a step to at least put ourselves at ease, and I am a true believer in the energy you put out affecting the energy that comes back to you. And of course- continue to always be vigilant, and if a cop looks like he’s about to burst into an overzealous trigger-happy rage, it’s time to do what comes naturally to any human.
And for now, enjoy this newly discovered classic video of a very eloquent man getting arrested, take this as an example (but always remember to first ask, “Am I being detained?” [and why?]):
This is probably the best video of someone getting arrested…