Across the United States, common sense is being replaced by ignorant, institutionalized paranoia, and as a consequence, professional grade morons with guns are empowered (and paid for by the tax payers) to impersonate law enforcement personnel and arrest random people merely for taking pictures in public.Which. Is. Not. Illegal.
Now, it would be one thing if, every time something like this happened, a responsible and appropriately remorseful commanding officer stepped forward and apologized for the incident, and promised to educate his officers on basic things like, say, the 1st and 4th amendments. But what we’re seeing are increasingly arrogant and Orwellian statements being made by sadistic bastards to the effect that a) these arrests are a prized a feature of, not a bug in, the system; and that b) this somehow makes us all much safer. Case in point, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker, who claims it is a deputy’s “duty to ask questions”:
“Should we really ignore suspicious activity?” Parker asked. “We have an obligation to the public to answer questions and we are going to ask people why are you taking that picture. It is our duty to protect the public.”
Thanks, Capt’n, thanks so very, very much for swooping in and protecting us from ourselves. Don’t you just wish your precinct had some Iraqi vets you could shoot in the head right about now?
As a photographer it’s disconcerting to realize that, in addition to the challenges of what to shoot, where to shoot, who to shoot, and how to shoot it, there’s the added nuisance of wondering “which incarnation of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz from the local fail brigade is going to have an issue with my shooting this?” Pain. In. The. Ass. I’ve been arrested for taking picture before, I’ve been shot at for taking pictures before, but that’s been in places like Lebanon and the Occupied West Bank. I’d have thought I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the Land of the Free…
Oakland has lots of reason to regret their choice of Attila the Quan as mayor. After sending her paramilitary police in to clear out the Occupy Wall Street protesters using any means necessary, Jean Quan is now all, “Oh, hey, I’m totally for what you’re doing; let’s have a friendly conversation about this”:
We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators
A little too little too late, Jean. You may recall that last night you had your lackeys shoot a peaceful protester in the face with a tear gas cannister, and you made pretty much every headline in the country with your dick move — but now you suddenly want to have a dialogue?
How about next time, you think thru your strategy a little better, and maybe work on improving communications first, before you send in the storm troopers to brutally crush your community’s efforts for change?
Methinks the recall efforts already underway will gain some major momentum now. Not necessarily a good thing, of course — Quan could easily be replaced by someone even more awful.
It’s pretty hard to lower the bar further for the Washington Post, really. Largely irrelevant as a source of genuine news, so thoroughly and willingly corrupted has it become by its position as the beltway’s primary propaganda outlet, that it is little more than a relic of a time where print mattered and journalists were able to and allowed to do the job of reporting objectively.
So when the WaPo had to print something to at least acknowledge the events unfolding in Oakland over the last few days, they ran with the photo of a gentle, loving and caring Oakland police officer caressing a kitty. How cute. And how unbelievably irrelevant and misleading, given that her colleagues that same night were busy using tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets against unarmed protesters exercising their 1st amendment rights, severly injuring one — ironically, an Iraq veteran, who had the misfortune of believing in the freedoms for which he supposedly was sent off to fight. Then, as we’ve seen time and again, the police went into denial mode — no, they hadn’t used near-lethal force, no, there had been no other way to deal with “the situation.” That completely unwarranted overreaction by the Oakland Police Force doesn’t quite come across in the shot of the kitty and her new friend.
Now, granted, the photo editor claims to have had nothing better to run with, because nothing visual had happened by her deadline, and that may well be true. In which case this is all the more indicative of the irrelevancy of newspapers with their hard deadlines and their inability to deliver genuine up-to-date and constantly updated news.
But even with that explanation on hand, we’re nevertheless left with the grotesque contrast between the reality on the ground (as seen, first in New York, now in Oakland), where the police is compelled (or ordered?) to use totally disproportionate power as they deal with the Occupy Wall Street crowd on the one hand, and this photo that simply drips of attempted whitewas of the violence and abuse on the part of the authorities. It plays so nicely with the platitudes served up by the mayor of Oakland, who somehow equates tear gas and police brutality with “a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated and concerned our community.” I’d hate to be around when Jean Quan and her hired hoods lets things get out of hand…
(Photo: Ben Margot/AP via WaPo)