If there’s anything that civil rights movements have shown us, it’s that the police forces involved in suppressing protests and demonstrations (even peaceful demonstrations) behave with violence and inhuman lack of compassion.
With all this in mind, this week the LAPD and SFPD have displayed shamefaced bad behavior that reflects poorly on their departments and casts them and theirs into a very poor light.
Patrick Meighan, a writer for Family Guy, described his arrest and subsequent shamefully bad treatment at the hands of LAPD. Although it makes sense that the police may need to apply force to separate protesters who have linked arms in order to stay together to make arrest difficult, the level of sadism necessary to produce the sort of assault described is beyond the pale.
It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.
My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.
I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.
Shame on you, LAPD officers who brutally assault people who recoil from your careless use of zipcuffs. Shame on you, LAPD officers who fail to act like compassionate, proper human beings by leaving protestors to sit in squalor, vomiting, falling unconscious without seeking medial attention for them.
Your callous, inhuman behavior not only sets you apart as bad protectors of the public trust, but also makes me sad to think that you’re people worth believing serve that trust.
In another instance of police failing to stand up to their actual duties, SFPD sergeant Peter Thoshinsky has been caught on camera giving an illegal order to officers to commit what is essentially criminal battery.
“If they do not do what you tell them, strike them,” he ordered his officers at the line of a kettling of protestors demonstrating at Occupy San Francisco.
Assault is not necessary to affect the arrest of a nonviolent offender and assault is illegal when there is no case of arrest. This sergeant’s order may have been illegal, and in fact his officers may have been to intimidate the protestors, but both cases make Peter Thoshinsky an irresponsible, failure as a commanding officer.
Threatening protestors with violence won’t deescalate a tense situation, but it will make it scarier. This sort of intimidation endangers not just the protestors but the police officers that he commands. His action in saying that in front of protestors shows a vast failure of judgment and extremely poor leadership.