For police, police unions, police apologists, and advocates of instant execution of presumed criminals this is good news. For them police can kill any suspect with impunity and there's a get-out-of-responsibility-for-killing alibi and public expectation that's built into the system. Civilian Police in America enjoy fewer constraints in pulling a trigger to kill than most of the armed forces do.
Police can kill in America more frequently and without adverse repercussion than troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.
In Ferguson, Officer Wilson's lawyers make the following assertion with the intent of making this sound like an incontrovertible fact, "Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions," the lawyers wrote. "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law."
But is this something that is in fact a sufficient argument to presume that an officer "make a split-second and difficult decision". If the reflex is so automatic to kill without accountability how difficult a decision need this be? And in case after case where a black boy, a black teen, and a black man are doing nothing more than playing with a toy gun, surrendering to an officer, or leaning on an air rifle to buy it the police clearly succeed at executing suspects. The execution instinct need not involve guns. Choking, kicking, assaulting, pummeling suspects is common news on a daily basis. Usually, it does involve blacks but not always.
What's important to this discussion is simply the fact that in more than a few cases these deaths were predicated by a third party who call in 911 calls reporting what appears to be a responsible sighting of unusual activity.
Here's the call that was made about the boy at a recreation center (source; http://filmingcops.com/its-probably-fake-911-caller-warns-that-12-yr-old-childs-toy-gun-is-fake-cops-shoot-and-kill-child-anyway/ ).
The 911 call did not come from anyone at the recreation center. The call itself is quite disingenuous. There is no mention that the person being reported is a young boy until late in the conversation. Prior to that the 12 year old is described as a man wearing a camouflage hat like from the "Desert Storm". The conversation has plenty of disclaimers, "probably a juvenile", "probably a fake gun" but the psychological profile that's being painted is of a combat veteran pulling a gun in and out of his pants and scaring people.
Now once the police get to the recreation center, the "difficult decision" should come into play - is this a combat veteran scaring people or is it a juvenile playing with a fake gun - is anyone aside from the police truly more scared of the boy than them?
IMO, the execution instinct eliminates decision-making - the decision is made long before a split second. Sociopathic killers who want someone dead can count on using police as a proxy to kill their victim at a safe distance. Like fire-starters who enjoy watching fires and firemen, killing has now become gamified.
The previous Ohio incident in which a black man was purchasing an air rifle, using it as a crutch and when realizing he was going to get shot in the back yelled , "It's not real", was a similar type of "difficult decision". In other words the man was dead the minute the 911 call was relayed to police. The SWAT teams too are imprinted with the execution-first instinct. The degree of threat is academic. Shoot. Shoot often. There is no consequence. Dead suspects can't argue.
So what can teachers teach about these things? They'd get fired to say the truth - that Michael Brown was executed as the result of years of American indifference to the lives of suspects, blacks, and people of color, and a code of justice that has groomed a generation of cold-blooded killers and future killers?
They will likely teach that "we all need to get along", "racism is bad", "fix the system", and the litany of platitudes that no one believes or has a hint of faith in.
The system is not broken. It is corrupt and corrupting. It corrupts our souls, it corrupts our society, and it corrupts the schools. When America allows the prosecutor in the Michael Brown Grand jury trial to have the ingrown police entanglements he has (see: http://m.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/st-louis-prosecutor-has-faced-controversy-for-decades/article_cdd4c104-6086-506e-9ee8-aa957a31fee5.html ) we have a system that is not broken but rotting from within. A system in which checks and balances are selectively applied.
Will schools teach that that when systems are as corrupt as those in Missouri, there's a chance that violence will beget violence such as it was documented in The Battle of Algiers ( http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-battle-of-algiers-1967 ). We've already seen evidence of this kind of violence that brokeout in Pennsylvania see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/10/31/pennsylvania-manhunt-ends-quietly-after-seven-weeks-of-tension/). Eric Frein, a white man who killed two State Police officers in an ambush and was captured alive unlike the children and innocents we've seen slaughtered who were black.
We know education and wrist-slapping of racist and ultra-violent police and paramilitary units is a failed policy. Will we lead yet another generation of children into the killing field with a pocket full of platitudes and a snowball's chance in hell of staying alive? And will a national police force who operate on automatic pilot to kill on sight like trained dogs be used as proxy killers of civilians either by sociopaths who can manipulate 911 situations or by enemies of the State who can set up American civilians in situations that appear sufficiently illegitimate to police to perform the execution.
Romantic as a "license to kill" may feel to authorities who use and abuse it, local police are becoming willing pawns in a cycle of violence that cannot continue without unexpected consequences.
Thankfully the National Bar Association is calling for Federal charges to be filed ( http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b493e6c4d31beda32fdaf8e2d&id=73514e334b ). The Rule of Law must be restored and confidence that local insider corruption cannot impede justice may be the best lesson that can be taught. This presumes that corruption doesn't win.
When I wrote this piece I was unaware that this had a name. It's called "Swatting" - a sociopathic game in which an enemy of yours or a total stranger with a twisted mind can make a 911 call to the ever-to-eager-to-shoot authorities based on a fictional emergency. Here's a recent article that describes just such a scene; http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/05/gaming-streamer-gets-swatted-as-online-griefing-enters-real-world.
"An anonymous caller to the St Cloud Police Department in Minnesota, where Peters has lived since returning from a tour of duty with the US Air Force in Kuwait, had claimed to live at his address.
The caller, he told viewers later, had said that someone “had shot their roommate and now they were pointing their gun at them”. Then on the phone call, the police heard “two gun shots” before the call ended.
The practice, known as “Swatting”, is indented to cause the dispatch of armed police to the target’s house. In Peters’ case, it worked.
The aim is typically only to scare the victim, but in practice the attackers risk much more. The more hyperbolic the threats made on the call, the more likely the police will take an aggressive stance in response. Swat teams in the past have shot and killed a man who called a suicide hotline, thrown a stun grenade in a baby’s cot, and killed more than one family dog.
Before ending the show, the streamer turned back to the audience, and addressed his attacker. “I see you posting my address. I had police point a gun at my little brothers because of you. They could have been shot, they could have died. Because you chose to swat my stream. I don’t give a shit about what you have against me, or what I did to you. For that I am at a loss for words. Your gripe is with me. But do not involve my family in this. They don’t deserve it.”
Speaking to the Guardian the day after the attack, Peters said he had no idea why he was targeted. “There’s no possible persons who I can think would do something like this to me… I’ve seen this happen to other streamers, I just never thought I would be the one to get randomly targeted. Never.
“My channel’s not crazy big, like some of these other mainstream streamers. I just didn’t expect that. I was going upstairs, and before I knew it, my face was on a tile on the ground, hands wide open and a bunch of police officers with assault rifles.”
Although St Cloud police confirmed that Peters was the first Swatting target the city had seen, the officers were aware of the concept, so he was able to defuse the situation.
‘I just didn't expect this’
“When we were all laying down, I spoke out. I said ‘I stream on Twich.TV, I’m being Swatted, and someone probably prank-called this’. And then the tone shifted as soon as I said ‘I’m streaming on Twitch.TV.”
However, the situation was not quite over. A few hours later, the attacker tried again, calling the same police department and pretending to be a member of Peters’ family. This time, the lie was that he was despondent and suicidal over the danger he had exposed his family to. Thankfully, the police knew to check rather than responding in force again.
For Peters, who was flown back from his tour of duty in a medical evacuation, it was a terrifying invasion into a part of his life where he feels secure and happy. “There’s not a lot of things that can get me emotional in this world … but it’s been a process getting back in my feet. Today was the first day where everything went smoothly, it was very energetic, everything was going well in my stream, and then it’s like, once again: here is another hurdle to overcome.