Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is Justice Blind?

I am truly disturbed and disappointed by many of the things that I am seeing "friends" post regarding the Baltimore riots. In fact, it really frightens me.

First, allow me to be clear; The riots are unjustified, help no one, support no just cause, and the violators should be arrested according to law. No one has the right to destroy others property or to harm others just because they are angry. That is not how to seek a redress of grievances under our form of government.

I can't help but note that the same people who are making the comments that disturb me are people who daily rant and holler and pontificate about "the rule of law" and how we have strayed so far afield from it. Yet when it comes to something/someone that irritates them they are ready to throw due process and the equal and just application of the law right out the window. In the last few days and because of the 24/7 news coverage of the riots, the real cause of all this upheaval has been lost. Let us begin at the beginning, shall we?

The Baltimore Police, according to various news reports (both MSM and alternative media) have stated that one Freddy Gray ran when the police started to approach him. They approached him because, again, according to news reports, "he made eye contact" with them. Until further investigation shows otherwise I suppose we'll have to go with this. I have looked for any article or news report that tells what Mr. Gray was arrested for and I cannot find anything (If you can find one please let me know), except that "he ran," thus incurring the ubiquitous "suspicious activity" label, which then leads to "resisting arrest." Of course the question that needs to be asked, but few seldom bother to ask, is, "If he had broken no law at that time what was he resisting arrest from? How does one resist arrest when one has broken no law?" Now comes news that Mr. Gray has an extensive arrest record, which would lead one to believe that he indeed feared the police and simply didn't want to be hassled again, as they approached him. That seems like a reasonable assumption, based on what we know to date.

Between the time the police officers caught and arrested Mr. Gray and the time he got to the city lock-up, he suffered what would prove to be a fatal neck injury, almost severing his spine. This all seems to have been forgotten in the coverage of the riots and the zeal of many to see the rioters, and anyone questioning the police officer's tactics, beaten down and dismissed as malcontents and trouble-makers. I offer no defense for the rioters (see my statement above), but are we really going to demonize and marginalize those who dare to ask legitimate questions about how/why a man died? Do we or do we not hold police officers to a higher standard of the law? Should we hold them to a higher standard if, in fact, they are the enforcers of said law? If not, why?

More news has recently come out that those causing the riots may be the same folks who created the upheaval in Missouri. Agents provocateur bussed in from out of town for the express purpose of furthering an agenda. I hope that some intrepid journalist will look into this and get to the truth. It sounds plausible, knowing what we do about certain politically motivated groups in America today, but only time will tell. The same MSM that wants you to believe that all black people in Baltimore are rioting/rioters have failed to report on the thousands who took to the streets for peaceful protests at the same time. Were it not for the Internet and alternative media we wouldn't even know about them at all. Do you even wonder why the MSM would ignore the peaceful for the violent? Is there an agenda at work that would serve to maintain and exacerbate the fissures between various groups of Americans, causing further discontent and animosities, which "only the government can fix?" Hmmm?

Moving on; What should the police have done? What are their responsibilities in such situations? What laws govern police actions? Is due process still a part of American jurisprudence? What is due process and to whom does it apply? Do we, whether residents of Baltimore or the U.S. at large, have a right to ask questions about police conduct and expect transparency and honesty? If a person, any person, black or white, dies while in police custody, do we have a right to know how/why? By asking such questions are we being thoughtful, conscientious Americans or are we being unpatriotic trouble-makers? Do you even care what the truth is?

If Freddy Gray had broken a law at the time the police approached him then they did have the right, the responsibility, to arrest him (Of course we can have a discussion about what is a just or unjust law and how we are overwhelmed with too many laws at another time. YOU probably broke a couple of laws today without even knowing it). The responsibility of police officers is to arrest and "bring to justice" any law-breakers. What does that mean, arresting someone? That means they apprehend the suspect by handcuffing them and taking them to a magistrate or local lock-up, until charges can be proffered and they are brought before a judge. If the suspect runs, they give chase. If the suspect fights they use ONLY the force necessary to subdue and handcuff the suspect, that and nothing more. The court system, via judges and/or juries, then determines guilt or innocence and what punishment should be meted out.

The police are not allowed to simply beat someone senseless because "they are pissed off," because they had to run after someone or to beat/kick them after the suspect is handcuffed and subdued. You may want them to do this, you may hate that criminal and what he did, and you may want to see him "get what's coming to him," but that is not what the police are for. If we allow the police to be the judge, jury, and executioner, then our entire criminal justice system ceases to exist. They are not supposed to be "Judge Dredd." And please do not insult my intelligence and tell me that police have to be allowed to protect themselves, I know and understand this. I am not talking about legitimate use of force to protect ones life, I am talking about excessive and unnecessary use of force. Oh, and don't follow that up with, "Well, unless you've been there you don't know what it's like." There are people on my FaceBook friends list who can tell you that I have "been there" and I do know what I am talking about.

Everyone, even the police officers who are on suspension right now, are entitled to due process. Whether you like them or not, whether you like what they did or not, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, white or black, everyone in this country is entitled to equal justice under the law, even a guy with a criminal record. If not, then we no longer have a nation of laws, but a nation of whims and prejudices. Is that what you want? Enforcing the law du jour, enforcing laws only against people you don't care for, or enforcing the laws equally for everyone? What's it going to be?

Based on what I have read from many of you I get the impression that you are OK with Freddy Gray being dead SIMPLY BECAUSE HE HAD A RECORD. So, I would ask you these questions, if you dare to answer them, "Do you think that Freddy Gray deserved to die for running from the police? Do you think he deserved to die for having a criminal record?" Where do we draw the line? How much excessive force is too much? Will it only matter to you when it happens to someone you know and care about?

Many of you will read this and walk away still not understanding the point I am trying to make (Because you don't want to). Because I dare to ask questions and challenge certain behaviors you will label me a cop-hater or worse. You will not think about what I have said, you will not acknowledge that I have asked legitimate, honest questions that deserve answers, you will not even try to refute my contentions. Instead you will just write this off as the ramblings of an unpatriotic, cop-hating, rabble-rouser, who just wants to "stir the pot. That will only prove that you don't know me as well as you think you do. But I would remind you that "It's all good, until it's your Ox that being gored."