Wednesday, February 20, 2008

With Liberty, Justice, And Tasers For All

In the land of the free and the home of the brave that we all like to think of as a shining beacon of democracy and free speech, there is a growing trend of police officers tasing anyone who even looks at them side ways.
We've all heard of the man at the speech by John Kerrey who was tased for no real reason and who coined the phrase "Don't tase me bro!" But there's another story brewing that is only receiving local attention at the moment, but had better get all of our attention pretty quickly before something truly ugly happens.
The Republican National Convention will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota between September 1st and September 4th. The last such convention held by the Republicans in Minnesota was all the way back in 1892. So why would they suddenly choose to host this convention in a city that is predominantly left leaning? Could they be hoping to swing voters around to their point of view? Maybe catch a few Independents who might otherwise vote the other way?
No. They picked St. Paul because they knew full well that there would be trouble. Protest groups are already gearing up for the trip to Minnesota. They're going to protest the war. They're going to protest the religious takeover of the Republican Party. They're going to protest everything from illegal wiretapping to the environment to the redistribution of wealth during the Bush years.
The St. Paul police department has a remedy for this though. They're not going to have any unruly protesters breaking up the Party's party, and they're certainly not going to stand for anyone leaving the designated 'free speech zones.' The reason that they won't have to tolerate any of this is because every single cop in St. Paul is going to be armed with brand spanking new tasers, courtesy of the $210,000 the city is spending to purchase 234 'extra' tasers.
When local news outlets got wind of this, the St. Paul police department assured the populace that this was not the reason they were purchasing the tasers. That the fact that they would be receiving shipment of the brand new zapper toys just days before the RNC was a mere coincidence. But their attempt at back stepping from the issue doesn't jive with this statement by police spokesman Tom Walsh, who said of the arrival of the shipment coinciding with the expected arrival of protesters "Our hope is that no one will have to use any degree of force, If it becomes necessary, will that be one of the tools available to them? I suppose that's safe to say. That's why we're getting them."
This, even though 140 officers are already carrying tasers in St. Paul, and the death of a man just last month in New Brighton Minnesota, after being shocked with these evil little weapons.
But even more shocking has been the response by right wing posters on many a message board since yesterday when the subject was brought up. One poster writes: " The use of tasers against liberals is just fine with me. If you don't want to get tased, stay away from our convention. You're not welcome there, and if you show up, you get tased. It's that simple."
That is the mindset of the new Republican Party I suppose. Their vision of Police State America coming to fruition.
But before they start handing out these tasers like so much candy they had better understand the phenomenom known as the 'snowball effect'. That's the scenario wherein one cop will fire a taser at someone, and suddenly you've got all the police shooting tasers into the crowd. I suppose it's better than shotgun blasts, but what we're talking about here is another attempt to stifle free speech. By using the threat of tasing protesters, it is hoped they either won't show up, or they'll be very quiet if they do. Why not just do what Giuliani did in New York, and order 'free speech' zones to be set up in underground garages?
Deciding to find out what precautions were being taken at the Democratic National Convention in Denver between August 24th and the 28th, I learned that while the Denver P.D. is going to be stepping up it's presence in co-ordination with the Secret Service, there are no plans to equip officers with tasers. There are also no plans to set up 'free speech zones'. And the only real trouble they are expecting is from a group that calls itself Unconventional Action, who claim they're going to shut the whole thing down. Uh Huh. And I'll be flying to Mars tomorrow.
In Janurary of this year, there were five taser deaths caused by police using the device when witnesses to the incidents say the usage was clearly not needed. The 'crimes' committed by these 'criminals' were driving erratically, taking a drug overdose, crashing into a wall, getting into a car accident, and asking the police for help. In all of these taserings, the 'suspects' were on the ground, three were already handcuffed, so the threat to the officers involved was minimal at best, but faster than you can say zap, they were tased to the point that they died.
There used to be a police doctrine in this country called stepped escalation. It started with verbal commands, the use of physical restraint, the baton, and only then did the consideration of lethal force come into play, and only if the officer's life was in clear jeapordy, or the life of an innocent. The doctrine now seems to have turned into verbal command, tase, period.
This has happened due to the dramatic shift away from checks and balances on the police by the Republicans, who are seeking to implement a police state mentality and fear into the hearts of every American. Nothing can drive that point home any harder than the RNC coming up in September, where every cop is going to have one, and despite assurances to the contrary, they'll get used.
Is this the America we want? To live in fear? To have to do as any cop demands, show I.D., have police with machine guns everywhere, German sheperds at their sides, and a taser for everyone who dares to even think about questioning what the government that is supposed to be working for us does? So many have no idea of what is going on in this country, and many more just don't want to know. It's up to the rest of us to wake everyone up, or the next shock you feel is going to be that little dart that just hit you in the chest because you didn't move fast enough when you were ordered to. Batmanchester

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