Tuesday, April 05, 2016

A Former Baltimore Police Officer Tells It All

If you haven't seen this video of Joe Rogan interviewing ex-Baltimore cop Michael Wood, who got famous last year hitting Twitter with stories he'd already been telling for years about what the police actually do, you're not going to believe it. I'm still stunned and I've now watched it multiple times.

In another interview, Wood says simply, "The only person that was surprised by what I said was everybody who doesn't live in the 'hood. Everybody that lives in the 'hood just said, 'Oh look, a cop just admitted it.' But everybody else said, 'Oh my gosh! That stuff really happens?' Of course, it happens. Did you think the Black community was lying for the last one hundred years?"

In other news about Michael Wood, word has it that he's thrown his hat in the ring to be Police Chief of Chicago. This idea will be much more meaningful once you listen to the interview.

It is imperative to clearly acknowledge the fact that the prisons are full because of the way law "enforcement" is carried out and precisely who it is carried out upon. This post and the next few are to make that point. We often treat what the police do and the so-called "correctional" system as if they were separate issues. They are not. It is the police that march people to jail. And when they make what they do so obviously brutal and White Supremacist in nature, the result is that we have more people locked up than any other country in the world with a disproportionate number of the prisoners being Black, Latino, and Native American. Rogan and Wood can laugh. But nothing about this is funny.


veganelder said...

I did not watch all of the interview. I couldn't take the chuckling.

Plus...one of the experiences I've had was to be a cop in the military for a few years. I was very young then but one of the things I realized after a bit was that a percentage of the people who were stuck into that status (as cop) really liked it. And what they liked was the power. Most of those who embraced the power that the uniform and the gun and the authority of being a cop either re-enlisted and continued as cops in the military or they left the service and joined civilian police forces. The power is seductive...I felt it while I was there. I was lucky enough the be someone who was more spooked by that power than I was attracted to it. But make no mistake...power is seductive. And many embrace it instead of being put off by it.

Just to confirm my take on that "police" thing...it turns out that within my family there are four people (2 male, 2 female) who were/are members of civilian police/correctional authorities. Of those four people...only one of them is someone with relatively good judgement who wasn't/isn't seduced by the power trip that goes with occupying such positions. The other three are, in varying degrees, simply unfit to have such power. Period.

Adlai Stevenson (a long ago candidate for president) is credited with making a statement that has stuck with me for decades. He supposedly said something to the effect that anyone who wants to be president should automatically be disqualified from the job. I took that to mean that anyone seeking power should be barred from having power. I've seen that same dynamic play out in the workplace...those wanting to be bosses are the very people who shouldn't be bosses...and...when they do get to be in charge...they tend to be awful at it.

The problem is power...any situation where one group has "power over" another group almost invariably results in bad bad stuff. (Especially if humans are the beings involved in such situations)

Equalizing the power between groups is one obvious solution...but...in this society we're much more committed (or so it seems anyway) to verbal support of equality but in practice we seem to be committed to punishing lack of power and rewarding power with more power.

What's weird is that everybody knows this...all anyone who has been an adult has to do is to think about all the times in their life where someone (or some group) had "power over" them (or over the group they belonged to) and how often that turned out to be a good thing.

Whether you're talking about bosses (or police)...yes...it can turn out to be ok...but when it is bad...it is usually really bad or or hurtful or scary or stressful or even dangerous.

Everybody knows this (mostly)...but we choose to ignore it or minimize it or excuse it.

I did like the statement: "'Oh my gosh! That stuff really happens?' Of course, it happens. Did you think the Black community was lying for the last one hundred years?""

Except...he should have more accurately said for the last five hundred years (not one hundred).

The greatest factor that makes for "bad" police is the same factor that drives racism...and that factor is "power over".

In the meantime...if you can...stay away from any interaction with the police...cuz such interaction probably won't turn out well.

changeseeker said...

In The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien had Bilbo Baggins say, "The only one who can be trusted with power is the one who truly doesn't want it." Unfortunately, especially for People of Color and certainly for Black Americans, police officers most generally not only want, but relish the use and abuse of power. Worse, these powermongers are allowed and even encouraged to harass, brutalize, and murder not only those who challenge their power, but whoever they want to hurt. It is immoral and this society will collapse under the weight of this immorality if it does not cease pretending that it does not matter. Black. lives. matter.

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