Thursday, July 12, 2018

Be Ready to Interrupt

Reading this morning's Star Tribune, I was hit with a double whammy of proof that policing in my community (as an exemplar of this country) is bad, bad, bad.

First there was a story called Lawsuit says police detained innocent man at North Memorial, urged paramedics to use ketamine to sedate him. In which we learn of a 2015 case where Minneapolis cops grabbed the wrong guy outside North Memorial Hospital (um... their victim is black and the person they were looking for was described to them as white or light-skinned Hispanic). When he objected to being treated the way they were treating him, they got hospital staff to inject him with the sedative ketamine (which was then being used in a now-suspended non-consensual study in Minneapolis). The victim then had trouble breathing and had to be intubated. He spent a day in the hospital, unconscious, and nearly died. It took his wife three hours to find him after he disappeared into what seemed to be police custody. She thought he was dead.

As I said, this took place in 2015 and this is the first we're hearing about it, as far as I know. How was this either overlooked or possibly suppressed?

Then there was the story called Fear-based training for police officers challenged. You may or may not have heard of the so-called "warrior cop" training that is common these days. For instance, Geronimo Yanez, killer of Philando Castile, had been through 56 hours of this crap where the cops are told it's kill or be killed over and over. A pioneer of the training is a guy named Dave Grossman, who claims to be a former Army Ranger (not true) and a Pulitzer Prize nominee (also not true). He offers 200 of his Bulletproof Warrior trainings a year, which is basically a full-time schedule. Imagine the income he makes from that.

The biggest piece of news for me in that article was this: "Minneapolis officer Justin Schmidt, who killed Thurman Blevins in a North Side alley last month, teaches similar training." The article provided no more detail on that claim, however.

Not long after reading the paper, I was in the car and MPR was broadcasting a roundtable discussion among four people of color (called Should people of color have to prove they're Americans?), discussing all of the recent cases of white people calling the cops on or attacking black and brown people for existing in public (at pools, wearing T-shirts, being on subways). They particularly called attention to the Chicago-area cop who did nothing when a white man verbally attacked a Latina for wearing a Puerto Rico T-shirt. It's a glimpse of the Fugitive Slave Law days, or at least I'm sure that's how it feels to the people affected by it.

My advice to anyone (especially white people) reading this: practice your interrupting skills so they're ready when you need them. Interrupting cops would be the scariest of all, of course. But be ready.

1 comment:

Michael Leddy said...

I’m guessing you might have heard it: Reveal recently reaired an episode about teaching police to de-escalate situations.