America`s Police Brutality Pandemic

Bush`s "war on terror" quickly became Bush`s
war on Iraqi civilians. So far over one million Iraqi
civilians have lost their lives because of Bush`s
invasion, and four million have been displaced. Iraq`s
infrastructure is in ruins. Disease is rampant. Normal
life has disappeared.

Self-righteous Americans justify these monstrous
crimes as necessary to ensure their own safety from
terrorist attack. Yet, Americans are in far greater
danger from their own police forces than they are from
foreign terrorists. Ironically, Bush`s "war on
has made Americans less safe at home by
diminishing US civil liberty and turning an epidemic of
US police brutality into a pandemic.

The only terrorist most Americans will ever encounter
is a policeman with a badge, nightstick, mace and Taser.
A Google search for

"police brutality videos"
turns up 2,210,000 entries. Some entries
are foreign and some are probably duplications, but the
number is so large that a person could do nothing but
watch police brutality videos for the rest of his life.
A search on "You Tube" alone turned up 2,280
police brutality videos. PrisonPlanet has a

of the most outrageous recent cases.

Police brutality has crossed the line from using
excessive force against a resisting
Rodney King
to unprovoked gratuitous violence
against persons offering no resistance, such as the
elderly, women, students, and elected officials.
Americans are not safe anywhere from police. Police

attack Americans i
n university libraries, in public
meetings, and in their own homes

Last week

we had the case of the University of Florida student

who was repeatedly Tasered without cause for asking
Senator Kerry some good questions in the question and
answer period following Kerry`s speech. Two days after
the Florida student was gratuitously brutalized, Senate

Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy`s bill to
restore habeas corpus protection.


UCLA student was Tasered
by police without cause for
studying in the university library without having having
his student ID on his person. Following police orders to
leave, the student was walking toward the door when
police grabbed him and repeatedly Tasered him.


September 19, 2007
a young woman was repeatedly
Tasered without cause by a large brutal cop in a parking
lot outside a night club in Warren, Ohio.

On September 14, 2007, Roseland, Indiana, city
council member David Snyder was

ejected from a council meeting
by dictatorial
council chairman Charlie Shields. Snyder had protested
being limited to one minute to speak. Police goon Jack
Tiller escorted Snyder out, and as Snyder exited the
building, Tiller, following behind, pushed Snyder to the
ground and without cause began beating Snyder in the
head with a nightstick. Snyder was hospitalized.

Local TV news stations throughout the US offer an
endless stream of police brutality videos, which are
then posted on the stations` web sites, often with an
opportunity for citizens to express their opinion of the

There are many disturbing aspects to police brutality

One disturbing aspect is that the police always
arrest the people that they have gratuitously
brutalized. There was no justification whatsoever to
arrest Councilman Snyder, or the UCLA student, or the
University of Florida student. The cops committed
assault against innocent citizens. The cops should have
been arrested for their criminal acts. Instead, the cops
cover up their own crimes by arresting their victims on
false charges that are invented to justify the
unprovoked police violence against citizens.

Another disturbing aspect is that no one tells the
police to stop the brutality. "Free" Americans
are so intimidated by police that on February 19 of this
year male customers in a Chicago bar stood aside while a
drunk cop weighing 251 pounds beat a 115 pound barmaid,

knocking her to the floor with his fists
repeatedly kicking her, for obeying the bar rules and
not serving him more drinks.

Yet another disturbing aspect is that a minority of
citizens will justify each act of police brutality no
matter how brutal and how unprovoked. For example,`s poll of its viewers found that 64.2% agreed
that Snyder was a victim of police brutality, but 27.8%
thought that Snyder got what was coming to him. "Law
and order conservatives"
and other authoritarian
personalities invariably defend acts of police
brutality. Perhaps the police brutality pandemic will
bring the day when we will be able to say that a civil
libertarian is a law and order conservative who has been
brutalized by police.

The most disturbing aspect is that the police usually
get away with it.

I remember decades ago when civil libertarians in New
York City tried to stop police brutality by establishing
civilian review boards to introduce some accountability
into the police`s interaction with civilians. Law and
order conservatives at

William F. Buckley`s
National Review went

. Accountability was "second-guessing"
the police. The result would be a crime wave. And so on.

Police forces have always attracted bullies with
authoritative personalities who desire to beat senseless
anyone who does not quake in their presence. In the past
police could get away with brutalizing blacks but not
whites. Today white citizens are as likely as racial
minorities to be victims of police brutality.

The police are supreme. The militarization of the
police, armed now with military weapons and trained to
view the general public as the enemy, against whom

"pain compliance"
must be used, has placed every American
at risk of personal injury and false arrest from our
"public protectors."

In "free and democratic America," citizens are
in such great danger from police that there are websites
devoted to police brutality with online forms to report
the brutality.

Nine years ago Human Rights Watch published a report
entitled, "Shielded
from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the
United States
." The report stated:

"Police abuse remains one
of the most serious and divisive human rights violations
in the United States. The excessive use of force by
police officers, including unjustified shootings, severe
beatings, fatal chokings, and rough treatment, persists
because overwhelming barriers to accountability make it
possible for officers who commit human rights violations
to escape due punishment and often to repeat their
offenses. Police or public officials greet each new
report of brutality with denials or explain that the act
was an aberration, while the administrative and criminal
systems that should deter these abuses by holding
officers accountable instead virtually guarantee them

"This report examines
common obstacles to accountability for police abuse in
fourteen large cities representing most regions of the
nation. The cities examined are: Atlanta, Boston,
Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles,
Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia,
Portland, Providence, San Francisco, and Washington,
D.C. Research for this report was conducted over two and
a half years, from late 1995 through early 1998.

"The brutality cases
examined, which are set out in detail in chapters on
each city, are similar to cases that continue to emerge
in headlines and in survivors` complaints. It is
important to note, however, that because it is difficult
to obtain case information except where there is public
scandal and/or prosecution, this report relies heavily
on cases that have reached public attention;
disciplinary action and criminal prosecution are even
less common than the cases set out below would suggest."


There is no way to hold police accountable when the
president and vice president of the United States, the
attorney general, and the Republican Party maintain that
the civil liberties and the separation of powers
mandated by the US Constitution

must be abandoned
in order that the executive branch
can keep Americans safe from terrorists.

Even before the "war on terror," federal

murdered 100 people
in the Branch Davidian compound
at Waco, and no one was held accountable.

Who is a terrorist? If the police and the US
government have the mentality of airport security, they
cannot tell a terrorist from an 86-year old Marine
general on his way to give a speech at West Point.
Retired Marine Corps General Joseph J. Foss was delayed

nearly had his Medal of Honor confiscated.
security regarded the pin on the metal as a weapon that
the 86-year old Marine general and former governor of
South Dakota could use to hijack an airliner and commit
a terrorist deed.

In America today, every citizen is a potential
terrorist in the eyes of the authorities. Airport
security makes this clear every minute of every day, as
do the FBI and NSA with warrantless spying on our
emails, postal mail, telephone calls, and every possible
invasion of our privacy. We are all recipients of abuse
of our constitutional rights whether or not we suffer
beatings, Taserings, and false arrests.

The law makes it impossible for Americans to defend
themselves from police brutality. Law and order
conservatives have made it a felony with a long prison
sentence to "assault a police officer."
Assaulting a police officer means that if a police thug
intends to beat your brains out with his nightstick and
you disarm your assailant, you have "assaulted a
police officer."
If you are not shot on the spot by
his backup, you will be convicted by a "law and
jury and sent to prison.

No matter how gratuitous and violent the police
brutality, a "free" American citizen can defend
himself only at the expense, if not of his life, of a
long stay in prison. Osama bin Laden must wish that he
had such power over Americans.



Paul Craig Roberts

] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.