"If an officer stops you, promise me you'll always be polite
And that you'll never ever run away
Promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight"
This has always (well, since 2000 anyway) been one of my favorite Boss songs. It is moving because while it was based on the Amadou Diallo shooting, to me it speaks to me about our country's history from Independence, to Emancipation, to Kent State, the Civl Rights movement, the LA Riots, and today, in 2014, where Governor Jay Nixon has deployed the Missouri National Guard to respond to the looting and riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
The balance between overthrowing the yoke of tyranny and oppression, and defending against a police state might be the most confusing and fragile aspects of freedom.
In my life, I've been honored to be friends with heroic law enforcement officers, and, forced to personally exert my constitutional rights against less than honorable ones who knowingly tried to to force or "trick" me into surrendering them.
Through it all, the boss' words "always be polite" permeate.
When I've been pulled over, I've turned on my dome light, rolled down my window, and put my wrists on my steering wheel. I don't do this because I'm subjugated, I do it because I want to erase all doubt as the officer approaches my vehicle that I intend to polite and hear what they have to say about my driving. And, that I respect their duty to ensure safe driving on the roads in our communities. This hasn't happened often, but, when it has, there hasn't been a single time that an officer hasn't commented that they appreciated the gesture.
The "gesture"??I have to put myself in their shoes here.
They pull a vehicle over, they get out of theirs and approach it. They've been trained. They've seen the videos where the driver has the sawed-off shotgun in their lap just waiting for the officer to approach.
If I had to worry about being blasted with buckshot unexpectedly at any given point in my job, I don't know that I could do it.
I am a Libertarian; but I am not one of the folks that love to flaunt their rights with law enforcement. It costs me nothing in terms of pride or my rights to be polite with law enforcement officers on the assumption that they are trustworthy agents in our society.
But, as I previously stated, I've been in situations where I was well within my rights and some extremely overzealous, over-armed and under-educated law enforcement officers crossed the line. No amount of etiquette or constitutional principal made any difference.
I can't stop that.
We can't stop the outliers in law enforcement that are trigger happy, emotionally unstable, and looking for a reason to bring deadly force. No more than we can stop the outliers in the civilian world who act erratically, who aren't polite, and who make gestures to antagonize a response from law enforcement.
That said, Law Enforcement also can no longer escape the social media realities of the modern world. I applaud Chief Dotson's transparency in releasing the extremely graphic video of a police-involved shooting I'm going to share below.
Yes, While Ferguson is under fire and in the world news just miles away, there was a police-involved shooting in St. Louis yesterday. There is a good chance this would have made it to LiveLeak anyway, but it is extremely important that this, and the Michael Brown videos are being released by official channels to the internet where the main stream media doesn't control the narrative, and the populous are able to draw their own conclusions.
GRAPHIC: This video shows what I would classify as a "suicide by cop" but also shows a situation that escalated due to disrespect and fear, and brought 2 officers to draw their weapons and take the life of an American Citizen.
I hope every law enforcement officer is watching this and understands that their actions, in their duties which the citizenry have entrusted you, are going to be recorded and shared with the world. Your power, YOUR POWER, stems from this most important line in the Declaration of Independence: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
I also hope that every father and mother in the United States takes the time to explain to their children that while they are free, they need to be coherent and intelligent in their actions, and that they should not fear interactions with the police, and, that when they do have those interactions, that they should always be polite.http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=df3_1408576637