Slouching Toward a Police State

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As if we need
another indication that we are slouching toward a police state,
a couple of incidents in my home state of Oklahoma give us further
reason to shudder at the predations of our increasingly militarized
local law enforcement.

On the evening
of May 19th, in the course of a purported investigation into drug
trafficking at a local homeless shelter, two Oklahoma City police
officers handcuffed a woman and tasered her to death because, as
a police spokesman said, "the officers felt that she was not
under control." The victim, a 35-year-old homeless woman, resided
in the shelter with her husband while recovering from a drug addiction.
She was not involved in the initial drug investigation, yet apparently
began to scream and attacked one of the officers. After attacking
a second officer, she was "taken to the ground and handcuffed."
At this point, this 35-year-old female crack addict, handcuffed
and on the concrete, still represented a great enough danger to
two heavily armed male police officers that they deemed it necessary
to electrocute her fatally. This murder earned the two officers
paid administrative leave.

Most LRC readers
realize the irrefutable failure of the "war on self-medication."
Much has been written here on the topic. From seatbelt laws and
speed limits to anti-drug and anti-smoking laws, who really believes
that the State's interest lies in saving us from ourselves? Law
number one should be "no victim, no crime." Increasingly
obvious is the fact that, far from protecting and serving the people,
the police exist everywhere and always to protect the State and
its ill-gotten gains from the people, and we pay them to
do it. In the course of "protecting the people" from free
and private transactions between consenting adults, these two officers
murdered a woman guilty of what amounts to a lack of control.

Another incident
even closer to me occurred around Thanksgiving last year. A friend
left a bar late one night, admittedly a little less than sober,
but driving slowly and safely. After traveling several blocks, a
patrolman stopped him, called for backup and, based on his car's
missing front grill, arrested him for allegedly running down an
officer earlier in the evening. Ignore the many inconsistencies
and outright fallacies in the accusation (not least of which was
the fact that no piece of his grill was found at the site of the
hit-and-run, since he'd lost it to a deer on a country road nine
months previous to the incident). What happened next simply cannot
be excused.

Cops tend to
be a pretty tightly-knit group. Injure or kill one of them and they
tend to get a little vengeful, it seems (and no, the irony that
they are rewarded with a paid vacation when they murder a
private citizen isn't lost on me). Once they'd handcuffed
and effectively subdued my friend, these protectors of the public
morality proceeded to, as we say here in Oklahoma, beat the tar
out of him, bruising his ribs, arms and legs and causing a loss
of hearing in one of his ears. That they might have been mistaken
never occurred to them. On the advice of his attorney, he pled guilty
to the DUI and the hit-and-run was dropped. Due to this travesty,
my friend spent several days locked up for a crime he did not commit,
losing valuable days at work. In addition, he lost his license and
will be paying for the privilege of visiting some weekend lockup
for the next six to nine months.

These are but
two local examples of what amounts to a major problem with state-subsidized
"law enforcement." Where may innocent victims of this
rampant abuse of power turn for justice in this day and age? The
courts seem complicit in the corruption and lawmakers see only the
apparent "successes" of their various wars against potential
crime. The media maintains the status quo by coloring their reports
of these incidents with the State's very own brush. As a result,
few view the abuse as it really is. Indeed, most seem to applaud
the work of the nanny state as it strips us all of the right to
do as we see fit absent the trespass of others' rights to do the
same. On this march toward our own undoing, will we watch wordlessly
as our fellows are overrun by the massed machinery of the State?

June
2, 2007

Matthew
Hart [send him mail] is a musician,
songwriter and photographer who writes, for the time being, from
his home state of Oklahoma.

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