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“When is our society going to start giving the cops the benefit of the doubt?” whined Glenn Beck in a recent on-air monologue. “There is a war on cops,” Beck insisted, reciting the alarmist and misleading police union soundbite that “the death rate of police officers … is up forty percent” since the beginning of the year. After saying that he didn’t blame recent incidents in which eleven police officers were shot in various places across the country on Marxists and other radicals, Beck did vaguely connect those incidents to “bad guys that are trying to get riots going on,” presumably by publicizing police misconduct, among other things.

A few hours before Beck unbosomed himself of that monologue, more than two dozen LAPD officers, including a tactical squad armed with shotguns and ballistic shields, laid siege to the home of Jeremy Marks, a teenager scheduled to stand trial on a spurious charge of “attempted lynching” — that is, of being a “bad guy” trying to get “a riot going on” by taunting and supposedly threatening an abusive police officer.

Marks was one of several students at Verdugo Hills High School who witnessed and captured on video an incident in which a female LAPD officer named Erin Robles roughed up a 15-year-old boy who was smoking at a bus stop. At one point an unidentified student — who, as video recordings clearly demonstrate, could not have been Marks — supposedly yelled “Kick her ass!” after the officer struck the boy with a baton and pepper-sprayed him.

Marks never touched Robles and certainly never threatened her. Furthermore, on the basis of the available evidence it’s clear that Robles wasn’t in danger. The confrontation was an ugly scene, but hardly an incipient riot, let alone a potential “lynching.”

Despite video evidence, abundant eyewitness testimony, and wild inconsistencies in police accounts of the event and Marks’s subsequent arrest at a nearby McDonald’s,  the police and prosecutors focused their attention on him, most likely because he’s the proverbial low-hanging fruit: At the time of the May 10 incident, Marks, who has a history of disciplinary problems.

Following his arrest, Marks spent more than six months in the Peter Pitchess Detention Center; bail was set at $155,000. The D.A.’ s office initially offered Marks a “deal” that would have sent him to prison for seven years. After some people who are shamefully indisposed to give the cops the “benefit of the doubt” riled up the local public, the D.A. modified the offer: If Marks were to plead guilty to several spurious charges, including “attempted lynching,” he would spend “only” 32 months behind bars.

After Google engineer Neil Fraser posted $50,000 to pay bail, Marks was released from jail and went back to school. Pre-trial hearings are scheduled for next month. Rather than following standard discovery procedures, the DA and his trained simians in the LAPD staged a Gestapo-style raid at daybreak on January 27.

“Police vehicles filled the streets of the predominantly African-American neighborhood in Lakeview terrace,” relates one account. “Neighbors were prevented from going into or out of their homes. A next door neighbor had a gun pointed at him for trying to retrieve his children from [the Marks family’s] front porch.” Jeremy’s bedroom was trashed by the invaders, who seized computers, cell phones, cameras, and legal documents, many of them “privileged attorney-client communications.” A similar raid reportedly took place at the home of another student who “was targeted because he posted videos of the original incident on YouTube. These videos show that Jeremy did nothing illegal.”

Assuming that the account cited above is accurate, what it describes is the behavior of an occupying army seeking to intimidate and subdue an understandably  hostile population. The SWAT assault on Jeremy Marks’s neighborhood in search of “anti-police” video recordings was strikingly similar to raids carried out in occupied Iraq in search of people distributing “anti-coalition propaganda” or inciting “insurgent activity.”

Although he sometimes flirts with libertarian themes, Beck is clearly a punitive populist; when given the “Tom Joad Test,” he reflexively sympathizes with the State functionary wielding the club, rather than the citizen on the receiving end of officially sanctioned violence. Interestingly, Beck’s jeremiad about the purported “War on Cops” came immediately after he debuted his new anti-Iran agitprop movie “Rumors of War,” a transparent effort to cultivate support for a war against what he calls “the most dangerous regime in the world” — the distant, relatively powerless one ruling Persians, that is, not the one killing, impoverishing, and terrorizing Americans here at home.

1:45 am on January 28, 2011