January 19, 2008
Day by day our civil liberties are eroded in a purposeful campaign to turn this country into a police state. They start with pretending that seat belt laws are designed for safety, when it really just gives the police another reason to pull you over. Same goes for cell phone laws. Then they place cameras at red lights to generate revenue without applying any resources. We all sit silent. I have heard the flawed logic that says, “Well, I don’t break the law, so why would it bother me?” The issue is not whether you feel you break the law, it is the power you concede to others to interpret if THEY feel you are breaking the law. Perhaps the most egregious violations of our civil liberties happen every day when the very people we pay to protect us, instead are killing us. The new weapon of choice is the Taser. Designed to pump electricity into a human being, the Taser has been used inappropriately, and has resulted in the deaths of innocents across this country for far too long now. It is time to remove this weapon from the arsenal of police officers who do not deserve to wear the badges they have.
I say innocents because even though the police have forgotten; this country is based upon the concept that we are INNOCENT until proven guilty. Thus ANY person killed while being arrested was killed while innocent and their death ensures they will be buried innocent as well. Perhaps the flaw at the heart of this problem is that the police seem to operate on the opposite premise. They presume that everyone is a perp (perpetrator), until proven innocent. They no longer work to protect the citizenry, but rather to ensure they are alive at the end of the day, regardless of whether we are or not. Obviously, this is not meant as a broad brush stroke as generalizations are dangerous. I am sure there are plenty of decent honest police professionals but their insistence to silence in the face of what their peers do makes them complicit. It is time to put a human face on the death toll and the spin.
Mark Backlund was a 29 year old citizen of this country. He had a family, parents, a sister, and a 2 year old son. To my knowledge, he had no record of wrongs in his life. He just was an American who had a bright future until January 15th of this year found him in a car accident during rush hour on a Minnesota highway. By all reports the accident was nothing major but the state police who responded to it apparently did not like the way Mr. Backlund responded to them. The exact quote from the police was that Mr. Backlund was “uncooperative” after the accident. So they killed him. I know that sounds harsh but the police in question decided that the best way to deal with an “uncooperative” citizen was to send electricity through his body. He died later in the hospital when his heart stopped. Even if Mr. Backlund was “uncooperative”; did he deserve to be killed by the police? The man was simply on his way to pick up his parents from the airport and now he is dead. Is mere disagreement or dissent with law enforcement required to be dealt with by killing the person?
Here is another example of a citizen who merely disagreed with a state police officer; this time in Utah. Jared Massey is a 28-year old telephone company worker who was stopped by the Utah State Police on September 14, 2007. Here is a video taken from the dashboard of the offending officer:
The sheer arrogance of this officer is staggering and is a microcosm of the problem we are facing. Even those being arrested have rights. It appears that all Massey was trying to ascertain was why he was pulled over, which is his right as an American. The officer tried to claim speeding but refused to offer what speed Massey was traveling at. In fact, when he first addresses Massey, the officer clearly said that he “felt” he was traveling a bit fast. Massey was correctly astonished when the officer pulled his taser on him and shot him full of electricity. The officer than proceeds to terrorize the family in the car as well and tries to change the story to Massey “not listening to him” or “not following his instructions.” Specifically, Massey was refusing to sign the citation for speeding because he did not believe he had been speeding. For that, the brave officer shoots him with the taser and then brags about it to his partner later in the video. Toward the end you can hear the officer saying “he took a ride on the taser” and then mocked Massey by saying, “painful, isn’t it?” Further explaining to his partner, the officer reveals what really caused him to taser this citizen, “He wanted to be in charge.” His partner simply replies, “Good for you.” He wanted to be in charge. Guess the officer showed him who was in charge. Massey is still pursuing resolution to the incident but at least he survived.
Mark Backlund was not so lucky. Neither were many other Americans who have been tasered over the past several years. You can do a simple Google search and find any number of horror stories of American citizens being tasered by an out of control police force. The initial rationale for giving police these weapons was that they were allegedly going to be used to avoid having to use deadly force not to persuade or control behavior. Well, the experiment has failed America and it has failed miserably. If you doubt that, just review the video above where Mr. Massey was tasered because the officer felt he “wanted to be in charge.” “Taking a ride on the taser” is what this brave officer said. If you have any doubts, go ask the 2 year old child of Mark Backlund what he thinks now that his father has been killed by the very people paid to protect him.
Please, save me the sob stories about how difficult it is to be a police officer. In researching this story I came across stories that would make your stomach turn even more. A six year old boy being tasered. A nine year old girl who was already in handcuffs being tasered. A pregnant woman being tasered. I would proffer that any officer that cannot figure out how to diffuse or subdue a child, a pregnant woman, or even an uncooperative man without tasering them, does not deserve to wear the badge. If the job is that difficult for you, then find another job. Further, the communities that pay the offending officers in these situations should demand justice. Mark Backlund was murdered; plain and simple. Jared Massey faced attempted murder; plain and simple. The fact that the perpetrators wore uniforms should irrelevant. They are supposed to adhere to the law as well. They should be prosecuted and be sent to jail if convicted; plain and simple.
The police state is coming America. Cameras will be everywhere. ID chips will be implanted. They will claim that it is in the interest of your safety, while they take your liberty. There is still a chance to stand up and say no. Jared Massey deserved better. Mark Backlund certainly deserved better. The police are supposed to protect you; not determine your level of cooperation before tasering you into submission and then bragging about it. Benjamin Franklin once warned that a country that trades its liberty for security deserves neither. Our constitution is in tatters. Wake up America. It is time to stand up before they come for you and you realize there is no one left to stand up in your defense.