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All the Ways You Can Comply and Still Die During An Encounter with Police

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Police Stop
Police Stop
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How do you protect yourself from flying fists, choking hands, disabling electrified darts and killing bullets?

How do you defend yourself against individuals who have been indoctrinated into believing that they are superior to you, that their word is law, and that they have the power to take your life?

Most of all, how can you maintain the illusion of freedom when daily, Americans are being shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, challenge an order or just exist?

The short answer: you can't.

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Now for the long answer, which is far more complicated but still leaves us feeling hopeless, helpless and vulnerable to the fears, moods and misguided training of every cop on the beat.

If you ask police and their enablers what Americans should do to stay alive during encounters with law enforcement, they will tell you to comply (or die).

It doesn't matter where you live--big city or small town--it's the same scenario being played out over and over again in which Americans are being brainwashed into believing that anyone who wears a government uniform--soldier, police officer, prison guard--must be obeyed without question, while government agents, hyped up on their own authority and the power of their uniform, ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

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The problem, of course, is what to do when compliance is not enough.

I'm not talking about the number of individuals--especially young people--who are being shot and killed by police for having a look-alike gun in their possession, such as a BB gun. I'm not even talking about people who have been shot for brandishing weapons at police, such as scissors.

I'm talking about the growing numbers of unarmed people are who being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something--anything--that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer's mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Killed for standing in a "shooting stance." In California, police opened fire on and killed a mentally challenged--unarmed--black man allegedly because he removed a vape from his pocket and took a "shooting stance."

Killed for holding a cell phone. Police in Arizona shot a man who was running away from U.S. Marshals after he refused to drop an object that turned out to be a cellphone.

Killed for holding a baseball bat. Chicago police shot and killed a 19-year-old college student who was carrying a baseball bat around the apartment where he and his father lived.

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Killed for opening the front door. Bettie Jones was fatally shot--accidentally--when she attempted to open the front door for police responding to a domestic disturbance call.

Killed for being a child in a car pursued by police. Jeremy David Mardis, six years old and autistic, died after police opened fire on a car in which he was a passenger.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)

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