Saturday, December 6, 2014

Randy Balko on Eric Gardner

Eric Gardner's death and a New York City grand jury's decision not to indict the police office who caused his death by placing him a choke hold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes demand serious reflection on the state of race relations and law enforcement. Randy Balko's thoughts on these matters are well worth your time. Among other things, Balko points out how the proliferation of regulation on our daily lives creates a opportunities for violent confrontations between police and civilians, especially in minority communities:
Every law, no matter how seemingly innocuous, is enforced with the threat of violence: If you fail to follow it, the state is saying it reserves the right to use violence to force you to comply and/or force you to submit to a penalty for violating the law. Every law passed also creates more opportunities for interaction with police officers, the people entrusted to use the violence necessary to enforce the laws. How a proposed law will be enforced, and potentially abused, ought to be considered in addition to the content of the law itself....[Moreover, l]ow-level offenses are a tool police sometimes use to do sweeps for outstanding warrants, or as part of a “broken windows” strategy of law enforcement. These are tactics overwhelmingly deployed on low-income and minority communities.
Again, the whole thing is worth your time.

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