This was Pete’s idea growing out of his experience with Occupy San Diego. I think we can expand it to also cover the hrowth of police power throughout law enforcement, including charges that it has been militarized since 9/11.
I’ll do a quick opening that covers two topics:
- The expansion of police search and other powers over the last 30 years.
- How the post-9/11 anti-terrorist tools have migrated into being used in regular criminal cases. The extent to which this has happened is quite striking. We really didn’t cover this in our discussion of lost civil liberties since 9/11 (this meeting), because I kind of kept us focused on the catching-terrorist activities like NSA wiretapping and national security letters.
Following this brief intro, I’ll open it up to Pete for any views he has on how all of this has culminated in the responses nationwide to the Occupy movements.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- Do the police have and do they use new powers to investigate crimes? How uniformly are these powers used, or are they applied in a discriminatory fashion?
- What effects have these changes had; e.g., on the crime rate, on personal freedoms, on minority communities?
- Does the public support these new methods? Why?
- Whose interests do the police serve? How do you know this?
- What should and can be done about this problem, if indeed it is a problem?
- Police brutality has been on the rise since 9/11 – USA Today analysis using DOJ data.
- On the increasing use of “pain compliance” as a routine tool of law enforcement.
- On the growing militarization of law enforcement (although I find his proposed solutions to be utopian).
- A long report (21-page pdf, so only if it really interests you): Escalating U.S. Police Surveillance after 9/11.
- A final reading on a touchy topic: No honest assessment of the issue of police power could be complete without talking about the sensitive issue of illegal police behavior, especially police brutality. Don’t let that old hackneyed term put you off. Unwarranted violence by the police is thought by many to be routine in poor communities of color in the United States. I don’t know if this is true, but this commentary and this angry letter give you some idea of the anger this subject provokes, within communities of color in this country. I think we must at least broach the topic.