Sunday, March 29, 2009

Are we living in a Police state?

I thought that we were living in a free country and the only people the Police were interested in were criminals. I thought that you could walk out of your home wearing just the bare essentials and wander about. I thought that everyone was free to live their lives and even with suspicion, people were innocent until proven guilty.

Not everyone is happy about the political, financial and global situations at the moment. People should be allowed to protest about things in free society and those people who are not bothered should be allowed to simply wander about as though nothing has happened. Yet the wonderful Metropolitan Police have very different ideas for people in London next week. Here is some of the advice that has been given to people who might be affected by protests against the G20 summit:

Bankers Work from home; dress down; cancel meetings; use public transport.

Security staff "Anticipate anything"; liaise with police.

Canning Town residents Strongly advised to carry two forms of ID; prepare for stop and search; don't use cars.

What is going on? People must have the right to go to their workplace, dress as they please, conduct meetings and use private transport. Security staff should not become a budget Police force or rent-a-thug. Residents should not have to carry any form of ID, never mind 2 forms of ID. Stop and search is nothing but bullying by a Police force, an infringement on residents human rights and is simply harassment. Residents must be allowed to use their own private cars, they have paid for them and have a right to use them.

The whole attitude of the Police stinks. The residents pay the wages of all the Police yet they are having their human rights reduced. No wonder the Police get less and less respect from the general public week by week. I think that some civil disobedience is called for next week in London to show the Police that they are public servants not judge, jury and jailers. I think a number of sit down protests would be a good idea to get the message across that it is our country and we should not sleepwalk into a Police state. I agree with Mark Barrett, one of the organisers of the protest outside the Bank of England, who said that if trouble kicked off stewards would order everyone to simply sit down, showing up any violent element as a minority.

I notice that the Police have recently hyped up the threat of terrorism and disorder to gather public support for their bullying. Do we really want to be herded around like cattle by the Police forces that we pay for? I certainly don't but if the general public do not get their message across then slowly but surely we shall become a nation of mice. We already have a surveillance society with more CCTV cameras than any other country and we could very quickly become a nation of sheepish people. We don't have to stand for it, we can sit down against it!
Here in California, a criminal on the run shot and killed 4 policemen. He was a monster and a sociopath, or maybe not. Of course, there was a huge show of sympathy for the officer's families. Surprisingly a sizable minority expressed sympathy or at least understanding towards the killer. A lot of people do not feel that they are served and protected by the police. They feel that they are harassed and policed.

A few years ago a local bank was robbed by two white men in their thirties. Word went out that they may have gotten on one of our buses. The bus was stopped by a squad of policemen in full combat gear carrying assault rifles and shotguns. There were only a few people on the bus. None of them were white men in their thirties. Everyone on the bus, including the driver, was made to lie face down on the pavement in the rain. They were held at gunpoint for two hours while the cops "Checked them out."

They were then released with no apology, "OK, get out of here." Local papers printed pictures of the passengers, some of whom were children, young mothers and old people, lying face down on the pavement with policemen holding guns to their heads. I was surprised that many people found this acceptable behavior.

There are plenty of smart, professional and good hearted cops, but they don't seem to be in charge.

I believe California has the highest percentage of citizens in prison of anyplace in the world. Our death row executes almost as many people a year as Texas or China. I think it is reasonable to say that we live in a Police State.
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