The Rise of the American Police State

For anyone still thinking that the United States is not a police state, consider the case of the van attack in Toronto on Monday afternoon. Ten Canadians died during the rampage in which 25-year-old Alek Minassian allegedly jumped the curb and plowed a rented van through a pedestrian mall. Toronto police took him into custody a short while after the attack — without firing a single shot.

The Canadian takedown demonstrates the difference between domestic policing and our northern neighbors. In the former, the predominant policy is shoot (to kill) first, while the example in Canada is restraint.

In just over the first 100 days of 2018, U.S. police have shot and killed almost 350 people. According to a database compiled by the Washington Post, there have been 344 fatal police shootings in the United States this year — slightly more than during the same period in 2017. If the trend continues, it will be a record year for police killings in America. Police killings, while often investigated internally, rarely result in prosecution or punishment, even under questionable circumstances.

Last week, police in West Valley City, Utah, confronted a 20-year-old black man after he entered a residence during a pursuit. According to local reports, it is unclear if Elijah James Smith had any kind of weapon when police shot and killed him in front of three pre-teen children in the home. A week before that, Florida deputies in Santa Rosa County killed an unarmed burglary suspect. The 24-year-old white man, Michael Scroggie was fighting with a deputy when he was shot by the officer.

Earlier in March, in a shooting that has remained in national headlines, Sacramento police shot and killed Stephon Clark, a 23-year-old black man. Clark, a suspect in a car break-in, was unarmed when police shot him 20 times in his grandparents’ backyard. The killing sparked national protests and local riots decrying police use of force.

With nearly three people shot by police per day in the United States, the Washington Post database is a telling look into how frequently U.S. cops take a life. Despite the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement calling attention to police involved killings, there is no racial profile for police homicides. Based on the data in the Post records, no one is immune from risk.

So far, in 2018, police have killed four teenagers and two octogenarians. Officers have shot men and women of every race and color, of various mental capacities, and both armed and unarmed. Very few cases have reliable body cam footage.

The number of police involved killings demonstrates a desperate need for policy changes in the United States. In a nation where over 8,000 local law enforcement agencies have access to surplus military-grade equipment, police have become a heavily armed reactionary force. At the forefront of their reactionary practices is a supply of 25-cent bullets that do not discriminate against their domestic enemies.

In Toronto, Monday, the suspect allegedly taunted police by fake drawing a weapon on them. He made the threatening gesture several times while an officer faced him down without firing on him, even when he reached for a back pocket. In the United States, he would likely have been killed in a barrage of gunfire. However, Canadian officers showed restraint, judgement, and cool-headedness during the crisis — something that U.S. police academies ceased teaching decades ago.

Over a half million people experience a use-of-force encounter with police each year, and that number is increasing. In many instances, police encounters are becoming the equivalent of facing a military force.

At a Nazi rally in Georgia last weekend, unarmed protesters came face-to-face with fatigue-clad officers of the Newman Police Department. The officers pointed automatic rifles at the protesters at point-blank range for exercising their First Amendment rights peacefully.

The solution to crime in America is not to arm local law enforcement with tanks and body armor. And it is certainly not to create a domestic military force that does not investigate crime, but kills the suspected criminals. However, in 2018, under the influence and direction of the Trump regime, the United States is creeping closer than ever to a police state where personal freedoms are increasingly at risk — along with lives.

American authorities would do well to learn a lesson from our Canadian neighbors. Police exist to serve and protect — not judge, execute, and instill fear. 

Featured Image: Courtesy GlobalNews.CA

Video: Courtesy @TopRopeTravis

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