In this shocking video clip captured in the early AM hour of August 23, 2020, un-identified Buffalo, NY police officers are caught compassionately and patiently helping an old angry and agitated man off the sidewalk at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Allen Street.
In this two minute video, which is not for the soft of heart who tear easily at grim acts of kindness, officers convene around the patient, hear him out, then gently help him from the ground and usher him to a waiting ambulance.
The video nobody thought would leak.
For some reason, this "shocking video" probably isn't going to go viral.
I make this satirical posting on the same day that several Buffalo police officers had charges dropped for supposedly willfully (as some anti-police types would cry) knocking another senior 75-year-old to the ground during one of the chaotic protests which occurred in this city over the summer.
I never agreed that's what happened and have always been perplexed that people were so eager to interpret what was clearly an accident, as something malicious.
It's not that I take swipe at the protesters who march or protest bad and biased police behavior where it may occur. And it's not simply that I know that there are bad apples but rather I believe impulsive actions and prejudices are too natural even among good people -- ergo, even among good officers. My feeling is, protest and solidify positive ideals against real racism, keeping those who might get too casual, in check.
But the simple facts are that there was no purposeful intent to harm Martin Gugino, who by the same viral video that show him falling shows him wading his way directly into an advancing police line. A bit too naive perhaps, but definitely reckless and contributing to the chaos.
Maybe I think the Buffalo police and other departments need to brush up more precisely on what to do in such instances, but to think that a crime was committed is over the top and intellectually dishonest. The Guardian article to which I link points out that Gugino is a peace activist. I maintain that if he really is, he would have acknowledged his culpability in the clumsy event and everyone could have parted ways embarrassed, but wiser.
Did that happen or will it happen, who can say? But what I can bet, because this video shows off the more routine helpful and patient nature of police -- when there isn't a chaotic situation going one -- is that this will be the video of an old man, a sidewalk, and Buffalo police, that won't go viral.
More evidence of a sub-civil society growing beneath our feet. The waning foundation of education, the chips on everyone's shoulders, the stress of poverty (or worse, the stress of staying functionally 'middle class'), and the win/lose nature of the capitalist game we are all just pawns in, are beginning to take their crystallized toll. Before these charged times (thank you Trump for the little things), we had only the aisles of big box stores or the under-enforced rules of our fast food restaurants to hint of it.
But the sub-civil society is apparently real. This latest example is like a Curb Your Enthusiasm sketch.
They bump once at the door, and after the probably-unneeded heated exchange after that, the bumpers get into their car and pull out, bumping the original bumpee's mother with their vehicle in the process. In the span of a few minutes you have two caustic bump events going on meaning that this is apparently the universe's grand design for these people.
The rest becomes a viral cock - of a gun.
Another lawful gun owner in action.
There were so many opportunities for this not to have happened. The alleged bumping party at the door could have said "excuse me" or "sorry", whether they did the bump or not (scientists say that more than half the bumps that happen are undetected by the would-be bumpers).
The black mother did not have to strike the car, but inasmuch as she did, and she may have done it instinctively to alert the driver she was there, it was no cause for the passenger and her husband to leap out and draw a goddamned gun.
All the people here were way too wound up with the chips of the times on their shoulders.
And, once again, a gun-bearer learns the hard way that whatever situation they believed merited the proper application of one, does not necessarily jive in the eyes of law enforcement or even among most reasonable people.
Now they've got an arrest record that includes gun violence, which sucks for them and will for the rest of their lives. The legal defense cost alone -- even if they dodge legal consequence, will be way more than they counted on for their flippant gun decision. Though, at least they have their fellow gun-loving peeps to hug them into believing "they were right".
Unfortunately for the righties the new movement might well be a slow crawl toward more gun control, or even, outright gun law reform. That's because at the very root of our need for exceptional police force compared to many developed countries, is the fact that anyone in our country, at any time, might be armed with a gun.
Policing in America is far more dangerous, and while necessary to develop, soft-touch policing is therefore much more harder to achieve.
If I cared a lot about guns, I'd hop on that social program investment bandwagon, or reasonable gun control measures, as fast as I could.
As we demand that more $$$ go to social programs that improve the substantive conditions for all lower wealth, and more crucially, lower opportunity people, we have to be careful not to let police by wayward claim that they are merely bending to the public will and diminished resources, abandon law and order among the vulnerable.
Sensitive people, senior citizens, women open to exploitation, honest living people in public housing units, and many others, will all be subject to lives of terror and subjugation in a world where police leave them stranded with less presence and less assertion.
As it is, I have always felt as a way to cope with budget restrictions and the mere "work of it", police invent an inability to patrol or act in poor neighborhoods. Police brutality, which you could look at as a twisted form of cost control, needs to be fixed. But it can't be used as a convenient excuse to do the exact opposite where providing a baseline security is concerned.
She has a point. And I would add, don't let everything that is happening become an exclamation point for those who believe that "minorities do it to themselves" so that walking away is that much more just.
Just watched the (Buffalo) Mayor Brown interview. I have been impressed by this guy every single time I have heard him play out in the media for any reason, but more for this than any other.
He is one the best mayors I've been a constituent of -- and is on par or maybe better than my other hero, Bloomberg. As a ticket they would be a home run. Balance is where the torturous victories lie, and these guys master it perfectly.
By the time I am posting this to my blog, it's a bit dated. I originally posted it to my Facebook feed before the tenant of "defund the police" was parsed more by the big media explainers.
If you're wondering, I'm just caching some of my social media posts here at the blog. Both to feed it so that I can continue developing (I need to hammer out an archiving architecture for example, so I need posts, lots of posts!), and also to solidify the principle that posts and feeds should exist on personal blogs first, not Facebook or Twitter. Though, clearly in playing catch up, I am doing the clear opposite.
I'm sort of a pragmatist when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement. I'm not energized about participating in it, yet, am far from dismissing its premise or dissuading protests as they happen to erupt.
To paint the picture of where I seem to stand on all of this:
In the interest of cost control we have an unnecessarily violent police response to just about everything. Violence keeps things moving and violence keeps police budgets manageable. Who tastes that violence does seem to be a matter of society's marginalized. "Police as the hammer for everything" is a reality that needs fixing through more reliance on technology and an investment in other social areas that stop putting people on a collision course with law enforcement in the first place.
On the other hand, I too readily understand the technique of hyperbole (the mainstream media promotes racial division because it is profitable), personal responsibility, and statistics. I also fundamentally disbelieve police roam their ranks looking for people to deliberately kill and doubt anyone actually believes that they do; the noise of those who claim that they do believe, is by those willfully attempting to contribute to the hyperbole. Whenever these things happen I am more quick to suspect an accident, the culpability of the individual's behavior, or some misunderstanding, however tragic the outcome.
The end result here is that both sides have cause to hate me, so I won't soapbox too much, let alone rally. But, one I thing I can't resist is the drama of a protest, so off I went to be where the action was.
That's what I did here in Buffalo when a series of peaceful protests, which turned aggressive, which then turned into national news, took place. As a journalist tourist I hit the grounds and Periscoped during a relatively tame stage of one night's events. It wasn't until after I turned off the camera and headed home that things got ugly.
Here is the full Periscope of my time there if you care to see it as I did, in crappy pixelated form. However, at the top of this post is a condensed version available on YouTube. The police scanner audio is not synchronous to the activity.
Without diminishing the point of the protests (I was monitoring one in NYC via Periscope), I want to give an EXTRA shout out to all the horizontal smartphone cam videographers. They are true gems in a sea of vertical holders who don't seem to get it. I mean it's been almost 10 years now of smartphones to figure it out but alas.
It wasn't too long ago President Trump quipped this sentiment to a bunch of police officers. Some months later, an officer was "not too nice" to the point of choking a man to death.
No, President Trump probably did not mean that officers should seriously endanger suspects or, as in the case of George Floyd, assassainate them or manhandle them in such a way as to effectively murder.
However, this kind of wink-and-nod banter is just yet another reason this guy shouldn't stay the President. He doesn't appreciate the weight of his own words across the full spectrum of the population that he presides over.
The apprehension of suspects and how they are treated while in custody is a serious matter, and is apparently an all-too-often breached protocol as it is, let alone when something an officer does, in fact kill someone. The President should have the common sense that something like this will come back to haunt him sooner or later
He doesn't have that common sense, or respect. So as far as I'm concerned, here is the haunt.