The Splintered Blue Line

One aspect of the November 6 insurrection I want to explore a bit is the role of law enforcement. There were cops on both sides.

Several of the Capitol cops took a real beating at the hands of the mob. One was killed. The story in common circulation is that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s head was bashed in with a fire extinguisher, although I notice major media hasn’t corroborated that.

The Washington Post reported that more than 58 D.C. police officers and an unknown number of U.S. Capitol Police officers were injured defending the Capitol building and the legislators:

An officer was hit with a bat. Another was struck with a flagpole. A third was pinned against a statue. A fourth was clobbered with a wrench. One became stuck between two doors amid a frenzied mob. Many were hit with bear spray. …

…How those injuries occurred is varied: pushed down stairs, trampled by rioters, run over in a stampede, punched with fists. …

… Videos circulating on the Internet show horrific scenes, including one of an officer, identified by the police union as from the D.C. force, being dragged down stairs outside the Capitol and beaten by people with clubs, a crutch and a pole with an American flag attached. The officer was rescued by other officers swinging batons.

Do read this whole story. Some really horrific stuff happened. It’s a wonder more of the LEOs weren’t killed or seriously injured by the mob. I also get the impression from this article that the DC police got the worst of it, although it may be that the reporter got more details from the DC police.

The Hill reports that a retired firefighter, 55-year-old Robert Sanford of Chester, Pa., has been arrested for throwing a fire extinguisher at police officers. This charge is not connected to Brian Sicknick’s death, the article says.

In the footage, according to the court documents, the fire extinguisher can be seen hitting one officer wearing a helmet before it ricochets and strikes an officer without a helmet. The object then ricochets again and strikes a third officer in the head. That officer was wearing a helmet.

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman is being hailed as a hero for leading rioters up a flight of stairs away from the Senate chamber. However, TPM reports that two Capitol cops have been suspended. One was taking selfies with the insurrectionists; another put on a MAGA hat and was giving the mob directions. At least ten other Capitol cops are under investigation.

TPM also reports that cops from around the country showed up to cheer for Donald Trump and march to the Capitol. Their departments are investigating them. Two cops from Virginia were arrested and charged by the Justice Department with violent entry on Capitol grounds and unlawfully entering restricted areas. A Houston cop resigned. Others are still being investigated.

In short, there were police doing their jobs to defend the Capitol, and there were police in the mob committing sedition. This morning I saw a right-wing columnist accusing “the Left” of hypocrisy for concern over the death of Brian Sicknick. We’re supposed to hate cops, you know. But in truth we tend to focus on cops who unjustifiably kill Black people and escape accountability for it, which happens all too often. Sicknick, widely reported to have been a Trump supporter, was killed by Trump supporters while doing his duty.

That’s different. And I won’t comment further about who the real hypocrites are here.

See also Steve M, Everything Is Liberals’ Fault, Part MCMLXXVIII

13 thoughts on “The Splintered Blue Line

  1. Cops are just people. I became familiar with DC cops when they arrested me. They were professional – I was never brutalized, nor did I get special treatment. A few sought me out when I was in my cell to ask, unofficially, WHY I did it. Another, out of earshot of others, said I must really have some balls. The comment was delivered with some awe. I had extended discussions with a couple of DC detectives last year. Very friendly but at the finish they warned me – if I screwed up, they'd arrest me in a heartbeat. I don't doubt that some members of the force would take pleasure using excessive force on a black man.

    I found out today that my public defender had been assigned the cases of several of the DC insurgents. My lawyer had my case for a year – I think I know him and I don't think he's sympathetic to the views of the rioters. But he will deliver for them a vigorous defense and argue for the least jail time he can justify. He's a lawyer with ethics, which means he will set aside his personal views and do his legal duty without prejudice. And he's a black man, which may cause some of his clients some concern.

    Which is to say – in any profession, but especially law enforcement – the players are all as human as you and I. Many will rise above the personal opinions they're entitled to have and do their professional duty. Others will fail. We need to hold the guilty accountable and note the high ethics which are occasionally shown. 

    None of them are superhuman or demonic because of the uniform they wear. It's how they do their job that makes them special. And "special" means extraordinarily good OR extraordinarily bad.  They deserve awards or penalties according to what they do.

    • No, police are not "just" people.  They are unaccountable people, who have internalized (consciously or subconsciously) their unaccountability.  And they have power, which even in theory is only ambiguously defined, and in practice is not defined at all.

      These facts have very far-reaching consequences.  Everyone — literally exactly everyone — is familiar with those consequences, even though many people deny them, most of whom do not even have incentives to do so.

      It is no more informative to pick good apples than bad ones.

      And the problem with allocating "… awards or penalties according to what they do" is that by the time they've done it, it is too late.

  2. … Videos circulating on the Internet show horrific scenes, including one of an officer, identified by the police union as from the D.C. force, being dragged down stairs outside the Capitol and beaten by people with clubs, a crutch and a pole with an American flag attached. The officer was rescued by other officers swinging batons.

    The person with the pole with the American flag has been arrested.  He reportedly told the police that he thought that the person he beat was a member of antifa disguised as a cop.  There is no minimum IQ required to be a member of the tRump cult.

  3. As I've said recently, using a very fine-toothed comb, we need to go through every police force from NYC, NY, to Mayberry, RFD, to  SiblingSchtupp, KY, to find both White Supremacists (I'd prefer referring to them White Defectives) and their sympathizers – and then either rehabilitate them somehow, or fire them.

    And at the same time, we need to do duplicate those efforts for every unit in all of our various military forces.

    Rehabilitating any White Defectives we find is far, far better than just firing them.   Some may want to fire themselves, and just quit.  But we can offer another option, which I'll explain later.

    I don't know how we can rehabiliate them other than providing solid and extensive racial, religious, gender, and sexual-orientation sensitivity training. 

    And we need to thoroughly explain the US Constitution and their role(s) regarding it.  We'll need to have annual touch-up/reminder training.

    And as we're doing that, we need to weed-out those who either don't, won't, or can't change. 

    But after weeding them out, we can't afford the luxury of just discarding them.  They ARE human beings after all.

    After we identify those who won't go along the new equality plan, we need another critical step – which will be very contraversial, imo: 

    Subsidize training for other lines of work.

    Sure, it'd be easy to treat them like crap, just to punish them for being bigots.

    But people need dignity, and a way to provide a living for themselves and their families.

    I'd rather have these bigots working at some job, than plotting an another attack, or an assassination.

    Them's my $0.02!

    • Really agree. Not enough people get (as you do) that being a bigot is not a crime. Acting on that bigotry is a crime. Not everyone can be freed in their own mind from hate. The roots of prejudice can be deep.

      I'd be satisfied to teach a person that he can have those feelings – it's unhealthy to feed them – but he can't ACT on them. If they get that far, they won't spread it to their kids or at least the roots will be shallow.

  4. The story in common circulation is that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s head was bashed in with a fire extinguisher, although I notice major media hasn’t corroborated that.

    The story I saw was, he'd been hit in the head with it, and, later died as a result. (I heard the term "stroke" but that might have been a best guess.)

    Since he died from being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, "bashed in" seems appropriate, but it's more likely that he took a nasty knock, which may or may not have resulted in a loss of consciousness. Per my understanding, he was not under medical treatment, until later in the day, when he was having symptoms of a head injury.

    (This isn't uncommon – it's why you should have someone close-ish to check on you if you've taken a nasty head knock.)

    If it had happened in a barroom brawl, it probably would be manslaughter – it took hours for the extent of the injury to become apparent, which speaks against an intent-to-kill. Here, of course, I'm sure it's going to be charged as murder, especially if it happened inside the Capitol (which means there's another crime in progress, in addition to attacking the officer).

  5. What is interesting is that they did not carry guns. One of the policemen talked about how they were taking all of his equipment off of him in the melee , how he held onto his gun. Makes you think they purposefully did not go for the gun maybe told not to? Because having a gun means they can't just let you walk away. Having a gun means you have to really wage war and may get shot. Or arrested.

    They really wanted to scare intimidate and bully congress into doing their bidding. I really want to know who organized and conspired into doing this.

    I dont think these squirrels will fight the national guard. If they had wanted a shooting war they would have brought guns the first time.

    What is hilarious is trump can't quit and doesnt want to leave because after you send the mob to hang your vice president, you can't count on him to pardon you.

    • Trump did burn the old resignation bridge by siccing his mob on Pence.  I think has run into more than a few other unintended consequences of that riot blunder.  Rumor and some weak news sources say the PGA action got to him the most.  Golf is even treating him like Charlie the Tuna.

      Anyway, thanks for the laugh.  

      • Must be hell not to be able to figure out this stuff ahead of time so it doesn't keep happening to you.  Imagine a lifetime of this. . . .

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