Times and Places: On Consequence
by anonymous for Colorado Indymedia
August 20th, 2010 - Denver, CO
The police in Denver are rabid. Folks are saying the cops and the city are "circling their wagons" after multiple high-profile brutality incidents were caught on video. By the actions of the Denver Sheriff's Department and Denver Safety Manager Ron Perea, it would be hard to say those folks are wrong. At the new detention center, fully equipped with state of the art surveillance, a small but lively 54 year old black houseless street preacher brought in on a minor drug charge is beaten, choked out, and tased before succumbing to death over a pair of shoes; the Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney do everything they can to suppress the release of the video in the name of a "pending investigation." His killers, five guards, continue to work in the facility despite a Denver Corner ruling of homicide this week. More rallies are planned.
Meanwhile, the video from a beating in April 2009 surfaces. Michael DeHerrera calls his father, a Pueblo police officer, in a panic while Denver Police arrest a friend of his outside a LoDo nightclub. According to the father, the cops began to beat DeHerrera because they thought he was recording the arrest. Footage taken from a police security camera suspiciously pans away from the beating shortly after it starts, and an internal investigation let the officers off. Amid a public outcry for Safety Manager Ron Perea to step down after the ruling, he is standing by his decision although the police department is reopening the investigation.
Another man, Mark Ashford, comes forward amidst these stories alleging he was beaten by Denver cops, too. While walking his dogs last March, he assures a motorist stopped by police for running a stop sign that he will testify in court that the man obeyed the traffic law. The police confront him, apparently upset over Ashford's support of the motorist as well as Ashford using his phone to take pictures, and wrestled him to the ground, throwing punches along the way. Ashford was hospitalized with a concussion and cuts on his face.
Within the last month and a half, local sentiment has turned against the police. A rally organized by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross in solidarity with those revolting over the Oscar Grant verdict in Oakland last month was reportedly met with "honks, raised fists, cheers, and cries of support were constant. Folks that were waiting for the bus at the nearby RTD bus shelter motioned for the demonstration to come to the bus shelter. Cries of “fuck the police” echoed from the folks gathered at the bus shelter, as they swelled the ranks of the protest." Radical propaganda is spotted in LoDo and Highlands, some if it already deteriorating from people attempting to tear it down, it's pasted on walls and dumpsters with slogans against the police. Even the local corporate media seems to be dogpiling atop the stories, smelling blood in an election year. The journalists seem to be asking honest questions at the vigils and rallies, following up on older stories and tying tales of brutality together, painting a portrait of a poisonous tree instead of a few bad apples. People ask "wasn't the [outcome of] the Emily Rice case supposed to fix this?" referring to the landmark case in which a woman died of internal injuries after her calls for assistance went ignored in the old Denver detention facility. Famously, the police "lost" that tape, prompting concerned people converging upon the Marvin Booker case to wonder if the department was going to continue its long-standing policy of covering up its mistakes.
The police did not learn from the Emily Rice case. No lawsuit pay-out or amount of bad publicity is going to stop this rampage against the public. This an abusive relationship the citizens of Denver have with the Denver Police, and the only thing that stops the abusive behavior pattern is palpable and firm consequence. Firing the murderers of Marvin Booker isn't enough, more academy rejects from the DPD will step in to take their place. Imagine if a citizen was suspected of being responsible for the death of a police officer, would they be eligible to return to work the next day? Or would they be held without bail indefinitely until the conclusion of the trial? This double-standard, this act of the State protecting the frothing, bloodthirsty dogs it sics on the public without a second thought, contributes to the growing trend of turning the public into just another complex form of livestock. Keep the line moving or get the prod.
In Oakland, CA, the public went wild when the police murdered Oscar Grant, causing the city, in an appeal for calm, to arrest the offending officer. In Greece, the popular insurrection sparked by the murder of a 15 year old in a radical neighborhood continues to help destabilize a country in the throes of the ugly side of capitalism. Plenty of other examples can be found all over the world where the people fight back, take a stand against the State and its violence, and refuse to take this shit by setting a real precedent for resistance. These smatterings of rage provide a fiery consequence to police violence, helping blaze a path to where the policemen draw their weapons nervously out of fear of what sort of hellish storm could be brought down should they go too far or even do their "job" in a less-than-invisible fashion. A world where there is no machismo-caused "collateral damage" like 7 year old Aiyana Jones in Detroit, slain by pigs in a raid on the wrong house.
But those that seek to manage this anger, channel it politically or attempt to minimize the possibility of damage to the police and State tell folks that "there is a time and a place" for that kind of rage, that yearning for some real action. Well, Denver has a dismissed and paid for negligent homicide, there are two investigations into brutality caught on camera, and a secretive investigation into the death of Marvin Booker. The cops don't show any signs of letting up, despite the system attempting to clean itself. The public is powerless, the police protect themselves and each other, and people are beginning to realize this. The fight isn't in the courts, where consequences can be neutered and the public's anger defused, it's in the streets. This isn't about what color you are, where you come from, your sexuality or politics. "This is about being a human being." They abuse us all and they aren't going to read the picket signs and start changing their minds.
Denver, isn't now starting to look like "that time"? Isn't this city starting to look like "that place"? Where you at?