Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Police and Media Coverage of Protests

One of the things I have seen recently are cases of police stupidity.  Make no mistake here, I am not talking about evilness.   No "lets' beat the crap out of protesters cause I hate them.".  In general, that does not happen.  The police have a hard job and I sympathize with them.   Instead I am seeing (and hearing) a lot of police doing "I gave an impossible order to fulffil, now arrest them".

A typical situation is where the police order people to leave an area (rightly, or wrongly), then arrest everyone that does not leave.

Sounds reasonable right?  

Well, it's not reasonable if the exit is being blocked - either by police officers or by other protesters.   You don't arrest person A because they can't get past person B that is blocking the exit.

I know the police have a hard job, particularly in cases like this.   Their usual response is that they can't tell the difference between someone trying and failing to obey an order and someone actively resisting.  Let me ask you if a bad guy said "I was not trying to steal this item without paying, I just could not find a cashier?" would the police believe him?  Stupidity is not an excuse to steal, neither is it an excuse to arrest innocent people.

It is the Police's job to tell the difference between the lawful people and the lawbreakers.   If you can't do that, quit your job.    In most of the cases I have seen, the people make reasonable attempts to prove they are law abiding people.

On the videos, you can clearly hear the lawbreakers chanting stuff like "We are the 99 percent", while at the same time, the law abiding media are saying things like "I am a reporter, I am trying to leave.", and you can see clearly see the exit is blocked.   I don't see protesters are claiming to be reporter.  In addition, the reporters make reasonable efforts to leave.  They are not hanging back, they are not continuing to ask questions.

Now, being a reporter does not shield you from breaking the law, but the fact that they are clearly attempting to obey the police and NOT trying to break the law is obvious from the videos we are seeing on the internet.   

If as a police man you can't tell the difference between a protester that is disobeying you and a reporter that is obeying your commands, then you should be fired.

At the very least, the police need better training in how to deal with non-violent crowds - and with innocent bystanders in particular. The problem is, their bosses don't want that.  They want to crush the opposition, which just makes things worse.

Arresting reporters for simply doing their job and the police failing to do their jobs, is not helping the situation, it makes it worse.

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