Monday, June 1, 2020

Videos Show Police Aggression Against Protesters Across the Country. Here Are Two Ways to Help It Stop.

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown - June 01, 2020 at 09:55AM

As Americans emerged from quarantine to protest police brutality—and as protesters in many cities were joined by opportunistic vandals and looters—politicians have imposed rules that only exacerbate tensions between cops and communities.

Urban leaders across the U.S. imposed curfews last night. In Philadelphia, for instance, residents got little notice before being told a citywide curfew was going into effect from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. In D.C., the curfew went from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., with the National Guard called in to help with enforcement. In Tennessee, the governor issued a statewide curfew from just after 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Nonetheless, protests continued apace, producing yet more law enforcement horror stories. Here's a small sampling:

A lot more examples here and here. See also, from Reason:

While a lot of leaders take steps guaranteed to make tensions worse, a few legislators are getting to work on substantive ways to fix our criminal justice system so that cops can't kill with impunity.

Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) says he will be introducing legislation to end qualified immunity for police officers. "This week, I am introducing the Ending Qualified Immunity Act," Amash tweeted on Sunday, attaching a letter he was distributing to colleagues in the House of Representatives. Qualified immunity "was created by the Supreme Court in contravention of the text of the statute and the intent of Congress," he writes to them. "It is time for us to correct their mistake."

Amash's letter explains:

As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Congress allowed individuals to sue state and local officials, including police officers, who violate their rights. Starting in 1967, the Supreme Court began gutting that law by inventing the doctrine of qualified immunity. Under qualified immunity, police are immune from liability unless the person whose rights they violated can show that there is a previous case in the same jurisdiction, involving the exact same facts, in which a court deemed the actions to be a constitutional violation.

This rule has sharply narrowed the situations in which police can be held liable—even for truly heinous rights violations—and it creates a disincentive to bringing cases in the first place.

This is one of the big reasons police are often able to hurt people without consequence.

"The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is merely the latest in a long line of incidents of egregious police misconduct," writes Amash. "This pattern continues because police are legally, politically, and culturally insulated from consequences for violating the rights of people whom they have sworn to serve."

(See also: "The Supreme Court Has a Chance To End Qualified Immunity and Prevent Cases Like George Floyd's.")

Meanwhile, Sen. Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) says he'll introduce legislation to demilitarize the police:


QUICK HITS

• The rise and fall and rise again of the "outside agitator" narrative.

• Trump has no authority to designate Antifa a "domestic terrorist group" (and it's a bad idea anyway).

• Supreme Court update:

• "The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago," said Italian doctor Alberto Zangrillo, head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Italy's hardest-hit region.

• COVID-19 has been "slamming the consequences" of insitutional racism home "as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting," writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Los Angeles Times.


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