Visitors to South Street, one of Philadelphia's most popular commercial districts, now have to watch out for more than just the police: the judges might be around, too. As part of a new plan designed to make South Street a better place for "everyone", several justices are spending extra hours at a nearby courthouse, ready to hear the cases of offenders brought in on minor charges. In a matter of hours after playing your stereo a bit too loud, you can be arrested, brought to trial, convicted, sentenced, and back out on the street -- at no point having conferred with legal counsel of your choosing.
Shortly before July 4th, some of my friends and I went down to the park near my house to play kickball. We gave up the idea early in the second inning and started walking across the field to go get something to drink. Around this time, the police had gotten reports of fireworks being set off in the area (I personally can't recall having heard any). On our way out of the field, we were stopped by first a fire chief, then three policemen in succession, and asked by each (but only in a polite manner by two) if we'd been setting off any fireworks. When we said that we hadn't, we were informed that it was illegal be be on the grounds of this school after dark (a law that has never, in my 19 years of walking through this park after dark, been once brought to my attention), and that the next time we did it, it would mean a trip down to the station. As we continued on our way, we saw the policemen proceed to harass a family teaching their children to rollerblade in the school's parking lot.
A few days before that, I had been waiting for my girlfriend at 69th Street Terminal in Philadelphia. While I was sitting inside, I heard a booming voice outside speak through a microphone. I went out to see what it was, and there was a band there -- a group of four kids, with their amps and instruments and mics set up, getting ready to play. They were a Christian group, from a local church, and they had rewritten some popular songs to carry messages about Jesus Christ. Now, people who know me well know that I'm not a big fan of God's, but I still thought the idea was cool, and I had nothing better to do, so I hung around to listen. Unfortunately, I didn't get much of a show. Before the kids had even made it through the first song, two cop cars pulled up, and the police got out and started hassling the man who was operating all their equipment, and clearly in charge of the operation. During the first verse of the second song, they made the band stop while they went back to their cars, just to verify that the signed city permit the manager handed them was in fact valid.
Several days earlier, I'd been hanging out with a group of my friends -- there were maybe six of us total -- at 10 PM, in front of the closed business where one of them had just gotten off work. We were trying to decide what to do with our night. Suddenly someone said, "What's that police car doing over there?" A cop had pulled over and stopped at an intersection across the street from where we were, and proceeded to wait, doing nothing, with his lights on, facing us, for a good 10 or 15 minutes.
A few months before that, several friends and I had been in the parking lot of a 7-11 when a group of tough-guy jocks pulled up and blocked the back of one of our cars in, and tried to start a fight with us because of something one of us had yelled at them as we were pulling out of the parking lot of a diner a few minutes prior. (I didn't hear this insult, but I don't really doubt that it was given.) The person working in the 7-11 at the time got scared and called the police, and within minutes we were surrounded by 5 or more police vehicles and countless officers, who proceeded to sexually harass us (no lie) before bringing every teenager in the parking lot down to the station. Some of my friends were charged with crimes totally unrelated to the issue at hand, while the hard guys who tried to start a fight with us over something so stupid were released.
In Los Angeles a few years ago, a graffiti writer known as INSTA was out one night tagging with a friend. A jogger came upon them in the course of his evening run. Some words, probably, were exchanged. Then the jogger pulled out a sawed-off shotgun. He shot and killed INSTA, and wounded his friend in the leg. The writers had no weapons on them save a screwdriver, which was not being used for offensive purposes. The jogger was brought down to the local police station. The story got out to the media. Before very long, people were calling the police, asking that the jogger be released. Only hours after the crime, the jogger was allowed to walk out of the station a free man. He has not yet, to my knowledge, been held accountable in any way for having taken a life and shot a person in the leg.
In November of 1978, former San Fransisco policeman and Board of Supervisors member Dan White shot and killed SF Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. He was quickly apprehended and taken into custody. Once in custody, he was dealt with quite kindly by his former colleagues. Under pressure from the police, his unbelievably weak defense (which consisted basically of the argument that he had consumed so much sugar that he had become temporarily insane -- yes, this is the infamous "Twinkie Defense") won him a conviction of nothing more than "voluntary manslaughter", for which he served only the minimum allowable sentence.
We live today in a nation under martial law. The United Police States of America: once a country that was the very home of freedom, that fought to liberate first itself and then other countries from the bondage of corrupt or tyrranical governments; now itself run by a government as self-serving and disinterested with the needs and wants of the common man as those it used to overthrow. We live in an obscenely legalized culture, where a man can get arrested and charged for trying to catch a woman's eye; where a child can get picked up by the police for being outdoors at supposedly "suspicious" times of day; where people get rich and fat by exploiting the suffering of others in countless ways; where the enforcement of the law -- or of any variation thereof -- is subject to the whim of a handful of men and women wearing blue uniforms.
Know Your Enemy
The White House
Learn About the Opposition
Rage Against the Machine
Refuse & Resist
If another fascist cop died every time someone hit this page, our world would
have been freed of about pigs since July 11, 1997. This
stupid counter, like all GeoCities counters recently, went
screwy, so don't believe it. I keep it here for show.
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