This morning, Jon Swaine reported Ferguson: Video Shows Darren Wilson Arresting Man for Recording Him. Wilson, of course, is the Ferguson police office who shot and killed Michael Brown. You know: the man who is soon to be officially not indicted because police officers are never held accountable? Based upon conflicts between the video and what Wilson actually said in his report, many are questioning if Wilson can be trusted in what he says about the Michael Brown shooting. I have a slightly different take on it, but first, let’s go over what is going on with this video.
Just over a year ago, Officer Wilson came to the home of Mike Arman to deal with a citation regarding “derelict vehicles” on the property. Arman wanted to record the encounter. Wilson apparently thought that the video recording was verboten, because we live in a police state. He told Arman to stop photographing him, “If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your ass up.” And then Wilson arrested him for “failing to comply” with Wilson’s orders. Subsequently, the charge was dropped.
I think that the incident shows what we already know about police in general and Darren Wilson in particular. They all think that everyone should bow down before them. They are jerks. The law doesn’t matter. If they don’t want you recording an incident, they will arrest you. The worst that will happen is that the charges will be dropped. And that means that the innocent civilian who was simply exercising his constitutional rights was punished for it. Meanwhile, nothing happens to the officer, except that he learns that he can do anything he wants — often including killing people — and there are no consequences.
What has been clear from the very beginning is that Darren Wilson has an attitude toward those who he polices. Conflicts are not going to be de-escalated; he is going to make situations worse. It seems that he was trained that way in his first job with the police department in Jennings, Missouri. According to the Washington Post, “What he found in Jennings, however, was a mainly white department mired in controversy and notorious for its fraught relationship with residents, especially the African American majority.” It doesn’t seem that anything has changed.
My experiences with the police — both personally and what I’ve observed — is that they always treat people with barely disguised hostility. A lot of it is that they’ve all convinced themselves that their jobs are really dangerous. They don’t, but that’s what they’ve convinced themselves. This is why they act like pussies, using clubs, tasers, and guns at the slightest provocation. But in addition to that, they are insular groups who spend far too much time together and far too little time in the great big world. So they understandably develop an “us versus them” mentality.
What is not understandable is why the departments don’t do more outreach and training. Instead, we have to wait for things like the Michael Brown shooting, even though it was clear last year that Wilson was a tinderbox waiting to explode. Consider the encounter with Mike Arman. Wilson was just there on a citation — the equivalent of a parking ticket. But he apparently didn’t feel that Arman was giving him enough respect. So he arrested him. That isn’t the behavior of a professional government official. That’s the behavior of a thug. We didn’t need the death of Michael Brown to know that.