When the nation exploded in fury over San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest against police brutality, those of us less prone to blindly worship state authority found it sadly ironic how everyone seemed to miss the point.
Several NFL players, and even an entire team, have since joined Kaepernick in riding the bench or taking a knee as the national song plays before the start of football games, but most outrage still focuses on that peaceful protest — not the violent policing behind it.
In fact, the corporate media pundits most intent on chastising Kaepernick and the others deny police brutality is a problem — despite an epidemic-level number of beatings, shootings, maimings, and killings by officers across the United States.
For those feckless deniers, perhaps the following three examples will provide much-needed insight into why the tradition of standing for the Star Spangled Banner matters not one iota in comparison to the issue of ruthless, merciless policing with impunity.
In February 2015, Sureshbhai Patel, an elderly Indian national visiting family in Madison, Alabama, went for a morning walk through the neighborhood — but that stroll turned into a fateful event.
Officer Eric Parker and his partner stopped Patel in his tracks and attempted to question him — despite the grandfather having done nothing wrong. Not fluent in English, Patel did his utmost to communicate with the officers but could not understand their commands.
“He’s saying, ‘No English,’” Parker’s partner remarked during the exchange.
Although the elderly man carried no weapons and had broken no laws, Parker assumed Patel’s failure to sufficiently communicate constituted evasion of his questions, and he suspected the foreigner was a burglar.
As captured in two police dashcam videos, Parker briefly attempted to handcuff Patel, then — without warning or conceivable justification — abruptly and brutally slammed the man face first onto the ground. Footage next shows Patel, now paralyzed and unable to move his arms and legs, with face bloodied, propped up by officers as they cuff and search him.
Patel underwent surgery and filed a lawsuit against Madison Police. Parker initially lost his job for the obvious and inexcusable excessive force used against an innocent man who clearly had done nothing wrong.
However, despite promises from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to the outraged government of India — and speaking directly to the violent and impune policing for which Kaepernick and others now sit out the national song — the wholly incompetent justice system recently let Parker off the hook, allowing him to return to the force.
Officer Parker, who clearly lacks basic reasoning and communication skills — and who feels free to brutalize anyone he encounters without possible justification — once again carries the gun and badge that excuse blatant thuggery against the innocent.
If that example doesn’t, the next undoubtedly proves some cops join the force just to unleash rage upon the world using the impunity of a badge.
Matakovich then brutalizes the teen — repeatedly striking him in the face and arms — as several other security guards stand by and do nothing to stop the inexplicable attack. As video shows, Despres never attempts to fight back, but the rogue officer continues throwing punches.
Though video clearly shows the teen standing calmly before being abruptly knocked to the ground, Matakovich lied in the incident report, saying Despres had taken an “aggressive posture” and appeared ready to attack.
After watching surveillance footage, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay fired Matakovich and initiated an investigation which led to a state trial. As Andrew Emmett reported for The Free Thought Project this week,
“Charged with simple assault and official oppression in state court for attacking Despres, Matakovich also faces federal counts of deprivation of civil rights and falsification of a record. Even though the state counts are only misdemeanors that carry no more than two years in prison, Matakovich could be sentenced up to 30 years for the federal charges.”
But most telling of the former cop’s attitude, prosecutors attempting to establish a pattern of violence for the court filed documents Monday showing Matakovich had used excessive force an astonishing 56 times since 2011, and had even assaulted a security guard whom he arrested on false charges.
“Out of those 56 reports,” Emmett wrote, “20 cases involved strikes to the face and head, with 17 of those resulting in injuries including broken noses, broken jaws, and loss of consciousness.”
Although it would be comforting to believe cops like Parker and Matakovich are a rarity, reality proves otherwise — while honest and fair officers, like Weirton, West Virginia, Officer Stephen Mader, pay the price for doing their jobs well.
In perhaps the most telling evidence yet the police state is upon us, on May 6, 2016, Mader responded to a domestic incident involving 23-year-old Ronald D. Williams, Jr.
When Mader found Williams distraught and armed, he naturally began talking to the man using a “calm voice” to mitigate the situation.
“I told him, ‘Put the gun down,’ and he’s like, ‘Just shoot me,’” Mader explained, noting his training as a Marine helped him assess the situation. “And I told him, ‘I’m not going to shoot you, brother.’ Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to respond to it.
“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and de-escalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop” situation.
Mader’s remarkable restraint as Williams nervously toyed with the gun was suddenly negated when two officers arrived to ‘assist.’
Immediately, one of the cops shot Williams in the back of the head, killing him. When they approached the man’s body, they discovered his weapon had not even been loaded.
Defying all possible logic, Mader — not the officer who assassinated a suicidal man — was terminated by Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander for ‘putting the other officers’ lives in danger’ by ‘failing to eliminate a threat.’
Jack Dolance, an attorney for Williams’ family, told the Post-Gazette that Mader’s termination “is pretty clear evidence of [the department’s] policy and that the way they feel [the shooting of Mr. Williams] should have been handled. Not only do they think he should have been shot and killed, but shot and killed more quickly.”
Mader’s integrity, however, continued even after his farcical termination. Offered the chance to resign in lieu of being fired, which would have allowed him to simply move on to another department unhindered, Mader scoffed at the prospect of admitting nonexistent guilt — turning his back on one of the more controversial benefits of blue privilege.
For doing his job exceptionally well, the ex-cop is now planning to drive a truck.
To those who castigate athletes like Kaepernick for silently protesting police violence by sitting out the incidentally pro-slavery national anthem, consider instead excoriating cops who would as soon brutalize you as they did the people in this article — and thousands of others in the U.S. Because otherwise, those criticisms amount to little more the puerile, hollow rants.