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April 21, 2014

Before the recent incident at the Bundy ranch, it was easy for conservatives to ignore the issue of police abuse. Not anymore.

Police brutality in America has gone largely unnoticed by the general, unaffected public for years. There was a time when mentioning the issue to the average white American would draw nothing but blank stares. Ask black America, however, and you would be sure to get a much different picture. The Rodney King incident of the early 90s, where a savage beating by police was caught on film, woke the rest of society up to the violence that can take place when armed officers are given the right to the legitimate use of force and are left unwatched: they use said force illegitimately.

The Occupy movement brought to light once again the nasty propensity of those with power to use it for abusive purposes. Cop Block's valiant efforts to bring light to police abuse further woke up libertarian and left-of-center groups. The missing element? Conservatives. The amount of sympathy for victims of police brutality from right-of-center is extremely lacking. Getting beaten on by police? Why are you breaking the law? Get a job and maybe you wouldn't be up to no good. Why do you hate America, you damn hippie?

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Until now. The Bundy Ranch incident flipped the whole cliche on its head. This time, it wasn't hippies or ethnic minorities being beaten, tasered, and attacked by dogs. It was cowboys, rednecks, and other assorted middle-class conservative Caucasians.

It's easy to dismiss the concerns of those different from us. People half a world away who look different, speak a different language, and hold different beliefs are easy to ignore and marginalize. Even citizens of the same country, even of the same ethnicity and language, can be mentally separated as different, and their suffering ignored. But when you see armed thugs abusing people who look like your mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, or close friend, disassociation becomes impossible. You must feel. You must see the violence of the system you used to rationalize. And you get angry.

Police abuse affects all of us. Now all of us know.

Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx.

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