Katie and I had an interesting weekend.
We went to Hollywood on Saturday. Hollywood is a great place to people watch and there were a lot of fascinating people to watch. From street performers to Muslim women clad in abayas, including one in all black with a hijab that covered her face that, to be honest, made her look like a terrorist. She was standing in front of Starbucks with a latte in her hand. I imagine it must have been difficult to drink it with a a veil over her mouth, but I guess she managed.
One of the street performers we saw was the guy in the Superman outfit who has been featured in a couple of documentaries about Hollywood street performers. He is one of the better performers because he does bear a resemblance to Christopher Reeve before he fell off the horse and became a quadriplegic. But his Superman outfit was disgusting. It looked like somebody wiped their ass with it, threw it on the floor, stomped on it and wiped their ass with it again. Horrible.
After a while, Katie and I were hungry, so we started to look for a place to eat. We went to the Hollywood and Highland complex to find a restaurant. We went to the third floor and passed a restaurant called Cabo Wabo, a Mexican joint. As we pass, we look inside and see what looks like a military exercise. We stop and look and realize that about 13 police officers are having dinner at Cabo Wabo. We continue past Cabo Wabo and found another restaurant without the heavy police presence and sat down and ate.
After we had our meal, we then went to Starbucks to get some lite frappuccinos. We get our beverages and sit outside in the middle of the Hollywood/Highland complex. We then see a sea of police officers walking past us to the exit. We realized that they were the Cabo Wabo cops and I thought, “Wow, they were in that restaurant for a long time.” It had to have been an hour and a half to two hours since we first saw them having their meal.
Now, these weren’t just your average cops. They looked like the most macho of tough guy cops. One of them was wearing street clothes, jeans with a real tight muscle shirt on his dwarf like body decked out with a military style police vest and a badge on a chain around his neck. Attached to the vest is mace, handcuffs, a taser and a flashlight. On his left side he had a gun strapped to his leg like he was Tomb Raider Lara Croft. He had another firearm strapped to his other leg. This officer couldn’t have been more that 5 foot 6. He was strutting through the mall area with his chest out along with his tough guy cop buddies. There were five similarly attired officers along with five or six uniformed cops. It’s always a good idea to strut around a public place looking like a SWAT team with as much macho bravado as possible.
These are the kind of cops who strangle fat black guys to death for selling cigarettes in New York City or beat up 50 year old grandmothers on the side of the freeway. Those kind of tough guy cops. You know, the ones that everybody picked on and bullied when they were growing up so they became cops to exact revenge on society. They were never invited to the cool clubs, so when they graduated high school they went to the police academy so they could get back at everybody who was mean to them. Those tough guys.
So these cops walk past us and I look to Katie and I say, “What the fuck kind of police officer would go on their off time to a tourist area so everybody can look at you decked out in full military SWAT gear?” They’re not on their lunch break. They were in Cabo Wabo for two fucking hours. If LAPD allows their officers to have two hour lunch breaks, then there needs to be a serious investigation of waste of taxpayer dollars. So they went there before their shifts or after. Either way, why would they have dinner in a public place fully decked out in military assault gear? Unless they’re wannabe tough guys who want everybody to look at them to make sure everybody knows what scary bad asses they are. Guys who were booger eaters growing up who everybody said would never amount to anything so they became LAPD officers to prove them wrong and to get back at them. That’s the only explanation I can see for why these overly macho assholes would invade a tourist area wearing their complete military assault regalia. They couldn’t change their clothes?
We’re not talking about a couple of cops who go to Denny’s on their break and sit in the back of the restaurant and go back on patrol after 45 minutes. We’re talking about over a dozen tough guy bozos decked out in full SWAT gear at a fancy schmancy restaurant in a tourist area for over two hours. They couldn’t leave the riot vests in the car and maybe wear a windbreaker to hide their firearms? Oh no. They couldn’t do that. The one dwarf cop was strutting with his chest out, chewing on a toothpick, glancing around and making sure everybody was looking at him.
This episode got me thinking. These must be the same kind of cops who strangled the 400 pound cigarette selling black guy in New York City. It got me thinking about all of the people who call President Obama a tyrant for giving healthcare to millions who never had it before. The ones who call him a dictator. You hear Republican politicians say we’re living under tyranny because of the healthcare law and because gays are getting married. But they sidestep where they real tyranny lies and that is the way our police departments operate in this country.
Beside the recent NYC incident, a CHP officer was caught on camera pummeling a grandmother by the side of the freeway. I shudder to think where we would be without cameras to document what is going on. All this talk about tyranny because of a healthcare law without focusing on what is going on with police agencies all over the nation is ridiculous. It’s a very real problem that needs to be addressed. That’s something that amounts to tyranny. This grandmother obviously had some mental problems because she was running around on the freeway. This CHP officer tackled her to the pavement and proceeded to punch her in the face about fifteen times. This 240 pound officer, who was bullied and joined the CHP to get back at those who bullied him, tackled this grandmother and pummeled her face to subdue her because she was so dangerous.
California has had quite a history of police beating people, killing people and shooting family pets, but it goes on all over the country. Police are supposed to be there to serve and protect. Their job is not to create more havoc. There job is not to drive down the street and hassle people who are walking down the street minding their own business. “They look suspicious. Let’s harass them.” I’ve been subject to this harassment for being white and being in North Hollywood at certain times. They look at me and go, “Why is a white man walking down the street in this area late at night? He must be buying drugs, because no other white man would be in this area unless they were up to no good.” This happens all over the country. Profiling people based on the way they look is standard police procedure, whether they admit it or not.
The New York incident floored me. You would think that with all of the allegations of police brutality in the NYPD that they would have shown a bit more restraint. They have a new mayor with an African American wife, so you would think they would not operate with such a flagrant disregard for police procedure against a minority. The man’s name was Eric Garner. He was a huge man who weighed about 400 pounds. He was a father to six children, described by his friends as a neighborhood peacemaker and as a generous, congenial person. In fact, he was breaking up a fight, which was why the police were there. He was approached by a plainclothes officer named Justin Damico and about five other cops. Garner had previously been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. He wasn’t suspected of selling drugs. They thought he might be selling cigarettes again, so they decided to harass him. Garner told them to leave him alone. He was tired of being hassled. This was all caught on tape.
What happened then is because of what police do, they overreact. Not all, but about 85% of them who think they’re tough guys. Macho men. These five officers decide they have to take Garner down. They basically attack him. Of course, what’s the best way for a macho tough guy to attack? From behind. So officer Daniel Pantaleo (Italian, go figure) grabs Garner from behind with an illegal chokehold. An illegal chokehold, which has been banned by the NYPD since 1993. The officers jumped on top of this man and slammed him to the ground while he was being choked. He was not fighting them. He was tired of being harassed, questioned their authority and was attacked. Not for selling drugs, not for a violent crime. For suspicion of selling cigarettes. Cigarettes that were untaxed.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo chokes Garner from behind and the other officers slam him to the pavement and sit on him. While this is going on, Garner is heard gasping for air and saying that he couldn’t breathe. He’s asking them to stop. He can’t breathe. This tough guy Pantaleo, this Italian piece of shit, is strangling this man while the other officers punch him and push his face into the ground. That’s what tough guy cops do to a guy who is suspected of selling illegal cigarettes. They strangle him until he is unconscious. The video shows police waiting seven minutes before giving Garner CPR.
Eric Garner died. His death was found by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office to be a homicide. A guy who was suspected of selling cigarettes illegally was killed by police officers. He was attacked from behind with an illegal chokehold and tackled to the pavement by a gang of cops and held there until he was dead. One of the disturbing aspects of this video was the officer in question waving to the guy who was filming, as if to say, “Hi. I know you’re filming me, but I did nothing wrong. Fuck you.”
The officers were stripped of their badges and guns and put on desk duty. This was not Daniel Pantaleo’s first brush with controversy. An eight year NYPD veteran, Pantaleo was the subject of two civil rights lawsuits in 2013 where plaintiffs accused him of falsely arresting and abusing them. One of these cases was settled by the city. So this officer was already under investigation for harassment and abusing his authority, yet he was out on the streets and now Eric Garner is dead. Daniel Pantaleo was not held accountable because he was out enforcing the law. Had he been put on desk duty a year ago, Eric Garner might still be alive. Daniel Pantaleo has already cost the city money in a civil lawsuit and now he is gonna cost them and the NYPD much more.
This is the the same type of individual who goes to Cabo Wabo in a tourist area dressed full tilt in military garb walking around sticking his chest out like a tough guy. This is the type of individual who was picked on in ninth grade and became a police officer to get even. This guy. Daniel Pantaleo. This Italian piece of shit who is a disgrace to the Italian people. It makes me ashamed to be Italian to have this guy walking around like a tough guy in New York City.
Eric Garner wasn’t a criminal. He didn’t have an extensive arrest record. He got in trouble for selling cigarettes and nickel bags of weed. Marijuana, which is legal in many parts of the country and for what the New York Times recently endorsed repealing of the federal ban. These cops knew that Eric Garner wasn’t dangerous. They knew exactly what his arrest record was, which was why they rolled up on him in the first place. This 400 pound guy was nothing more than a small time pot peddling cigarette seller. But these five tough guy cops, the same type that I saw this weekend at Cabo Wabo, choked this man to death. They executed him because they were picked on in school.
This is disgusting. This is what I call tyranny. Our country is under assault. Not by our black president. Not by Obamacare or gay marriage. But from police departments that are funded to become military units and are not held accountable when they act like terrorists.
You want to protest tyranny? Look no further than your local police department.
Follow Rob Black @RealRobBlack Email: firstname.lastname@example.org