Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Closer Look at Martese Johnson's Arrest....

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Martese Johnson

While a number of people are dismissing, or downplaying the (very possibly abusive) arrest of Martese Johnson (a member of UVA's Honor Society) by Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Officer J. Miller initially on charges of using a fake ID and then "getting belligerent with Officers," there are a LOT of details here that DON'T seem to support/FIT the ABC Officer's position. (…/photo-provided-bryan-beaubrun-marte…)

(1) The filed report DOESN'T mention a fake ID and Johnson's lawyer claims that Martese Jonson DIDN'T have a fake ID

(2) "Belligerent" is NOT a pseudonym for physically abusive. There are no accounts of Martese Johnson physically resisting arrest or "assaulting a police officer." Johnson was ultimately charged with, "obstruction of justice WITHOUT force, and public swearing or intoxication." (emphasis mine)

Those are BOTH problems given that he was initially contacted over the issue of a fake ID and the amount of force used here, DOES seem excessive for someone not actively/physically resisting arrest. Court records show that, "Martese Johnson was charged on two counts: (1) obstruction of justice without force, and (2) public swearing or intoxication." The operative phrase there is "WITHOUT force." (…)

That seems problematic.

Because of such inconsistencies, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is calling for an investigation into the arrest.

"The ABC said the agents involved with the arrest are being restricted to administrative duties while a state police investigation is underway.

"ABC agents in Charlottesville have been accused of heavy-handed actions in the past.
"The state of Virginia reached a $212,500 settlement last year with a UVA student who was arrested after her purchase of water was mistaken for beer.

"Elizabeth Daly fled in terror outside a Charlottesville supermarket in April 2013 when her vehicle was swarmed by state ABC agents who mistook her just-purchased carton of sparkling water for beer." (…/virginia-gov-calls-for-inv…/ar-BBip5Hs…)

FACT is cops DO screw up!

Unfortunately so does our national media and many Civil Rights/protest organizations.

After backing a false narrative in Ferguson, MO and failing to understand the dynamics of the tragic death of Eric Garner on Staten Island...INSTEAD of highlighting TWO very real cases of police misconduct, in John Crawford III's fatal shooting in an Ohio Walmart and the shooting death of homeless James Boyd in Albuquerque, BOTH the national media AND various Civil Rights groups have (1) undermined confidence in the narrative they've been pushing, (2) muddied the waters for the very real cases of police abuse/misconduct and (3) hopelessly polarized the issue for the foreseeable future by backing a number of false narratives.

The truth is that police occasionally screw up...and there ARE "bad cops," just as there are bad doctors, bad attorneys, accountants, etc. Moreover, even "good people" occasionally have a "bad day." The problem with that is for police officers, like physicians, a "bad day" can often end another's life.

The truth ALSO is that "bad cops" are generally few and far between. In the vast majority of the highlighted encounters it was the civilian/arrestee who initiated the confrontation.

In Ferguson, MO, the DoJ's own report completely exonerated Officer Darren Wilson and flatly rejected the "Hands up, don't shoot" narrative as "inconsistent with the prevailing facts." On Staten Island, Eric Garner tragically chose to physically resist arrest. An arrest that was supervised start-to-finish by a black, female NYPD Sergeant. In the case of 12 y/o Tamir Rice, that child unfortunately pointed a very real looking toy gun at approaching police officers.

Three previous cases that DID fit the bill as incidents of police misconduct/over-reaction were that of John Crawford III (…/wal-mart-surveillance-video-of-john-crawf…), James Boyd, shot dead over illegal camping in Albuquerque, NM (…/wal-mart-surveillance-video-of-john-crawf…) and the shooting and wounding of 35 y/o Levar Jones of South Carolina (

WHY not focus on those...and cases like that of Martese Johnson, IF the issue is truly about reforming police tactics? Championing the likes of very flawed felons like Mike Brown & Eric Garner doesn't do much to advance that cause AND it only further polarizes an already sensitive issue for both sides. Cases like those of John Crawford III's, James Boyd's and Martese Jonson's are the ones to build a case for police reforms.

Unfortunately, the issue has become intractably polarized because so many Left-of-Center people refuse to understand the incredible difficulties involved in police work, thereby refusing to give them the latitude that job requires, while many Right-of-Center people have dug in and defended EVERY case of police action, no matter how egregious. The answer lies somewhere in the middle ground.

Something that DOES have to be looked at is the overuse/abuse of statistics in police work. With the advent of CompStat, crime stats have morphed FROM a tool for gathering information so as to properly allocate police resources TO a grounds for evaluation and promotion. EVERYWHERE CompStat styled programs have been employed, there have been corresponding quotas for low level summonses and minor crimes (triggering a spike in those relatively minor offenses) AND a corresponding DECREASE in major crimes (even if it takes dumping legitimate crime reports and badgering victims until they simply give up pursuing such criminal complaints.

BOTH of those are problems. The eliminating of legitimate major crime reports is BY FAR the most egregious of the two.

It also encourages "policing for profit," which (1) has always gone on, at least to some extent and (2) is favored by local governments ALWAYS in need of more revenues. BUT "policing for profit" is a very bad policy. It engenders resentment for police and the government AND generally targets the working classes and excludes the wealthy and well-connected.
Staten Island and other such places have long been targeted for all manner of traffic and parking offenses, while many inner city neighborhoods are routinely targeted for other minor offenses (loitering, public drinking, urination, etc.).

Ironically enough, the likes of Adrian Schoolcraft and Adhyl Polanco of the NYPD have sought to bring the many problems with the misuse of statistics in policing to light...and so far, they've both been buried in charges and other forms of discipline by the NYPD. Schoolcraft was once wrongly placed in a mental hospital for 6 days over his allegations. (SEE:…/…/ref=sr_1_1…)

There ARE some fundamental problems with the way policing is done in New York City and other Municipalities around the country, but until those local governments come to accept that such "revenue streams" wind up costing far more than they bring in....little, if anything is likely to change.

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