Friday, December 5, 2014

Police Brutality and Fiscal Austerity

Michele Richinick reports on three controversial deaths at the hands of police in Cleveland, Ferguson, and New York City:
The U.S. Department of Justice found “reasonable cause” to believe the Cleveland police department has routinely used excessive force, following the conclusion of a civil rights investigation launched last year to examine hundreds of cases, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday … Less than two weeks ago, Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a toy “airsoft” gun outside of a recreation center … On Wednesday, a New York grand jury decided not to indict the officer who placed Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold in July that led to the Staten Island man’s death. Last week, a grand jury in St. Louis did not indict officer Darren Wilson in the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. The Justice Department has opened civil rights investigations into both cases.
Like Ferguson, NYC has seen demonstrations but at least the NYC demonstrations have so far been peaceful. I give a lot of credit to Mayor De Blasio and police commissioner Bratton for understanding that the protestors have a point. Josh Marshall has kept us posted to a lot of the controversy including some incredibly destructive comments from a former mayor of NYC:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been on a tear since Sunday, turning himself into a B storyline as he offers what you might call unvarnished takes on race and crime in America amid the tension in Ferguson, Mo. It started with a "Meet The Press" panel, when he told a black panelist that white police officers wouldn't be in black communities if "you weren't killing each other." And he hasn't let up while a grand jury has decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's shooting and heated protests have followed. Giuliani isn't a stranger to racially charged rhetoric, dating back to his time as mayor, but these recent comments were striking even to one of Giuliani's biographers who was quite familiar with the former mayor's past rhetoric on these issues.
De Blasio was elected in part because New Yorkers were smart enough to realize that RUDY’s stop and frisk nonsense was hurting our city. RUDY wants everyone to believe that it was RUDY who save this city from a crime spree. Sure crime is a lot less than it was 20 years ago. Joe Lhota – RUDY’s Minnie Me – ran an incredibly racist campaign against De Blasio suggesting bringing back the Democrats would bring back crime. Of course, the last Democratic mayor was David Dinkins who just happened to be black. And of course, De Blasio is married to a black woman. What this only Republicans can reduce crime canard forgot to tell the voters was that the fall in the crime rate started under Dinkins who had the audacity to raise taxes so we could put more police on the street. Giuliani greatly benefitted from President Clinton’s efforts to have the Federal government assist local governments through The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services – something President Obama wants to extend. But back to Richinick’s story:
“We have determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Division of Public Police engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force,” Holder said. The actions, he said, were the result of systemic deficiencies, such as inadequate training and equipment, ineffective policies and inadequate engagement in the community.
I recognize that the Paul Ryan wing of the Republican Party wants to slash and burn nondefense government spending so they can give more tax cuts for the rich even as the neocon wing of the Republican Party pushes for perpetual war overseas. But if we are serious about addressing issues such as crime as well as having more professional police departments, we need to spend the money. Update: Table 3.15.6. Real Government Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment by Function shows that real (2009$) government spending on “public order and safety” peaked in 2009 at $350.8 billion per year but was down to $339.8 billion per year in 2012. This austerity was bad macroeconomics and was generally a terrible idea.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi - I've been theorizing with friends about the police brutality-fiscal austerity nexus, and wondering why we haven't seen, say, Paul Krugman or EJ Dionne take it up.

I don't suppose you've come across any critical writing in this vein? I'm just getting to work on finding material, but would appreciate any links you might recommend.