MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You may have read about the suspension of a Ferguson police officer who aimed his rifle at peaceful protesters in the town and threatened, "I'll F**kin kill you!" last week.
Maybe you also read in The Washington Post this weekend about the past police history of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown to death after ordering him not to walk on the street. According to the Post, Wilson's first police job was in Jennings, Missouri, where the force was so racist and corrupt that the city council voted to rent police services from St. Louis County and disband the city police, which left Wilson without a job. Although Wilson was not formally accused of any major misconduct, the characteristics of the Jennings Police Department sound eerily familiar to those of the Ferguson police force he joined when he was left without a position. Here is how The Washington Post describes Jennings and its relationship to its former town police:
After going through the police academy, Wilson landed a job in 2009 as a rookie officer in Jennings, a small, struggling city of 14,000 where 89 percent of the residents were African American and poverty rates were high. At the time, the 45-employee police unit had one or two black members on the force, said Allan Stichnote, a white Jennings City Council member.
Racial tension was endemic in Jennings, said Rodney Epps, an African American city council member.
"Youâ€™re dealing with white cops, and they donâ€™t know how to address black people," Epps said. "The straw that broke the camelâ€™s back, an officer shot at a female. She was stopped for a traffic violation. She had a child in the back [of the] car and was probably worried about getting locked up. And this officer chased her down Highway 70, past city limits, and took a shot at her. Just ridiculous."
Over the weekend, you may have missed the articles about a third Ferguson police officer, Dan Page. In an April speech (that was obtained by the media) to a local chapter of a national pro-gun group of current and former police officers and military personnel called the Oath Keepers, Page didn't even try to code his racism, according to the The Guardian:
.... he described President Barack Obama as an illegal immigrant, and railed against Muslims and gay people. "Iâ€™m into diversity â€“ I kill everybody," he said.
"This here", he added, brandishing a copy of the Bible, "is the foundation for this", meaning the declaration of independence. Referring to the justices of the supreme court in Washington DC, he added: "You canâ€™t separate them. I donâ€™t know what them black-robed perverts donâ€™t understand down there."
....At one point during a slideshow of his past travels, Page displayed a photograph of himself in Kenya. "I said â€˜I wanna go find where that illegal alien claiming to be my president, my undocumented president, lives at.â€™" He has previously said in interviews that he retired from the army because of Obama.
Page has now become the third officer involved in the Ferguson police riot "relieved of duty." In reality, he has been assigned an administrative position, "pending an investigation," according to a St. Louis County police spokesperson. Although St. Louis County will not confirm that Page was on duty in Ferguson, The Guardian recounts through a friend of Page's that he was.
It is also worth noting that the Oath Keepers is just short of an insurrectionist organization of law enforcement and military members. Members swear allegiance to an oath that includes as its first promise, "We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people." Basically, most of its other "orders we will not obey" are attempts at making the pro-gun agenda of the Oath Keepers seem somewhat respectable. Take for example, the tragically farcical pledge number ten in relation to the events in Ferguson:
10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
The subtext to these pledges is that - as Dan Page implicitly states in his bigoted statements caught on tape - the Oath Keepers' oath only applies to white people who are Christians.
Those who doubt that many police officers are in their jobs for the thrill of power and the license to kill should listen to the chilling words of Page in his taped remarks:
At another point, Page said: "I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord savior, but Iâ€™m also a killer. Iâ€™ve killed a lot, and if I need to Iâ€™ll kill a whole bunch more.
"If you donâ€™t want to get killed, donâ€™t show up in front of me. Itâ€™s that simple. God did not raise me to be a coward. There comes a time when youâ€™ve got to man up."
This is what the residents of Ferguson have endured, because with three cops on suspension already for being too eager to use lethal force (or make threats of using it), it would be hard to believe that the Ferguson and St. Louis County police forces are not infected with the cancer of racism - and intoxicated with the license to kill.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission