Militarization of Police

Chicago Cops Vacation at Pittsburgh G20 Summit, Snap Souvenier Photo


In my column on the police crackdown at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, I noted that one video circulating around the Internet showed a police unit of about 20 officers decked out in paramilitary garb parading around what appears to be a handcuffed protester. The kid is then propped up in front of the cops, who then pose with him while another cop snaps a photo.

We now know the police unit was from Chicago. They'd taken vacation time to provide freelance security, paid for by the city of Pittsburgh. The protester is Kyle Kramer, who was charged with failure to disperse and disorderly conduct, although he says he has yet to be formally notified of the charges. Like many of those arrested, Kramer appears to have been observing, not rioting. Excerpts from his interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Shortly after being arrested at the intersection of Fifth and Tennyson avenues around 11:20 p.m. on Sept. 25, Mr. Kramer, an English and writing major who hopes to become a journalist one day, was asked by one officer what he was majoring in.

When he told them, he said "They laughed and someone joked, 'We're going to give you plenty to write about tonight.'"…

"Things were happening so fast, and I didn't know how I was going to be treated. The atmosphere was edgy, ominous, a little spooky and pretty interesting."

There was a "weird rapport" between him and his arresting officer, "a big dude. He was kind of up and down, angry and then friendly." When the officer told him to pose for the photo, he said, "I kind of gave him a little bit of an argument, but I told him I would be in the picture. It's kind of hard to say how they would have reacted if I had said no." Indeed, he said, "the only time I was really mad was when I was made to kneel like that. That made me mad. It was kind of a natural response, I guess." At one point, he found himself discussing Chicago jazz clubs with the officer. "I figured if you can have some friendly conversation it's a lot less likely you'll be charged with anything extra," although when he asked for the police officers' names, he said, they laughed.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said he had no intention of looking into the video, explaining he had "more important things" to investigate. He added that the photo could merely have been "the Chicago PD's way of documenting the fact that they effected this arrest."

Chicago Police Chief Jody Weiss appears more concerned. Last week, he announced that his department's internal affairs division would investigate the incident.

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  1. If US soldiers ever did this with a prisoner of war, they would be court martialed and the ICRC would have kittens. But, these fuckheads think that it is okay to do it with some dipshit kid throwing rocks at a McDonalds.

    I absolutely loath the G20 mobs. But, I hate the cops even more for being such assholes as to let the G20 mobs have a point.

    1. From what it sounds like it was just a kid watching the protests. Typical of the cops to go after someone who likely won’t fight back and then clap themselves on the back.

      Many cops = little bitch with a badge.

      1. JB……

        Anonymous Internet Poster = little bitch with a computer.

  2. In the absence of a byline, I hereby declare that I wrote the above post (in first-person from the perspective of Balko).

  3. Nothing agitates the proles quite like fishy-arrest stories. Vive le anarchy, vive le state!

  4. We now know the police unit was from Chicago. They’d taken vacation time to provide freelance security, paid for by the city of Pittsburgh.

    Next up: The City of Pittsburgh contracts with the New Orleans Fire Department to advise on first response and disaster management.

  5. I’m not for the cops, but the kid was obvoiously a protester. English major, aspiring journalist with an interest in jazz? I mean, come on.

    1. The kid is obviously an obnoxious brain dead moron. But, that doesn’t give the brain dead moron cops the right to act like that.

      1. Why is it obvious that the kid’s a brain-dead moron, John?

        I’ve seen enough of police at events to know how excited the get about the possibility of arresting people, and it doesn’t matter who. I’d imagine this goes double for a pack of guys moonlighting for a extra paycheck.

        So chances are at least even that this kid was just some unlucky bastard picked at random from the crowd rather than a protester. And even if he was protester, unless he was a violent one, there’s no excuse for arresting him

        1. “Why is it obvious that the kid’s a brain-dead moron, John?”

          He is a G-20 protestor. That is really all you need to know about it. I totally agree that that being an idiot protestor provides no excuse for arresting him. As I said above, that doesn’t excuse the cops’ behavior.

          If he was just a bistander and not a protestor, then yes, he might not be a brain-dead moron.

        2. He’s a braindead moron because he apparently doesn’t understand what an order to disperse means.

          Merely being an observer doesn’t protect you from being arrested when there’s a riot going on (as there was a few blocks away).

  6. “Things were happening so fast, and I didn’t know how I was going to be treated. The atmosphere was edgy, ominous, a little spooky and pretty interesting.”

    Sounds like one of Warty’s rendevous with filipino houseboys from the nubiles’ persective.

  7. “[A] big dude. He was kind of up and down, angry and then friendly.” When the officer told him to pose for the photo, he said, “I kind of gave him a little bit of an argument, but I told him I would be in the picture. It’s kind of hard to say how they would have reacted if I had said no.”

    1) I think this would-be journalism student has been reading The Saccharin Man’s Slashfic intros.

    2) I often suspected the pigs in general exhibit S/S of bipolar disorder, general mood disorder (unspecified), and/or borderline dissociative disorder. Must be a job pre-requisite.

  8. who was charged with failure to disburse

    I hear that refusing to pay a bribe to a Chicago police officer is a serious offense indeed.

    1. Haha, +1

        1. Oh no… I hadn’t considered the fact that threaded comments would suddenly open the door to the “+1” crap. Oi.

    2. I noticed that one, too. I bet it’s an intentional typo.

      1. Looks like they fixed it. too bad.

        1. Disappointed!

    3. Once my redistribution proposal is passed by Congress, this will be a felony for anyone making more than $250K per year. But rest assured, my friends: if you make less than that, it will only be a misdemeanor. My ACORN associates will be in charge of enforcement once I have deputized them and given them sovereign immunity.

  9. Chicago Police Chief Jody Weiss appears more concerned. Last week, he announced that his department’s internal affairs division would investigate the incident.

    How else will they know who to promote.

    And dammit, db, I wanted to be the first to point out a world-class RC’z Law right there in the post.

    1. How else will they know who to promote.

      Thanks for pointing that out RC. For a second my mind was reeling at the idea that Chicago was somehow less corrupt than Pittsburgh. It was a surreal moment.

    2. You’re right…it really is a world class example. Unintended puns can be the best.

      1. I wonder if Chicago would even be able to punish these guys if they wanted to. They were on vacation, the union would probably have a field day.

        1. They were acting as Police Officers, wearing their uniforms, and as such are subject to the rules and regulations of the department. So long as their identities are established, which should be easy for the officers that made the arrest, they can be punished under their departments rules and orders.

    3. Yeah, I think he’s afraid that they gave away Chicago policing secrets.

  10. Okay, here’s the relevant statute that Kyle is charged with violationg:

    18 Pa.C.S.A. ? 5502 Failure of disorderly persons to disperse upon official order–Where three or more persons are participating in a course of disorderly conduct which causes or may reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, a peace officer or other public servant engaged in executing or enforcing the law may order the participants and others in the immediate vicinity to disperse. A person who refuses or knowingly fails to obey such an order commits a misdemeanor of the second degree.

    Apparently, the law recognizes no distinction between those who are actively participating in disorderly conduct, and those observing it.

    1. How in the hell is that law not unconstitutionally vague?

    2. Is that serious annoyance or just plain annoyance? And annoyance to whom?

    3. Didn’t the G-20 meeting itself fall under that law? Oh never mind, they were causing harm, annoyance and alarm in an orderly manner.

  11. public servant statist thug


  12. And what does “disorderly” mean?

    1. Making fun of or insulting a wanna be nurse?


      1. Oh the punnage.

        1. Is that like pwnage?

          Just sayin!

  13. And what does “disorderly” mean?

    Steempy, you eediot!

    It means whatever they want it to mean regardless of context at the time of the “infraction”.

    It’s totally subjective and entirely at said thug’s discretion, for lack of a better term.

  14. If you have any Muslim friends, you know they have a religious proscription against bowing to anyone other than God. Kneeling is right out, too. I would hope that were I in the same position as this protester, I would at least have the standards of a Muslim and refuse to kneel for a cop’s photo.

    1. I’ve had Muslim friends before. The subject never came up. Christianity frowns on the worship of false idols as well. I can’t imagine any religous person would consider following the orders of a cop to be related in any way with bowing as part of a religious ritual.

  15. What did you do on your summer vacation Jimmy?

    I beat protesters and posed for ‘candid’ shots with their unconcious bodies.

  16. “…The atmosphere was edgy, ominous, a little spooky and pretty interesting.”

    Pretty Interesting? I guess that’s why I’m not a journalist.

    1. I really hope he intends to write better than he describes things. “Edgy, ominous, spooky, and interesting”? A litany of vague adjectives is how he describes the ordeal?

      He’s a real Mencken.

  17. More from the WaPo story (it’s unbelievable!):

    More than $1 million in AIDS money went to a housing group whose ailing boarders sometimes struggled without electricity, gas or food. A supervisor said she was ordered to create records for ghost employees.

    About $400,000 was paid to a nonprofit organization, launched by a man who once ran one of the District’s largest cocaine rings, for a promised job-training center that has never opened.

    More than $500,000 was earmarked for a housing program whose executive director had a string of convictions for theft, drugs and forgery. After the D.C. Inspector General’s Office could find no evidence that he was operating an AIDS nonprofit group, the city terminated the grant but never sought repayment.

    All told, the Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Administration awarded more than $25 million from 2004 to 2008 to nonprofit agencies marked by questionable spending, a lack of clients, or lapses in record-keeping and care, a 10-month Washington Post investigation found. Many of the groups have since closed or are no longer providing AIDS services

  18. Heh. I liked it better when Mr. (Ms.? I don’t know what a Radley is) Balko had it as “failure to disburse” ($)! Intended?

    1. Darn, redundancy is my punishment for jumping to the end of the line to comment.

  19. You know what’s bizarre – a few twists in this scenario and that same cop with whom he was discussing jazz clubs with could very well have been gunning him down a few minutes later. The police need to start thinking of themselves as human beings and need to say to themselves “What if my mother was watching me beat the living shit out of this defenseless person or shooting this person 15 times in the back?” Not to relieve cops of their personal responsibility, but cop training basically amounts to submerging their humanity.

  20. Note that there were similar orders to disperse in residential middle-class neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and Greenfield when rioters started acting up, with very few “observers” arrested for failing to disperse. Is it a coincidence that all these videos take place on the Pitt campus, home of naive college students who think you can’t get arrested if you’re not doing anything (as evidenced by the videos showing people milling around on the street after several orders to disperse are given) and want to show girls they’re not afraid of police.

  21. I don’t see the point going to a demonstration such as these without weapons given the little attention given by the authorities to the constitution.

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