Rand Paul

Rand Paul, The Police Shooting of Walter Scott, & The Need for Change


Walter Scott shooting from The Post and Courier on Vimeo.

Yesterday, Jacob Sullum wrote about the incident captured above, in which North Charleston, South Carolina Patrolman Michael Slager shot and killed unarmed motorist Walter Scott after a traffic stop.

The video of the event has led to murder charges being brought against Slager. The video was captured by an onlooker and is almost certainly the only reason that Slager is being charged at all, much less for murder. The policeman originally reported that Scott had grabbed his Taser and that's why he shot the man as he was running away. The video shows Slager dropping what seems to be a Taser next to Scott's inert, handcuffed body.

Reason on police abuse here.

Last summer, the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the police overreaction to initially peaceful protests triggered a national discussion about police brutality, militarization of police, the use of body cameras, and more. As I noted then, one of the reasons Ferguson went national is that it represented the intersection of two major critiques of law enforcement that normally didn't overlap that much:

In Ferguson, minority outrage at police mistreatment has intersected with the libertarian critique of state power in a way that has brought the concerns of both groups to a national audience. Most interestingly, the coverage of Ferguson hasn't been dominated by figures such as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. Even a few years ago, they would have been at the forefront of the coverage. Now, the people at the center of this conversation have been journalists on the scene and local community spokespeople.

Only one major-party politician running for president had much timely or relevant to say about Ferguson.

When it does come to the political class, Rand Paul's op-ed in Time was far and away the most trenchant (and early) sustained commentary on Ferguson and the issues it raises. "There is a systemic problem with today's law enforcement," he wrote. "When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands. Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them."

Read more here.

Paul's announcement yesterday was met with the predictable natterings of disgust by various right-wingers and left-wingers who hate anything that smacks of libertarianism. Far more important, establishment types at The New York Times and Bloomberg View (run by a former editor of the Times' op-ed page) admitted that "Rand Paul Matters" (to use part of the headline of Bloomberg's house editorial. "Can Rand Paul Win With His Principles?" queried the Times in a respectful if semi-dismissive tone.

The police killing of Walter Scott and the senator's almost singular foregrounding of issues of police abuse, militarization of police, state surveillance, and other related matters involving civil liberties shows that that Paul can enrich and enlarge the debate on those topics every bit as much as he can on foreign policy, military intervention, and spending, debt, and deficit.

Regardless of whether Rand Paul secures the GOP nomination much less the presidency, any of us who care about limiting the size, scope, and spending of the state should be glad that he has elbowed his way to the table and is starting conversations that most of the participants don't want to have: about limits to power, spending, regulation, prohibition, you name it. This is one of the hallmarks of "the Libertarian Moment," after all: Politicians and special interests who benefit from the status quo don't want to acknowledge that their policies and priorities are played out and that their days in power are numbered. Paul's effectiveness is visible from his epic filibuster about NSA surveillance, Obama's kill list, and the like: Prior even to the Edward Snowden revelations, he started a necessary conversation where there was none. Indeed, his filibuster laid essential groundwork for the country to understand Snowden's subsequent bombshells. Most important, people across the political spectrum were forced to check their premises (many did, which explains why the Republican won plaudits from the left as well as the right). Contrast that to, say, Ted Cruz's 11th hour extended speech about Obamacare. While I enjoyed Cruz's exhaustive denunciation of all that was objectionable about Obamacare, his talk convinced nobody to change their existing positions one bit. 

To the extent that he continues to force discussions that disrupt traditional ideological and partisan talking points and alliances, we'll all be better off. The grand logic of his presence in the Senate so far has been to force a reevaluation of politics as usual. We need much, much more of that and are unlikely to get it from anyone other than the Libertarian Party nominee. But to the extent that Paul starts trimming his candidacy for the sake of simple expediency, well, he'll be hearing from those of us who want to get on with building a 21st century that we can all be proud of.

NEXT: Autistic Child Wanders Off, Mom Calls 911, Is Accused of Neglect

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  1. This is a better occasion to discuss police brutality – a guy literally shot in the back.

    That’s better than making a thug like Michael Brown the poster-child for police brutality.

    1. THIS.

      But he was black (IIRC) so it wont be about police brutality but about race.

      1. THIS

        We are so fortunate not to let a definite incident of police brutality go by without an unironic use of “thug” in the first comment.

        1. Consider the source.

          (Eddie: you’re a moron, so you might not get that. I’ll help: I was calling you scum.)

        2. Do not disparage St. Michael of the Cigarillos.

          1. He’s a KNIGHT OF MALTA, Homple. How dare you.

            1. Oops, I assumed you were making fun of Eddie with us. No, you’re just being a cop-fellating TEAM RED moron. I forgot who you are.

              1. One can be shot by the police and still be a thug, you know. Tsnaraev ring a bell?

                1. yes. driving with a broken taillight and public bombings are basically the same thing.

        3. “it’s horrible, but, he kind of had it coming to him. Being poor and black and all. What do you expect?”

    2. It is only better if your purpose in discussing it is to do something about police brutality. If your purpose is to create a conflict that will get people to divide along racial lines and fight over it, this is a terrible case and Mike Brown is a perfect one.

  2. Regardless of whether Rand Paul secures the GOP nomination much less the presidency, any of us who care about limiting the size, scope, and spending of the state should be glad that he has elbowed his way to the table…

    The problem with this is that if one of the other GOP candidates gets the nod while spouting law & order nonsense, they’ll see it as vindication that, with Republican primary voters at least, you can’t shy away from big government on the subject and get to run for president.

  3. If what I’m seeing on facebook is any indication, the “white cop shoots black man” #blacklivesmatter crowd is going to drown out the police have too much power crowd.

    Like this

    1. Phillip Hyman
      15 hrs ?
      My reaction to another life lost…I create art ?#?Blacklivesmatter? ?#?CNN?

  4. Who’s enough of scum to defend the cop in this one? Come on. Somebody here must be. Tulpa? Dunphy? One of the negrophobic TEAM RED morons?

    1. A guy I went to high school with has become a pretty big cop fellator (he’s and EMT and sees himself as part of the law and order world). He’s in the “well, he shouldn’t have tried to run away” crowd on this one.

      1. Easy response. “Well, doesn’t fucking matter, because you don’t get to shoot a fleeing suspect without special circumstances.”

        1. you can’t use rational arguments to persuade irrational people.

    2. Warty, libertarianism is only about how much you want to reduce taxes on rich people. All else is secondary.

      1. Now I’m 50% sure you’re one of the libertarian regulars trolling us for laughs.

        1. Either way, it can go fuck itself.

          1. It’s either scum or it’s scum.

        2. I am a libertarian regular. Early libertarians knew that fundamentally cops were around to enforce the property, privileges, and pleasures of the rich– and they wanted to dismantle that. So, in that sense, I’m a big supporter. We were here first before libertarianism became a Randian, right-wing shit show.

          1. No, you’re violence-worshiping scum. But you know that already.

          2. Early libertarians knew that fundamentally cops were around to enforce the property, privileges, and pleasures of the rich– and they wanted to dismantle that. So, in that sense, I’m a big supporter.

            It’s not the purveyors of state violence you have a problem with, per se; rather it’s people for whom you believe they work. I’ve been around long enough to know that anyone calling himself a “socialist” doesn’t mind state violence one little bit, so long as that violence is being applied against people that he, the socialist, finds distasteful.

            A black motorist with outstanding child-support shot in the back as he’s running away from police? Time to hit the streets in protest.

            A right-wing gun owner who defied some federal weapons ban shot in the back as he’s running from police? Social justice has been done!

          3. I’ll bet the poor in Cuba and Venezuela get along swimmingly with their local cops.

          4. And let’s not forget how benevolent the authorities in your beloved Soviet Union were, picking the names of both rich and poor alike out of a phone book to torture and shoot in the head.

          5. Dave Weigel emulates Glenn Greenwald in his sock puppetry. As many puppets as Baskin-Robbins has flavors, and new IDs available whenver desired!

            Weigel to self as he bangs out another snarky UberPwog comment: “Dude, you are SUCH a genius! Look at you making them dance! You should call yourself the Pied Piper and you should brandish your Skin Flute proudly!”

            1. wtf are you talking about you nonsensical schmuck?

  5. Those that wish for REAL cop reform, do NOT make this shooting “racial”. Your average “leo” of today has no problem getting up on anyone, regardless of race.

    If you make it “racial”, you’re going to reduce your influence and potential supporters. This stuff is happening to EVERYONE.

    1. The lefties are onto something when they talk about white privilege in the context of police brutality, but it’s not really whiteness per se that’s privileged. It’s capital-W Whiteness, i.e., being a person who matters, that’s privileged.

      Cowards and bullies are the kind of people who become pigs. What they want above all is powerless targets, people who don’t have access to legal power. Racism plays into it, but I don’t think it’s as much of a factor as the left imagines. Any target will do, as long as the target can’t cause trouble. Pigs love to brutalize trailer trash just as much as they do black people, from what I can tell.

      1. That may or may not be coherent. I’m on no sleep and running on caffeine and fumes here.

        1. Seems coherent enough for the most part. Cops look for targets that are poor and don’t have political connections, and therefore can’t fight back within the legal system. Since blacks are disproportionately likely to be in that category, they’re often the victims of police brutality. Right?

          1. Yeah. Of course racism plays a role, but it’s not the only thing going on here.

          2. That appears to be the Piggie-logic moreso than “I hate black people.” Remember Henry Louis Gates Jr. in which a cop arrested a Harvard professor who’s front door was jammed (Gates popped off at the mouth to the cop, but still, once the cop identified Gates as the owner of the house, he should have taken a walk, not stuck around to try and establish his AUTHORITAH). Cops see a black man, they figure he doesn’t have the financial or legal stroke to resist their tyranny, and they do what pigs do best.

            Then you have the actual racists who are somehow drawn to policework and manage to clear the police’s rigorous psychological screening procedures. Imagine that.

            “If I was the officer he [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC [oleorosin capsicum, or pepper spray] deserving of his belligerent non-compliance.”

            -Justin Barrett, Boston Police Department

        2. That may or may not be coherent.

          It was completely coherent.

          And pretty much accurate.

      2. Look at the Weavers. Or Waco. Law enforcement targeted white people. Difference is that the media today has made a cause and ratings out of a stereotype of white cop “racism,” even when it does not exist. e.g., Officer Wilson.

        Cops see a black man, they figure he doesn’t have the financial or legal stroke to resist their tyranny, and they do what pigs do best.

        And your evidence for this is…what? You interview cops after shootings? You did some kind of investigation of this incident? Or did you make this up out of thin air to justify an ideological position.

  6. All I have to say is that the cameraman has guts. Not only did he stick around to film the shooting, but he actually approached the scene afterwards and kept filming. Maybe he’s just lucky the cop didn’t see him or something…

    1. I’m amazed he wasn’t held as a suspect in conjunction with the alleged crime the cop was stopping. Then, of course, his phone would have been taken and destroyed.

    2. I can’t argue that. Looks like someone was “watching the watchers!”

  7. Two things jump out in the video. One, the pig is a predictably miserable shot. Two, it looks like the pig wanted to tase the guy to teach him a lesson about authority, but the leads failed to penetrate his clothes, so the pig got pissed and murdered him. Three, the cameraman has balls of steel and deserves to be a national hero. Seriously, there should be elementary schools named after him and statues of him put in public parks.

    1. It’s almost like the cameraman was motivated to serve and protect us. And to risk his life doing so.

    2. If the camerman is smart, he’ll never let his name go public. Otherwise you know what’s going to happen to him. Though I guess he won’t be shot. I’d guess “pulled over, and a baggie of crack cocaine found under his seat”

      1. If his name gets out he’d be well advised to move at least 3 states away.

  8. Here’s my guess: Cop gets probation for involuntary manslaughter and loses his job and benefits.

    1. I say he keeps pension, in a n outrage inducing arbitration decision.

      1. And goes on to work for another department.

  9. Reason is full on nut punching. I called it. I got to happy about stuff and they have to bring me back down in to the depths of honesty.

  10. Rand is in the N. Charleston area tomorrow to presumably talk about foreign policy (his speech is at an aircraft carrier….). I wonder if instead he will take the opportunity to talk about police violece.

    Secondly, as a resident of N. Charleston, you wont believe the story thats being told. The suspect was originally pulled over because of a broken tail light on his car. Then chased because he forgot to mail in a child support check this month. Thats it. No other criminal history or record (at least that local news knew of this morning). Id like to see hiw the law and order crowd can label him a “thug and criminal”…

    1. wha bothered me abou the guy tht was shot in the back…the fac tha he was buying a Mercedes when he owed $

    2. wha bothered me abou the guy tht was shot in the back…the fac tha he was buying a Mercedes when he owed $

  11. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is what- I do…… ?????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  12. In Ferguson, minority outrage at police mistreatment has intersected with the libertarian critique of state power in a way that has brought the concerns of both groups to a national audience.

    Yes, and I am sure that the outraged minorities will be supporting the following libertarian positions:
    Ending welfare
    Ending affirmative action
    Ending minorities-only government contracts
    Ending publicly subsidized housing (Section 8)
    Ending taxpayer support for historically black universities and colleges

    I invite any libertarian who believes this will happen to stand in front of an outraged “minority” crowd in Ferguson or anywhere else and demand they end their support for any or all of the above.

    1. what is it you are trying to accomplish here? a coalition between black activists and libertarians on this issue could only serve to prevent killings like this one. the only reason to oppose such a coalition would be an investment with the status quo. is that what you want – more innocent blacks murdered by police? because you disagree with us about fucking HUD? thats a morally bankrupt position.

  13. I don’t know why this comment section posted prior to my finishing or proofreading my comment! But, since I cannot edit it… (it is really foocked up!) The guy did not deserved execution. But, buying a Mercedes when you are $18,000 behind in child support, seems to mean that he is a drain on society, letting the rest of us take care of his bastardized kids. Maybe the children can get, at least, social security payments, now! Maybe, they can sue for wrongful death!? Maybe they will be able to obtain enough of an award that will allow them to pay taxes!

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