Police Abuse

Washington Post Journalist Radley Balko on Civil Rights, Militarized Policing, and the Power of Video

The Washington Post's Radley Balko was a pioneer in reporting on the disastrous consequences of police militarization and the need for criminal justice reform. Now everyone else is catching up.

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In this month's issue, we draw on decades of Reason journalism about policing and criminal justice to make practical suggestions about how to use the momentum of this summer's tumultuous protests productively. Check out Damon Root on abolishing qualified immunity, Peter Suderman on busting the police unions, Jacob Sullum on ending the war on drugs, Sally Satel on rethinking crisis response, Zuri Davis on restricting asset forfeiture, C.J. Ciaramella on regulating use of force, Alec Ward on releasing body cam footage, Jonathan Blanks on stopping overpolicing, and Stephen Davies on defunding the police.

On May 25, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died at the hands of Minneapolis police. Six years ago, after cops killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, just 43 percent of Americans believed that such incidents indicate a systemic problem. Though police killings have remained level since 2014, 69 percent of Americans now agree that "the killing of Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement."

Radley Balko is a Washington Post opinion columnist and former Reason reporter who covers police abuse, the drug war, and criminal justice reform. His Reason coverage of Cory Maye—a black man who was put on Mississippi's death row for supposedly killing a police officer during a no-knock raid in 2001—helped bring about Maye's acquittal. His 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop (PublicAffairs) was ahead of its time in documenting the dramatic increase in the militarization of local law enforcement and the dangerous incentives and confrontations that creates between police and citizens.

His latest book—The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist (PublicAffairs), co-authored with Tucker Carrington—documents widespread problems with law enforcement, forensic evidence, expert testimony, and media coverage of crime. In June, Nick Gillespie spoke with Balko about how to dial back the militarized police tactics that have become commonplace and whether lasting reform might be possible.

Reason: You've been covering the intersecting topics of the war on drugs, police abuse, and race issues in America for going on 20 years now. Why did the George Floyd killing explode into public consciousness the way it did?

I think [it's] the power of video. If you go back to the civil rights movement, obviously there were abuses going on for a long time in our country's history. The organizers of the civil rights movement in the 1960s really recognized the power of images. They knew there was going to be violence; they knew that the other side was going to be provoked and that was a strategy to win over the middle and white America.

The George Floyd video is indisputable. There have been attacks on Floyd's character, his decisions in life. But there is no excuse for having your knee on a guy's neck for nine minutes.

In the trials of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) cops accused of beating Rodney King, the defense broke the video down, claiming it showed that actually they weren't beating him, and some people thought "Oh, maybe what LAPD was doing was OK." With Floyd, nobody is defending the police action. Is that a sign of progress?

I think it is. There's been a widespread embrace of the idea that police are systematically abusive. The idea of racism in policing in America has crept into white America, into the suburbs. Four years ago, the Democratic nominee for president couldn't say the phrase black lives matter without qualifying it. A lot of people were like that. Now you have [GOP Sen.] Mitt Romney saying it unsolicited. You have people [who] probably haven't protested ever in their lives joining this protest.

Like Michael Brown in Ferguson, like Tamir Rice, a lot of these incidents that have sparked uprisings, none of them are really about those cases in isolation. There have been unjustified police killings of white and black people in cities all over the country over the last 20 years; where we see the uprisings tend to be in places that those stories speak to people on a very personal level. They tap into some long-simmering tension, resentment, pain, fear, despair.

I think with Michael Brown—and, as you say, Rodney King—the fact that the initial narrative had some qualifications or context that made it less compelling gave white people an excuse to dismiss it all as based on a false narrative, and actually ignore the broader long-simmering anger and despair that led to protests in the first place. In this case, there's no contextualizing that video. So it's easier to say, "All right, I'm fully on board with this."

Critics of Black Lives Matter say police abuse is an issue with individual cops, not systemic racism. They'll note in 1971, officers with the New York Police Department killed 93 people. In 2016, they killed nine. They'll say that this is bad, but it is not a big-scale problem.

I think there are two different questions: How systemic is police abuse? And how systemic is racism?

There are lots of things that drive how many times police shoot people over the course of a year, including general crime rates, consensus about how people's lives are, police attitudes, how many police officers are on the force, how well-equipped they are, how well-trained they are. There was a lot more violence, period, in the '70s and '80s, up to the early '90s. My measure of whether a system is corrupt is whether you can point to specific incidents where a bad apple…has clearly acted corruptly and violated some of these constitutional rights and nothing is done about it.

You can say that bad cops are a tiny percentage of the overall force, but if the system isn't doing anything about those bad cops—or even when it does, they can find a job a county or two over—then it's probably a corrupt system. Yes, it's probably a small percentage of cops who kill people or shoot people or are blatantly racist. But there is an entire culture of covering up, of the idea that cops should always look out for each other—the best interests of cops are prioritized over everything, over justice, over the people they're supposed to be serving.

If you have a system where even the obviously corrupt people are very rarely held accountable, then I think you can say unequivocally that that system itself is corrupt.

Can you talk about systemic racism? How does it influence policing?

There are a lot of misconceptions about what systemic racism is. For a long time I didn't fully understand what it was. Systemic racism is not the idea that everybody is racist on an individual level. It's that the system itself was constructed, built, honed, at a time when racism was written into our laws. It was a day-to-day fact of life. The criminal justice systems that we built during Reconstruction, which hasn't really subsequently changed since the end of Jim Crow…I don't think it should be particularly controversial to think that those systems that had a purpose at that time probably haven't shed all of the aspects of deliberately wanting racially based outcomes. They're not just going to shed that stuff overnight—it has to be purged from them.

After Ferguson, I went to St. Louis County in Missouri, [which] has over 90 municipalities—an obscene number of cities and towns. During the great white flight to the suburbs from St. Louis, white people would move into a suburb and eventually upper-class/middle-class black people would also move out [to the suburb]. White people didn't like that, so they'd move a mile over and start a new town. This just kept happening all over St. Louis County, and you got postage stamp towns all over the county. Almost all of them have a town council and a police department.

The towns are basically funded [by] a sales tax. If you're a poor town, which tends to be the blacker towns, you're going to get much less revenue from sales taxes, and so they supplement that [with]—or in some cases, their primary sources of revenue are—fines and fees that they extract from their residents. The really pernicious part of this is that the blacker the town, the poorer the town; the blacker the town, the more reliant they are on these fines and fees.

In all these towns, the police don't actually solve crimes. The county police do that. Their sole purpose is to extract revenue from their residents in order to pay their own salaries.

Nobody's going to argue that black cops that are harassing people in [primarily] black towns are racist. You also can't argue that that isn't a racist system built on a racist legacy.

I also think that the whole idea of racism—systemic racism, racial profiling, racism in the criminal justice system—the counter of that is always that you have to look at black crime rates, black-on-black crime.

Over Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, 18 people were killed on May 31—almost all of them victims of black-on-black crime. But we don't hear about that. Some people say that's evidence the conversation is focused in the wrong place.

That's the argument. You look at, for example, stop and frisk in New York City, which is often justified [by saying], "Look at all the black lives stop and frisk saved because it took guns out of the hands of criminals," right? Something like 95 percent of the people who were stopped and frisked, police didn't find anything. If that's the argument, what you're saying is those 95 percent of people who were stopped and frisked who are innocent—that's fine. That's the opposite of individualism, right? We're treating people based on the actions of other people who look like them.

If the argument is that black people commit more crimes, therefore more black people are in prison, that's at least something we can look at the data on. But the idea that racial profiling and stopping and searching innocent people on the side of the road is OK because those people are a member of a group that tends to, I don't know, be more likely to engage in drug trafficking—you're justifying punishing people based on the fact that they're a member of a racial group.

You have written about the Breonna Taylor case, which is a horrifying encapsulation of the way the drug war culminates in terrorizing innocent citizens, through no-knock raids that turn deadly, police militarization, and the like. Do you think that case is driving enough of the conversation for police reform?

I'd like to see it driving more, because I think the use of those tactics is far too common. It used to be that this kind of tactic was only used if you were confronting somebody who was in the process of committing a violent crime, where somebody's life was in immediate risk. What we see in the '80s and '90s is forced-entry raids increasingly—and then dominantly—used to serve drug warrants.

It was a really dramatic shift in the use of that kind of violence, government violence. Before you were using it against somebody who was in the process of committing a violent crime, an active shooter or bank robber or hostage situation. Now, that kind of force is primarily being used against people who are merely suspected of committing nonviolent, consensual crimes.

Most of these raids are not arrest warrants, they're search warrants. They're still in the investigative process. A lot of times it's based on dirty information. The tactics themselves are extremely volatile and violent. They leave very little margin for error. As we see with Taylor, people have died because of it.

A year and a half ago, I looked through about 100 no-knock search warrants that were served in Little Rock, Arkansas. About 95 percent of them were illegal, in direct defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, Richards v. Wisconsin. What the court held was that in order to get a no-knock warrant, the police have to show specific information that the person they're going to search is a threat to either attack the police, dispose of evidence, or flee if the cops take the time to knock and announce first.

Every single warrant [I looked at] had this boilerplate language, almost word for word in most of them, that said that all drug dealers are a threat to attack police, dispose of evidence, or flee if the police knock and announce. The Supreme Court has explicitly said that that's illegal. The remarkable thing is the judges [who] were signing off on these warrants were completely oblivious to the fact that they were signing illegal warrants.

In Little Rock, they were using explosives to blow doors off the hinges. If somebody's on the other side of that door, they're lucky to be alive.

Is it that they don't read the warrants, or they do and they just ignore the Supreme Court ruling?

A few years later in Hudson v. Michigan, the Court ruled that yes, the knock-and-announce rule is inherent in the Fourth Amendment—it's part of a "castle doctrine," which is a centuries-old law that goes back into common law—but we're not going to apply the exclusionary rule when the police violate it. Basically, there was no mechanism to actually enforce this requirement. A lot of us predicted this was going to be terrible, because there's nothing stopping police from violating [it]. It's not a rule at all if there's no way to enforce it.

That's what we saw in Little Rock. And in the Taylor case, there were five warrants for that particular drug investigation where the detective requested a no-knock. It was the word-for-word exact same language about drug dealers being violent or a threat to dispose of evidence. In Taylor's case it was particularly pernicious, because her involvement was that she had dated the guy who [had been] under investigation several years earlier—they had broken up years ago—but she had let him use her address to receive some packages in the mail.

Now, if they had actually followed the Supreme Court's guidance, the judge would have required [more investigation] before granting a no-knock [warrant]. They, and the judge, would have learned that her connection to all this was tenuous and that this kind of violence wasn't necessary against her.

The packages that the ex-boyfriend received at her house were clothing and shoes. There weren't even any drugs in the packages. Her only crime was to let a former paramour use her address to receive some clothing in the mail. For that, they kicked down her door in the middle of the night. Her then-boyfriend reached for a gun, which he legally owned. If they'd done some research, they would have known that he stayed there and that he was a licensed gun owner, and they would probably have drawn the conclusion that drug dealers tend not to license their weapons with the government.

Are there theories of policing that are gaining ground that are more consistent with the idea of people being able to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

One reform libertarians should be paying a lot of attention to is from a group called Cure Violence that operates in several large cities, but primarily in Chicago. This is an intervention group, so they operate in high-crime areas, and when there's an incident—a homicide or some sort of gang activity, for example—they go in. They have authority, respect, and credibility in the communities where they operate. A lot of times they hire people who used to be in those communities. They'll hire former gang members.

The idea is that they go in and intervene. They try to prevent the violence from spreading, and they try to prevent it before it happens. There's pretty compelling data in Chicago showing that in the neighborhoods where they operated, they had a very substantial effect on reducing the homicide rate. In fact, when the homicide rate spiked in Chicago several years ago, it coincided with the city cutting the funding to Cure Violence. If you look at neighborhood-specific data, it's pretty overwhelming that this group was doing a very good job.

Would that work as a replacement for police? I don't know. Probably not, but the idea that maybe we could redirect a not-insubstantial amount of money that we give to armed officers of the government patrolling these neighborhoods to unarmed people who try to resolve things not with coercion but with negotiation, talking, and mediation is something worth looking at.

Policing has been with us for so long that it's hard to even imagine a country without any sort of armed police at all. But I do think we can think creatively about these things.

Any other reforms that you think are particularly worth focusing on?

One that [the George Mason University economist] Alex Tabarrok wrote about [recently] is that there's no reason why our traffic laws have to be enforced by armed government agents.

A police officer pulls you over and gives you a ticket, which then you take home and decide whether you're going to pay, and you send it in via mail. Why can't you have some sort of civilian traffic corps who, instead of pulling you over, sees you speeding, writes down your license plate, calls it in, and you get a ticket in the mail? The end result is still the same. You get a ticket in the mail that you can pay, or choose not to pay and face the consequences of that. The difference is you're not having this armed interaction [or] confrontation with a police officer, which is completely unnecessary.

Our traffic laws need to be about road safety, not generating revenue. There are lots of studies done in Europe about [using] roundabouts instead of stop signs. There have been some really interesting studies about speed limits and how arbitrary they are. Our roads are actually built imagining people driving much faster than speed limits allow, which means cities and towns can place speed limits arbitrarily in a way that maximizes revenue to the city….I mean, there are small towns that 40 or 50 percent of their budgets are reliant on traffic revenue.

That idea of driving through small towns and getting a ticket is so deeply embedded in our culture, it's almost impossible to think about a world where you wouldn't be worried about that.

Right. Nobody's saying there should be anarchy on the highways, but we could have speed limits that are more organic, calculated based on how people actually drive. There's a study showing the safest speed limit is the one that's what the 90th percentile of people drive at. Right now [the real speed limits are] far lower than that. That just creates unnecessary interactions.

Think about all the police abuse cases that originated with a traffic stop, and then escalate it from there. Think about all the animus and anger in motorized communities that come from the regular harassment they face from traffic stops. You take those out of the picture and it could go a long way toward rehabilitating the image of the police.

Part of the large issue of reform is really minimizing contacts between the police and citizens.

There's an inherent power imbalance when you're pulled over, and this guy has got six different weapons on his belt, and he's hovering over you while you're sitting in your car looking up at him. If you're part of the community where this happens to you however many times a month—five, six, seven, 10 in some areas—it's easy for somebody who looks like me to say, "You should be respectful to cops and polite to them." If they're harassing you and screwing with you several times a month, eventually you're going to lose your patience. I think we expect people to be perfect in those situations. There are polls showing that black people are more fearful of being a victim of a police beating or shooting than they are of being victimized by a criminal.

Are you optimistic about police reform? How will we know when we get there?

I am more optimistic than I've been in a long time. If you look at polling, it's remarkable—support for the protesters jumped 20 points in two weeks.

So much policing is done at the local and state level that there isn't a federal switch we can just flip to say, "OK cops, you can't do this anymore."

The best thing we can do at the federal level is to remove the perverse incentives that are driving bad behavior at the local level. Most of the reform is going to happen at the local level.

In the aftermath of the Floyd killing, the Minneapolis City Council is effectively abolishing the police department as it exists now and replacing it with a different set of operations.

Right, and it's not clear what it's going to look like, but I think it is a good thing. We want to see cities trying different ways of walking that line between public safety and individual rights. The more they try different formulas, the more likely we are to find one that's going to hit on the right equation.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. For an audio version, subscribe to The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie.

 

NEXT: Brickbat: Stay Out

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    2. Hey Radley! You know what else you should be reporting the disastrous consequences of?

      A national press that’s become the house organ of a single party and a single ideology.
      A national press that knowingly and routinely fabricates stories in order to advance the interests of said party and ideology.
      A national press that’s exemplified by your paper.

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      2. The Washington Post is a very slanted, left-wing paper. And Reason fails to call it out for its frequent false claims about the Michael Brown case.

        Even the pro-BLM Obama Justice Department found that Michael Brown’s shooting was justified, not a murder by a cop, and found that even black witnesses said Brown was a threat to the cop.

        As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, “It was reasonable for police Officer Darren Wilson to be afraid of Michael Brown in their encounter last summer, a Justice Department investigation concluded, and thus he cannot be prosecuted for fatally shooting” Brown. An 86-page report by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that both physical evidence and “credible” witnesses supported Officer Wilson’s version of an event that triggered looting and rioting in Ferguson.

        As the Justice Department Ferguson report stated on page 82,
        “The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson after [Michael] Brown turned around were in self-defense…Several of the [mostly Black] witnesses stated that they would have… responded [as]…Wilson did.”

        Yet, above, Reason misleadingly writes as if Brown was wrongfully killed: “Six years ago, after cops killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, just 43 percent of Americans believed that such incidents indicate a systemic problem.”

        And the Washington Post routinely publishes articles by black columnists claiming or implying that Michael Brown was murdered.

        Reason says George Floyd “died at the hands” of police. That’s plausible, but he apparently had a high enough amount of drugs in his system to die of an overdose, and the defendants apparently plan to argue he would have died of an overdose regardless of what they did:
        https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/george-floyd/new-court-docs-say-george-floyd-had-fatal-level-of-fentanyl-in-his-system/89-ed69d09d-a9ec-481c-90fe-7acd4ead3d04

        1. When I wrote “plausible,” I also intended to write “likely,” because their actions also seem likely to have been a substantial factor in his demise.

          1. By “his demise,” I mean George Floyd, whose death was likely wrongfully caused by the police (although the level of drugs in his system was theoretically high enough to kill him). Not Michael Brown, whose killing was likely a justified instance of self-defense by officer Darren Wilson, as indicated on page 82 of the report from the Obama Justice Department.

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  3. From June 23 — It’s copism, not racism, that’s our biggest national problem with policing. Too many Americans of all colors die by cop because there are too many petty and unnecessary laws written by the people in charge, too many over-armed cops ordered to enforce them and too many deadly encounters with whites, blacks, browns, etc.

    ”Police officers kill about 1,700 Americans every year. In other words, police killings have made up about one out of every twelve violent deaths of Americans between 2010 and 2018. That’s including American military deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere during that window. Indeed, more Americans died at the hands of police officers during that period (about 14,400) than died while on active military duty (about 9,400).”

    Drug war gave politics/cops powers to screw with people for 50 years. Still does. Traffic stops, speed traps, broken taillights — all excuses for cops to ‘stop and frisk’ motorists — especially kids, blondes and black drivers in white suburbs. Lots of people dead because of the enforcement of these petty laws by over-armed police.

    1. Exactly.

      People who recognize overzealous violent cops should not be labeled as “communist”.

      1. Only if they also happen to coincidentally identify themselves as “communist”.

        It’s kind of like how we call you a kiddie fucker because you got banned for posting kiddie porn.

        1. Lies. How Trump-like you are in practice.

          I went to the BLM website and “What We Believe” says:

          https://blacklivesmatter.com

          nothing about communism.

          You QAnon fruit-loops will make anything up.

          Do I support BLM? Only insofar that cops killing blacks out of proportion is a real thing.

          1. Yeah, they partially scrubbed the more radically communist parts of their manifesto, as you know very well since you’ve been linked to the story 50,000 times. You can verify on archive.org. Or you could if you weren’t an illiterate kiddie fucker, anyway.

            Do I support BLM? Only insofar that cops killing blacks out of proportion is a real thing.

            Yeah, it’s not. Cops kill twice as many white people as black people even though black people commit 50% of the violent crime nationwide despite comprising 13% of the population. But you know that too.

            Anything else you want to lie about today, kiddie fucker?

            1. I’ve never been on their website before today you liar and I don’t give a fuck about BLM except for their right to assemble and protest. Looters should be prosecuted.

              This is typical of you Trump Trash. You lie to protect an authoritarian half-wit con-man.

              1. Whats he lying about? He linked and you didn’t.

                1. I linked to their website and there is no support of communism. Maybe they once supported Marxism/communism but no one cares because they are just a weak group protesting cop killings.

                  Birchers used to call Eisenhower a communist. Soros is wrongly called a communist because he saw the budding fascist movement within the GOP.

                  Anyone who opposes jackbooted violent cops is not a “communist” thus my original point is won.

                  1. And he linked to proof there is.

                    So YOU lied. But you still haven’t shown where he has.

                    “they once supported Marxism/communism”

                    So you were lying.

                  2. “but no one cares”

                    The idiot says as he converses with people who care.

                  3. “Soros”

                    Soros the Nazi?

                  4. but no one cares

                    cite?

                    1. Wow, it is a convention for you cop fellators! Complete with a Glenn Beck moron who thinks the Jewish capitalist who fights fascism all over the world is a Nazi.

                      Libertarians/classic liberals are suspicious of unchecked police power you imbeciles. I know the QAnon brainrot and pro-cop Trumpism has infected you so go find a wingnut web site to pollute.

                    2. So no cite then?

                    3. If Soros didn’t want to be a Nazi he could have said no.

                    4. Yeah, no cite. Instead he falls into the “if you ain’t with us, you agin us” crap, that if you oppose the Marxians who founded Burn Loot Murder, you are automatically a cop sucker.

                      The idea of being agin all coercive government is alien to what little mind he has left.

                  5. “my original point is won.”

                    This and him running away is how you know he knows he got shut the fuck up.

                    1. How is that HUGE EXPLOSIVE CASE against Obama you have been touting for two years going, Mikey?

                      Still waiting.

                      Was it the child predator sex ring?

                      Was that it?

                      You QAnon types do make shit up. That’s not a real thing, Mikey.

                    2. “How is that HUGE EXPLOSIVE CASE against Obama you have been touting for two years going, Mikey?”

                      About as well as your point.

                      “Was it the child predator sex ring?”

                      You seem scared.

                    3. Obama authorized spying on a political enemy by the government for purely political purposes and authorized the weaponization of the FBI to go after former administration officials who were working for the incoming administration. He either authorized or knew about the dissemination of classified information throughout the government for the purpose of leaking it after the inauguration, explicitly to sabotage the incoming administration and hopefully initiate an independent counsel and impeachment.

                      There has never been a greater abuse of the office of president… at least not that we ever learned about.

                      The major plot points are all publicly available.

                      The fact that the media is carrying his water and that Barr seems to be determined that there be no real investigation or prosecution of the case does not alter that fact.

                    4. Cyto that is all a fucking lie. Go to google and mash your face against the keys until you figure it out. Stop lying for politicians. It’s gross.

                    5. Keep shouting the big lie from the mountaintops. It actually seems to be working.

                      For those who prefer reality, the Obama administration wasn’t exactly shy about it. They were pretty proud. Proud enough to go bragging to their friends over at the NYT during the innauguration:

                      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/us/politics/obama-trump-russia-election-hacking.html

                      They brag about setting classified information to be leaked to the press to derail the incoming administration. They are proud of their subterfuge. The NYT similarly thinks it is just fantastic. Read how glowingly they report on it. Remember, these are the identical people who weeks earlier were ridiculing the idea that the FBI would be listening in on Trump campaign phones. They were in the room “unmasking” campaign officials on those tapped calls, and publicly saying it was signs of paranoia. They were bragging to their NYT buddies about it, who then went out and repeated the lie that it was paranoia.

                    6. This is how deep the lie runs. Factcheck.org is so desperate that they still claim that “it was not the dossier that started all of this”.

                      Here’s what they write about what started it:

                      While he was a Trump campaign adviser, Papadopoulos met with a professor with connections to Russian government officials who told him “about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’” and he tried to arrange a meeting between the Russian government and the campaign, the DOJ’s statement of the offense said.

                      We now know that this was a lie. All of it. The “professor with connections to Russian..” was an FBI/CIA operative. They tried to set Papadopolis up many times for various process crimes to try to get a patsy they could use.

                      We now know that it was Steele’s work that was used as the excuse. We now know that his work was based on some dude at a washington think tank who did not actually even know any russians.

                      We also know that the thing that kicked all of this off as a “counterintelligence operation” was Carter Page telling the FBI that he would not be able to continue working for them on a case against some Russians. He told them he was taking a position with the Trump campaign. They filed for FISA warrants to spy on him the very next day. He had been working with them for years, so they knew he was no Russian asset. Not suspected, or assumed…. they knew with absolute certainty. Yet the very moment they learned he would be working with Trump, they moved to spy on him.

                      This is all well documented. It isn’t even a little bit of supposition. This comes under the heading of “everyone knows”.

                      It is just that a huge chunk of highly political people have decided that today, the sky is green. And so they see green. There are 5 lights, for those so motivated.

                      But don’t worry. They “company men” have decided that it is more important to preserve the organization than it is to hold people accountable. So it is all over. They signaled this with the plea deal they offered. There will be no further charges. No further revelations. Durham is done.

                    7. And then they were all fucking criminals! You’re against FBI investigations because they’re finding criminals among Republicans?

                  6. I linked to their website and there is no support of communism. Maybe they once supported Marxism/communism

                    BLM is a neo-Marxist organization because many of their beliefs, ideology, and objectives are. Their belief that observing disparate outcomes for different racial groups is sufficient to demonstrate systemic racism is neo-Marxist. Their desire to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” is neo-Marxist.

                    Perhaps you don’t understand what neo-Marxism is. It’s what Marxist turned into in Europe in the 20th century. Key figures are Marcuse, Adorno, Habermas, Horkheimer, etc. Neo-Marxists reject both capitalism and Maxism-Leninism.

                    1. You don’t understand. They went and deleted stuff from a website, so it doesn’t exist any more. Duh.

                    2. No matter how much they delete, BLM’s fundamental beliefs remain: (1) unequal outcomes must necessarily be the result of systemic racism, and (2) government must intervene in order to ensure equality of outcome. Those core beliefs are what make them neo-Marxist. They can’t erase that from their web site because it’s their foundational beliefs and the reason deluded people follow them.

              2. I’ve never been on their website before today you liar

                Funny, because you’ve posted that link before and also been pointed to archive.org and several news stories covering the redaction.

                This is typical of you Trump Trash. You lie to protect an authoritarian half-wit con-man.

                You lying about police shootings doesn’t have fuck all to do with Trump, you kiddie fucking piece of shit liar. Nice attempt at a red herring. You might eventually pull that off some day if you weren’t such a retarded piece of shit. Apparently lying kiddie fuckers are what you get when first cousins marry. You might consider killing yourself in the most public and grotesque way possible?

                1. Open wider, Felix.

                  Your betters are not done shoving even more progress down your bigoted, right-wing throat.

                  Thank you for your lifelong compliance with the preferences of better Americans, clinger.

                  1. But Trump won it can’t be “lifelong” lol what a dumb mistake

                  2. Everyone knows it’s you shreek.

                  3. You’re not very good at this.

              3. This is typical of you neo-Marxists Trash. You lie to protect authoritarian half-wit con-men.

                FTFY

          2. It’s nice to know you don’t support BLM at all.

        2. Why would someone post kid porn here? What kind of point is that supposed to make?

          1. Why are you asking why a troll trolls?

    2. Police officers kill about 1,700 Americans every year.

      Cops killed all of 19 unarmed black men last year. 19. Not 190. Not 1900. 19. They killed twice that many unarmed white men. The vast majority of police shootings are justified uses of force against violent criminals. Pick your battles. The cops shooting a piece of shit thug in the middle of Chicago after he’s just got finished gunning down a 12 year old kid in a drive by shooting is not a tragedy. It’s not excessive force. It’s not militarization.

      1. Well, if the cops are doing a number on the blacks, the blacks are actually doing a better job in reverse.

        Blacks: 13% of the US population. 32% of police involved deaths. But they rack up 38% percent of cops killed on duty.

        So, if anything, police are actually modeling black people as less of a threat than they are, statistically speaking.

        https://ucr.fbi.gov/leoka/2017/tables/table-42.xls has the data on police feloniously killed (as opposed to accidentally killed), broken down by various stats. Link to the other side of the data in a following comment.

        An interesting thing to note on that link is the ratio of police killed by men versus women. A 100:3 ratio. If a cop is killed on duty, there is a 97% chance it will be a dude. Now that’s some imbalance.

    3. It’s copism, not racism, that’s our biggest national problem with policing.

      That’s not a national problem, it’s a local problem, policing being local and all that.

      And it’s not a problem voters should care much about: there are more deaths by lawnmower and/or autoerotic asphyxiation than innocent people shot by cops.

      1. Cops ruin lives many different illegal ways.

        1. Cops ruin lives many different illegal ways.

          Your town chose its own government and with it its own police department and procedures. If you’re not happy with your local police/sheriff’s department, go participate in local politics. It simply doesn’t concern people who live hundreds of miles from you.

    4. One thing I wish Gillespie has asked Balko about is why, George Floyd, Jacob Blake and Rayshard Brooks (to name three black men in the news recently) made the decision to resist arrest and risk violent confrontation with the police. What all goes into the mental calculation that it is a better idea to resist than to go back into the jail/prison/justice system.

      1. Well, Floyd was having some sort of breakdown and had massively overdosed on Fentanyl, apparently. So that explains his erratic behavior.

        Blake was wanted for sexual assault and had just been accused of another sexual assault moments earlier… so not wanting to face that kind of jail time was probably on his mind, one would guess. We could ask him, but the BLM team is carefully crafting his image now, and Crump is working overtime to line up for some of that sweet cash. So we probably won’t ever get that answer.

        Rayshard Brooks? Dude was hammered and just realized that he was about to go to jail for quite a while because of his previous troubles. He made a split second decision just like the cops had to. He screwed up.

        How’d I do?

  4. So what I’m hearing here is that the FBI apparently needs to go knock on some doors and make some arrests for federal court, if the Little Rock constabulary is writing illegal warrants and the judges are signing them.

    1. In all these towns, the police don’t actually solve crimes. The county police do that. Their sole purpose is to extract revenue from their residents in order to pay their own salaries.

      So, what’s the process for unincorporating a town?

    2. Go knock on some doors? You mean kick in some doors and hurl in some flash-bangs in a pre-dawn no-knock raid.

      1. Professional courtesy, of course. 😉

    3. From other things that Balko has written, I get the impression he is just giving Little Rock as one example. Cut-and-paste warrants are apparently a common thing.

      1. Sure, but setting a firm example in a place that has a known problem seems reasonable.

  5. Critics of Black Lives Matter say” . . .

    That they are a criminal, terrorist, racist, communist organization?

    1. Cop fellators say that.

      1. Actually, kiddie fucker, it’s right there on their website for all to see. Is your illiteracy the reason you’re a kiddie fucker, or is your kiddie fucking the reason you’re illiterate?

        1. “If you wanna be my lover” – Buttplug’s homage to the Spice Girls

          If you wanna be my lover,
          you gotta be under ten
          Cause when you turn eleven,
          our relationship will end.

      2. Yes, that definitely is a subset of everyone.

        1. You’re up pretty early on labor day for an unemployed alcoholic douchebag piece of shit, sarcasmic.

          1. still yesterday for me

    2. “That they are….”
      1. a criminal – burning down property
      2. terrorist – see above
      3. racist – As if Black didn’t refer to the color of skin
      4. communist – Taking over police stations and labeling them social services
      “organization?”
      What’s the “?” all about?

  6. It took him a long time tk get systemic racisist? Come on balko your better than this. Systemic racism is a term with a constantly changing definition that sjw and critical race cunts us to always be able to call everyone they disagree with racist.

    1. “Come on balko your better than this.”

      Not since writing for HuffPo and getting onto the Washington Post, he isn’t. He’s a professional writer and he knows what his employer and audience expect from his writing.

      So we get howlers like, “I think with Michael Brown—and, as you say, Rodney King—the fact that the initial narrative had some qualifications or context that made it less compelling gave white people an excuse to dismiss it all as based on a false narrative…” No Radley, we dismissed Michael Brown because he was a piece of shit strong arm thug who got shot, not half an hour after he robbed a convenience store clerk.

      Radley Balko hasn’t been the Cato Crusader against no-knock raids for a long time. Good for him; the Post likely pays a hell of a lot better.

    2. I don’t know about St. Louis in particular, but “systemic racism” being blamed for white people not wanting to live near black people might be stealing a base in the argument. I live near black people and I have no problem with that because they’re people just like me. Doesn’t mean I’d want to go live down near the projects on Alabama Street, and neither would my black neighbors, because these aren’t people just like me. They’re poor people, and whether you like it or not, a lot of poor people are poor because they do the shit poor people do – being poor isn’t simply not having any money, it’s a whole set of bad habits that keep you poor. Who wants to live near poor people who don’t understand why they’re poor and aren’t striving to get out of poverty?

      Mainly, it’s a lack of grasping the concept of delayed gratification. That’s the problem with capitalism, it takes capital and capital requires that you put in the hard work first and reap the rewards later. People want the rewards first and the hard work not at all. “Systemic racism” is a handy excuse for why you’re not getting ahead, when the fact is you’re not getting ahead because you’re stupid. You’re demanding rewards you haven’t earned. You’re a looter who justifies stealing a pair of shoes because getting a job and saving up your money and buying a pair of shoes is hard work and hard work is for suckers. Besides, getting a job and saving your money runs the risk of teaching you that an expensive pair of shoes is a stupid thing to want.

      1. So, if they leave a deteriorating neighborhood, it’s ‘white flight’.

        Meanwhile, the white people who move back into the inner cities are accused of ‘gentrification’.

        Where are they supposed to live?

        1. Re-education camps?

      2. I dunno if it’s properly “systemic” racism, or more correctly labeled “cultural” racism, but the tony white folk not wanting to live near even the competent and affluent black folk trying to move into their town seems pretty racist of some sort.

        But obviously that’s just a surface analysis. Hell, for all I know there was some stupid state or county level tax reason why it was important to keep founding new towns instead of staying where they were. At a first glance, though, “I have to go start a new town a mile away because a black family moved in three streets over” does seem pretty racially motivated.

        1. Actually, riffing off of Brett Bellmore’s comments below, I can think of an alternative explanation that would look nearly the same.

          Rich white people move out of St. Louis and found a suburb. A while later, less affluent white people start moving in. Eventually the toniest of the white people go found another town to get away from the poors, and then the process starts all over again. Unless we’re talking about a town of million dollar homes that the white people started moving out of after the black millionaires started buying houses (which, given what people are saying about the towns in question, seems improbable) that would be way more about rich people being classist than racist.

          Rich people have pretty much never wanted to live near the peasantry.

          1. You incorporate the suburb because if you don’t, the city will annex you and you have to start paying the city taxes you moved away to avoid. Cities were built on taxing the rich people in the uptown area and giving stuff to the poor folks downtown.

            That is part of what drove urban sprawl. Atlanta is completely surrounded by incorporated cities that are simply suburbs. They are black and white alike. United in not wanting to subsidize the city race grifters who hand out contracts to cronies based on race. The city has been strangled for some time – it is a giant metropolitan area, but the actual residential population is only about 10% of the whole. And it is mostly the poor and minority people – the wealthy having mostly moved out to the burbs over the last 50 years.

            1. Suburban sprawl is also driven by the simple fact that most people don’t really like living at high population densities, and if they can afford it, they’ll live someplace *near* a crowded place, (To access the versatile amenities density enables.) but with a bit of room.

              Suburbs are simply the population density most people like living at.

      3. Yes, bad or good neighborhoods are that way because of the residents. Full stop. Race has zero factor.

        That’s why when you “gentrify’ you have to replace the residents because they are the reason it needed gentrified in the first place,

    3. Balko seems to have come up with his own definition of systemic racism, which isn’t the same as whatever social justice warriors mean by the term. Maybe a more accurate term for what Balko is talking about is persisting institutional racism.

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  8. As a long time fan of Balko (I bought his first book and have gone to see him speak) I find it disappointing that he’s swallowed the systemic racism bullshit.

    Michael Brown? Really? Holder’s own Justice Dept. cleared the cop. Do you really want to argue that random black guys should be allowed to try and disarm cops with no consequences.

    white people would move into a suburb and eventually upper-class/middle-class black people would also move out [to the suburb]. White people didn’t like that, so they’d move a mile over and start a new town. This just kept happening all over St. Louis County

    Yeah, those weird and racist white people who kept moving away. Why wouldn’t they hang around for the inevitable crime, disfunction, and plummeting property values?

    1. Do you really want to argue that random black guys should be allowed to try and disarm cops with no consequences.

      Don’t be silly. Not just any random black guys. It has to be a criminal piece of subhuman shit who just got done pulling a strong arm robbery. If you pick legitimate victims of police brutality you might get sympathy from the public and useful reform. When your goal is Marxist revolution the last thing in the world you want is the oppressor class making reforms. The issue isn’t the issue, the revolution is the issue.

      1. That’s the thing I’m frustrated that Balko doesn’t seem to get. An organization can have some legitimate complaints, and STILL be run by communist subversives who are just using the complaints as an excuse to try to pull off a revolution.

        And it matters, because if the complaints are just an excuse, well, they want as big an excuse as they can get, so the last thing they want is to improve anything.

        1. “And it matters, because if the complaints are just an excuse”

          Even if that’s true, and I think you are probably right, actually improving the things they are complaining about will reduce their support.

          Sorry, but this is not a legitimate reason to forgo addressing legitimate complaints.

          1. Sure it is. I don’t accomodate liars.

            1. “I will stand and support injustice because I think the other guy is a liar”

              Moron.

          2. You don’t get it.

            The logic isn’t “I don’t support their communist goals, so I won’t support reforms”

            The logic is “they have communist goals, not reform goals. So they push conflict instead of agreement and reform. They pick cases where there is pretty clear justification for the police action (Michael Brown) and with a little help from highly placed friends (Holder and Obama holding on to their conclusions for a couple of months while riots grew), they divide people along racial lines.

            1. You don’t get it. Making real reforms where needed will make things harder for them and erode their support at the margins.

              And yes, the statement I was responding to was quite explicitly “I don’t support their communist goals, so I won’t support any reforms”

              1. Yeah, a dumb statement.

                But BLM is not pushing for reform. They are actively opposing reform, paradoxically by protesting in favor of it.

                Kind of related to the way the democrats “reform” immigration by pushing for more illegal immigration. Or the way Republicans “reform” abortion by passing obviously ludicrous non-starter and unconstitutional laws – laws that would be far beyond constitutional authority even in the absence of Roe v Wade.

    2. Yeah, I remember my sister moving from a nice suburban house in Warren, to a tonier place in Eastpointe. I asked her why she’d bothered, she had a nice place, big yard, you name it.

      “Because if I can afford to move to Eastpointe, the gangbangers can afford to move to Warren. We had a carjacking a block from my house last week!”

      1. Was the carjacking a block from where she moved from, or from where she moved to? Was she trying to get away from the gangbangers, or make life better for them?

        1. A block from where she moved from. We’d had the conversation while helping her with the move.

    3. I believe in systemic racism too, but I think its effects on race are so attenuated as to be of little or no concern. It may produce results which are still race related but have no practical effect as to making life worse for people of any particular race. However, it does produce some results which are no longer race related but make life worse for people regardless of race. So even calling it “systemic racism” misses the point.

      For instance, the various wars on drugs have almost always been about animus against particular classes of persons, but those animi (animuses?) are left behind while the shit inflicted on the population generally remains.

  9. LMFAO. So apparently becoming a foaming at the mouth Marxist also turns you into a bloated fat cunt. Might want to eat a salad once in a while instead of exclusively black cock, Balko.

      1. I actually don’t live vicariously through violent subhuman thugs like you do, but if I did, I’d probably be more humiliated by my sad ass attempt to play GI Joe and getting my brains blown out by an armed motorist who actually knew the score. Any time you want to get off your bloated fat fucking ass and take some hot lead through the skull like that pathetic pussy ass little faggot, let me know and I’ll send you my address. Nothing I’d love more than to take a kiddie fucker out of the gene pool.

        1. No, that was you, Lumpy.

          You survived that one but you will gun up for the next one you say (wise decision).

          1. “2”

            Lol you got banned again.

      2. How do you know that was BLM?

      3. AHAAHHAAHAHHAAH

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  11. It’ll be interesting to see how this experiment with doing away with the police department in Minneapolis goes. Done correctly, it can be a good thing, but I suspect that they’re not just going to dial back on harassing people committing victimless crimes, they’re more likely to adopt the California model of just not prosecuting low-level crimes. Then they’ll replace the cops with an even more expensive and interventionalist suite of programs designed to further the growth of the therapeutic state.

    It will also be interesting to see if they extend this to other government agencies as far as looking at whether or not the cure might be worse than the disease, but I suspect not, they don’t even see the problem in the simple terms of the cops costing more than they’re worth. They just see it as the cops have failed, we must adopt an even more elaborate system to solve the problem, but we must never question the premise that the government can indeed solve all the problems.

    1. Done correctly, it can be a good thing

      Absolutely! Minneapolis white cucks have only had 3 of their underage girls raped without consequence since they agreed to fight white supremacy by tolerating homeless encampments in public parks.

      1. Yes, and raping little girls is exactly the sort of victimless crime I’m talking about. But I should ask you, what price are you willing to pay to not have little girls raped? “If it saves one life…”, right?

        1. “right?”

          No rape isn’t murder dummy.

          1. Y’know, I’m pretty sure the sentence “raping little girls is [a] victimless crime” should have set off your sarcasm detector at least a little bit… 😉

  12. As long as he doesn’t talk about Trump.

  13. http://twitter.com/Timcast/status/1302945857285877762?s=19

    What’s it called when a bunch of masked white people with a history of violence looting and burning black communities block a black woman from driving while calling her racial slurs?

    1. “equity”

    2. Trump voter outreach?

    3. A model for antifa?

    4. “Intersectional Social Justice”, apparently.

  14. You can say that bad cops/blacks are a tiny percentage of the overall force/race, but if the system isn’t doing anything about those bad cops/blacks—or even when it does, they can find a job/social worker a county or two over—then it’s probably a corrupt system. Yes, it’s probably a small percentage of cops/blacks who kill people or shoot people or are blatantly racist. But there is an entire culture of covering up, of the idea that cops/blacks should always look out for each other—the best interests of cops/blacks are prioritized over everything, over justice, over the people they’re supposed to be serving.

    1. “over the people they’re supposed to be serving.”

      Who are blacks supposed to be serving? You mean black waiters and waitresses or did you mean blacks in general? I hate it when any restaurant worker of any color puts their own interests over mine.

  15. Good interview. Very much like Mr. Balko’s explanation of systemic racism. The term “systemic racism” can be a very loaded and I found the explanation very good, along with the example. I hope it helps defuse the term for people with open minds. I think we are changing and making progress although too slow for many.

    1. He could have simoly called it ficton and been done and 100% accurate.

  16. There are a lot of misconceptions about what systemic racism is. For a long time I didn’t fully understand what it was.

    Balko was better before he became woke. Hell, unlike his former colleagues at Reason he knew to stay the fuck away from the whole Trayvon Martin mess and took shit from his new found progressive friends for his silence.

    1. They seemingly want to be part of a stack of bodies. All for the benefit of a selectively edited video clip that shows how mean, racist, and unenlightened suburban White people eating dinner are. Spread these videos to people who ask.

      Or like I get from time to time, “Why wouldn’t you vote for Biden?” Because I want this sort of thing to stop. And it stops, one way or the other, after the election.

      1. Or like I get from time to time, “Why wouldn’t you vote for Biden?” Because I want this sort of thing to stop. And it stops, one way or the other, after the election.

        I’m less optimistic. The rioting may have something to do with the coming election, and if it does, then Trump winning would suggest that the rioting will continue. COVID isn’t going anywhere. The same malcontents will still be jobless and bored and looking for something to do. And the Democrats will be fully on board with it. “This is Trump’s America” etc.

        1. The rioting may continue; the lack of violent responses to them probably stops. Trump probably lets the Feds of the leash, and may even step up to RICO indictments against political underwriters. Maybe even political leaders?

          I should be so lucky to watch Mayor Wheeler or Governor Kate Brown dragged off in chains by Federal Marshals.

          One way or another, there will be order.

          1. “I should be so lucky to watch Mayor Wheeler or Governor Kate Brown dragged off in chains by Federal Marshals.”

            Right after they get the Clintons.

  17. Was Balko always this fat?

    1. No, but then again, neither was I. 😉

    1. Why don’t these people just get a hobby. Jesus.

    2. At first I thought that was some kind of stunt. But it’s a testament to stupidity.

    1. The DNC needs to keep up those amazing voter outreach techniques.
      Nothing convinces better of the righteousness of your cause than screaming in their faces with a megaphone when they’re having lunch.

  18. The problem with the police is not the militarization of the police but it is the local and state politicians. It is the politicians that control the police and set the training and SOPs that the police have to use. It is a combination what the politicians do and don’t do that causes the problem. Police are not left to their own initiative to control itself with political oversight. Nor can the police select the training that will be used until it approved by the POLITICAL overlords. Yes the police unions have gotten in the contracts that protect their members but even these contracts with these clauses in them has to be approved by the politicians. And yes the local police also has certain constraints imposed by the state but in large it is the local politicians that control the police.
    This is quite evident from what is going on in today’s time. Take the death of young black men just over the past couple of decades at the hands of police have all been in places that has been controlled by democrats. From the death of a black man put handcuffed in a police van then injured enroute to the police station back during the Obama administration right up to the black man killed in Rochester NY all are in cities with democrat is and have been in control some for years to decades. So all these have one thing in common and that is DEMOCRATS are and have been in control. Something to keep in mind in the upcoming vote.

    1. There’s a lot of truth to what you say, although if you take it a step further, the voters are responsible for the politicians.

      And keep in mind local and state politicians are not the ones who started practically giving away surplus Federal military equipment to police departments.

      1. No. Bill Clinton did.

        1. Don’t disagree.

      2. Mike, why are you running around as “Yes Way, Ted”?

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  20. “ There are polls showing that black people are more fearful of being a victim of a police beating or shooting than they are of being victimized by a criminal.”

    Then they’re either highly misinformed by our grand 4th estate, stupid, willfully ignorant, or some combination thereof.

    The perspective is (purposefully) skewed, and because of it a sizable portion of blacks have a blocked view of the game, and we have sizeabkw portions of all people believing that we’re a nation of white supremacist. It’s absurd.

    1. “Then they’re either highly misinformed by our grand 4th estate, stupid, willfully ignorant, or some combination thereof.”

      Or maybe they know something you don’t.

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  22. There are problems with the police, but a lot of it is actually bad laws, like the existence of no knock raids and drug laws.

    On the flip side, the riots and anarchy are pretty much worse than a dozen or so sketchy police deaths a year, especially as so many of the highlighted ones are a career criminal resisting arrest or fighting with police.

    It’s like the media and the left (but I repeat myself) are trying to stoke a race war. Charles Manson would be proud. Even though the data doesn’t back that up, that whites get killed just as much as blacks.

    But we are at a point where many black people literally believe that police are hunting them in the streets as sport, while white people are never bothered by police. Because that’s what the media is saying…

    And that doesn’t even touch on the damage that wokeism is doing, inserting race into every aspect of society.

    1. “Charles Manson would be proud.”

      According to a book I read, the whole Manson race war story was cooked up by the prosecution to tie Manson into murders he didn’t commit, nor was he even at the murder site.

    2. “many black people literally believe that police are hunting them in the streets”

      Name one.

        1. You’ve been misinformed. James doesn’t believe he’s being hunted in the streets by police. Besides, he’s not a black person but a celebrity.

  23. I find this comment bizzare:

    “You get a ticket in the mail that you can pay, or choose not to pay and face the consequences of that. The difference is you’re not having this armed interaction [or] confrontation with a police officer, which is completely unnecessary.”

    Does this man not know there is a 3rd option — contest the ticket? I’ve done that and won. Will the “civilian” officer have a dashboard camera? Will he have to testify in court? Will I be able to even contest the ticket?

    One of the reasons that stoplight and speeding cameras were outlawed in Texas was because you did not know ahead of time you had a problem to contest if you wanted to. You did not know your accuser. You did not necessarily recognize the circumstances or remember the moment from days/weeks earlier. How is this different from having surveillance cameras around the town/city accusing you anonymously?

    1. Interesting.

      In Georgia when I lived there there were 3 criteria for contesting a speeding ticket by radar.

      1. Was the officer properly trained.
      2. Was the equipment properly calibrated.
      3. Was the location of the officer on an incline greater than 39 degrees (that may not be the exact steepness of the hill… but the point is that there was only one location in the entire state that fit that description)

      That’s it.

      “I did not do it” is not an option.

      Not with eyewitnesses.

      Not with videotape.

      Not with GPS proof and videotape from multiple angles and the Pope in the back of the car swearing that you only went 25 miles per hour.

      Not a single bit of that is admissible.

      I went to traffic court one time and watched the judge deal with someone who had what he thought was iron-clad proof. He brought 4 eyewitnesses and a GPS tracker output from his job and a video from a local store security system.

      He kept trying to introduce these items and the judge just interrupted and said “Would you like to ask the officer if he is properly trained?” He would try to start again with “I have video..”…. She’d interrupt and say “Would you like to ask the officer to show proof of the calibration of the equipment?”

      After she went through the 3 items, ignoring everything else he said, she said “the court finds you guilty. The fine is $172, plus court costs of $250. You can pay at the office on the first floor. Next case…”

      I had a case where the officer was just flat wrong. He was set up with his radar on his motorcycle and he had walked away for a minute, talking on a cell phone. His back was to the road. A 25mph speed zone in a residential area with heavy through traffic. A guy in a pickup truck passed about 4 cars and cut in ahead of the car in front of me when he saw the cop. I was going extra slow, so there was a gap. The cop hears the thing beep, turns around and sees me at the end of a line of traffic. He pulls me over.

      He was factually wrong. He lied about the conditions (light traffic, clear skies… boilerplate language to show that he saw everything clearly. He wasn’t looking. I saw him the whole time I was sitting at the light ahead of where he was set up, so I never went above 25, even though everyone except pickup dude went 35. Pickup dude went over 45 rushing to get around everyone.

      The judge listened to me. She offered a chance to take traffic school to get out of the ticket. Cost the same, but you have to take a week out of your life to go to traffic school. So I paid the stupid fine even though I was innocent. She probably knew it too.

      So “confront your accuser” doesn’t mean as much as you might think it does in traffic court. It all depends, I suppose.

      I was in another Georgia court and I watched the attorneys hand over batches of 50 or 100 tickets – all reduced to “faulty equipment” and a healthy civil penalty. The DA had an arrangement with local attorneys, apparently. Everyone who was represented got off in one way or another – even DUI cases. Those who were not represented by local counsel did not. ( I had a ticket for running a red light I did not run and having an expired tag that was not expired – the thing just had not arrived in the mail). I had proof on both in hand. So the DA offered to drop the case if I agreed to pay a civil penalty of $110. Just straight extortion)

  24. Another oddly unexplored response:

    “The best thing we can do at the federal level is to remove the perverse incentives that are driving bad behavior at the local level. Most of the reform is going to happen at the local level.”

    What perverse incentives? Can you explicitly name them in the article? What are they? How does the Federal Government remove them?

  25. Balko should have won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Cory Maye. Not many reporters can say they saved a life.

    1. Absolutely. You compare Balko’s reporting on Mississippi justice with the 1619 project… It is like comparing “It’s a Wonderful Life” with “birth of a nation” for the Oscar.

      Yet who is getting all of the love and attention?

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  27. I wish I could have been there for that interview. Radley’s work for Reason is the best thing from the last 20 years, hands down. Basically there is no second place.

    And in his post-reason career he was gaining credibility. People were listening to the author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop”. Change was in the air. The real issues were on the table.

    Then “Hands Up, Don’t shoot” happened. BLM sprang into existence and sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. All conversations about criminal justice reform ceased. We got to talk about how racist everyone is and then go home.

    Now, here we are again. Progress was being made. This time, not just with a journalist pushing the agenda, but with a social media influencer actually getting the President of the United States on board.

    And with the death of George Floyd, another moment was upon us. I have friends in a handful of police departments in south Florida. All of them reported the same thing…. nobody was on the other side. There was universal agreement. There was a moment that could be seized for reform.

    And nobody called Radley Balko.

    Instead, they called Benjamin Crump. And then BLM came back.

    And they told us that whitey needs to shut up and listen.

    And they made the entire moment into a racist wedge.

    That is what I would have asked Radley Balko about.

    He has become significantly more left-leaning in his public persona since moving to the Washington Post from HuffPo. But I think he probably still can see that they have twice derailed real police reform for something unreformable (which I argue is by design). You can’t train racism out of people – particularly not by the new definitions where being actively not racist is still racist, and you just need to acknowledge your racism (and let BLM decide everything for you, I suppose).

    Radley is the expert on this issue, in my book. And he’s been sidelined twice by a “movement” that actively derails any hope of real reforms. I’d love to hear his unfiltered thoughts on that issue in particular… having his life’s work usurped and subsumed by a false narrative.

    I dunno… his bread is buttered by those people these days. But he’s a no-lie hero of mine, and I’d rather people were listening to his ideas on police reform than a bunch of CWPA folks who’s idea of reform is to make everything so terrible that they can actually take over and usher in their version of utopia, sans capitalism, sans private property, sans the US constitution….

    1. Now, here we are again. Progress was being made. This time, not just with a journalist pushing the agenda, but with a social media influencer actually getting the President of the United States on board.

      Why should there be reforms? Three quarters of Americans are happy with their local police department; this is true even if you just look at blacks.

      And in what way is this the president’s business? I have no doubt that police departments in big Democrat-run cities are corrupt, violent, and racist; how is that in any way my problem or the problem of the federal government? Those people elected their city government, let them live with it and pay for it.

      1. Well, then you can be happy with BLM derailing things.

        For real answers to “why”, see rise of the warrior cop. It lays out the issues and solutions pretty well.

        Forensics is a joke… And Balko has written extensively on the topic of how, why and how to fix it. There are serious issues with the mission…. War on drugs, for example.

        It is fairly complex, but the big stuff is really not that difficult. And it was coming. Until peaceful protesters burned buildings and stole televisions to demand defunding the police.

        1. Does “derailing” involve rioting and violence? Ears off once you try and justify this.

          1. Yes. That is the entire point. They intentionally take points of agreement and set them on fire metaphorically by literally setting stuff on fire.

            It is not a mistake. Or an overreach. It is part of the plan. The leadership of both BLM and Antifa talk about “tearing down the system.” Reforming it is counterproductive. They don’t want that. They want anger, division and violence.

            If you support police reform, you should be opposed to the most widely known police reform movement, BLM. That sounds backwards, but it is true. They are not in favor of reform.

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  30. Whenever you cite Michael Brown as some sort of victim you lose all credibility.

    “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” didn’t happen. Trying to take the officers weapon to use it against him did happen. 100% of the time that ends badly.

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