“Just Comply and Everything Will Be Fine”

The other day I saw a video of a small black child playing in the front yard. As soon as he saw a cop car he hid behind a vehicle.

A conservative American was quick to mock the whole thing. Claim the child only did that because his parents where cop haters that had told him to hide from the cops, and that everything would be fine if black parents just told their kids to not act out, behave properly and comply with the police.

I have seen this sentiment repeated by American conservatives ad nauseam, after the protests from the killing of George Floyd 2020.

When you present statistics showing that American police are more brutal than that of comparable countries by e.g. looking at the number of people US police officers shoot then then conservatives make excuses such as:

American Conservative: “their criminals have learned to comply when the police give them an order! That is why police in other countries don’t kill criminals!”

This is of course absolute nonsense. It is in fact the complete opposite. Americans stopped by the police are generally far more cautious as they know American police is dangerous.

In fact if you compare police encounters in various countries with encounters with US police you can see that police in other countries tolerate far more acting out without getting violent or shooting people.

Let us look at some different cases for comparison. Here is e.g. Norwegian police dealing with a drunk man who is kicking, screaming and not complying. Notice how chill they are, how they joke and try to make him calm down.

Here is a comparison of British police arresting a dangerous man wielding a knife, compared with US cops doing the same. Notice the difference?

Here is a Dutch guy with a gun arrested. Notice how he is not punched, pushed to the floor or anything else you regularly see US police do.

Here we have an agitated man wielding a machete. UK police however are able to arrest him without killing him or causing serious injury.

These are examples from western democracies. But what about police in countries often viewed as brutal and oppressive police states? Surely they must be more brutal than American police when arresting people, showing less tolerance for people not complying.

Well it does not look like that. Here is various footage from China. A female police officer disarms and arrest a knife wielding suspect without using taser, gun or baton.

Yet another guy arrested wielding a knife in China. Notice he is not pushed to the ground with knees on the neck.

Russia is supposed to be an oppressive police state, yet look at how Russian police are treating protesters and media. The reporter is able to stand around unharmed while police make arrests.

Notice how people arrested are not shoved to the ground. They are simply carried by Russian police.

Look here how American police are brutally attacking Australian journalists and news coverage. Something quite unthinkable for Russia to do against foreign journalists during a protest.

Here US police is attacking their own media. Well known news outlets such as MSNBC.

Here is a coverage of over 100 attacks against journalists including attacks on German media covering the protests.

Ironic with people commenting on Russian police arresting protesters several months ago stating “Thank God I was born in the US.” Yet as we can see in this protest, most protesters are not actually handled as bad as they would be in the US. They are not hand cuffed, shoved to the ground or beaten.

The beating of undercover St. Louise Police officer shows clearly the problem with police brutality.

Officer Randy Hays and other cops sentenced for beating undercover cop at protest. He had said to fellow officers “going rogue does feel good.” There are youtube videos discussing this case quoting transcripts about how these officers loved beating up protesters.

It points to an obvious problem that police easily get of the hook for brutally beating protesters in the US. Judging by their exchange, it seems they are used to beating protesters and getting away with it. All the got to say is that “hey he resisted or started it.” In this case serving up such a lie is more difficult because they beat an undercover cop. It would be highly implausible that an undercover cop attacked police or did anything that warranted a beat down.

Such cases point to the top of the iceberg. When somebody is arrested for a crime, it seldom means that crime happened once. Rather it is a reflection of a crime happening frequent enough that an arrest will eventually happen. In this case it is simply a reflection of beating up non-violent protesters is a normal thing to do by US police officers. In fact they seem to enjoy doing it.

We have to dispense with this myth that lack of compliance is the result of all this police violence. It obviously was not the case in the St. Louise case. If you are black you are simply more likely to get beat up.

The undercover cop was black. Here is another example. A black business owner calls police to help him with a robber at his store. What do the cops do? Completely unprovoked, they sucker punch him and shove him to the ground in a brutal manner.

Here is from Valdosta Police slamming a black 46 year old in the ground breaking his arm. He is complying, answering questions and giving his ID. Yet another cop unprovoced walk up behind him and just slam him to the ground. Later they realize it was the wrong guy.

Except even if it was the right guy, this treatment is way out of line. You got to give people the ability to comply before using excessive force. In most western police force one will tolerate some acting out. You got to give a suspect some time to calm down. They where not in a hurry in this situation. They had not verified they where talking to the correct guy.

This is a video by a black female police officer, which gives some insight into the harassment African-Americans are subject to. She is stopped by two young white police officers who most likely where able to tell that she was black, but not that she was a cop. These officers where actually tasked to look for people smuggling drugs and not write traffic tickets.

One of the ironies of watching the debate on American police brutality is that there are always American conservatives remarking on how bad the same situation would be in Russia, because “Russian cops don’t mess around,” when in reality is is frequently the direct opposite.

It is American cops who “don’t mess around,” or rather use excessive force.

This is a guy arrested in the US for jay walking not doing any physical to resist arrest.

Here Russian police arrest an armed suspected terrorist without beating the shit out of him. Notice how much better he is treated.

This is Russian police arresting suspected gangsters. Again without beating them up.

So what is my point? Why giving all these examples from Russia? Am I so naive as to think Russian cops don’t beat up people? Of course not. Police brutality in Russia is well known.

The point is to show that Russia which is supposed to be the low bar. They are supposed to embody what it means to be a police state to many Americans. Yet as one can see American cops are regularly far more brutal in how they deal with people.

If you cannot be better than Russia, then you have issues. My point of showing Chinese and Russian policing to get across that these are countries the US should easily be able to be more humane than with respect to police tactics. Yet that is simply not the case.

American aspirations should not be to be better than Russia and China. The US should aspire to compete with western democracies. Yet it struggles to even compete with current or former communist dictatorships. That ought to be an embarrassment.

American conservatives however refuse to acknowledge the problem and instead seek to shift blame. Either it is the liberals media blowing it up. Or there is a belief that American criminals are worse than other criminals, or acting out more than criminals elsewhere. As we can see, from multiple videos and I advice you to look this up yourself, that is simply not the case.

Why are American conservatives in such denial about police brutality in the US? I can only speculate.

Having been pretty much raised on Hollywood movies I see a clear common thread. Americans are used to presenting themselves as the good-guy country, always saving the world from evil. The belief in American exceptionalism. This fictional movie captures the sentiment well.

Ever since “Dirty Harry,” has Hollywood sold the story that the good cop has to be able to break the rules to get the bad guy. Almost every American cop movie push the same narrative on good guys and bad guys. The good guys have to basically torture the bad guy to get to the truth. Threatening to throw him off a building. Beat him up or squeeze him in one way or another.

And it is shown to always work. Yet we know from the real world that torture simply does not work well. Effective police work is not based on torture. Yet Hollywood presents effective police work as being willing to break the rules and give the bad guy a good beating.

I think Americans over time has really internalized this logic. That is why American conservatives where so ready to accept Gitmo, Abu Graib, rendition and black sites where the CIA tortured people.

Hollywood movies really only show the good guys torturing bad guys. Guilty people. And after torture they always give valuable information. You almost never see the cops beat up an innocent guy or extract wrong or flawed intel.

Of course conservative Americans may dismiss me as a liberal snowflake who doesn’t know how “the real world works.” But we know what works in the real world. The most effective Nazi interrogator did not use any torture. Quite the contrary, he used kindness.

Even Napoleon who cannot be accused of being a naive liberal snowflake strongly opposed torture:

“The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognised that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know.”

An example of how spectacularly bad this could go was during the plague. Jews got accused of poisoning the wells. This became “truth” when tortured Jews admitted they had done it. Once they “admitted” the “truth” under torture, more Jews got tortured until basically they “admitted” that every Jewish women and child was in on it. Thus massacres on all Jews in countless medieval times ensued. Tortured people will just say whatever you want to hear. They just confirm your own prejudice.

American Hollywood movies pretty much never shows this reality. Perhaps Hollywood should start an effort on highlighting police brutality rather than in many ways encourage it.

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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