Internalized #Oppression: We All Have It Going On

What is “Internalized Oppression” and why do I claim we all have it going on?

If you have spent a lot of time in political activism, psychological growth, advocating for social justice/progressive causes and feminism, anti-racism, anti-Semitism and other anti-oppression movements of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and continuing, as I have, you would know what I’m talking about and have lived long enough to have unlearned some of the IO we all have. Or, you could have come to learn about IO some other way. If not, or if you’re interested in my perspective and some personal stories, keep reading.

I was first trained in 1977 in Massachusetts via the Movement for a New Society’s (MNS) Nonviolence Activism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_a_New_Society

The members of MNS consciously sought to develop tools and strategies that could be employed to bring about revolutionary change through nonviolent means. The three-part focus of MNS included training for activists, nonviolent direct action and community. The main location for MNS activity was in West Philadelphia. Other locations included Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Tucson, Western Massachusetts, and more….MNS was unusual in combining feminist group process, broad analysis of interrelated people’s struggles including class and culture, and personal empowerment techniques ranging from music and street theater as political organizing tools to Re-Evaluation Counseling.

I was also trained via Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC) in Massachusetts and New Hampshire starting in 1978 and continuing through 1986. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Re-evaluation_Counseling]

RC has ambitious social and environmental objectives, including, “The transformation of society to a rational, peaceful, non-exploitative, classless form world-wide. The preservation of all existing species of life and the re-creation of extinguished species. The preservation of wilderness areas and the creation of a completely benign environment over most of the earth, the oceans, and the atmosphere. The exploration of, and eventually becoming at home in, space.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was part of the “Clamshell Alliance,” a successful anti-nuclear energy group utilizing MNS and RC techniques and principles. We “Clams” prevented the second “tower” of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, power plant from being built. This and many other “affinity groups” like it across the continent worked throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s to dismantle the stranglehold the nuclear energy capitalists were gaining on energy production in the USA and Canada. We have them/us to thank for how few nuclear disasters there have been in the USA due to there having been fewer power plants built than proposed.

Nuclear_power_is_not_healthy_poster

MNS and RC were the grandparents of most modern USA and global social justice movements movements; believe me). Their teaching techniques, training exercises, formats for consensus decision-making, use of nonviolence, understandings of social justice issues and oppression and methods for transforming individuals as well as groups have been incorporated into almost every type of social and political change movement around the globe, including Arab Spring and Occupy.

They taught me about Internalized #Oppression (IO): We All Have It Going On.

Intersectionality thrives via IO, because the overlapping strength of each oppression with insidious inroads into us and each other creates the systemic continuance of them all.

intersectionality
image from http://decolonizeallthethings.wordpress.com

For example, Height-ism. I am short and getting shorter. For a Jewish/Eastern European-roots female born in the middle of the last century, it’s not uncommon. I stopped growing at age 12, at 5′ 1.5″, at which point I was considered somewhat tall. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t going to keep growing, since everyone around me seemed to be, nor that I was short, until we were being arranged in poses for photos for the high school yearbook in the beginning of my senior year (I know; how could I not know? Well, I just wasn’t thinking about my height). People kept telling me to “get into the middle” or would call out: “Short people in front,” pushing me forward. I looked around in shock: “Oh! I really am short!”

I then spent the last four decades comparing my size to many other people’s and always being shocked at who else was actually my size or smaller, because they all appeared to be SO SHORT but I didn’t see myself as that short. In my inner voice, I was contemptuous, ridiculing, and otherwise snobbish about their smallness, as if I were magically exempt from such derision. Luckily (?), I kept these thoughts to myself.

Randy Newman (amazing singer-songwriter and social commentator) did not keep HIS thoughts to himself. We should all be grateful to him…. We need to laugh, sometimes, at how ridiculous prejudice and bias are, without forgetting how damaging and dangerous these ideas can become when enacted or spoken.

randy-newman-short people

That is classic Internalized Oppression (IO): Version 1) believing ourselves to be outside of/better than/not really representative of the groups we actually belong to, we deride our identity group by condemning other members of it; Version 2) we condemn ourselves for traits considered to be endemic of that group.

With both versions, we perpetuate the cultural and institutionalized oppressions that already run rampant, adding strength to stereotypes and assisting the oppression machine to keep churning out misery. We collude with and give power to the oppressors by “owning” their perspectives. IO is so difficult to uncover or recognize that we actually believe these viewpoints are our own opinions, developed on our own, independently of anyone or any influence: that’s how deluded we are.

So it goes.

How does IO play out? Via sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, ableism, ageism, homophobia/heterosexism, transphobia, classism, etc., oppressions reign supreme. When those within these oppressed groups further and enable the oppressors’ aims in putting us down by loathing ourselves and each other for being members of said groups, that is IO at work.

Example: SEXISM: When women/girls, as individuals of an oppressed MAJORITY, FEMALES, adopt society’s negativity towards females, what happens? We then display “our” views of females by scornfully talking about other females at almost every age (and not just because of differing political positions, intellectual differences or disagreements). Worst of all, IO leads women to be the main enforcers/ perpetrators of some of the worst harm inflicted on female children and other women (genital mutilation, forced child marriage, sex trafficking, bride-burning, foot-binding).

Women/girls who live with unmitigated IO will be motivated to compete unfairly, gossip, spread rumors, backbite, jockey for position, believe in scarcity (zero-sum games) and operate in other ways that undermine each other rather than collaborate and support one another. We “sell out” our own gender in a usually unsuccessful attempt to gain favor from men or stand out as superior to other women.

IO rots “sisterhood,” pitting heteronormative (“cisgender”) women against gender-queers and lesbians, motivating lesbians to exclude female bisexuals. IO inspires white women to believe whatever the oppressors tell us if it seems we may “some day” reach feminism’s goals, such as when white men told suffragettes that abolition was “more important” than women’s having the right to vote, that women should “wait our turn”: most white women accepted this.

When women find it acceptable (not speaking up AGAINST this means you find it acceptable) for females to be labeled “bitches,” “whores,” “sluts,” “tramps” and whatever other derogatory monikers current trends are utilizing to put strong, powerful, sexually active, empowered women down, then that is also IO operating within and among us.

Tina Fey anti-sexism
image from http://www.hercampus.com

IO is in place when a coach tells a mixed-gender or all-male group of athletes to “stop playing like girls,” and the girls on the team or at the location spew hate on the weaker members, continuing the damage caused by this coach.

When mothers, female teachers, any females who interact with young people, dichotomize the children based on supposed gender-based traits so that the girls are positioned by other females as less important, less competent, less valuable, and are forced to be less active or presumed to be less able than the boys, that is IO in action.

Example: RACISM: Racist IO occurs when those from oppressed ethnic/racial groups have “oppression derbies” to evaluate (usually not in public, but with social media, increasingly in public) the relative status of each individual of that group by applying arbitrary, oppressor-based criteria. Furthermore, we devise ways to determine who has the least number or degree of whatever traits of that group are currently despised (curly hair, darker skin, slanty eyes, large noses, thick or thin lips, argumentative/interrupting speech patterns, accents, higher intelligence or perceived skills in particular areas, glasses, other physical features such as stature, body type, breast size, etc.). Then, we assign higher value to those who “pass” or who are taken for NOT belonging to that group over those who display more/stronger group-identified traits. IO wins, there.

no racism
image from http://www.sodahead.com

IO manifests when Black people tell themselves or others (or have TV shows/movies/ music videos/ books which demonstrate) that “lighter skin” is “prettier” or straighter hair is “more professional.”

Best first-read to unlearn racism? A classic, by Professor Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”
http://www.artsci.washington.edu/natsci/Search-committee-materials/unpacking-invisible-knapsack.pdf

ETHNOCENTRISM/ANTI-SEMITISM: When Jewish families determine that their child’s teenage nose is “too large” and encourage or require their child (usually a female) to have plastic surgery to “fix” (break and reshape) their noses, that is IO imposed by the parents onto the children. Similarly, hair-straightening, skin-lightening, lip-thinning or plumping and other feature-changing attempts all stem from some type of racist/ethnocentrist IO most of the time.

Example: ABLEISM: Those with different physical/mental abilities or disabilities position ourselves “above” as many others classified in this way as possible, striving to be seen and appreciated for our strengths, but not giving that same respect and value to those we place “below” us. This classification of individuals within an oppressed group by members of that group is also classic IO in action: we do the oppressors’ work for them.

When a paraplegic calls a quadriplegic a “crip,” that is IO. When we who are older and becoming more hearing-impaired respond with impatience to someone else who can’t hear well, or are self-deprecating about our own inability to hear clearly, that is IO.

AGEISM: When adults presume younger- or -older looking people are teens or elderly and therefore treat them with less respect, that is oppressive. When WE, as members of a targeted age group, have similar negative attitudes because of someone’s actual or presumed age, IO is taking charge.

Telling ourselves (and anyone else) that we/they are less capable, worthy, competent or otherwise valuable because of our/their age (whatever it is) is also IO at work.

HETEROSEXISM: When gay men deride other gay men for being “too faggy” or a “flaming ‘queen,'” or lesbians call other lesbians “bulldykes” or “lipstick lesbians” based on their appearances, that is IO. Being down on ourselves as bisexuals, believing we are “unclear” or people who “can’t make up our minds” means IO has taken over.

Some people believe that oppressed groups can “reclaim” derogatory labels, like “nigger,” “dyke,” “fag,” “kike,” “bitch,” “‘ho'” and others by using them among “ourselves,” but I strongly disagree and so do those who work within the oppression-reduction movements. Using the slave-owners’ terms for the slaves among the slaves does NOT “empower” them: it makes them colluders.

WordsThatHurt
image from http://goodmenproject.com

You don’t “liberate” a derogatory term by using it repeatedly. Instead, we give the oppressors and bigots permission to use horrible names for us publicly and strengthen those terms’ cultural importance because we use those names, too. I don’t use them at all, anymore.

IO gets its main power from us. When we hear messages repeatedly that we aren’t “good enough,” regardless of who we are and how we look, from advertisers that want to sell us products to “make us look better,” these messages creep into our psyches. We then exacerbate and facilitate this brutality onto our own self-esteem when we buy into the ideas that we aren’t attractive because of IO operating on our subconscious.

Example: AGEISM and SEXISM plus LOOKS-ISM: Women and men do not “need” to remove body hair to be “attractive.” Believing that body-hair-free men or women are “sexier” is a social construct, one not followed by most of the world and only recently followed even by modern adults. Body-hair-free adults look more like pre-pubescent children. How is that look perceived as “sexy” by anyone who is mentally healthy?

What can we do to eliminate or reduce Internalized Oppression?

Perhaps you’ll be willing to go on a hunt, excavating your own internal messages and searching for those that are oppressive in order to eradicate or neutralize them. I hope you will.

no isms allowed
image from http://www.industrialantioppression.blogspot.com

Read! Listen to Podcasts or watch videos on this topic: there are thousands of ways to recognize and then unlearn the messages we have internalized that build onto institutionalized oppression.

self-worth
image from http://ink361.com
PEGGY McINTOSh’s article

If your self-improvement efforts are not immediately successful, don’t be discouraged: it can take decades to “unlearn” the oppressive viewpoints which have been inculcated into us all. Just keep trying to notice them and not believe them: that’s a great start. Also, if there are workshops, classes, or other opportunities online or in person (better) to unlearn racism, sexism, etc., or to learn about social justice and oppression, please avail yourselves of them.

It’s never too late to become less biased and to learn to advocate more positively for yourself as well.

Next, don’t allow statements that perpetuate IO to go unchallenged. Speak up. Speak out.

Silence = assent is not just a bumper sticker.

oppression wins via silence
image from http://www.decolonizingyoga.com

It’s not just “one bad #cop”: My 5-Point Plan to Revamp USA #Policing

This post is longer than usual, but it includes personal experiences, research and citations, and my 5-Point Plan. If these topics interest you, well worth your time.

I’ve had it. I’m fed up.

And I know whereof I speak. Three brief, personal experience anecdotes of bad cops:

A) Long-standing problems of prejudice, brutality and out-of-control behaviors by police are rampant and supported by other officers.
I successfully sued my local police department back in the 1980s for false arrest, harassment and attempts to intimidate me out of making a police brutality complaint.
I caught local police officers beating up a juvenile for hanging out in a supermarket parking lot where I happened to be shopping (four: two hitting, two watching and doing nothing). After taking down all the officers’ names and badge numbers, which the abusive ones tried to prevent me from doing, I walked the one block over to the downtown center, where the police station and city park were.

I had just gone swimming with my family prior to shopping. My partner had taken our son to the city park while I shopped, agreeing to meet up after I was finished. The witnessing I had chosen to do had made me about a half-hour late, which is very long by baby standards. The park was right across from the police station, so I met up with my partner and our toddler. As we walked over together, I explained my mission. My son was very hungry and not too happy at my having been delayed in reuniting with him. I sat in the lobby area breastfeeding him, chatting with my partner while waiting to make my formal complaint.

One of the abusive officers happened to walk by as we sat there. When he saw me, he asked the desk officer why I was there. I could hear them talking. A few minutes later, he came toward me, looming over my chair where I sat nursing my son. He was screaming and yelling at me, saying that I was under arrest.

I laughed at him and told him he was out of line, thinking maybe this was a strange idea of a joke. But he insisted he was serious. I looked over at the desk officer, who shrugged, indicating that I had to go with this still-screaming officer.

I asked if I could take my baby, since he wasn’t finished eating, but the officer spit out an emphatic “NO!” Reluctantly, I handed our baby to his father and went with this insane man with a gun to the PD’s basement. What he had in mind, I had no idea, but I could scream very loudly and planned to do so. Having taught junior high school for several years prior to this and having had an extremely abusive father, it took a lot more than screaming to intimidate me.

When we got downstairs, he got out an old typewriter and began to beat out his arrest report, barking and yelling each question, until we got to my age. When I said “27,” he realised that I was not, as he had presumed from my youthful appearance, a teen mom, but was actually older than he was.

He immediately stopped yelling. However, he somehow still felt compelled to continue with this absurd arrest. He took my mug shots and fingerprinted me, then told me to go back upstairs.

With inked fingers, I went back to the lobby and continued to feed my baby. I told my partner what had happened, both of us incredulous and disgusted. The Lieutenant called me in. I told him that I had just been arrested while waiting to make a complaint about police brutality. He asked, “On what charges?” I told him what the officer had told me, not able to withhold my laughter: “‘Resisting arrest, interfering with a police officer, and intimidating a police officer’ were the charges,” I told him. Knowing that I am 5′ tall and the officer is well over 6′ tall, I assume that is the reason this Lieutenant looked startled.

The Lieutenant put his head in his hands and shook his head, apologizing. “That should not have happened,” he told me. He listened and took notes for my formal complaints, now plural.

I found a great lawyer who took my case on contingency and sued. I also testified on behalf of the juvenile and got his arrest expunged.

Due to my lawsuit, which we settled out of court for a sizable sum pending several conditions, these were met as follows: the two main brutalizing officers involved (one of whom arrested me) were fined, reprimanded and left the force; training and supervision for all patrol officers were improved and made mandatory even for veterans; the Lieutenant who balefully and with great chagrin received my actual complaint and acted on it was made Captain of the force, replacing the one who had been ignoring such behaviors by those he supervised.

B) Police do what owners and managers of businesses tell them to do regardless, of actual laws.
I walked out of another courtroom due to false arrest charges’ being thrown out.
Three years later, a manager of a local movie theatre had asked me to stand up while waiting in an ever-growing line, but I had explained, calmly, that I had a bad leg and couldn’t do that. He then asked me to move to the benches lining the walls, but I didn’t want to lose my place in line, so I politely refused. He threatened to call the police. I looked up from the magazine I was reading (happened to be MS.) and asked on what charge? He blustered a while, then yelped, “Trespassing.” I showed him my ticket and told him to go away, call the cops, do whatever he wanted, sure of my legality.

A not-very-assertive officer from this same police force showed up at his call. Despite my showing this officer my ticket and explaining about my disability, he apologetically arrested me. When asked, he told me the charge was “Trespassing,” but even as he said it, I knew he was aware of that charge’s being ridiculous.

As I was being led out by this officer, the manager hurriedly gave me a refund. As the box office worker reclaimed my ticket, the manager loudly claimed that NOW I was trespassing. I pointed out that at this moment, I was standing while apparently under arrest, so which did he want? Standing or leaving? He ordered me to leave.

I hired the same lawyer as in A, above, since our lawsuit had just barely settled at that point. He sent another attorney with me to the so-called trial (he explained the PD couldn’t just throw the case out because of my successful suit). However, the judge viewed the charge otherwise.

Because a contention of “Trespassing” was obviously idiotic and illegal, AND because, once I appeared in court, the judge knew who I was, the case was thrown out during the “testimony” of the theatre people. During the initial questioning, both the manager and the box officer clerk admitted that the theatre had no such “must stand up” rule (I have had many mobility problems and couldn’t stand up for very long at that time). They also agreed, when asked, that the ticket stated right on it: “ADMIT ONE,” which meant I had had the legal right to be in the lobby, waiting to enter the seating area, in whatever way I needed to be waiting (sitting or standing).

Since the case was thrown out, I dropped my suit. Every time I saw the arresting officer around town, he apologized.

C) Police are too-often poorly trained and supervised for making arrests and handing out citations.
A few years later, while I was still living in this same town, a patrol officer stopped me because he believed my car was overdue for the mandated semi-annual inspection. I told him that he was wrong and refused to get out of my car or stop because a 7-year-old friend of my son’s was meeting us after school at our house and, until I got there, no one was home. I told him, if he insisted on giving me a citation, he would have to follow me home (3 blocks away).

He did, and gave me a citation, which I told him was ridiculous. I told him that a new law had gone into effect at the beginning of this month so that motorists had until the end rather than the beginning of each anniversary month to comply, and this was mid-month. He insisted my car was “out of inspection” and must be cited.

A few weeks later, when this ill-informed officer had realized his mistake AND found out who I was (see A and B, above), he sent me a heartfelt, badly misspelled, handwritten apology, withdrawing the citation. In this letter, he claimed that, since officers had to purchase new manuals annually with their own money, he had not yet been able to afford one at the time of my citation. Since then, he assured me, he had done acquired a new manual and reviewed the new laws. He was now aware of the law’s change and told me I had been correct.


I wish my experiences were unique, to be viewed as quaint, cautionary tales from the bad, “olden” days of the last century. Not so.

Apparently, intelligent, educated police offers are BANNED from many jobs in law enforcement. I am not kidding. “…[F]ederal courts have ruled since 2000 that police departments can legally opt to not hire someone simply because he or she scores too high on an intelligence test….[T]hose who eventually become detectives and solve crimes are the same people who were initially allowed to become police officers at least partly because they did not score too high on an intelligence test.”
http://www.mintpressnews.com/can-someone-be-too-smart-to-be-a-cop/192106/

To make matters worse, here is a major website for advice and tips to help potential candidates pass the entrance exam for incoming police, nationwide, http://policelink.monster.com/education/articles/40799-ten-tips-for-the-police-entrance-exam.

Here is an exact quote from the “10 Tips”:
10) Proof read test. Before you turn in your test answer sheet, be sure to check it over. Test takers often leave answers blank and that impacts their final score. This also gives you a chance to go back and answer those hard to figure out answers.
Grade: C-
1) Missing hyphens (“test-takers,” “hard-to-figure-out answers”).
2) “Proof read” as two words.
3) Pronouns with no clear antecedent (“that” in sentence three; “This” starting the fourth sentence).
4) Ending a sentence with a preposition (“over” in second sentence).

Then, we have this site, purporting to provide a “Police Practice Test.” http://lawenforcementjock.com/police-practice-test/ This site’s home page has a typo/misspelling in its first paragraph: “Similar to that of the New York State Police, agency are now ranking applicants based entirely on their test scores.”

There is so much wrong with the following paragraph, same site, I don’t know where to start:

In my experience, a test can comprise true/false questions; fill in the blank; and essay. However, most police departments like the Seattle police department prefer to use multiple choice exams. Such tests are preferred because of their objectivity, allowing the examiner to access the candidate’s ability to perform the duties of a police officer. Furthermore” [their quotation mark at the end, not mine]

How can we expect incoming officers to be smarter than the people who are providing them special assistance for passing these tests? These helpers apparently have substandard vocabularies as well as minimal grasps of usage, common punctuation and sentence structure.

“All right,” you might say, “proper grammar, spelling and correct English aren’t the only signs of intelligence or fitness for being a law enforcement professional.”

I agree.

What about measurements of ethics, honesty, moral fibre, addiction, history of bullying or intimidation tactics used on weaker peers or others? Or, let’s check in on skill levels in key areas, such as problem-solving, decision-making, crisis response and management, communication (both listening and speaking), sensitivity and appropriateness with those unlike themselves: what do we find?

Abysmal performance across the board.

I am not the only one who believes we all need law enforcement officers’ predominantly low levels of skills and education to improve: “Research studies show that police officers with a college degree provide evidence of better overall job performance and better advancement opportunities then their colleagues without a college degree….[H]aving a college degree significantly reduces the likelihood that officers will use force as their first option when gaining compliance. The study also discovered evidence of officers with a higher education background also makes it more likely they will demonstrate the creativity and problem-solving skills needed to make a community-oriented policing model succeed.”
http://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/why-education-is-crucial-for-modern-police-departments/law-enforcement-defense-security

It’s not just “one bad cop.” There are now too many in too many places to keep track. I can’t remember all their names; can you?

bad cop 1
image from http://www.sentrymedicalgroup.org

I strongly recommend that all policing entities implement my 5-Point Plan to Revamp USA #policing: qualifications, training, supervision and accountability as well as record-keeping, ASAP.

Who’s with me?

Even that bastion of conservative moderateness, The Huffington Post, claimed last month (via occasional columnist, Tim Arnold) that “America has lost its soul” attributable to objectionably poor policing.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/bad-cops/

Another Huff Post writer, Jerry Ashton, reported last October on the call for a “National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality.” This day will be “[o]verseen by the October 22 Coalition[.] [T]he action is expected to be a historic condemnation of the Department of Justice for its 19-year history of failures to collect and share statistics on the use of excessive force by police officers, even though this action was mandated by ‘The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,’ the largest crime bill in U.S. history.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jerry-ashton/national-day-of-protest-to-stop-police-brutality_b_6021158.html

My “last straw” landed when I heard about NYC’s Police Department’s former employee, Louis Scarcella. Recently, NYPD disclosed that Scarcella had been operating fraudulently and as an extreme racist for DECADES, framing innocent black men by violently coercing and purchasing witnesses and confessions from the innocent. Dozens (probably hundreds) of other cops knew about Scarcella (many helped him do these heinous acts), but turned a blind eye.
http://thegrio.com/2015/01/14/louis-scarcella-nypd-wrongful-convictions/

Unfortunately, this type of story is not even front page news any longer. In city after city, state after state, dozens, hundreds, thousands of cops have been abusing their authority, overusing their weapons and harming citizens to the point of death.

We can all see that the systems of policing and many of the individuals employed by them have been dysfunctional and dangerous for over a hundred years. Did they ever work well anywhere at all?

Selma.
Detroit.
Police who HEAD the Ku Klux Klan.
Los Angeles.
St. Louis/Ferguson
New York City
and on and on, every metropolitan area.

Also, in almost every small town and unincorporated area, all over this country, law enforcement has been populated by a large number of former “jocks,” athletes past their glory days who did not go to college or barely made it through high school. These officers are not, by any stretch of the imagination, very capable or intelligent. Most of them have not been able to make well-considered decisions or have anyone else’s best interests at heart, particularly those they deem “other.”

bad cops 2
image from http://www.snapthepix.com

By what strange magnetic force are hundreds of thousands of these men drawn to careers in law enforcement, unsuitable as they are? How are they allowed to “graduate” from being their high schools’ resident bullies to earning money paid by our taxes to be community police? Most barely stop along the way to get any training as police, sheriffs, or marshals, excluding a possible stint in the US military (which makes EVERYTHING worse).

It is now very clear to most of us that law enforcement attracts a disproportionate number of bullies with short fuses who harbor racist and sexist beliefs and who exhibit a horrifying willingness to hurt those they are paid to protect.

There are many reasons for these officers to exhibit bad behaviors, but most do it to bolster their own pride and try to impress their buddies. These “public servants” are terrorizing their targets, many of whom have committed no crimes or may be guilt of very minor offenses.

Far from serving their communities, protecting as they are mandated to do, law enforcement officials are now seen as those who frequently catalyze public and individual resistance. These incidents, with the concomitant lack of oversight and judicial consequences, are tearing communities apart.

A vast number of individuals work within our corrupt legal systems to prop up and support bad law enforcement. “Not Guilty” verdicts abound, giving them license to continue their horrendous behaviors. We repeatedly see manifestations of poor discernment by the decisions of jurors and judges when these officers have clearly broken multiple laws. Our communities now also suffer by these leaders’ misdirecting jurors and other public “servants.”

We have too many police, sheriffs and marshals who are engaged in a reign of terror that has been escalating almost daily. What should we do about it?

Here is my 5-Point Plan to Improve USA Policing:

I. Better Background Checks.

II. Better Training.

III. Better Supervision.

IV. Better Accountability.

V. National Databases.

I. Better Background Checks.
I.- A. Refuse jobs in law enforcement to any candidates who have a history of bullying.
We do NOT want to give bullies weapons, authority and clout, ever again. Check school records, arrests and reports, even those for which complaints and accusations did not result in convictions or disciplinary action. Charges that are made but repeatedly dropped or “forgiven” are the telltale signs of successful serial abusers. Look for Restraining Orders. Check school detention and suspensions records. Check military records.

Remember how the Assistant Principal was always threatening that a bad behavior incident would go on our “permanent record” when s/he was trying to deter us? That threat was supposed to make us quake with fear and inspire us to change our ways. Well, THIS is a perfect use, an appropriate application of the contents of that permanent school record.

I.- B. Refuse jobs in law enforcement to any candidates who have a questionable psychological, biological or social history.
Public servants cannot belong to hate groups or who have engaged in behavior that encourages others to participate in hate crimes, harassment, threats or assault based on ethnicity, religion, assumed sexual orientation, age, occupation, disability or other differences, gendered appearances or creed.

Check all the places these records might exist, including the “permanent record” from secondary schools, social media’s and websites’ postings, rosters of memberships in groups and clubs. Check military records, colleges disciplinary actions, any accusations and dropped charges.

Expunge the candidates who do not come up “clean.”

THEN give “clean” candidates a thorough psychological assessment designed to weed out any who harbor such beliefs but who have not yet been acting on them or haven’t yet been caught in the act.

They should also be screened for tendencies to be or actual problems with being alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves, extortionists and other types of criminals as well as for vulnerability to being bribed or unduly influenced.

Police come into daily contact with stolen money, illegal drugs, underage and vulnerable sex workers and a variety of other “tempting” opportunities to behave badly. We must have police who can resist temptation, who are not already addicts, and who do not have the types of personalities that would ever lead them to believe that they are “above the law.”

II. Better Training.
II.- C. Prepare rookies more realistically for what they will face in the field. Rookies should always be accompanied by veterans with good records until they have faced, together, at least two of every type of common incident. If that means longer probation or training periods, so be it.

We should NEVER AGAIN have a cop on patrol who is not up to an appropriately high standard. Why do we ever have police who can’t tell the difference between a toy gun and a real one, who can’t admit when a potential suspect is NOT dangerous and leave them be, who harass someone playing music to the point of injury, who can’t determine when someone is legally blind or hearing impaired, who mistake his/her own gun for a taser, who abuse suspects, and who tamper with witnesses and evidence?

II.- D. Include anger management and extensive therapy as part of the training and ongoing support for officers.
These therapies and group or one-on-one educational sessions must occur at least once a week for a year, at their own expense (via health insurance and/or job training funding) as part of every type of law enforcement rookie’s training requirements. There should also be mandatory “check-ups,” and not just when a cop kills someone or seems to have obvious PTSD or “anger problems.”

Therapy, whether or not they show symptoms of needing it, should be an annual occurrence. Every law enforcement officer at every level should have at least three sessions/year.

If community police are not feeling angry, they’re not paying attention. It’s managing the anger that is at issue, not feeling the emotion.

Making both of these mandatory will weed out the psychopaths and sociopaths within the first twelve months because those candidates either will not agree to participate or will fail the therapeutic portions of the training and ongoing support.

Whoever fails in either of these (where “success” is to be determined by the credentialed leaders/therapists responsible for conducting these sessions) can never be hired as law enforcement. No extensions, no re-takes, no possibility of moving to another locale and starting over.

See V. National Databases, below.

III. Better Supervision.
III.- E. Hold supervisors accountable for their underlings’ mistakes.
Enforce this by making supervisors accountable for decisions that release rookies from probation/ ride-along status (see II, above) so that none is released “too soon” (as evidenced by making too many “rookie” mistakes) without there being repercussions upon the releasing supervisor.

III.- F. Make sure every officer and supervisor is consistently and reliably evaluated.
Written and in-person discussions of the written evaluations should occur without fail at least twice each year for veterans and monthly for rookies for the first 6 months or more, then bimonthly until they are no longer rookies.

Poor evaluations must have immediate, serious consequences. Officers who do poorly must be demoted or have their duties re-assigned until they show substantial improvement within a given time frame. Some must resign/be fired, depending upon how badly they do and how many bad evaluations they have had without improvement.

Guidelines for all of this must be clearly spelled out and followed.

IV. Better Accountability.
IV.- G. Harsher and more permanent penalties must be enacted for officers who break the rules and laws and/or who do not follow procedures and policies properly.
By the time they are released from rookie probation (see II), officers must be immediately and permanently held accountable. Possibly like this: ONE SERIOUS STRIKE and they’re out.

Examples: If they turn off their body or dashboard cameras or do not check to make sure the equipment is working prior to going on a call or on patrol, they are fired. If they are threatening to anyone for no legal reason, harassing and/or harming them, they are fired. If they break laws, do not follow procedures, interfere with fellow officers’ duties, steal or tamper with evidence or incur other serious charges, they are fired.

IV.- H. Reprimands and Sanctions Must Be Strict.
The type of work law enforcement officers do cannot allow for serious mistakes in judgment to happen without having the consequences of strict sanctions and reprimands.

What about like this? One such lapse or error results in temporary restriction or demotion.

If two or three lapses/errors in judgment occur, they’re docked in pay and the demotion is moved to long-term. If these occur twice in any 6-month period, they’re fired.

If these occur twice in any two -year period, they’re put on temporary restriction or demoted, with changes pending results of an investigation to determine fitness for duty.

IV.- I. Supervisors and Department Heads/Chiefs are Responsible for Departments’ Outcomes and Statistics
If outcomes are poor (meaning, officers are behaving in ways that get them sanctioned, reprimanded, arrested, fired and/or jailed, disproportionately to those in comparable geographic/demographic areas) for any six-month period, that manager is demoted or fired.

If poor stats occur in any other 6-month period within two years in that same department under new management, the manager and his/her supervisor are both fired.

V. National Databases.
V.- J. Develop and maintain national databases.
We must do better at collecting data. All individuals’ attempts at being hired in law enforcement must be centralized.

All actions of individuals working in law enforcement while hired must be tracked.

Every departments’ outcomes and patrol statistics must be logged and searchable.

V.- K. Data must be available to the public and to all types of law enforcement. Transparency is key. This occurs via body and dashboard cameras with both audio and video components and frequent checks of said equipment.

All data entry must be supervised and checked regularly.

Most importantly, what should already always be happening, is that good cops and others doing a good job who work in law enforcement should NOT hide, protect or collude with those colleagues who should be fired or jailed.

Bad cop 3

There are many sectors that do/do not support excellence in law enforcement officers. My post, here, recommends improvements in some key areas, but not all. Let others research and recommend further changes to address areas I have left out, please.

bad cops 4
from http://www.slideshare.net/icjia/il-exec-training2012pptfinal

#Sexist, #Racist Dress Codes? What is “Proper #School Attire” in the 2010’s?

There have been numerous stories in social media pulled from the news regarding dress codes and who supposedly is violating them in public schools. These stories usually focus on the sexist or racist policies or sexist/racist implementations of vague policies and I usually agree with most of what they say.

We read about African-American girls’ natural hair is being disgraced and disallowed. We read about many minority girls and boys whose choices of colors are questioned and assumed to be gang-related. We read about girls who are sent home because their choices of clothing are deemed to be “too distracting for the boys,” as if the boys’ mental states are their responsibilities.

HOWEVER…

What is the world are kids wearing to school these days?

bra-strap-visible

image from sunshinemaryandthedragon.wordpress.com

When our public schools first relaxed the dress codes, I had just started high school (tenth grade, St. Louis County, Missouri, 1969). When I say “relaxed,” I mean abandoned. We went from being sent home for having skirts that were “too short” and only being allowed to wear pants on “pants day” for girls to there being NO RULES at all. One year, almost a nun. The following year, could be a hippie, harlot, burlesque dancer, athlete, beatnik intellectual or whatever we wanted, costume-wise.

It has been a downhill slide ever since, except for those schools that read the research which claimed that youth dressed in ad surrounded by those wearing more “respectful” and less “distracting” clothing learned “better.” These schools decided to incorporate uniforms to dispense with the entire parade of values, class conflicts, racism, sexism, gang colors and underwear displays most schools were dealing with by then. I applaud them, even though I am sure most of the kids hate the uniforms. It is much simpler, cheaper, and easier on everyone to have school uniforms.

school uniforms

image from galleryhip.com

However, when schools don’t cover the costs of uniforms for indigent families, what then?

Or, when schools don’t utilize uniforms, we have the current chaos involving underwear displays by many, questionable appropriateness of attire, skin in usually private areas or those reserved for the beach or pool showing in math class, and gang colors’ problems. Then, some have tattoos, piercings, transgender clothing, other body art and hairstyles that bother some adults enormously.

teen boy boxers showing

image from http://www.sptimes.com

I wish kids had more self-respect. I wish parents exerted more authority and control. I wish schools would be clearer and more fair in their policies and enforcement. I wish transgender- and homo-phobia, sexism and racism were not in the mix.

No one is granting my wishes, so far.

UK girls school clothes

image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk

We are left with random, biased enforcement that is sexist, racist, individual- or group-oriented (often homo- or trans-phobic) nastiness visited on minors by petty administrative bureaucrats (paid by our tax dollars), all because someone in authority doesn’t like what they’re wearing/not wearing/showing.

transgender prom queen

image from weblogs.sun-sentinel.com

See? We CAN do better.

If these schools with so many dress code “violation” problems refuse to become more clear, fair and obvious in their codes and enforcement and also refuse to require uniforms, the ACLU or some similar entity needs to step in and protect these kids’ rights to free expression through body art, clothing and hairstyles.

belly piercings

image from teenmomtalk.com

When schools provide more interesting material to view, interact with and learn–more important things to think about and see–than each other’s attire, students will find attire to be less distracting. There is that.