Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Hate the Cops, Episode 12

Bear with me, this gets confusing:  Luis Ramirez was a young Mexican immigrant who had the bejesus beat out of him by a group of adolescents including two popular Philly-area white athletes:  Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak.  Mr. Ramirez was with a girlfirend at a local city park.  Piekarsky, Donchak and four of their football buddies confronted the Mexican.  There are disputes about who did what or said what, but the outcome was Ramirez was beaten unconscious. 

After participating in the beating of the Ramirez--Piekarsky and Donchak got lucky they ran into the police.  Sounds like bad luck, huh?  Not in this case.

Quoting the Associate Press report:  "These were no ordinary officers. Patrolman Jason Hayes dated Piekarsky's mother, and Lt. William Moyer's son played with Piekarsky on the high school football team. Their commanding officer, Chief Matthew Nestor, was a friend of Piekarsky's mother and even vacationed with her.  Rather than place the popular white football players under arrest, the officers let them go beginning a cover-up in their racially tense [Shenandoah, Pa.], federal prosecutors allege."   Shenandoah is a town of 5,000,  80 miles northwest of Philadelphia. 

If you aren't already confused, this is where it gets confusing; subsequently, and unrelated, the town police chief and his second and command were arrested following a federal investigation into an extortion racket; although, these commanders were in charge at the police station house at the time of this crime.

Now, the former police chief, Matthew Nestor,  is offering testimony that after Ramirez, the victim who was slowly dying--was jailed by Hayes and Moyer.  According to former Chief Nestor, the cops hung Ramirez from the bars of his jail cell to make it look as if he sustained his fatal injuries while attempting suicide.  Ultimately Mr. Ramirez was hospitalized and died. 

The teens were acquitted of all but "simple assault" charges in State court, but federal hate crime charges were just filed against the youths, and the cops. 

Here, is the crux of my beef with law enforcement.  Again and again, story after story, the police, the sheriffs, law enforcement views the world as "us versus them."  In this case if the allegations are true, these police viewed the student athletes as part of "us" versus Ramirez, as "them."  But it didn't have to be a Mexican immigrant, undocumented migrant--as law enforcement sees the world, the"them" can in an instant --> be you, and me.  The view of law enforcement is often arbitrary and because the cops are armed--dangerous. 

According to the Wednesday New York Times, Shenandoah's former Mayor, Thomas O'Neill resigned his position in reponse to the town council's refusal to reign in the police force which he believed to be out of control.  It's time we begin to grapple with a noon-adversarial approach to law enforcement.


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