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Protester Shot with Rubber Bullets Shows Police Disconnect, Brutality

 

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Jones Report | August 17, 2006

Elizabeth Ritter was shot four times with rubber bullets by police while she was protesting a Free Trade Summit in Miami, August 10.

This horrifying example truly shows the disconnect between police and the citizens they pose as protecting and serving.

These police actually laugh at their victims, in spite of news cameras and hundreds of witnesses of which they were certainly aware. Arrogant and unchecked power now threatens to be the norm for ever-increasing riot police.

They rule with faux violence and real threats (rubber bullets been known to cause death, in certain cases). Here, Ritter was even shot in the face in an archetypal showdown with goons dressed in black 'storm trooper' uniforms, over-armed to handle a peaceful protest.

They shoot at a business woman repeatedly, even after seeing blood drip from her body. Somewhere, behind a disconnected, under-informed and wrongly influenced "peaceful" force, these instruments of terror think they are protecting the populace rather than subjecting them to tyranny, all the more terrifying for being out in the open.

 

Police demonstrated similar excessive force after the Red Sox's American League Championship Series Victory in October of 2004. Police tried to subdue a 'belligerent' crowd by firing upon them.

Twenty-one year old Emerson University student, Victoria Snelgrove, was killed after she was hit by a rubber bullet in the crowd that was merely celebrating a sporting event.

Police in the Boston case say they did not also beat the woman victim, those that was apparently the case with other fans deemed rowdy.

The crowd was described as out-of-control and reportedly also set a car on fire. However, police have clearly over-reacted when police simply fire into a crowd and irresponsibly shoot the student in the eye, who was otherwise not a particular subject of police control.

The weapons are 'meant to be non-lethal,' just as the police themselves are meant to maintain peace in the society they serve. Yet, it is the police committing the atrocities-- the forces that should be scaled back, not re-inforced and escalated.

Boston mayor Tom Menino sees the need for such violent escalation, however.

"We're going to have to take some drastic measures since people won't act responsibly. I as mayor will take it into my own hands, and probably ban liquor being sold in bars and, once the game starts, bar TV cameras in the bars during the games; try to do everything we can to keep the peace," Menino said.

The point here is that these are not isolated cases, but an unfortunate trend of an emerging police state, taking its first aims at large public gatherings, like sporting events, deemed otherwise difficult to control.

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Police are increasingly equiped like armies. They have been unleashed in full riot formation at both Democratic and Republican National Conventions, at Mardi Gras festivals and other large events.

Police fired rubber bullets during Mardi Gras festivities in Austin, Texas in February of 2001. When police determined the largely peaceful crowd to be unruly, they opened fire, shooting University of Texas Economics student Saif Siddiqui in the eye.

"They say that they're supposed to fire the pellets in the legs, not in the face," Isram Siddiqui said. "There was no warning that they were using bullets to dispose the scene if they can't control it, they shouldn't have it."

35 people were arrested that night, including several injuries.

Jason Morgan says he was subdued by police, told to kneel on the ground, after which he was beaten, hit with pepper spray and shocked. Jessica Murray was subsequently struck in the chest when she protested police action against her friend.

Similar actions took place in Seattle in February 2001, where police again used pepper spray and rubber bullets to break up crowds after the bars closed.

This is all demonstrative of unacceptable attacks against largely unarmed, largely peaceful people by police who have over-stepped the bounds of their role in society. They have completely lost touch with their purpose and relationship with society.

In the aftermath and organization purpose of such forces, however, police continue to justify themselves on the grounds of "keeping the peace"-- how far out on a limb will they go?

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