Sure, police corruption is nothing new, but the tried-and-true methods we've long associated with cops looking to pick up some illicit cash on the side, like confiscating drugs and reselling them, must be growing tiresome, because goddamn are they getting creative with their crime on the side these days.
Case in point: The rural California farm community of King City must have found itself teetering on the brink of having no police force at all when six officers, including the former police chief and his acting replacement, were arrested after a scheme came to light in which they would impound the cars of impoverished Latinos, to the tune of more than 200 vehicles, and then sell them to chop shops (you know, the kind they should be raiding and shutting down) when the owners found themselves unable to pay the towing fees. Actually, I'm being a bit dramatic here. They didn't sell every car. Sometimes they'd just keep the cars for themselves.
I guess I understand that part.
Once again, let's hear it for Florida, or "Japan of the United States" (if we're talking about areas that produce bizarre news stories). A great example of this is the Florida town of Hampton. Lawmakers have moved to dissolve the town, which is affectionately known as "speed trap city" by its enemies.
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So speeding is illegal, but that mustache isn't?
See, a 1,260-foot stretch of busy highway runs through Hampton, and the law enforcement pros who literally run the town have turned that tiny corner of America's interstate system into one of the most notorious speed traps in the country. There's a cop for every 25 people in town, which blows the teacher-to-student ratio at almost any school these days completely out of the water, if you're looking for a comparison to drive home how unnecessarily heinous the situation in Hampton really is. They built that massive police force by way of stationing officers in lawn chairs at the side of the small sliver of road they occupy and ticketing as many people as possible. The profits from those tickets were used to assemble Hampton's army.
Even then, none of that is technically illegal, of course, but when an audit of the town's books revealed that a lot of that taxpayer money just up and vanished (possibly as much as $1 million), questions were asked, and now Hampton may one day be no more. Darn.
On the bright side, at least all of the perpetrators were arrested. That has to count for something, right? Yeah, probably not, because ...
"Impossible" might be too strong of a word, but it certainly isn't easy. For example, surely you remember the Rodney King beating. Outrage over the acquittal of the officers involved in that crime was so massive, it sparked the rarest kind of Los Angeles riot -- the kind that doesn't involve the Lakers winning a championship.
As tragic as that incident and the destruction it eventually led to may be, it's equally tragic that the exact same fucking thing just happened, and this time almost no one gives a shit. Two former Fullerton, California, police officers were acquitted in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man.
Why is that such an outrage? Simple: Because the beating was caught on tape, and if that tape is not the most obvious proof of guilt produced in any courtroom ever, I would be flabbergasted.
In the video, you can hear one of the exonerated cops, Manuel Ramos, saying, "You see my fists? They're getting ready to fuck you up." A few moments later, Thomas is hit with a baton and falls to the ground, at which point the cops pile on. The beating is severe and last for several minutes. Another officer hits Thomas with a Taser gun. By the end of the attack, the victim can be heard pleading, "Help me, Dad." He died in a hospital five days later. His cause of death was listed as head trauma. He didn't get that head trauma from not getting savagely beaten, that's for fucking sure.
Ah, but these two incidents happened decades apart; is that really worthy of being called a trend? Yes, it is. The police beating a man to death (or close to it) with video cameras rolling the entire time only to later be acquitted as if that evidence doesn't exist at all is the kind of thing that should never happen. Or, if it does, it should happen with the same frequency as an extinction-level asteroid smashing into the face of Earth.
Two times is two times too many, and if I wasn't way too depressed by this story to do a little more digging, I'm sure I'd turn up several more comparable travesties. If I had to venture a guess as to why minorities and poor people alike seem to hate the police with equal fervor, this story would be that guess.
Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should listen to on Soundcloud and a live stand-up comedy show of the same name that you should come see sometime if you're in the Los Angeles area. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.