The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Po Po No Nos

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, and your rock has no internet access, you would have heard about some alleged instances of police brutality at the Sydney Mardi Gras last weekend. The incident I want to talk about is the one involving 18-year-old Jamie Jackson.

The facts seem to be these:

  1. While partying at Mardi Gras, Jamie did something to catch the eye of some nearby police officers, and they sought to arrest him. Jamie says he tickled someone, although I don’t find his story particularly convincing.
  2. At some point during the arrest, Jamie attempted to, or actually did, punch and kick the officer attempting to restrain him.
  3. The officer eventually restrained Jamie face down on the ground, and handcuffed him with his hands behind his back.
  4. After being handcuffed, Jamie seems to have done or said something that resulted in the officer throwing him face first to the ground.

That is, I think, all we know for sure at this point.

The main source of controversy seems to be the way the officer threw Jamie face first to the ground, apparently without concern for his safety. There are a lot of theories floating around as to what Jamie did or didn’t do to provoke the officer into doing this, and depending on who you listen to, he’s either the world’s most brutalised police suspect, Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan’s love child, or something in between. In any event, a large proportion of the people who have felt the need to voice an opinion have decided that, regardless of what Jamie did to make the officer throw him to the ground, “the little vagina probably deserved it” (as one of my Facebook friends phrased it, albeit a little more forcefully).

The reasons why Jamie apparently deserved to be slammed face first onto the pavement are many, but the main ones seem to be:

  1. He didn’t do what the officer told him. So he deserved it.
  2. He called the officer a name. So he deserved it.
  3. He attempted, or actually managed, to punch, kick and spit on the officer. So he deserved it.
  4. Police officers risk their lives to be treated like crap by drunken idiots for shit pay. So he deserved it..

Now, I could point out that the police officer in question also told someone to stop filming, which he is not allowed to do. And I could point out that name calling, is, well, just name calling. And I could point out that police don’t always arrest the right person. And I could point out that the collective frustrations of the whole police force shouldn’t be taken out on one individual, even if he’s done the wrong thing.

But I don’t need to.

The police are there to enforce the law, and arrest and charge those who break it. Yes, they sometimes need to use force to restrain their suspects. But they are not there to hand out punishments. Ever. Jamie Jackson doesn’t “deserve” anything except what the courts dish out to him. And he certainly didn’t deserve to be slammed face first onto the ground with his hands behind his back, an action that could have killed him (yes, people die from hitting their heads on the pavement).

If you want to stand up and say that Jamie “deserved” it, you go right ahead. As long as you realise what you’re really admitting – that Rodney King had it coming, too (probably more so, right? What with the whole car chase thing). As did this guy who threw a plastic bottle, resisted arrest, and was given a bit of a touch up back at the station. And so would you, or your son, or your daughter, or countless other people rightfully and wrongfully arrested.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the police. They do risk their lives, and they are treated like crap by drunken idiots, and they do get shit pay. But they’re also human, and they make mistakes.

This officer made a mistake, and so did Jamie. Let’s just admit it, and let the courts take it from there.

Category: Violence

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