Consider the tag-team assault by two policemen on Suren Chukhadzhyan that took place in Pittsburgh a few days ago.
Chukhadzhyan, an Armenian national who resides in Glendale, California, is described as being roughly 6 foot 5 inches in height and weighing in excess of 250 pounds. During a break in a very long bus trip he lit up in what was designated a no-smoking area at a Greyhound bus terminal. This attracted the attention of an employee, who complained to police officer Walter Carlson.
In his report, as related by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Carlson described how he told Chukhadzhyan to move to a designated smoking area. The large man “ignored me and made a cocky smirk to me and was very arrogant,” whined Carlson in his report. “[He] turned away from me an continued to smoke.”
After Carlson ordered him to turn around, Chukhadzhyan did so, blowing smoke “in the direction of the officer” -- hardly a surprising result, since he was now facing that direction. At this point, per the newspaper account, the officer “grabbed the man's arm” -- that is, he caused the situation to escalate to one of physical coercion -- “and said he would be cited.” The Armenian's response – and this is significant – was to de-escalate by extinguishing his cigarette and walking away.
At this point, if Walter Carlson had been a peace officer rather than a juvenile poseur with secret insecurities about the size of his wedding tackle, he would have smiled, shook his head, and walked away. The problem, such as it is, was solved: Chukhadzhyan was no longer smoking in a forbidden zone. That would be the proper reaction of a practicing adult who had chosen to make a living as a peace officer.
Regrettably, nobody fitting that description was on hand at the time. Carlson, like many (quite possibly most) of those now employed by the Homeland Security State, had to assert his Authoritah. He acted on what I've identified as the tacit credo of checkpoint guards and others employed to enforce the State's decrees:
You must show them control.
You must make them submit.
Noticing that Chukhadzhyan had taken a seat inside the terminal and, visibly agitated, was muttering to himself “in what appeared to be Russian,” the officer pursued him inside and “attempted to issue the citation” -- which wasn't necessary to maintain order, and actually created a potential danger to others who hadn't been involved in the matter.
Let's click the pause button on the story at this point to recap and italicize a few things.
Chukhadzhyan's reactions to this point are entirely understandable. He is fifty years old. He was born and lived most of his life in a country ruled by the Soviet secret police. This might explain his contemptuous reaction to Carlson's imperious demand. I know what I would have been thinking: “I lived for decades in the shadow of the KGB, and could have been dragged off to Lubyanka for any of a thousand reasons, and this little gelding thinks he can intimidate me because I'm having a smoke here rather than over there? Well, I'll just take one last drag and then throw the cigarette away; no point in making a big deal out of this.”
I don't know if that's what Chukhadzhyan was thinking, but it would have been in line with his actions, as they were described in Carlson's report.
Chukhadzhyan, confronted by Carlson, walked away peacefully.
By pursuing the matter beyond this point, Carlson is the one who became the aggressor.
That fact is not nullified by the costume he wears or the shiny little shield he was given.
OK – let's hit the “play” button, and resume the Post-Gazette's account:
“Officer Carlson again attempted to issue the citation, but said Mr. Chukhadzhyan stood up suddenly and approached him aggressively. The officer said he pulled out his Taser and warned, `This doesn't have to go this way.'”
Chukhadzhyan allegedly replied to Carlson's unnecessary threat to use deadly force by saying, “arrest me” and pushing the officer. The Taser was fired by Carlson, but failed to operate because of the Armenian's heavy coat. At this point, according to Carlson, “Chukhadzhyan charged.”
Chad Stevens, an off-duty police officer from out of town, pitched in to help Carlson. Eventually the two of them were able to bull-rush Chukhadzhyan, pinning him against a vending machine, forcing the cuffs on his wrists, and tripping him to the floor. This melee “knocked over seats and sent other travelers scrambling,” notes the paper, offering a rather bland description for a needless episode of violence that placed innocent people at risk. As I noted above, avoiding situations of this sort would be the chief priority of a genuine peace officer.
Chukhadzhyan was placed under arrest for “disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on Officer Carlson.” How an unarmed man commit “aggravated assault” on a heavily armed individual – who summons his buddy to help him out – is a question that could be profitably pondered by people not hopelessly held hostage by statist assumptions.
He was also reported to the local Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Here's an interesting possibility: If this is treated as a “terrorist” incident, Chukhadzhyan could be held indefinitely, since as a foreign national the habeas corpus guarantee doesn't apply to him as of October 17, 2006 – the day the Bushling signed the Military Commissions Act and the Homeland Security Death Star became fully operational.
Here's something else to consider: Is there any rational reason to doubt that if Carlson the Blue Knight and his equally heroic side-kick hadn't been able to subdue Chukhadzhyan, they would have resorted to lethal force? In fact, given the growing body count racked up by officers using the “non-lethal” Taser, Carlson actually did use potentially lethal force against Chukhadzhyan.
For smoking a cigarette.
After he had put it out and walked away.
And the real outrage is that this episode is not an aberration. This is how law enforcement operates in the era of Homeland Security.
Another beautiful day in the Land of the Free! (Thanks to Infowars.com for the photo.)
Former congressional candidate David Brownlow experienced that reality last December 9 when he and his family (including his 12-year-old daughter) were accosted by Oregon State Trooper Ken Moore and threatened with arrest for the supposed offense of holding up an anti-war protest sign on a sidewalk near a Portland shopping mall.
Brownlow, whose son Jared is serving in Iraq, has described how Trooper Moore was among the motorists who saw the family's sign, which read “Support the Troops – Bring Them Home!” Moore, “visibly agitated,” stomped over to the family, accused them of “breaking the law,” and ordered them to “leave the area immediately.”
Constitution Party of Oregon activist (and suspected Thought Criminal) David Brownlow.
When Brownlow asked politely what law he and his family had broken, Moore bellowed: “When a trooper tells you that you are breaking the law, that's all you need to know,” and that if they didn't move immediately, they would be arrested. Brownlow's wife Suzanne pointed out that they weren't blocking the road or the sidewalk; this prompted the (storm)trooper to jab a finger at her and hiss: “If you do not stop talking, I will arrest both of you for disorderly conduct!”
This would have meant taking into custody the couple's 12-year-old daughter, who by this point was terrified and hiding behind her mother.
The trooper seized the banner – which is to say he stole the family's property at gunpoint – and ordered them to meet him in a nearby parking lot. Once the group had reassembled, the officer – still breathing out various threats to do unpleasant things to the Brownlows – demanded that David produce his driver's license and asked if he was carrying a weapon (he wasn't, despite the fact that he had a concealed carry permit). When Suzanne Brownlow asked where they could “legally” protest if they weren't permitted to do so on a public sidewalk, the officer snarled: “In your front yard.”
At this point, Brownlow recalls, Trooper Moore's rage subsided and he became civil, returning their banner and offering apologies for terrorizing their daughter. “I wondered if this trooper was bipolar or something,” he comments.
While that's a possibility – and an unsettling one at that – I suspect the reason for the officer's change in demeanor is this: He had succeeded in carrying out his mission by controlling the Brownlows and making them submit to his supposed authority.
The Brownlows have filed suit against Trooper Moore, who – like any other armed terrorist – deserves at least to be driven into financial ruin (although his family, if any, would be non-combatants not deserving the same fate).
Thousands or tens of thousands of officious armed bullies like Officer Carlson and Trooper Moore infest our communities. They are not the “local police” who are fondly remembered by many of us (myself emphatically included) with respect and gratitude. Back then, of course, it was possible to find corrupt and abusive police officers, a fact sometimes washed out by the sepia-toned sentimentality that colors our recollections. But we're not dealing with simple corruption, or occasional abuses of power; we confront the product of a social transformation that has taken place over several decades, and that has turned the police into a literal army of occupation.
Law enforcement consultant Tony Cooper, an instructor in terrorism negotiation skills at the University of Texas-Dallas, warned about that transformation more than a decade ago. "I see the formation of a curious crusading mentality among certain law enforcement agencies to stamp out what they see as a threat to government generally,” he told the Washington Post in 1995 “It's an exaggerated concern that they are facing a nationwide conspiracy and that somehow this will get out of control unless it is stamped out at a very early stage."
While Cooper was chiefly concerned with that mindset among federal agents, his students included many state and local officers attached to SWAT teams and other tactical units, who helped propagate that mindset more widely among police units. With the aid of federal subsidies and material aid from the Pentagon, many “local” police agencies are rapidly taking on the traits of occupying armies.
Bad as this situation already is, it can always be made worse by gun-toting adolescents on the State's payroll who are dressed up like Village People wanna-bes and eagerly looking for an opportunity to push people around. What's really alarming is the extent to which that personality type is increasingly over-represented in our Homeland Security Apparatus.