Friday, January 19, 2007

Submit, Or We'll Kill You

It must never be forgotten that every directive issued by the State and enforced by its agents is coupled with the threat of lethal violence against those who fail to comply. This principle applies to trivial infractions of petty ordinances, such as those dealing with pedestrian conduct and smoking.

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.'”

Oh, good grief. This guy may not be a “pig,” but he's a Shatner-caliber ham – an honors graduate of the T.J. Hooker Academy for Drama Queens in Blue.

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 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.


dixiedog said...

I agree with you totally, Will.

However, the problem is that money determines mindsets in this day and age and the reason for that, naturally, is because this modern, neo-pagan culture of ours cultivates that reasoning!

So, with that in mind, particularly the fact that the cultural reality just mentioned is all but pervasive society-wide - classless, and ageless - in it's reach today, the only hope is to tighten the federal money spigot and shut the flow off completely to force a change of mindset.

Again, IF the cultural reality were otherwise, of course, first off there wouldn't be any desire for federal money to start with by local departments, but even when it was made available by the rare corrupt local department head, the money wouldn't matter as the majority of the individual police officers, which are born out of that same societal culture, would act honorably just like Ramirez you profiled previously.

I guess Ramirez found out the hard way that the American culture is no longer representative of Christianity, or even it's precepts from upon which our country was founded.

dixiedog said...

Ramon Perez! NOT Ramirez. I knew something wasn't right about the name so I quickly double-checked.

My apologies ;(. Sorry about that.

Unknown said...

The situation is law enforcement is grim indeed. Think of Michael Vick being forced, without warrant or even reasonable suspicion, to turn over his water bottle to Homeland Security thugs at the airport. They find a secret compartment in the bottle that may have contained marijuana. Vick's own morals and judgment are on trial in the media, but the real outrage is that Vick was forced to give up his water bottle in the first place.

It is apparent that the only purpose behind the "no liquids" policy - or the War on Terror in general - is to harass, inconvenience, and find excuses to arrest innocent people.

Doc said...

it is hitting home closer and closer, to the point where we can't say that we didn't see it coming. is it time to take to the streets - i dont know, but the time is coming soon. the traffic stop fishing expeditions over make believe crimes is the current hook in the noose in our neighborhood. But does telling the story make it better or worse - or should the story play itself howdt and then be written about?

the idea that we must 'earn' a living rather than be free to live is quite a paradigm shift in the foibles of history. Just being able to live was the real chore.

enjoy the weekend. of - and i agree totally with james on the vick thing - maybe the streets are where we belong now.

Anonymous said...

Is the day coming when we'll be arrested for refusing to show the Walmart exit security personnel our receipt?

Anonymous said...

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).

Nah, the thug's family should be considered what our glorious leaders call "collateral damage" at least they didn't have a 500 pound bomb dropped on their house.
If it is good enough for victims of the thugs, then it is good enough for the families of the thugs.

Captain USpace said...

This is some sick stuff, I disagree, Officer Carlson is a PIG, human trash; but it's not right or left wing except for the fact that it's generally the Fascist Nanny Staters of the Left that have made smoking practically a crime because of some Junk science. Cops shouldn't even have to worry about enforcing such asinine laws. When I was younger I thought the bigger danger would come from the Right, I believe I was very wrong.

Of course, Cops do need much better training about dealing with and handling people.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
unreasonable force...

Truth Addict said...

I'm getting more and more infuriated by these types of stories. What is the boiling point? Is there one?

I discovered this law enforcement mentality a couple of years ago when I was training in jujitsu. Among the body of students was a particular brown-nosing state trooper who was only a rank higher than myself. He resembled the cartoon character "Doug" to a tee and was a S.W.A.T. training officer (go figure). He was one of the sloppiest martial artists that I've seen in a long time, and I don't say that out of a mean spirit. Despite his low rank and bad technique he continuously tried to instruct the class and usurp the Shehan's authority. I didn't think much of it at first since I was a newer student, but as I got much better than him and tested higher it became more of an issue. It didn't occur to me that it was the new "police mentality" until a clinic that was held in Virginia that his true nature came through.

Since we were close to the same rank (of the lower variety) he and I were paired up and were being instructed by the Soke's wife. In his eagerness to please and make an impression on our authorities he began bossing me around even though it was an extremely laid back environment. I began to get aggitated which brought out the cop mentality. On the next technique he struck me in the throat with unusual force and took me down rather forcefully and made it known that I had better obey and listen to him. To my credit I got up and let him know that wouldn't happen a second time. Everyone around could sense the tention. Everyone around us were uncomfortable and could feel the tention. Later on in a group discussion about politics during a carpool I brought up my aversion to the police state which flipped his lid. If it weren't for the others in the car I think he would have declared himself "on duty" and arrested me.

I'm an extremely easy going person who gets along with just about everyone and haven't been in a fight since 6th grade with my best friend (I'm now in my 30's), but this guy found ways to push my buttons (I wonder if that's part of their training) Interestingly, he is the destabilizing force that fractured the dojo and resulted in a loss of it's best students, myself included. He has since been promoted to 5th don, or something silly like that, which is unheard of in the time it takes to obtain that rank. Did I mention that the whole organization is run by veteran cops?

The Owner said...


think I've seen that guy in the picture of the SWAT-regalia local PD officer in front of the Stock Exchange... I live right down the street and I have become pretty familiar with the faces of the rotating set of cops who hang around Broad St. and Wall St. in front of Federal Hall.

Anonymous said...

where are al the surveillance cameras
that can back all this up?
I realize that video-cam surveillance of
public property gets a bad rap in
libertarian press,
but this is where it would be quite
useful as supporting evidence
against this kind of treachery.

Anonymous said...

Dont you know you cant mess with an Armenian and his ciggerette!!!