Watching St. Louis Descend Into A Banana Republic

I have no illusions about crime in my town, both in the city and in the surrounding greater metro area. Nor do I think crime should be coddled. As a teen, I cheered for “Dirty” Harry Callahan as Clint Eastood portrayed him.

But the crime done by private citizens doesn’t seem nearly as dangerous as the crime perpetrated behind a badge and then protected by a judge and a state Representative.

“A former St. Louis police officer is under fire after surveillance video surfaced showing him assault a handcuffed suspect, according to authorities. The police department and prosecutors both say Officer Rory Bruce clearly crossed a line when he hit that teenage suspect back in 2012 and said they had an obligation to hold him accountable. The victim chose not to testify. There was no jury. The judge was the sole decider and she did not allow the police surveillance video to be shown during Officer Bruce’s trial.”

The problem with that lead sentence is that he is not “under fire.” Even though the video clearly shows the officer belting a handcuffed kid in the face, and his police department fired him, and the prosecutor decided to charge him, the “fire” is being stamped out. The judge, refusing to look at the evidence, acquitted him, and a state representative, Jeff Roorda, has gone on record claiming he acted in self defense and promising to get Bruce his job back.

We live in an age in which

  • we are being spied on and recorded by every level of government
  •  government forces are attempting to criminalize video recording police,
  • police are harassing and intimidating people who video record them.

Yet state representative Jeff Roorda says that video is never supposed to be used as evidence against police:

“Roorda says the judge did right—he told News 4, police videos like these should be used to protect police. Now, it’s become a ‘gotcha-head hunter’ tool that we’ve seen internal affairs go over-board with.”

Sorry, Jeff, but allegations about alleged wrongdoing on the part of “internal affairs” isn’t going to make me disbelieve my own eyes and ears.

When Harry Callahan, violated civil rights, he did it under extreme danger. I never remember Dirty Harry punching out some juvenile punk who was handcuffed. I hate people wearing their pants that low, but they still shouldn’t be brutalized for it. And even if they should be, at least have the decency to take off the hand cuffs and remove your deadly weapons to show how much braver you are.

Furthermore, I can’t imagine Dirty Harry, if he was accused of slamming his elbow into a hand-cuffed punk’s face, defending himself by saying he was acting in “self defense.” If a cop is still afraid for his safety when he has only a single hand-cuffed kid to deal with, while he is accompanied by another officer, he needs to be in therapy. Perhaps there is a psychological cure for cowardice.

The story never tells us what the youth was charged with. I have a hard time believing anyone who is such a fool about his dressing habits can represent any serious threat to St. Louis. Sadly, his foolishness is probably going to lead him from trouble to trouble.

But fools behind badges and fools in office who defend them and let them get away with their crimes—those people are true public enemies and the real threats to the peace and security of any commonwealth.

St. Louis has a lot of good in it. The fact that the police department fired the officer and turned over the video to the prosecutor means that it hasn’t sunk to the level of that abusive cop or his defenders. But that will change is such thug behavior is defended rather than discouraged.

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