Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is police brutality the legacy of hosting a global summit?

Prior to and during the Pittsburgh G20 summit in September 2009, there were reports of unidentified police attacking and arresting  citizens.  Has this pattern of police brutality continued in Pittsburgh long after the summit?   This CNN story has me asking the question: 
Terez Miles said her son, Jordan Miles, who is black, thought his life was in jeopardy when three white men jumped out of a car on the night of January 11 as he walked not far from his home [the men were"undercover police officers"].

"My son tried to run thinking his life was in jeopardy," Terez Miles said. "He made three steps before he slipped and fell." After that, she said, the police used a stun gun and beat him, pulling out a chunk of his hair.
Three ununiformed guys jump out of a car, Miles tries to "run away," so the they taser "and beat" him.  This kid's reaction the situation was entirely natural.  Miles, a viola player at the performing  arts high school, was carrying a can of  Mountain Dew that "looked suspicious" to the police.    Of course, African-Americans have often been subject to harassment by police, but rarely in America have such incidents involved undercover agents.

Secret police routinely stop and assault citizens of countries such as Zimbabwe, Egypt, Syria, and Iran.   And as of September 2009, Pittsburgh.  Jordon Miles' story sounds familiar -- to anyone who remembers this video:

President Obama praised the Pittsburgh police for their fine work at the Pittsburgh G20 summit, despite the fact that sonic weapons had been used against nonviolent protesters and bystanders (perhaps for the first time ever in the US). 

Next time an American city announces plans to host a world summit meeting (Honolulu is scheduled to host the 2011 APEC meeting), citizens might look to Pittsburgh to consider the potential impact that hosting a summit could have on their local police force.

In a democratic country, the main role of the police is to protect the lives and property of citizens.  In authoritarian countries like Iran, the main role of the police is to protect the political leaders.   One outcome of hosting a global summit may be to transform how a local police force conceives its role within society. 
Top photo by JOTMAN.COM correspondent Tawan, shows police marching in formation at Pittsburgh G20 in September 2009.   Bottom photo, by Jots, depicts an unidentified man in a police state.

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