Rapping Back #43
Portland Copwatch member Dan Handelman analyzes
Note: The July Rap Sheet was published on August 23; the August issue on September 20; the September issue on October 30; and the October/November issue on November 24.
Immigration and the Rap Sheet
We've been chronicling the right-wing leanings of the Portland Police Association (PPA)'s newsletter, the Rap Sheet, for a while now. Detective Peter Simpson, the editor, wrote an article and chose to print numerous others that take a conservative--and perhaps culturally insensitive--look at immigration.
In the July issue, Simpson wrote that Mayor Potter "disregarded" his oath of office by criticizing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid of a Del Monte plant in North Portland (PPR #42). Potter went out of his way to say Portland Police were not involved in the raid. He "essentially endorsed illegal entry into the US by stating those detained are here working to 'support their families.'" What should he have said, they are here trying to buy SUVs and flat screen TVs making minimum wage scooping out melon balls for Starbucks???
Simpson states broadly, "A good number of the Hispanic gang members that I've arrested over the years are here illegally...A large number of these gangsters work 40-80 hours a week doing things like construction, manufacturing, painting and agriculture."
Until the laws change, he says, the Mayor "should refrain from attacking the agents...charged with enforcing these laws." The Mayor took an oath to uphold the Oregon and US Constitutions-- exactly where in those documents does it say to check people taken into custody for their citizen status? (And, what was the "attack"?)
Simpson asks what Potter would do if he found one Portland Police officer were an undocumented immigrant. This brings up an interesting point: Because immigrants are able to join the military and obtain citizenship, they apparently are worthy enough to die for the country, but not to cut fruit or be a police officer.
Elsewhere in the July Rap Sheet, Simpson reprinted a column by the pseudonymous "Jack Dunphy" from the LAPD with followup from their May Day, where police attacked pro-immigrant protestors (and members of the media).
Dunphy was sent to MacArthur Park on May 17, where 2000 people gathered to protest the May Day police actions. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who is Latino) spoke to them in Spanish. "The tone if not substance sounded like Juan Peron" (referencing the Argentine leader some thought of as a dictator). The Mayor, says Dunphy, invited the crowd to "accept as fact the myth that LAPD officers broke up the May 1 rally...without provocation."
A number of those who said they were beaten by police that day spoke, too, prompting Dunphy to compare the situation to a bus accident where 15 people were on the bus but twice that many people show up in neck braces.
An LA Times piece criticized by Dunphy quotes an unnamed commander who says "one- dimensional Metro cops put on their Darth Vader masks and helmets and became a system serving a system, not people serving people." Chief Bratton, Dunphy said, "traded in his blue wool uniform for sack cloth and ashes," apologizing for the cops and saying LAPD officers "go out of control faster than any human being in the world."
The LAPD replaced the deputy chief in charge on May Day "most predictably, with a Latino," Dunphy observes. Mayor Villaraigosa had a hand in this, and Dunphy says the Mayor's "devotion to the cause of illegal immigrants" cost him support.
Another hand-picked piece, this time in the September Rap Sheet, announces that a Sheriff in Atlanta "shows America how to deal with illegal immigration." Matt Towney at TownHall.com explains that Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren was trained by federal officers, and now his deputies ask if each person they arrest (maybe just the brown people) is a legal resident.
If not, the Sheriff initiates deportation proceedings. What if there was no cause for the arrest in the first place?
Towney calls accusations that this system creates a chilling effect in the immigrant community "nonsense" because Warren "doesn't run status checks on witnesses or victims." But who's to say today's witness isn't tomorrow's suspect?
In four weeks, they prepared to deport 42 people. For serious felonies, the suspects are held until after the trial. The whole thing is reviewed by federal immigration officers, which Towney says proves it's "not fly by night justice--it is truly businesslike."
Tying Immigration to Terrorism: Fearmongering at Its Worst
Simpson's efforts don't stop at demonizing Latino immigrants. He also encourages the officers reading their "union" newspaper to suspect immigrants are terrorists. With a headline like: "Islamic Extremists partner with Mexicans," (September Rap Sheet), we knew another well-reasoned, balanced piece was on its way. James Pinkerton of NewsDay.com writes that Congress and the White House are looking to "gain control of the border, securing the homeland against terrorism and reasserting American sovereignty."
After four decades fighting "open-borders advocates and anti-western multiculturalists," Pinkerton is looking to undo the policies put in place by (he says) Ted Kennedy since 1965. In an aside, he admits some of these policies are supported by folks like George W. Bush.
"Cheap labor lobbyists, terrorists and world governing globalists are moving ahead with their own various plans," claims Pinkerton. He then cites the August 8 Washington Times (another right-wing source), which reported that a 2005 DEA report claims "Islamic extremists...posing as Hispanic nationals--are partnering with violent Mexican drug gangs to finance terror networks in the Middle East." In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security said that Al Qaeda is smuggling "terrorists and weapons illegally into the United States...[They] seek to smuggle OTMs [Other than Mexicans] from Middle Eastern countries into the US."
Frank Borelli, an author for Blackwater Tactical Weekly, writes "it will never happen here, USA" a fear-mongering, pro-military rule, xenophobic piece that takes up three full pages in the September Rap Sheet. Borelli starts by talking about school shootings scenarios, also known as "Active Shooter" situations. But then he analyzes what happened in Beslan, Russian Federation, in 2004 when "radical Muslim terrorists" took hostages in a school. "Fighting in Allah's name, [they are] happy to die in combat with 'infidels,' killing as many of us as they can."
From here he starts to ponder how "terrorists" could infiltrate into the borders of the US. Naturally, his scenario is set in the south, where he thinks "American Muslims, gang members, [and] other illegal immigrants" will work together. Hello--Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Oklahoma City federal building, was a US citizen of European descent. Ah, 9/11 changed everything--racism is socially acceptable again.
In Borelli's fantasy scenario, many police officers will lose their lives early, having sacrificed aggressiveness in order to minimize risk. Hostages will be killed, so police should "engage the terrorists as quickly as possible with as much violent action as possible." Police are not equipped due to lack of money and fear that M-16 and AR-15 assault rifles will be seen as "too aggressive." Since we've had the AR-15s in Portland for 9 years, I guess that ship has sailed here.
Borelli says the military and law enforcement should outnumber the hostage takers 3:1, not give them time to booby trap the building, and avoid the "sandbox" mentality of jurisdictional fights. "Let's act like we actually want to work together to support each other so when the sh*t hits the fan we face it together and the citizenry takes less of a hit."
He says the national guard should be activated, the FBI brought in, and negotiating should be considered a "waste of time and breath" since not all lives will be saved. "If we're really lucky, a Federal State of Emergency will be declared...along with Martial Law." An inspiration to the America Borelli pretends to be defending. "If you insist on keeping your head in the sand, you'll die where you stand."
A reprinted op-ed piece by Bob Herbert of the New York Times (September Rap Sheet) notes there have been roughly 100,000 murders since 9/11 in the US. Police chiefs have noticed, particularly in Baltimore and Philadelphia, but Federal resources are going to fight terrorism, with Bush thinking crime is a local problem. Bush also won't stop the flow of guns for political reasons. Herbert's piece is the exception to Simpson's otherwise right-leaning editorial choices, though the underlying message of the article is to give more money and resources to local police, rather than basic human needs.
HILARIOUS: A list of the 16 "funniest" in-car videos includes such hilarious tidbits as "I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document" (#14) and "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that's the speed of the bullet that'll be chasing you" (#12) (July Rap Sheet).
Teaching New Officers: Rap Sheet Retracts a WriterQuite a controversy was stirred up when the Portland cop who writes under the name "John Brogan" pointed fingers at the Training Division and the Chief in the July Rap Sheet. He claims their attitude is a danger to police, as they are too lax on trainees and encourage them to say bad things about their mentor cops.
A trainee in North Precinct quit after three or four days, complaining her training officer didn't wear a seat belt, drove with his lights off at night and accepted a free soda pop. "Brogan" was incensed that they asked this woman to stay--even offering her pick of precinct and coach. She quit anyway, and Brogan doubted her sincerity, saying if the reasons listed were real, "she would have appreciated the ass-kissing response and stayed."
In East Precinct, a trainee --a former military man--didn't like the tone of his mentor who told him to spit out his gum and made him feel "like a piece of shit." He was reassigned. The Chief also kept a trainee in NE who others recommended for termination. "For some reason, terminating a trainee takes an act of God."
One interesting comment by Brogan: "We all know there are some cops on the street that probably shouldn't be there." But he's not talking about the brutal, racist or corrupt cops, he means "The last ones you'd pick to help save your life in a critical incident."
"Brogan" says Sizer is putting lives at risk by encouraging trainees to become such "incompetent" officers. He claims the Bureau is afraid of being sued. Training, he feels, should be about getting "quality cops on the street..[not] to ensure minorities are represented on the Bureau."
His choicest piece of advice: "To those who are currently trainees, try keeping your mouth shut...you are not entitled to this job."
In the August issue, following a backlash, Simpson apologized for running "Brogan"'s article, declaring he would no longer print articles from anonymous sources. The Training Division took great offense to "Brogan" and responded to his accusations, saying they would not apologize for supporting trainees. The anonymous cop, they said, "displayed a lack of diversity and acceptance, [and] disregard for tenets of the Field Training Officer program, saying that recruits should 'shut up and learn.'"
Perhaps fearing for his own backside, Simpson notes that the PPA supports the Training Division. He also reassures the rank-and-file that the Rap Sheet will continue to be "an outlet for PPA members to express their opinions and frustrations, however unpopular."
Simpson printed five sample comments he received on the controversy, three supporting "Brogan" and/or the idea of anonymous articles, and two criticizing him. One critic calls him a "coward" and the other compares him to the "Black Blocker/anarchists who... become radically violent under the cloak of anonymity."
Perhaps to reassure management that he is sincere, Simpson ran the article "Be a mentor not a monster," by Steve Ashley at Police Mag.com in the September issue. Ashley cautions that while officers who conduct trainings can be tough and hard, the goal is to produce successful officers, "NOT to weed out as many recruits as possible."
WHAT CAN WE SAY? Officer Andrew Edgecomb, PPA Vice President for SE Precinct, said he learned about officers engaging in all sorts of misconduct during a 3-day seminar on officer's rights. Behavior included selling police department equipment on line and making pornos while in uniform. Edgecomb's observation: "There is a small percentage of the police population nationwide that has nothing better to do than sit around and think of ways to get fired."
After all this conservative rhetoric, LA officer and author Will Beall's July article serves as a confusing, if somewhat enlightened, near-counterpoint. Beall's career has been in South Central, mostly populated by Latinos and African Americans. Of 69 murders in early 2007, most of the victims are black men. So here's Beall's somewhat elitist, and perhaps racist in this context, commentary: The murders reflect "raw homicidal impulses unchecked by middle class propriety, the unfocused rage of the desperate and downtrodden."
At least he recognizes poverty can fuel crime, though whether "middle class propriety" is an antidote to violence is questionable. He also sympathetically calls the long history of gang shootings "tragedies."
Beall starts to sound more progressive when he calls the high body count "the legacy of restrictive housing covenants and economic isolation. This nation's history of racial oppression doesn't feel so abstract after a few autopsies."
Racially charged scandals lead to low police recruitment. Beall pitches to join the LAPD for equality's sake, noting how many people he has been able to win over in 8 years.
Surprisingly frank, Beall says he can't blame the fact that "a lot of black people still don't trust cops...we were the guys with the dogs and water hoses in Selma." He adds, "Police work is "inherently violative work...We pull people over, we ask unpleasant questions. ... I walk into their lives uninvited, a retail sales rep from the same corporation that brought them the Middle Passage, Jim Crow, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments." It's hard to believe a cop wrote this.
WE WISH: In the September Rap Sheet, PPA President Robert King says Mayor Potter has been a disaster as Chief Executive of the Police Bureau. When the PPA asks officers what Potter can do to improve the Bureau, many suggest he should resign. King thinks Potter is out of touch, and lends "little meaningful public support" to the police. He thinks they would hold a no confidence vote given the chance, in part as a response to Potter "pandering to single focus special interest groups." We think he means groups like ours. We wish.
The Portland Police Association does not set policy. However, some PPA leadership and officers express negative attitudes toward citizens and civilian oversight in their newspaper. We worry these ideas may spread throughout Portland's ranks.
The Rap Sheet is available from the Portland Police Association,
1313 NW 19th, Portland, OR 97209.
The PPA's website is <www.ppavigil.org>
The Rap Sheet is available from the Portland Police Association,
1313 NW 19th, Portland, OR 97209.
The PPA's website is <www.ppavigil.org>
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