Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brutality Or Stupidity

For me, it's hard to tell which in this video. It's of last night's Occupy Philadelphia protests, with police horses injuring a reporter who is in the crowd. Kevin Gosztola referred to it in a Twitter message as being a deliberate attack, but if you watch the video carefully, it doesn't look that way:

I don't see the police officers who are on foot making offensive moves. The most assertive they get is when one of them urges the protesters to get back on the sidewalk. The horses, particularly the dark one with the white streak on his face that appears to be the one that hit reporter Vanessa Maria, seem to be very nervous, thanks to all the noise, the large number of people who are shouting and looking cross, and perhaps confusion on the part of their riders. Whatever the reason, they all look to be nervous and twitchy.

My experience with riding horses is extremely limited, but it has left me with one overriding impression - it's not like driving a car. A horse has a mind of its own, which it can lose all too easily. If it loses its mind, the rider transitions from being the driver to being a passenger.

Here's a screenshot I took from that video of the horse after it hit Ms. Maria. It still looks agitated:

Here's a picture of another horse rearing up, with the nearest demonstrator at least ten yards away:

I don't see why its rider would have had the horse do that.

Experienced horse people are encouraged to comment...

I remember the Philadelphia Police Department from the old Frank Rizzo days, when in any given month the cops could have killed more people than the criminals did. I'm not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, I think this particular incident is more a result of foolishness than deliberate brutality. The foolishness was bringing these animals so close to so many agitated people and losing control of them. The force they represent doesn't seem to be needed, and I hope the lesson they've learned is not to bring them next time.

When they've made that decision, or failed to make it, perhaps we'll see whether Kevin is right or I am.


One Fly said...

I can't tell either way. You go to these things you better have a mind set that you very well may get hurt. And in the end you will lose again.

Cujo359 said...

The thought also crossed my mind that they might have ordered the horses in, knowing that they might go crazy. It certainly is intimidating when such a large animal charges a crowd.

All I can say with reasonable assurance is that the cops there probably didn't intend to have the horses charge the crowd. It just didn't look that organized.

One Fly said...

Of course they're an intimidation tool Cujo. They also protect the the badges riding them. I'm not a horse person but they're two right outside. Real nice ones but I don't stand where they have a chance to kick me and they are skittish like horseys can be. These cop horses even trained can get scared and when they do if they're close to people and decide to move someone will get hurt.

You damn well bet cops hurt people with these animals. There's a story out of Denver I just put up about the culture of beaters we have across the land that have ordained themselves to meter out their kind of punishment to teach "lessons". I got a major issues with this shit because it seems to me the cops are hurting more people than ever before.

Cujo359 said...

As you may recall from this article, it doesn't surprise me that police sometimes do take it upon themselves to do this, or that enjoy it when they're ordered to do it. One of the more troubling aspects of law enforcement is what I see as the increasing separation between police and the people they're assigned to protect, particularly in large cities. It's not just the militarization, it's not being able to live in the city they're policing, and not having much opportunity to mix with the people who live in those cities thanks to patrol cars, etc. The more the police are separated from the public, the more they're likely to look out for each others' interests rather than the public's.

Combine that with a job that emphasizes suspicion and aggression, and you have a recipe for trouble.