Jay Little
Accountability: The Missing Ingredient

12/04/2014 16:46:56

Over the last few weeks, the public has been subjected to an array of Grand Juries deciding not to indict cops accused of homicide. Keep in mind that we aren't talking about the verdicts of trials here. We are talking about indictments. An indictment is given when a Grand Jury decides that there is enough evidence present to actually have a trial. The prosecutors typically select their strongest evidence and present it to the Grand Jury in an effort to get an indictment. Because of the way this system works it is incredibly rare for prosecutors to fail to get an indictment. It doesn't take much evidence to make it worth having an actual trial. Not only that, but since the prosecutor has full discretion over what information gets presented to the Grand Jury, non-indictments are incredibly rare.

Of course if you are trying to indict a police officer, all of that gets thrown right out of the window. It presents several problems the largest of which is the fact that the prosecutors office has to work with the local police department on a daily basis. Indicting one of their officers in a situation where the entire department is towing the "official" line almost certainly guarantees that working together on a daily basis will become that much more difficult. Police Departments are notorious for their solidarity in situations like this.

But we aren't just talking about Darren Wilson. Let's talk about this guy. Eric Garner was standing on a street corner, broke up a fight and was choked to death for his trouble. The NYPD denied that the officer used a banned choke hold. Despite the fact that there was a video proving otherwise, yesterday a jury decided not to indict the officer in question. In the cases of both of these incidents, the officers being accused of the homicide were allowed to testify as part of the Grand Jury proceedings in their own defense. Frankly, this is unheard of as the point of an indictment is for the prosecutor to present their best evidence to a Grand Jury and for the Grand Jury to decide whether or not the evidence is strong enough to merit having a trial. People don't get to testify in their own defense at indictments... unless they are cops.

Then we have the case of Tamir Rice. In this case a 12 year old kid walks around waving around a fake gun and somebody calls 911. The police roll up and immediately shoot him dead. Before the video came out, the police claimed that they gave the kid three chances to drop his gun and that he refused to comply. However in the video you can clearly see that the kid is shot dead 1.5 to 2.0 seconds after the police cruiser comes to a stop. There were no commands, just a trigger happy cop. In the video available at the link the Cleveland Police Chief is quoted as saying, "I have to stand behind them until I see something different". How in the fuck does this video footage not constitute that breaking point?

Believe it or not though, this post isn't actually about the police and my complete and utter lack of respect for them as an organization. No rather it's about how all of this fits into the bigger picture. The real issue here is that our society is unwilling to hold anybody in a position of power accountable for their actions. For instance, former members of the Bush Administration feel that George W. Bush committed war crimes during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. We've heard these allegations over and over again, yet we refuse to delve into them. Why? That's probably got something to do with the fact that the succeeding administration, the Obama Administration, has largely continued to use the same tactics. They much like the Bush Administration before them use drones to kill unarmed civilians, illegally spy on American citizens and wage illegal wars of attrition overseas at their leisure.

Yet we haven't made any moves to hold either of these Administrations accountable for their crimes. But is it any surprise? We can't even hold a local police officer accountable for their actions, much less a head of state and his entourage of fools. This isn't about the poisonous political climate in this country that has made politics no better than just yet another sporting event where two sides of rabid and drooling fans spew nonsensical hatred in either direction. This is about the saga of the great Financial Crisis and how years of provable and obvious fraud have been swept under the rug. This is about crooked CEOs who lie while under oath to Congress and are allowed to walk free.

People are dying as a result of our culture of un-accountability. If that's not enough for you, consider this: I posit that it is impossible for any form of representative government to survive without accountability. If politicians aren't accountable to their constituents then what motivates them? If the financial gatekeepers/Wall Street CEOs aren't accountable for the long term financial health of the system they operate as part of then what motivates them? Likewise, if police officers aren't accountable to the public they are charged with protecting then what motivates them?

Think about it and for crying out loud: Hold these people accountable. Because if not now, when?

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