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12 Shocking Examples of Police Brutality...Just This Month

Decades of the drug war have warped the priorities of many police departments. The results can be tragic.
 
 
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American law enforcement has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past few decades. The war on drugs, the world's most effective way to fill prisons with minorities while doing nothing to curtail drug use, has warped the priorities and practices of police departments around the country. As Kristen Gwynne has reported on AlterNet, federal funding incentivizes police to go after low-level drug use while neglecting more serious crimes like rape. In city after city, the crackdown on drug crime has expanded police power and pointed it straight at minorities and the poor. It's the reason we're number one when it comes to rates of incarceration. With 5 percent of the population, America has a quarter of the world's prisoners, according to the New York Times. 

Meanwhile, the decade-long war on terror has stocked local police departments with weapons from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan—do local police really need drones and tanks? (Journalist Radley Balko has extensively documented the  militarization of police by way of the wars on drugs and terror.) The shift toward more aggressive, violent policing has had tragic results on the ground. AlterNet has assembled an incomplete list of brutal and unnecessary police actions, from this month alone. 
 
 
Cell phone footage taken by his mother shows a teen boy being thrown to the ground and pinned by police. His crime? Giving officers a funny look while armed with a puppy. As Steven Hsieh wrote on AlterNet:

Fourteen-year-old Tremaine McMillan says he was feeding his puppy and playing on the beach with some friends when cops riding ATVs approached him and asked what he was doing. The "peacekeeping" officers say they saw McMillan roughhousing with another teenager, told him it was “unacceptable behavior,” and asked where his mother was. When McMillan walked away, they chased him on ATVs, jumped out, pinned him to the ground and arrested him. According to police reports, McMillan “attempted to pull his arm away, stating, 'Man, don't touch me like I did something.'" 

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Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta justified the use of force, saying McMillan was exhibiting threatening “body language,” which includes “clenched fists.” McMillan adamantly denies this charge because, well, he was holding a puppy.
 
Why wait for a crime to occur when you can just instigate one? As Kristen Gwynne reported:

In a video segment on  ABC News, they say they were "thrilled" when their son—who has Asperger's and other disabilities and struggled to make friends—appeared to have instantly made a friend named Daniel.

“He suddenly had this friend who was texting him around the clock,” Doug Snodgrass told ABC News. His son had just recently enrolled at Chaparral High School.

"Daniel," however, was an undercover cop with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department who "  hounded" the teenager to sell him his prescription medication. When he refused, the undercover cop gave him $20 to buy him weed, and he complied, not realizing the guy he wanted to befriend wanted him behind bars.

In December, the unnamed senior was arrested along with  21 other students from three schools, all charged with crimes related to the two officers' undercover drug operation at two public schools in Temecula, California (Chaparral and Temecula Valley High School). This March, Judge Marian H. Tully  ruled that Temecula Valley Unified School District could not expel the student, and had in fact failed to provide him with proper services.

 
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