After years of refusing to acknowledge or investigate the alarming number of citizens killed by police taking place daily in the United States, the FBI is now blaming citizens with cameras for the recent surge in murders taking place in cities across the country.
After all, claimed FBI Director James B. Comey, police are now afraid to do their jobs for fear of becoming the next viral sensation.
That’s news to us considering the number of police abuse videos that come across our desk daily, making it seem as if police are trying their hardest to get a paid vacation. Or as they call it, paid administrative leave.
Comey made his remarks Friday to hundreds of students at the University of Chicago Law School, claiming that he had reached this consensus after speaking with several police chiefs who were too afraid to go on the record.
That should be our first indicator that he is doing nothing but playing the Police PR Spin Machine in an attempt to turn public scorn against those trying to hold police accountable.
Not much different than when police chiefs or union leaders accuse activists and journalists for having blood on their hands when a cop is killed in the line of duty, simply because they tried to raise awareness of police brutality.
You would think the agency that oversees the largest surveillance program in the United States, telling us that if we have nothing to hide, we should have nothing to fear, would be a little more supportive of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to record police.
But then again, we shouldn’t be surprised that Big Brother doesn’t want to be watched by Little Brother.
According to the New York Times:
“I’ve been told by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video,” Mr. Comey said, adding that many leaders and officers whom he had spoken to said they were afraid to address the issue publicly.
“Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close ‘What are you guys doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning’ policing,” Mr. Comey said. “We need to be careful it doesn’t drift away from us in the age of viral videos, or there will be profound consequences.”
In other words, if we don’t put our cameras away when police violate the rights of citizens for standing on corners after midnight – which is not a crime – then we need to prepare for “profound consequences”?
Here’s a news flash, Comey. We are already experiencing profound consequences by allowing cops to shoot and kill at will, knowing all they have to do is claim they were in fear for their lives, and be hailed as valiant heroes instead of violent killers.
We know police won’t investigate killer cops. We know the courts won’t prosecute killer cops. We know the politicians won’t address the epidemic of killer cops where an average of three citizens a day are killed by cops.
And we sure as hell know the FBI is not doing anything about it, refusing to even keep track of the number of killer cops.
So we have to do it ourselves with our cameras and our reporting and our documentation of police killings.
In fact, the agency that monitors every aspect of our lives allows police departments to work on the honor system, allowing them to voluntarily submit data of the people they kill, resulting in less than two percent of police agencies in the country submitting any information at all, according to an investigation by the Guardian.
As a result, high-profile police killings, including the chokehold death of Eric Garner at the hands of an NYPD detective; the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland cop who was deemed mentally unstable by a previous agency; and the Beavercreek police shooting of John Crawford who was walking around with an air gun he had picked up in an Ohio Walmart store aisle – were not included in the FBI’s 2014 official record of homicides.
As of this writing, at least 974 citizens have been killed by police this year. And the only reason we know that is because citizens are compiling that information on a website called Killed by Police, basing their data on news stories where police have confirmed the killings.
Yet the FBI claims they are incapable of doing the same, apparently too busy monitoring the social media accounts of citizens trying to hold police accountable, turning a blind eye to viral stories like the ones mentioned above by not including them in their official reports.
In fact, the Washington Post determined the FBI reports about half of the police killings that take place, which is surprising they are even doing that, considering only 224 agencies out of 18,000 bothered to report any data to the feds at all.
The New York City Police Department, which is the largest law enforcement agency in the country, has not submitted any data to the FBI since 2006.
And it is their union boss, Patrick Lynch, who has been one of the most vocal critics against citizens with cameras, saying it was “insulting” that the New York Civil Liberties Union created an app in 2012 to allow citizens to record NYPD’s routine stop-and-frisk actions.
And while it’s true that murder has increased in several cities as reported by the New York Times last month, if police are afraid to do their job because they might end up on YouTube, then it’s time to find new officers who don’t fear cameras.
After all, if they have nothing to hide, then shouldn’t they have nothing to fear?