August 25th, 2008: Invitation to the A-Cafe and Radical Re-orientation at UNLV

Southern Nevada ALLies took action towards a Radical Re-orientation on the UNLV campus today, the first day of classes, by issuing their second communiqué and hanging up the following flyers:

Communiqué #2

This is the second communiqué from the Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left.

Today, August 25th, on the first day of classes at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, guerrilla educators affiliated with Southern Nevada ALL began a week-long Radical Re-orientation for incoming UNLV students, dropping science on targets in the streets of southeastern Las Vegas and on the UNLV campus. Flyers were posted on police brutality, bearing the slogan Cops are here to protect you and showing, with photographic evidence, just what that protection amounts to—were posted to reach out to victims of government policing and potential new ALLies, and to raise awareness about the systemic sources of police violence. Flyers with slogans including Taxes Pay For Torture and Taxes Pay For War were posted to raise public consciousness about the violence and destruction that government funds through the tax money that it seizes from unwilling citizens. And flyers announcing the first meeting of the Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe on Wednesday, August 27th, were posted to reach out to incoming students and community members, and to raise awareness about the solution to violent government policing, government torture, and destructive government war: the end of government, Anarchy, and a new society based on consensual cooperation.

Southern Nevada ALL's first communiqué, issued on Tax Day, April 15th, 2008, spoke about the coercive nature of taxation, and the atrocities committed, against the will of the American people, in whose names and for whose security they were supposedly committed, by the use of seized tax revenue. Our new flyers deepen and broaden the analysis, by connecting the tax-funded violence in foreign affairs to violence of tax-funded and legally-privileged police forces. Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely force their way into situations where they are hardly needed or wanted; they deliberately escalate confrontations in order to get control of the situation through superior belligerence; they routinely hurt people, use force first and ask questions later; and they invariably pass off even the most egregious violence against harmless or helpless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal. In order to to coerce compliance with their arbitrary commands, they have no trouble electrifying small children, pregnant women, 82 year old women who just want their social workers to leave them alone, alleged salad-bar thieves, or college students lying prone and helpless on the ground. They are willing to beat a handcuffed woman bloody for demanding to use the phone, to slam a 13-year-old skateboarder to the ground and choke him in order to make the arrest, to rough up teenaged girls who walk home too late at night, or to throw a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair for not standing up on command. When they deal with non-police officers (the people that we call our friends and neighbors, and who the police contemptuously dismiss as civilians), they have been trained to assert full-spectrum dominance at every opportunity, and they are willing to end a tiresome argument with pain compliance techniques, which include pepper spraying lawyers who ask inconvenient questions, or using a 50,000-volt electric shock to disable an unarmed, retreating woman, or tackling a 17-year-old girl and tasering her while she lies helpless in her own bed, or shocking a man in front of his family and leaving him lying on the side of the highway (in order to make absolutely sure they could serve him with a dubious traffic ticket). It hardly matters if you cannot obey their commands because you are sound asleep in your own home. It hardly matters if you can’t move due to a medical condition, or can’t hear their bellowed orders because you’re deaf. It hardly even matters if you die. What cops can always count on is that, no matter how aggressively they escalate the confrontation in the name of control, no matter how quickly they resort to violence, and no matter how obviously innocent or helpless their victims are, they can always count on their bosses and their colleagues to repeat absolutely any lie and make absolutely any excuse in order to find that Official Procedures were followed. As long as Official Procedures were followed, of course, any form of brutality or violence is therefore passed off as OK by the boss cops, and the judgment will be dutifully repeated by fellow cops, by prosecutors, by judges, by much of the news media, and by the hordes of freelance howling cop-enablers who rush into any media forum they can find to publish excuses for any and every cop accused of brutality, while they also use absolutely any means necessary to smear, humiliate and blame any and every victim who ever comes forward.

No matterh ow brutal the violence, cops can almost invariably get off of any charge by pointing at the rule-book of Official Procedures and declaring tha they were Just Following Orders. Cops are also elaborately trained in the use and abuse of the legal system, and know very well which judges are most likely to absolve them of any wrongdoing. Violent cops hardly ever face any personal costs whatsoever for their actions: if anything happens at all, the worst of it is usually that they are given a paid vacation and an administrative reprimand, or at worst they may be fired. Even if they are fired, they are hardly ever face legal consequences for their violence, and if they do, the city government can be relied on to settle and force taxpayers to cover the tab. Even if they are sued, they are hardly ever arrested for their violence. And even if they are arrested, they are hardly ever convicted. It doesn’t even matter if they as much as confess in open court. With few exceptions, the best that most victims of police violence can realistically ever hope for by way of compensation is an Oops, our bad, and a Go to hell, civilian is what they are far more likely to get. No matter how many times these same things happen, again and again, and no matter how often they are repeated within the same police department—or even at the same shift in the same office—and no matter how widely they are repeated in so many different police departments across so many different cities and counties, every time the latest outrage comes up in the newsmedia, a cop mouthpiece can be expected to say, and the establishment media can be expected to dutifully report, that nobody should rush to judgment, that they should dismiss eye-witness testimony and even the evidence of their senses in order to give the cops every possible (and some impossible) benefit of the doubt, and that even if these cops did do something wrong, well, it’s just A Few More Bad Apples committing Yet Another Isolated Incident. If anyone so much as dares to suggest that something may be systemically wrong here, beyond what can be fixed by punishing a few bad cops, or through superficial reforms and sensitivity training, then they are dismissed by comfortable political Moderates as irresponsible crazies, while cops and their sycophants can be expected to respond with the usual brittle macho flash of crying about how they get no respect, while sanctimoniously bellowing about how they risk so much serving and protecting those who never asked for, and never freely agreed to, their service or their protection.

The result, which is completely predictable and completely outrageous, is that individual cops and entire police departments in America deliberately take on the posture of occupying paramilitary forces, with the express intent of spreading fear in what they regard as hostile territory, and that, on a daily basis, many cops routinely engage in rampant, intense, unchecked violence against anyone and everyone who happens to get in their way or look at them funny, no matter how many options the cops may have and no matter how harmless or helpless their victims may be. Thus, in our own community we have seen cops on the Henderson police department beating Michael Nicholas, an unarmed drug suspect, so badly that he suffered a broken arm and needed seven staples to hold together his fractured skull. We have seen cops on the Las Vegas Metro police department shooting a disarmed and handcuffed 17-year-old, Swuave Lopez, twice in the back; we have seen cops on the same department shoot down an unarmed black man, Orlando Barlow, with a high-powered assault rifle, as he was on his knees surrendering to police. We have seen Henderson cops disable an unarmed, 42-year old Albanian ice-cream truck driver, Deshira Selimaj, and then shoot her dead after she had already fallen to the ground, and then lie about a nonexistent knife (which no non-police witness ever saw, and which was never found at the scene) in order to justify the killing in media reports. Time after time, no matter how brutal the violence, no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, cops are cleared by Internal Affairs divisions, by coroner's inquiries and grand juries, because they are cops, because a cop's lies are accepted as truth no matter how many non-police witnesses contradict the story, and because a cop's wild speculations about non-existent threats from kneeling empty-handed suspects are treated as more important than the fact that the suspect never actually posed a physical threat to anybody at all. If anything ever happens, at most a few cops are fired and the city government settles a lawsuit. Then, public servants that they are, they send you the bill in taxes. They wave off the whole thing as the isolated actions of a few bad apples and sanctimoniously demand that the public give the rest of the police force every possible benefit of the doubt. And, since no-one is ever held personally accountable for the beatings and murders that cops commit month after month and year after year, a year or a few months or a few weeks later, exactly the same thing happens, over and over again.

This is how government police serve and protect the public: by hurting and killing innocent or helpless people under their power; by taking out the stress and risks of their own chosen profession on members of the public who pose no threat to them; by lying, dissembling, making excuses, and crying about it if anyone should happen to take issue with this reign of terror being carried on by peace officers in the name of Public Safety. Cops are here to protect you. Cops are here to protect the hell out of you, whether you want it or not, and you had better not get in the way.

When every week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police department almost invariably doing everything in its power to conceal, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, it beggars belief to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here, that cops ought to be given every benefit of the doubt, and that any blanket condemnation of American policing is a sign of hastiness and unfair prejudice. The plain fact is that what we have here is one of two things: either a professionalized system of control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people—or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

We believe that there is another way. Southern Nevada ALL is working to build public awareness and support for a new, consensual form of social order, in which people secure social order through free agreements negotiated on the basis of equality, rather than through laws handed down from on high and enforced through government police. We believe that people and neighborhoods can and should handle their own self-defense, individually or cooperatively, rather than being forced to pay for and to depend on an arrogant, heavily-armed, and legally unaccountable paramilitary police force. Without government-imposed victimless crime laws, such as government Drug Prohibition, there would be far fewer crimes to fight, and no need to use force except in order to defend yourself or innocent bystanders; and real self-defense against an imminent threat of violence requires no special legal privileges or tax-funded goon squads. In our efforts to bring this consensual society, we are working to raise public awareness about police brutality and hold violent police to account; to encourage people to exercise their legal rights to keep and bear arms for individual self-defense; and to call attention to the systemic nature of the problem and the possibility of a radical, anarchistic solution. We are starting small, and we are starting here, because that is what we have, and this is where we live. As new students enter our community for the Fall semester, we hope to reach out to both newcomers and long-time residents in Las Vegas — to all those who believe in peace, voluntary co-operation, mutual aid, and individual liberty. We will meet together on Wednesday, August 27th at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Running Rebel Plaza (4550 S. Maryland) from 6:30pm to 8:00pm for the first-ever Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe, where we can meet, discuss the ideas of anarchy and network for projects of local liberation in Las Vegas. Everyone is invited, and we hope that all people of good will—whether anarchist, anti-statist, anti-authoritarian fellow-travelers, or just anarchy-curious—will join us in our discussions and stand with us in our struggle.

—ALLy C.J., 25 August 2008.

The Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left can be reached through its website, sonv.libertarianleft.org, or through its e-mail list ALLSouthernNevada.

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