Social Question

SaganRitual's avatar

Where do you stand on the notion of people defending themselves or others from the police?

Asked by SaganRitual (2059points) June 17th, 2019

Never mind the point that you’re likely to be killed by the police if you try to do anything. I’m asking for thoughts about what the law should allow.

It’s a tricky situation. The police are trained (and dear God, I hope there is some psychological screening process during training). They surely understand the nuances of a situation better than most civilians. It would never do to have untrained civilians interfering with an arrest, even non-violently.

On the other hand, the police do harm people, causing excruciating pain to those who have surrendered. Or injuring them. Or killing them. It would never do to have civilians stand by while armed pain experts cause serious harm to other civilians.

The fate of the nation is on your shoulders once again: what is your solution to the problem of Joe Citizen’s civic duty to assist other civilians being harmed by rogue police officers?

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21 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Defending yourself against them with lethal force in all situations should be a human right.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

If I’m ever in that situation regardless of the law I would like to think I would come to that person’s aide. If it’s me being assaulted and I fear for my life I’ll fight back. The law allows you to defend yourself and I would rather deal with courts than I would a grave.

I do know and have met plenty of good, honest and level headed cops. In fact, most are this way. Probably around two thirds of them. Still having roughly one in three being a complete dickhead or straight up psycho are not very good odds.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It’s a tough question. Regardless of the situation, a civilian interfering with police matters, will likely be putting themselves in danger. Ultimately, it usually makes a bad situation worse.

An officer’s number one defense of questionable force “legally, ” is that they feel their own life is in danger. Having another person, or persons get involved, can “justify,” not only what led to civilian intervention, but any further uncalled for actions by the officer. If the officer is already out of control, they will likely do more damage.

The best thing is to try to video record the questionable interaction, and get the officer held accountable.

Even that doesn’t always work. Typically, if an officer knows they are being recorded, they will alter their behavior. Or, at least, try to end the situation as soon as possible.
Yes. Some may grow angrier, from being recorded, but it is legal to record them…

Many already wear body cams. Soon, it will be mandatory for all.

zenvelo's avatar

Where do you stand… First of all, better get your ass down on the ground and hands spread out quick, because otherwise you are dead.

I believe people should have cameras ready whenever a policeman is present. LEOs with their body cams off should be presumed to be using unlawful force and fired.

I believe the police should be disarmed.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

^^I agree with all but the last sentence.

ucme's avatar

Here, in England, i’d defend myself & anyone else that was clearly being mistreated.
Over there, in america, them clowns got guns…i’m keeping my distance.

tinyfaery's avatar

I look like a nice white girl. Chances are nothing would happen to me. I’d definitely use my voice and video, but no way I’d step up to the cop.

kritiper's avatar

Sounds like a shootout. The police are there to protect the public, not cause problems. Granted, they are people and people are faulty. But one must assume the best from them if innocent.
Anyone causing problems for the police are probably criminals and deserve whatever they get.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Police officers are not gods. I would hope that the good Samaritan law would protect anyone trying to save me from an mentaly unstable cop.

jca2's avatar

If I raise my hands to a cop, the cop will win. If a cop were to tell me to put my hands up or whatever, I’d comply.

I wouldn’t want the cops to be disarmed. If criminals have guns and the cops have none, I can’t see that being a good thing.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I also disagree with disarming cops.
I get ultra submissive when dealing with cops.

SaganRitual's avatar

@kritiper Ok, consider: During the Occupy protests, I saw a cop body-slam a guy who didn’t obey the order to turn off his megaphone. I saw a cop walk up to a group of young women peacefully protesting behind the appropriate barrier, pepper spray them all, and walk away while they screamed in agony. I saw a cop punching a woman in the head who was sitting peacefully on the ground and facing away from him. I saw a cop on a mini-motorcycle run over the legs of a guy who was sitting in the street.

Now, I’m not trying to make a point. I’m just wondering, in any of those cases, would it have been appropriate for me to intervene in some way? If not, why not? I’m not a criminal, I just hate to see people suffer, and I get triggered by bullying behavior, no matter who’s on the receiving end.

Your thoughts? (I don’t mean your thoughts about me; I mean your thoughts on whether any of the above situations would warrant intervention.)

P.S. Full disclosure: I’ve been mistreated only once by a police officer, taking advantage of his power to goad me with social impunity. The rest of the cops I’ve ever interacted with have been very professional, often even friendly.

kritiper's avatar

I’d say that you’re better off just minding your own business. Life is tough enough without getting involved opposite the police. It might be better to contact a reporter with your view of what happened.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Agreed. It sounded like a situation where there was a lot that went sideways. When the Police are in disperse mode, they want you to leave, or go to jail. Anyone remotely interfering, would have certainly been lumped into the group of whomever else was being abused…

Dutchess_lll's avatar

It’s kind of like rednecks thinking they can take on the US Military with their 22s and AR14s.

SaganRitual's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Actually, none of these things happened while they were attempting dispersal. They were a bit more subtle about dispersing. First they confiscated a bunch of laptops and other electronic equipment, I have no idea on what grounds, and then they returned it smashed up—ruinously so—with hammers. They also arrested a few hundred people on the Brooklyn Bridge, then left them handcuffed from mid-afternoon until late at night, on buses, no bathrooms, no access to medications, inhalers, food, water, nothing. Diabetes, asthma, dehydration, seizure disorder, be damned. But I shouldn’t get myself worked up.

@MrGrimm and @kritiper, I’m asking more in principle, should it have been legal for someone to go stand in front of that cop who was going to mace those women? Or go confront the cop who was punching the woman in the head? Just for example. Should we re-examine our laws and police procedures, or is it all just a necessary evil? Peace

MrGrimm888's avatar

Unfortunately, we give all of our LEOs, the benefit of the doubt (once they are given their given jobs.) They have certain powers, or the jobs would be impossible. Sometimes, their behavior can blur the lines, of what is deemed acceptable use of that power. Sometimes, their behavior is definitely over the line.

I think that there should be a lot of changes. In both laws, and how they are enforced.

At this point in time, I do believe that some police behavior must be simply dealt with, just as individual cases. Yes, some things are a “necessary evil.”

I know, that it should remain illegal, for civilians to interfere with such interactions. Even in some cases, where the officer(s) is/are going over the line, a stepping in by bystanders would likely only make a bad situation worse. Ultimately, it would lead to more problems with overall LEO/civilian interactions too…

SaganRitual's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Ah, good point: go for pragmatism. The odds of citizen intervention making it worse are pretty high. What a crazy world we live in. I blame Canada.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It just is what it is….

kritiper's avatar

Hell, we can just analyze everything to death…

Dutchess_lll's avatar

If a man with a gun and a tazer and 2 buddies tells you to do something just fucking do it. Too many men just want to get gorilla macho back at the gorilla with a gun and a tazer….stupid.

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