Street Smart Fail


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, a Harvard student, higher than shit, takes off his clothes on a traffic island in the middle of Mass Ave and accosts a passerby. Extra points, he is black. When the police arrive, he squares off on them. Multiple officers gang tackle him and one officer is observed punching the suspect repeatedly. Police-Commissioner-responds/. Two reports, one from the Harvard Crimson the other from the CBS affiliate. He is taken into custody without further incident. There is street smart and there is Harvard smart and very little reason to believe that the two will ever meet. Cambridge-police-use-of-force-arrest-selorm-ohene/

The mayor is upset. He says his officers are trained to de-escalate the situation. What the mayor doesn’t understand is that in any situation there are multiple paths to de-escalation.

Please stop, sometimes works. Causing a suspect to spit teeth has also been known to work. Both are acceptable forms of de-escalation once the proper foundation has been laid. The desire to de-escalate must be present on both sides. When only one side de-escalates that is called surrender.

This just in, the Harvard Crimson Story points out that four officers took him to the ground. He fell to the ground, landing on his stomach with his arms clasped underneath him. The scenario is this: a naked guy, high on drugs, is laying on his arms probably clasping his forearms. If the cops didn’t know it then, they know it now, they needed more officers.

Actually, the Cambridge Police Commissioner seemed to have a pretty good understanding of the potential.

“The video also shows that the man wasn’t compliant while he was on the ground,” Bard said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on. He was flailing, kicking.”

In response to questioning from reporters at the briefing, Bard specifically discussed one CPD officer’s decision to repeatedly punch the student in the stomach. Bard said the student was preventing the officers from placing handcuffs on his arm—and he said CPD officers tried multiple other methods of subduing the student including using their batons.

“So they continued other measures, other control holds, other uses of their batons, to try to get the arm leverage from underneath the man’s body,” Bard said. “It’s a very difficult thing to do. If anyone’s ever had to constrain an individual against their will, they’ll know that it’s a very difficult thing to do.”

TV has conditioned the public to believe that resisting arrest happens when Mel Gibson squares off against Gary Busey under the spewing hydrant break. At that point, each combatant unleashes a fury of martial moves and countermoves while the fifty officers look on to ensure that it is a fair fight. BULLSHIT. Gibson and Busey were engaged in aerobic exercise, the Cambridge Cops were involved in a no shit fight.

A real fight that may or may not have either side throw a punch. In this instance the drunk laying on his arms and not listening or responding to anything; not verbal, not pain compliance, not chemical, and not stun gun. I don’t know where he is, his little happy place, because he is not responsive to the heaving, sweating, cursing, pile of cops who are trying to move his hands from in front (under) to behind him so that they can handcuff him. In this scenario, the guy is naked, there is nothing to grab onto, male cops do not grab onto other guys junk.

I will admit that it looks like hell to the casual bystander. However, everybody is piled on so tight blows by fist, foot, or nightstick are largely ineffective. A nightstick used as a lever can work but this takes some effort to rearrange the pile. All the pressure points have to belong to the crook in order get the necessary leverage.

The difference between Hollywood and Cambridge is that the Hollywood fight is a culmination, it is a part of the moral judgment, and the first step of deserved punishment. The Cambridge cops weren’t out to punish anybody, it isn’t personal, they want to deliver him to jail in relatively good condition. One slightly used prisoner, in an out of jail in half an hour. A prisoner with large mud hole stomped in his ass, reject at the jail, take him to the hospital, see you in eight hours. Slightly used is better.

The other factor that is always lost in these stories is what is the crook’s responsibility for these events? Let’s talk about his drug use? How about running around naked? How much abuse did he heap on his friends before they abandoned him to his fate? What about his obligation to Harvard, the USA a country where he is a guest? Had he acted in this manner in whatever third world shithole he came from, would he even be alive? Would there be a controversy in the said shit hole or just another body in a ditch for the wild dogs to feed upon?

Unlike Harvard, on the street, the test often comes before the lesson. Now you know.