It looks like John Barlow was right

July 29, 2011

In the week following 9-11, I came across a message John Perry Barlow had sent to his friends, assuring them that he was OK. (He’d been in New York City during the attack, I believe.) In that message, he went on to mention that he thought the police state in America would only get more oppressive as a result of the attack on the Twin Towers.

At the time, I thought his prediction was probably right: things would get more oppressive. But I thought his calling America a ‘police state’ was a little over the top.

In the intervening years, I seem to have come across more and more cases like the one below. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Radley Balko’s The Agitator and he often documents police and prosecutors’ abuses — with a special focus on what he calls puppycide. (That’s one of his many posts on the topic.)

Balko did a paper called Overkill a few years back, when he was at the Cato Institute, which is all about the militarization of police forces in the U.S.

Or maybe it’s that I’ve seen too many St. Louis County patrolmen walking around in fatigues and paratrooper boots. It’s not all that rare to run into one of them at the local QuikTrip where I buy coffee. It makes me wonder: when did Missouri turn into Franco’s Spain?

So the sad tale below — about a 135-pound homeless man who was beaten to death by police — isn’t much of a surprise now. And I’ve had to re-evaluate Mr. Barlow’s remarks ten years ago. He was right in one way or the other: we may have been living a police state then but, even if not, it seems we are now.

Homeless Man Dies After Being Brutally Beaten by Five Fullerton Cops

Kelly Thomas’ father, a retired Orange County police officer, did not recognize his own son when he went watch him die at the UC Irvine Medical Center after police beat him into a coma on July 5. The officers were responding to a call about vandalized cars when they found Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic, and attempted to search him

Images and video at the link. They’re not pretty; in fact, they’re pretty disgusting.

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