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Archive for October 26th, 2012

ACAB: How Pigs Became Unfireable

Over the summer, a still from a surveillance camera showing a police officer kicking a handcuffed woman in the head went viral on Facebook and email. The text below the picture read, “Rhode Island police officer Edward Krawetz received no jail time for this brutal assault on this seated and handcuffed woman. Now he wants his job back. Share if you don’t want this to happen.” The allegation was wild enough to pique the interest of the rumor-debunking site Snopes.com, which determined that the story was, in fact, true.

In 2009, Officer Edward Krawetz of the Lincoln Police Department arrested Donna Levesque for unruly behavior at a casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. While seated on the ground with her hands cuffed behind her, Levesque kicked Krawetz in the shin. Krawetz responded by cocking back his right leg and nailing Levesque in the side of the head, knocking her over. In March 2012, Krawetz was convicted of felony battery despite his claim that he kicked Levesque in “self defense.” The 10-year sentence he received was immediately suspended, and Krawetz was ordered to attend anger management classes.

But he wasn’t fired from the Lincoln Police Department. Under Rhode Island law, the fate of Krawetz’s job as a cop rested not with a criminal court, or even his commanding officer, but in the hands of a three-person panel composed of fellow police officers—one of whom Krawetz would get to choose. That panel would conduct the investigation into Krawetz’s behavior, oversee a cross-examination, and judge whether Krawetz could keep his job. The entire incident, in other words, would be kept in the family.

The same was true for Rhode Island Police Officer Alfred Ferretti after he followed two women home while in uniform and exposed himself; for Officers Robert Neri and Robert Lobianco after they were found having a threesome while on duty; and for Officer Nichalas Laprade after two women reported that he stared at them while masturbating as he drove down I-95 in his personal vehicle.

All of these Rhode Island cops, and many more like them across the county, were able to keep their jobs and benefits—sometimes only temporarily, but always longer than they should have—thanks to model legislation written and lobbied for by well-funded police unions. That piece of legislation is called the “law enforcement bill of rights,” and its sole purpose is to shield cops from the laws they’re paid to enforce.

continued here.

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David Le Page is a sustainability journalist and editor living in Cape Town. He has worked in advertising, for the Mail & Guardian and the Treatment Action Campaign. His writing concentrates on the deep cultural and social roots of the sustainability challenge, and the potential for creating a restorative economy. He is a huge fan of ecological restoration and its immense potential for recreating a world with as much life and wonder as that inherited by our ancient forebears. In his talk, David explores how across the world, and in South Africa particularly, extreme and growing inequality is one of the greatest root causes of economic, environmental and political destruction and instability. We claim to hate poverty yet shrink from understanding that extreme poverty is an effect of the existence of extreme wealth. Much greater equality — between classes, countries, biological domains and generations — would benefit everyone, including today’s very rich. More than that, it has become essential to our very survival.

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