* My friends will tell you that every month, for the last few years, I’ve moaned and complained that I’m too busy at work, but that I also worry that, at any minute, the work will dry up and I’ll be one of those 50+ women you read about who are out of work and can’t even get a job as a Walmart greeter. They’d say that I keep promising myself, and them, that as soon as THIS brief/pleading/major meeting/oral argument/etc. is over, things will settle down, I’ll sort out my life, I’ll figure out this whole work/life balance thing. And they’d tell you that, to borrow a line from Miss Parker, “Alas, I never do.” And they’d be right. It’s a good thing I love what I do. Has anyone figured this thing out? I wish lawyers got sabbaticals.
* Before I got this wonderful job, I spent 17 years teaching teen-agers. I’ll tell you this for free: teen-agers are wonderful people who challenge you, teach you new things, keep you from getting too crochety, make you laugh, and enrich your life, and teenagers are assholes, thoroughly maddening, totally sadistic idiots, complete jerks. They can literally drive you to drink and I don’t believe that there’s a single person who’s ever worked for an extended time with teens who hasn’t, at one point or another, considered violence.
An officer in McKinney, Texas, dashes down a sidewalk, losing his flashlight as he runs past a [white] teenage videographer toward an [reported] emergency. Seconds later, the teen with the camera walks up to another officer, one who is standing with a group of kids. “I’m just saying,” the officer is saying in a calm, corrective tone that parents and school teachers everywhere will recognize. “Don’t take off running when the cops get here.”
He thanks the videographer for returning the flashlight, then listens for a few seconds as the kids around him try to explain who was and was not involved in a prior incident. “Okay, guys, I appreciate that,” the as-yet-unidentified officer says. He responds to their concerns — that the police had detained the wrong people — by saying, “Okay, that’s what I’m saying. They’re free to go.” While not casual, the officer is composed. His tone is friendly and professional as he engages with the kids.
Seconds later, another officer, Corporal Eric Casebolt, is shown interacting with some of the same kids. His angry tone and aggressive attitude stand in marked contrast to the first officer in the video. “Get on the ground,” he commands sharply while pulling on a young man’s wrist in a way that looks like he’s trying to force the man to the ground with a painful joint manipulation (technically a supinating wrist lock or, for martial arts enthusiasts, kote gaeshi).
When that proves ineffective, he grabs the back of the young man’s head and shoves him down. “I told you to stay,” he yells, pointing a large metal flashlight at someone off camera. “Get your asses down on the ground.” Like the first officer, he lectures some of the kids about running from the police, but he takes a very different approach. “Don’t make me fucking run around here with thirty pounds of god-damned gear on in the sun because you want to screw around out here.” He is anything but composed, calm or professional.
The two officers in this brief video represent two different policing styles, two different mindsets that officers use as they interact with civilians: the Guardian and the Warrior. As a former police officer and current policing scholar, I know that an officer’s mindset has tremendous impact on police/civilian encounters. I’ve described the Guardian and Warrior mindsets at some length . . . ; for now, suffice to say that the right mindset can de-escalate tense situations, induce compliance, and increase community trust over the long-term. The kids interacting with the first officer were excited, but not upset; they remained cooperative. Had they gone home at that moment, they’d have a story for their friends and family, but it would be a story that happened to have the police in it rather than being a story about the police.
The wrong mindset, on the other hand, can exacerbate a tense encounter, produce resistance, and lead to entirely avoidable violence. It can, and has, caused longterm damage to police/community relations. We shouldn’t be surprised that the kids [at whom] Corporal Casebolt was yelling  weren’t eager to do what he was ordering them to do — no one likes being cursed at and disrespected in front of their peers, and people of all ages, especially teenagers, resent being treated unjustly. That resentment can lead to resistance, and Police Warriors — taught to exercise unquestioned command over a scene — overcome resistance by using force.
Although the short video does not provide a complete picture of the scene, it appears likely that force in this case could have been avoided. Consider how Corporal Casebolt took issue with the way a group of girls standing on the sidewalk some distance away were “running their mouths,” so he yelled at them: “Leave!” and “Get your ass gone!” As one bikini-clad girl, 15-year-old Dajerria Becton, did exactly that, Corporal Casebolt stopped her — possibly after some verbal exchange not captured by the camera — and wrestled her to the ground. When quickly approached by two young men who appear unhappy with his treatment of Becton, he [drew] his [gun] almost two seconds after those two young men began backing away from him. About ten seconds later, as Becton continued to sit on the ground where he left her, Corporal Casebolt again grabbed her and forced her down, pushing her face into the ground and planting a knee in her back as she cried. The kids now have a story about an officer, and it may well be one that sours their faith in police for years to come.
I think that the notion of two competing archetypes — police as Guardians vs. police as Warriors — has huge implications for the obviously immense issues that America has concerning policing. When the Occupy protestors chanted to New York City police, “Whom do you serve?” the police yelled back, “Not you!” We Pagans, as people who deal regularly and skillfully with archetypes, should be able to do magic around and assist America with this issue.
IMHO, a good place to start would be ending the “war” on drugs and demilitarizing our police.
How do you see the difference between Guardians and Warriors?
Here’s another good article that contrasts police treatment of African Americans with police treatment of white men who have just killed other people. Also, as a child of the sixties, can I just say that we’ve been chanting at violent police for DECADES that “The Whole World Is Watching!” Now, with iPhones and YouTube, it’s even more true. You’re on camera. Grow up. Act as if you understood that basic truth.
* Paper copies of Witches & Pagans magazine were mailed out this week and should be hitting news stands shortly. Check out my column on Hestia, yes Hestia, as a Goddess of anti-capitalism revolution. With my Moon in Taurus, I’ve long been Her devotee, but it’s only over the last few years that I’ve realized what a radical She is.
* Fuck this shit. I suppose that I don’t even have to ask, “What about unwed fathers?”
* I’m looking forward to reading this.
* My CSA keeps delivering greens and I keep making this dish: Saute some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. Add greens and cook down a bit. Add beans (cannellini beans or chick peas work well, but so would adzuki beans or black-eyed peas). Add some strong apple cider vinegar (I’ve been using up the last of my Fire Cider) and sugar and cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated.
What are you cooking now, just before Litha?