Sunday, April 12, 2015

What Really Killed Eric Harris: How Common is It For Rich People to be Able to Cosplay as Real Cops?

Eric Harris was killed by a rich man who donated equipment to the Tulsa, Oklahoma sheriff's department so that he could enjoy some live action role-playing as a cop.

The Daily Beast offers the following details:
The deputy wasn’t an active member of the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force, which was responsible for the bungled sweep. But Bates has donated thousands in gifts to the office since 2008, the Tulsa World reported. 
He is one of many “wealthy people in the reserve program,” which includes 130 volunteer deputies, Maj. Shannon Clark of the sheriff’s office said
“Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all,” he added. 
Bates’ contributions include vehicles, firearms and stun guns, Clark said. The shooting was recorded via sunglasses cameras worn by police—items that Bates may have purchases himself. 
His previous law enforcement credentials include a stint as a Tulsa police officer from 1964 to 1965. 
Clark said Bates was an “advanced reserve” and his duties included “anything a full-time deputy can do.” 
During this particular encounter, however, Bates would normally be in a support role that includes “keeping notes, doing counter-surveillance, things like that,” Clark told the Tulsa World.
The State has a monopoly on legal murder. And as is typical in a corporate democracy where the public commons is for sale, and Austerity, Neoliberalism, and the Culture of Cruelty, are a conjoined beast, anything and everything can be purchased.

The role of public servant in the guise of a police officer is also for sale to adult cop obsessives who possess immature dreams of wearing a uniform and bullying the public.

Yes, race and the colorline are central to the repeated murders of unarmed black people (and other people of color, the poor, and the mentally ill) by America's police. But, the devaluing of black life exists within a society where basic notions of The Public, as well as Public Responsibility and Ownership, are under assault by The 1 Percent.

As a commenter pointed out at The Daily Beast, what other jobs with life and death responsibilities are up for auction to the highest bidder? Doctors? Air traffic controllers? Firefighters? Generals? Elected officials?

[I think we know the answer for the latter.]

Eric Harris is dead because the Tulsa, Oklahoma sheriff's department, in a desire to get more toys for its officers to play with, sold its professionalism and public reputation to the highest bidder.

If Tulsa's police department are doing to allow live action role-players their chance of getting a cheap thrill--as they are likely physically aroused by wearing a cop's uniform, carrying a gun, and being able to turn on a siren--perhaps they should follow the rules that cons such as Wizard and C2E2 use at their events:
Prop weapons will be allowed providing they are composed of cardboard, foam, wood or other light materials. Prop firearms are allowed only if they cannot be mistaken for real weapons. The barrel of all prop firearms must be covered with brightly-colored caps. Prop bows will be allowed providing all arrows have soft tips. 
Basically, don't be an idiot.
Hopefully, an enterprising journalist will investigate how common it is for rich people to be able to role-play as police officers--the latter with the power of life and death over the public.

If any good comes out of the unnecessary death of Mr. Eric Harris, perhaps it will be a public outing of such irresponsible programs and ensuring that no other people are killed by pay to play incompetent wannabe cops like Bob Bates.


Camilla Cracchiolo, RN said...

My first thought was that it was the ultimate in municipal cost cutting, using volunteer police reserve to do officer's duty. Conservative policy leading to death because of policing on the cheap. There's much more to it of course, not discounting that. Of course rich wannabe cops like to play with the weapons.

OldPolarBear said...

Also, I read that the shooter is 73? Nothing against old people, I'm getting to be one myself, but that seems a little long in the tooth to be allowed into this kind of law-enforcement situation.

OldPolarBear said...

I hope so too, but even better would be if they could also find a way to sue the shit out of Bates personally. It may be that the civil law will not consider him personally liable (in the civil-damages sense) if, he was a sworn, "official" deputy. But it would be great if they could sue and ruin him.

Unfortunately with lawsuits against PDs, the city councils just seem to consider settlements a cost of doing "business." They pay, and then make it up by cutting non-police services and laying off non-police workers.

joe manning said...

The Culture of Cruelty demonizes poor folks and lionizes rich people. Wealthy men often profess the maker/takers ideology. In view of this would seem that there would be a considerable degree of vigilantism within the ranks of these reserve police armies of rich individuals. Don't the police have enough problems without inviting amateurs into their ranks?

Gable1111 said...

This is another manifestation of the neo Gilded Age with today's robber barons having indirect, and in this case direct power of life and death over the poor. In this case, as mere sport. Bates says he's "sorry" so case closed.

As for these police shootings, nothing will change until the middle class get over thinking they are potential one percenters in waiting, and realize what's being done to black folk will eventually be done to them, as we move towards a society that cannot produce jobs for most people that need them, and wealth is hyper concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer at the top.

What's happening now is just conditioning people to accept brutality in the service of control as the norm. So far it's working.

kokanee said...

Exactly. The oligarchs want the ability to incarcerate, kill or detain without cause anyone they want. Black and brown folks are the test subjects. We've seen this all before...

kokanee said...

And I want to tear the whole system down! ;)

Grumpyrumblings said...

The most dangerous game. Some of those stories we had to read in middle school contain universal truths and warnings.

SW said...

Wow. That's deep. "Conditioning people to accept brutality in the service of control as the norm".

It seems that in modern America, through the acts of George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn, and now Bob Bates, this concept may become "democratized".

The in group will be able to kill the others carte Blanche. Though now that I type that, this is nothing new.