Friday, August 9, 2013

An Unsettling Trend

Catching up on the news after being out of touch for a while, I was struck by the number of stories detailing what I consider abuse of power by a variety of government agents, accompanied by a callous disregard towards the public they are supposed to be serving. And it's not just here at home, but around the world. Here's a few random samples.

From Canada: Woman fined $219 for not paying bus fare with exact change
When Pauline Tantost was kicked off a Montreal city bus last week for not paying her fare with exact change, she was shocked. And then a transit inspector handed her a ticket with a $219 fine for not paying her fare.

With her two-year-old son, Xavier, in her arms, she had boarded the 108 Bannantyne bus home to Verdun around 10 p.m. after having spent five hours at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. She boarded the vehicle near Atwater Avenue and Ste-Catherine Street West.

She searched through her purse for $3 in change for the fare, but only came up with a $5 bill. She said she offered it to the driver, who refused because the fare machine doesn’t accept bills.

He warned her that failure to pay a fare could be bad news if the bus was to get inspected. Then the bus took off with Tantost and her son on board, while she clutched the $5 in her hand.

Two inspectors boarded the bus in Verdun at Bannantyne Street and Fourth Avenue, several stops before Tantost’s home. An employee of the STM later told her that it was purely a coincidence that the bus was inspected.

“I find that suspicious,” Tantost said.
Yeah, me too.
A passenger on the bus, Darlene Cousins-Larsen, said one inspector entered the bus by the front door while another boarded through the back.

“They went right to the woman who was sitting behind the bus driver with the child. She had to get off the bus,” Cousins-Larsen said.

She said another woman on the bus with an invalid ticket was given a warning.

Cousins-Larsen approached the bus driver and offered to pay the woman’s fare, but was shrugged off by the driver and inspectors.

“He said, ‘No no, it's OK, it's free.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, OK, they were just giving her a warning,’” she said.

Instead, Tantost was handed a $219 fine for not paying her fare.

Embarrassed, she got off the bus with her son and stood on the sidewalk in tears. She walked the rest of the way home.

Tantost said she told the inspectors she would contest the fine, words that according to her were met with a laugh and a comment about how the only benefit of that would be the overtime the STM employee treating the file would earn.

“I think they showed a lack of humanity and a lack of kindness,” she said.
That lack of humanity and lack of kindness -- and, might I add, a total lack of common sense -- is a recurring theme in all these incidents. Here's another example, from England.

Couple kept in the cells for four hours after being arrested in their bedroom by armed police when a paramedic mistook TV remote for a gun
A couple were arrested at gunpoint by 18 police officers and held for four hours after a paramedic mistook their TV remote control for a gun.

Michelle Malone, 46, and Keith Abrahams, 44, were in bed when 18 officers stormed their flat and bundled them out into a police van.

The couple’s nightmare began when a paramedic was sent to their home  after Miss Malone suffered a panic attack. As he entered the bedroom to treat  Miss Malone, he spotted the remote control in Mr Abrahams’ hand. Apparently mistaking it for a gun, he immediately called police.

Eighteen officers – ten of whom were armed and wearing body armour – then burst into the flat at 1am and the couple were arrested at gunpoint.

...the pair were taken to a nearby police station while officers conducted a forensic fingertip search of their flat.
Adding insult to injury:
(Ms. Malone said) ‘They also left my house looking like a bomb-site – it was like I had been burgled.’

When the pair were eventually released from Hereford Police Station, Mr Abrahams suffered a further indignity when he was left to walk home in just his vest and boxer shorts.
Of course, the U.S. doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to government officials lacking common sense and compassion

Armed agents raid animal shelter for baby deer named "Giggles"

"It was like a SWAT team," shelter employee Ray Schulze said.

The focus of their search was a baby fawn brought there by an Illinois family worried she had been abandoned by her mother.

The Department of Natural Resources began investigating after two anonymous calls reporting a baby deer at the no-kill shelter.

Agents told staff they came to seize the deer because Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.

"I said the deer is scheduled to go to the wildlife reserve the next day," Schulze said.

It was to go to a wildlife reserve in Illinois that allows the rehabilitation of deer. Schulze said agents corralled workers near the picnic area and then set out in search of the fawn.

"I was thinking in my mind they were going to take the deer and take it to a wildlife shelter, and here they come carrying the baby deer over their shoulder. She was in a body bag," Schulze said. "I said, 'Why did you do that?' He said, 'That's our policy,' and I said, 'That's one hell of a policy.'"

(Dept. of Natural Resources spokesperson Jennifer) Niemeyer denied agents killed Giggles at the shelter. She said they tranquilized her and then euthanized her off-site.
I'm sure Giggles appreciated the difference.

I understand that LEOs have a difficult and dangerous job. And I realize there are two sides to every story. But I'm seeing more and more stories like these. The wedge between cops and citizens is widening, which is only going to make things worse.

Especially when incidents like the one below take place.

95 year old WWII veteran killed after being tased and shot by police
When John Wrana was a young man, fit and strong and fighting in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Corps, did he ever think he'd end this way?

Just a few weeks shy of his 96th birthday, in need of a walker to move about, cops coming through the door of his retirement home with a Taser and a shotgun.

The old man, described by a family member as "wobbly" on his feet, had refused medical attention. The paramedics were called. They brought in the Park Forest police.

First they tased him, but that didn't work. So they fired a shotgun, hitting him in the stomach with a bean-bag round. Wrana was struck with such force that he bled to death internally, according to the Cook County medical examiner.
I'm hard pressed to imagine a series of events that results in SWAT team members with shields storming into a 95 year old man's room and shooting him while he sat in his chair. He clearly wasn't an imminent threat. He needed a walker to get around, for God's sake. Couldn't one of the cops just have walked over and slapped the cuffs on him? Even if he had a knife (and there's no mention of any weapon in the story) one or two cops in body armor should have been able to disarm him.

And all this was because he refused medical attention?!? I thought we all had the right to decide for ourselves if we want medical attention or not. What was that line from Vietnam: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."

We had to kill him in order to give him medical attention.


I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: I love my country, but I fear my government - more and more...


Anonymous said...

With Obama care coming in it's up to the death panel to decide not you. But thanks for the info... if/when I need a walker I'll have two side arms one on me and the other on the walker.

CenTexTim said...

In my mind's eye I'm picturing a walker with an M-60 mounted on the top rail. .Outstanding!