We wrote extensively about the case of Devin and Rufus Scales last summer when the two brothers were arrested by a Greensboro police officer for walking in the road near their Memphis Street home.
The incident occurred just before the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and at the time seemed like an absurd abuse of police power.
So we applaud Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland and Police Chief Wayne Scott for enforcing decisions that found Officer T.B. Cole violated three departmental policies, including showing poor judgment, a lack of courtesy and general poor conduct.
Cole was suspended for two days without pay in April, a full eight months after he demanded to see the men’s identification because they were walking along the edge of the street in a neighborhood without sidewalks.
Recent events in Charleston, South Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland resulted in the needless deaths of black men at the hands of police. Luckily the Scales brothers’ case was devoid of violence, but the nature of the interaction nonetheless shows the disparity with which police often treat Americans of different races.
Police power must be checked in a free society. Without limits on police power, and review by civilian authorities, fascism is but a step away.
Greensboro’s leaders have been resistant to calls for an independent citizen review board to oversee complaints against police. The truth of the matter is that police unions, and the state’s personnel laws, likely would never allow for a police review board truly independent of city authority.
But the spirit of the idea is the basis of our independence. It’s not a stretch to draw a comparison between American colonists who felt voiceless and abused at the hands of British authorities and the millions of our fellow citizens who today feel a similar sense of oppression.
The militaristic posture of our civilian police forces that has emerged during the last 15 years of an America at war must be rebuked by society at large. !
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