04.17.10 Police Violence in Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County, Maryland is a dangerous place.  It is not that this suburb of Washington, DC and home to the University of Maryland is more crime-ridden than any other inner suburban county.  Rather, the danger comes from a culture of impunity that pervades its infamous police department.

Most recently, a video surfaced showing police furiously beating a UM student for the apparent crime of being alive.  The story, which has gotten international attention, reveals the random violence of an out-of-control police state.  Equally chilling is the associated coverup, which makes the county resemble thugocracies like Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and (ironically, since PC County is majority black, as its police force) the pre-Civil Rights South.  The coverup includes charging documents against the student claiming that he struck the officers and their horses and was injured by the horses’ kicking him.  The video shows these claims to be outright lies.

It would be one thing if this were a random incident.  But this is business as usual in a place where police murdered a prisoner in his cell two years ago and no one was charged, because not a single officer was willing to come forward with the truth. And then there’s the other headline-grabbing incident of 2008, when PG police swarmed the house of Berwyn Heights’s mayor and killed his two dogs in a drug bust gone awry.

These cases are obviously just the tip of the iceberg.  What about the dozens of other incidents where no video came to light and the murdered dogs didn’t belong to a mayor? How many other innocent people (and some guilty ones too) have been abused at the hands of PG County’s uniformed thugs?  How many police charging documents have buried the truth or even spun fresh lies out of whole cloth?

The bottom line is that PG County is a frightening place, where police serve to protect themselves and policy makers don’t care enough to do a thing about it.  I cannot understand why county residents don’t rise up against their crypto-fascist state.

For my part, I stay away from PG as much as I can. I’m just not comfortable in a place where guilt is presumed, violence is the norm,  and the perps are the folks in charge.

*     *     *

In other Maryland news, the BOAST bill, which I blogged about previously, finally met its deserved death in the House Ways and Means Committee, 15 minutes before the legislative season came to an end.

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