My Take

Brutal police? Look closer to home, US

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 2:27am

When it comes to brutality, abuse of power and the undermining of the freedom of assembly, our police can't hold a candle to their counterparts in the US. That's why it's amusing to read the latest US State Department report on human rights around the world, including its criticism of Asia's finest.

The report raises concerns over freedom of assembly and claims that Hong Kong police are turning to aggressive and abusive tactics. Like what, beating up peaceful protesters, routinely arresting a majority in protest marches but not before pepper-spraying them and threatening them with batons? These are so common and tolerated by a docile population already beaten into submission by a security state. China? No, I mean the US. I am sorry, but Hong Kong police are simply far better trained, less corrupt, less violent and far more respectful of protesters.

When Occupy Wall Street started in September 2011, marchers were turned away, with a hundred arrested. This was why the Occupy movement ended up in Zuccotti Park, technically in the Wall Street neighbourhood but far from the institutions being protested against. The internet has an extensive collection of cases of brutal manhandling of protesters from New York to the infamous pepper-spraying of peaceful, seated participants in an Occupy demonstration at the University of California, Davis.

You would think "the land of the free and home of the brave" would protect people's right to protest and assemble. You would be wrong. The whole system is now designed to discourage and undermine such basic civil rights. With a persistently high jobless rate, wage slaves in the US can't afford to have a police record, even if it's just a misdemeanour (as opposed to a felony in US legal lingo), when background checks by companies have become a corporate hiring norm and job tenures get shorter and shorter. You protest in the US at considerable risk to your ability to find your next job.

As we saw with the Boston Marathon manhunt, putting a major city in lockdown is not difficult with Black Hawk helicopters and SWAT teams when most US police forces have been turned into paramilitary units.

By comparison, our police officers are harmless kittens.