To the Editor:
The die-in staged at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue pulls South Philly into the fray of a nationwide issue of police brutality, the discretionary use of deadly force by police agencies and the refusal of prosecutors to indict policemen in these cases. Without mitigating the racial factor in all this, the problem of police acting with virtual impunity in every instance where excessive force comes into play is a very real threat to any citizen.
It has become a culture where no one can question police action without the risk of punitive assault and arrest. Anyone video recording police comes into serious danger. There is a reason besides empathy with minorities that white citizens are part of the protests, i.e., the demonstrations in Berkeley and Oakland. There is also a reason beyond the close relationship between district attorneys and police, that results in grand juries never returning a true bill in these cases. District attorneys and mayoral campaigns are supported by special interests other than police unions. There is a great reluctance to alienate the police by those interests. And perhaps, more than the demonstrations of minorities, it is the Occupy movement that worries those interests.
But not to digress: In 2004, a white, 21-year-old Wisconsin man was shot in the head by police after he was handcuffed. His father lobbied for a law now in effect in Wisconsin that mandates an outside agency to review all police-related deaths. This could be a paradigm for reform.
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