Meet The Nation: Police behaving badly

Across the country, unease is rising. Police raids against various branches of the Occupy protests are happening all over the country. Combined with reports of widespread police corruption surfacing, something has to give.

Perhaps most shocking as of yet were the Oakland, Calif. protests, which were dispersed by police wearing riot gear. The police launched tear gas at the protesters and deny using any other forms of riot suppression.

The many protesters posting pictures of rubber bullets, flash bang grenades and various other less-lethal weapons tell a different story. So does the footage taken from the scene.

Police claim that they only used tear gas after having bottles and paint cans thrown at them.

The videos taken by protesters show no incidents of this taking place, but do show police attacking protesters simply standing in place or sitting down.

Worst of all, they show police using flash-bang grenades and tear gas canisters to stop a group of protesters from attempting to get one man to safety after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister.

That man was Scott Olsen, a veteran of two tours in Iraq. According to his best friend and roommate Keith Shannon, Olsen is finally awake after days of being in a medically induced coma. He is currently unable to speak but has written a few words.

One video shows protesters carrying him to safety. What it shows of his injuries is not pretty. The front of his skull is caved in with his head covered in blood.

This is a man who survived a war zone, only to come home to be critically wounded by police officers attacking a peaceful protest.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan attended a press conference regarding the attacks on protesters and managed to completely ignore what actually took place. The full transcript of her speech was made available on her Facebook page.

She said, “We want to thank the police, fire, public works and other employees who worked over the last week to peacefully close the encampment. We also thank the majority of the protesters [sic] who peacefully complied with city officials.”

This attack only adds to growing resentment towards police officers spreading across the country.

The New York Daily News reported that eight undercover police officers have been charged with corruption specifically for stealing evidence (cocaine) and then planting it on people in order to make drug arrests.

This was discovered when Detective Sean Johnstone, unaware that the wire he was wearing was recording his conversation, bragged about seizing 28 bags of cocaine but reporting only 17. Investigators discovered that Johnstone and several other officers were planting the drugs on innocent people while arresting them for possession.

An incidence of this was caught on a security camera which initiated the entire investigation. One of the officers caught planting cocaine, Stephen Anderson, agreed to help prosecutors and has told a disturbing story of an entire department lying, falsifying, and planting evidence.

He claims that this was done in an attempt to meet arrest quotas, which are illegal, and to earn overtime.

In this time of upheaval, these abuses of power do nothing but expand the ever widening gap between police and citizens.

While most people are aware that these police are exceptions in their misbehavior, the brotherhood between officers is a growing problem.

This sense of camaraderie often times lead police to turn a blind eye to corrupt abuses of power. Those who wish to come forth with information fear the inevitable backlash from their department for being a rat, which could cause demotion or outright dismissal.

For everyday citizens to truly feel safe and trust the police, they must see them as equals, not above the law.

Police officers are just normal people, but normal people can easily become corrupted by power and it is nearly impossible to weed out those officers who choose to join law enforcement because they yearn for a sense of power and domination, as opposed to those who only wish to serve their community.

Unless this behavior is changed somehow, it can only lead to more drastic problems in the future.