Click above, for articles in this issue.


America is a different place today, than it was 4 short years ago, but just how different, is increasingly becoming clear, and that realization should be upsetting to everyone who lives in the USA.  How different ?  For instance, torture, a remnant of dictatorships, is now a common point of discussion, in Congress, on television talk shows and at breakfast tables across America. 

Yesterday, April 29th, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, closed two of its remaining 6 regional offices, and cut existing staff in the remaining offices.  They also are offering early retirement packages for their employees, according to Kenneth Marcus, the Commission's Staff Director. 

The Commission came into existence in 1964 and was chiefly responsible for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  In the last ten years its budget has not been increased, and is now facing a deficit.  The Commission faces a backlog of cases that can take six years or longer to fully investigate.

Amid such a scenario, 1 in every 138 Americans today, is behind bars-- the highest percentage of incarceration of any industrialized nation, or democracy.  America's incarceration rate is higher than Russia and China, whose populations surmount the U.S.'s by a 5 to 1 margin. America, so it seems, is becoming a nation of criminals.  Is this really the case, or is this just an indication of a society that is rapidly becoming a police state ?

Just in the month of March, there were various instances of confrontations with police across the U.S., when children, the elderly, and even sick individuals were shocked with tasers, in highly questionable circumstances.

For example this past Thursday in Fall River Massachusetts a 7 year old boy was handcuffed (wrists and ankles) for a tantrum at school.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, last month police tasered a man to death with a 50,000 volt stun gun for refusing to follow instructions.

Also in March, in Pensacola Florida, police tasered a man several times at a Hospital because he refused to provide a urine sample, this while he was restrained to a hospital bed.

In Newark, Ohio, police tasered  a high school freshman who would not stop fighting with other students.

In March as well, in a Chicago suburb, a choking teen was tasered 12 times and pepper sprayed because police couldn't figure out what was wrong with the boy who would not stop stumbling about.

Meanwhile in Jacksonville Florida a 13 year old girl, is handcuffed to a police car and tasered with 50,000 volts for refusing to be quiet.

Then there is the account from Pennsylvania of a man in diabetic shock who would not answer police questions, so he was shocked with a 50,000 volt stun gun.

Or the case from Toledo, Ohio of a man who refused to answer police questions and is hit with a taser four times, arrested, put in a jail cell, tasered four more times and dies.

And in Detroit, police used their stun guns to shock a 14 year old boy who threw a tantrum in school when a teacher tried to separate him from his Nintendo game boy.

Such cases are not restricted to the young and mainly helpless, in Rock Hill South Carolina a 75 year old woman was tasered with a 50,000 volt charge when she refused to leave a nursing home that she was visiting.

And this past week, in New Mexico, an elementary school was charged by a SWAT team because one of the students was reported carrying something strange wrapped in a T-shirt, the object was found to be a huge burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa, and jalapenos.

As if these cases listed here aren't enough to be concerned about, in the land of the free and home of the brave, now police incriminate the innocent, such as the recent cases in New York, when police were caught 'red-handed' doctoring video tapes in order to substantiate arrests of innocent people.

Yes, America has changed.  Fear is rampant, and extreme. What happened to love thy neighbor as yourself ? What happened to the lofty ideals of a nation in search of conquering poverty and injustice ?   What has happened to the nation in search of its soul, holding out its hand to the weak, to the huddled masses ? 

Is America a nation of criminals, or a criminal nation--a runaway police state trouncing its citizenry as well as those of weaker nations ?  Yes, something is very wrong in America, but I for one refuse to believe that it lies in its people.

L.M. / Contributing Correspondent



Posted  April 30, 2005

URL:                     SM 2000-2011              


You are here: HOME page-OLDER ISSUES-APRIL 2005-Civil Rights Cases

Next : Dispatches from Iraq