On Sept. 24, a police commander was caught on video pepper-spraying four penned-in women who were part of an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. The police commander was given a so-called command discipline offer in lieu of a department trial: the loss of 10 vacation days, his to accept or reject.
You can be sure he will accept it. He would be a dope not to.
The commander used pepper spray “outside departmental guidelines” according to Paul J. Browne, the police department spokesman. At a departmental trial, he would be subject to a wide array of penalties, reported The New York Times.
I believe that he should, in fact, be demoted. As a commander, he has a responsibility to convey to the troops how they should handle themselves and he has failed to carry out that responsibility.
The other side of that coin is the punishment of protesters who have been arrested for violating the law. The Times of Oct. 19 in the same article reported, “On Tuesday afternoon, a few hundred people marched to the offices of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., calling for him to drop the criminal charges against people arrested during the protests.”
I urge him not to do that. I believe in the right of engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, but those who engage in it must be prepared to pay the penalty. A moderate money penalty where the action was non-violent; jail where it was violent.
There is always the tendency where large numbers of people are involved and they demand trials instead of accepting the modest fines usually provided, or an ACD adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, where the judge rules if the defendant has no further problem with the law for the next six months, the charge will be automatically dismissed.
Providing amnesty instead because of fear of the government of tying up the courts with trials, in my judgment, only breeds contempt of the law.
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