Cycle of Violence

Of YouTube and bike cops

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted May. 5, 2009

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Nude and dangerous: Police Tasered this naked man while bystanders texted, Tweeted and videotaped.

The past month has been a bonanza for fans of Police Brutality Videos (PBVs). A drunk white cop was caught mocking a black murder victim in Erie, Pa.; members of the NYPD were filmed pepper-spraying students peacefully protesting the continued employment of President Bob Kerrey at New School University; New Jersey cops were taped beating and pepper-spraying a mentally challenged child; and in Philadelphia footage emerged of corrupt narcotics officers terrorizing local shopkeepers.

To top it off, a genre classic, “Naked Wizard Tased By Reality,” hit the web on April 24. The video—shot at last month’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.—starts with a naked man at an outdoor event refusing orders from three police officers to dress, much to the delight of college-aged crowd.

Things turn ugly fast. The cops have the man’s arms bent behind his back, and he’s being kicked in the back of the knee and pinned to the ground by his hair. One of the policemen then brandishes a Taser.

An officer (easily weighing in at about 300 pounds) uses a knee to drop his body on the naked man’s torso. It’s a sneak move straight out of the WWE villain’s playbook. Spectators gasp in disbelief.

The video gets nastier when the naked guy leaps up and tries to run, and the obese cop Tasers him. The man falls to the ground and spasms—clearly incapable of any further resistance—while a cop continues to Taser him. Kids in the crowd scream at him to stop. The cop carries on zapping.

Last week it was Philly’s turn for a rock-related PBV. It was nowhere near as dramatic as prior Philly PBVs: the March 19 confrontation between anti-police brutality protestors and police officers at City Hall or the internationally infamous May 7, 2008, mass police stomping of shooting suspects in Hunting Park (two days after the murder of a Philadelphia officer during an armed robbery).

The video posted on YouTube—showing a confrontation between Philly bike cops and the members and crews of the girl-friendly power-pop bands who played the Bamboozle Roadshow at the TLA on April 26—is hardly a classic of the genre.

“Cops Going Crazy @ Bamboozle Roadshow” is an unedited montage of crash zooms and long shots, the verbal taunting of officers (“nice bike”), off-camera allegations (“They have cops out here who are beating the crap out of people, they’re going insane”), what sounds like steel batons rapidly hitting flesh and the shrill indignation of watching fans. But very little actual violence. The would-be documentarians are further thwarted both by aggressive police attempts to stop them filming and by confrontational area residents.

The TLA incident involved members and crew from three out-of-town bands— Forever the Sickest Kids, We the Kings and Mercy Mercedes. The exact pattern of escalation is hard to establish, but it involved one officer ordering the Mercy Mercedes van be impounded after it ran over a water bottle, soaking the officer. And it climaxed with Chris V—the merchandising guy for We the Kings—being repeatedly hit in the head by officers using telescopic steel batons.

“Chris V was being pushed back into the venue from the alley by three cops with billy clubs,” wrote eyewitness Brendan Walter from Philly band Valencia. “They were screaming and pushing him to the ground, threw him down onto a glass bottle that he hit his head on, split it open. He was bleeding everywhere and they still continued to beat him with clubs.”

This is from the tweetstream of Travis Clark, the singer from We the Kings: “There is nothing worse then a friend asking you for help & knowing you can’t do anything about it cause 5 cops are standing in front of you.”

Actual footage of the beating, while supposedly filmed by numerous fans, has yet to be posted.

The cell-phone camera and YouTube-assisted rise of the PBV (and its accompanying comments page) has nurtured another very modern American phenomenon—the authority-worshipping cop fetishist who finds justification for even the most brutal police violence in the behavior of the victim and then posts comments about it:

On the TLA video: “Don’t push a cop and you won’t get your head split open. Find another cause hippies.”

On “Naked Wizard”: “It’s a shame that [the naked guy] had to entice these cops away from their real job and force them to act on their baser natures.”

Some posters hide their bootlicking servility behind a façade of pseudo-street-smart cynicism: “When you call cops ‘faggots’ and ‘assholes’ … you can really only cry but so much when things go downhill. Not saying that it wasn’t excessive, but again, when you refuse to stop talking shit to cops, you do so with the knowledge that things probably won’t end well.”

On the websites discussing the TLA beating, however, the cop-humpers are easily outnumbered by fans who seem genuinely surprised and shocked that police officers could behave so horribly.

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Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. lalaw9833 said... on May 5, 2009 at 11:39PM

“The cop groupies and the racist slugs that speak from behind the "Domelights" curtain will unfortunately always be blind to reality. They know it will never happen to them, in their cop land neighborhoods, at their catholic schools, or wherever they congregate. Look at all of the incidents that have occured in the past few months and you know it is an epidemic that has to be address one way or the other.”

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2. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2009 at 06:18PM

“seriously, watching that crowd of drones just standing there with their mouths open, filming a beating and all they can think of is going home later and putting it on you-tube, fucking depressing.

jesus christ, I thought 2010 was going to be cool and look like lawnmower man, or at least really oppressive and 1984/ rollerball / total recall style but really it's everyone's lowest common denominator stupidity jackhammered into our brains 24 / 7

time to move to the woods

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3. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2009 at 11:47PM

“It occurs to me that the crowd stood there and simply watched in horror because they know, in their heart of hearts, that racial minorities and other marginalized groups are not the only people that the police get away with brutalizing. Sure, if they'd interfered and gotten their heads bashed in, there would've been some noise from city and police officials, but at the end of the day, the cops would likely have walked or suffered minimal consequences. The police know it, too, and that's why they're not all that afraid to reveal their true natures.”

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4. fink said... on May 6, 2009 at 11:54PM

“As much as I agree with you, I can't help but think of what would have happened if there weren't any videos of these such events...the cops would say whatever they wanted and get a slap on the wrist. It's hard to overlook/cover up something when there's actual proof on youtube for the world to see.”

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5. Anonymous said... on May 7, 2009 at 12:13PM

“@ fink: Oh, yeah, I totally hear you. I, too, think that having video of these events is helpful, but I can't help but think--because it's happened before and because I'm wary of the police as an institution--that, even with, for instance, the video of these cops' assault on the naked man, someone in charge will determine that there were mitigating circumstances and not one single cop who was involved will really pay for what he's done. But yes, you're right--without that video last year of that NYPD bastard cop knocking that Critical Mass biker off of his bike--unprovoked--he would've gotten away with it. As it stands now, he's been fired and he'll be going to trial for the assault. I can only hope that more of these attacks on civilians will be captured on tape.”

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6. Alfie from the council flat said... on May 8, 2009 at 11:17AM

“I hated this story. Not nearly enough Septic bashing. Come on Steven throw us a bone here. Give those Wankee Doodle Seppos a right thrashing!”

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7. Steven Wells said... on May 8, 2009 at 05:24PM

“Sean/Alfie/Cranky Yank,

A quick question: Given that you hate all British people, which of the founding fathers do you hate the most?”

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8. Fuck Off said... on May 9, 2009 at 01:07AM

“I agree with Alfie! Stewie, you're usually known for your cheap shots and snaps at....well, at the hand that fucking FEEDS YOU! Go back to Englanistan sweetie, the muzzards need you to fight for their cause...I'm sure you'll look great in orange too.”

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9. Fuck Off again! said... on May 9, 2009 at 01:11AM

“Oh, by the way, douchey, the founding fathers of THIS great nation who told your king to fuck off were born mostly in Virginia.


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10. Fuck Off Again and Again said... on May 9, 2009 at 01:20AM

“One more thing Twatski, I think you're a closet case honey. I mean come on "man" your hack article begins with a picture of a naked man....surrounded by UNIFORMED men, who look like they mean business...and then you go into how the men in uniform like to restrain and discipline the uncooperative (usually younger) bottoms.... Stewie, the only thing missing was the figgin cum shot! Carry on dear, maybe for your next article you'll talk about felching......oh wait...never mind!!!”

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11. Lyn said... on Jun 2, 2009 at 02:24AM

“And insinuating that the writer is a closeted homosexual makes you that much more credible, doesn't it?

He's addressing the issue of police brutality (as a whole, not just in the US), and how a large crowd of people couldn't do anything but take videos/post twitter updates/text people. It's a shame that the only thing you could come up as a comment was to request for MORE "septic-bashing" (by the fact that you're "agreeing" with "Alfie"), take a jab at his nationality, and make homosexual remarks. It's going to take more than that for him to go home to "Englanistan".

And if anything, the front image illustrates the issue he's discussing: a single man (regardless of him wearing clothes or not), being confronted and attacked by two police officers (or "uniformed men" as you would say), while a crowd stand by and watch, and do not offer any help, nor protest the action.

But I guess in the end there's no point in arguing with an ignorant person (notice how I didn't say Americans, I said person).”

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12. Anonymous said... on Oct 19, 2009 at 01:16PM

“I watched the event at the TLA go down, I can honestly asure you that I felt the police didn't react excessively at all. the van was parked on a no parking anytime street, the police asked them to move it (the bands were hanging out and drinking outside) Some drunk member of the band just wouldn't give up kept walking out with beer, and the police told him to go (4 times) inside and he kept coming out even more angry and ready to fight. the last time they put him back inside and closed the door behind him...he came barreling out, pushed the cop and went to hit him, at that point things went poorly from his reaction.”


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