PR Police State: How the Public is being Misled About the Murder of Jahar Perez
Every time another unarmed person, usually a person of color, is gunned down by the PPB, the well-oiled machinery of the corporate police state goes to work. Pay attention to how they diffuse public outcry and spin the story. This is the friendly face of martial law.
On the last Sunday in March, Jahar Perez was hounded by police who had no reason to even stop him except that the car he was driving seemed too nice for a black man in a poor neighborhood. This fact comes straight from the officers' own testimony. He had done nothing wrong, but they ran his plates, turned their cruiser around and sped after him anyway. They hounded him until, knowing he had done nothing wrong, he turned into a parking lot, probably to get them off his ass. The rest, alas, is history.
The officers took 24 seconds to determine that the unarmed man, still strapped in his seat belt, was a "threat" to them. Officer Jason Sery shot him through the heart, and Officer Sean Macomber proceeded to taze his dead body for three more minutes. A cold-blooded murder by any account.
And yet, the two officers involved are still free to walk the streets. Why? Because a secret and stacked grand jury determined that no crime was committed. Just as in every case of police-induced homicide, the secret jury agreed that Officer Sery had acted appropriately because he "feared for his life." Jahar Perez, although unarmed and restrained by both a seat belt and a car door, was a "threat." (Oh, he was a threat all right. A black man in possession of an expensive car? Shit. Next thing you know, they'll be coming after our women.)
City officials and the PPB's Public Information Officer (PIO) quickly went to work distancing themselves from liability and misleading the people about the possibility of justice. Seamlessly, they repeated the grand jury verdict as if that explained everything. "You can't argue with that, the jury heard the facts and made the decision." Knowing that this wasn't enough to diffuse public outrage over the "legally sanctioned" homicide, they then went on to tell us how the grand jury was "only the first step in the process."
In calls to numerous city and county officials, as well as the PPB, I was reminded about this fact. The grand jury, stacked and secretive as it was, was only the "first step." The people would have many opportunities for justice. A public inquest, an internal investigation...just wait. Just sit back, fold your hands in your lap, and wait. And wait. And wait.
Now we've had the inquest. This resulted in a toothless verdict: Jahar Perez died by homicide. Little more than a public spectacle, the inquest conferred no authority to assign either blame or punishment. Even at that, it was interesting to catch sight of the soft and fuzzy manner in which the DA handled the accused. He spent most of Sery's short time on the stand asking him irrelevant and pointless questions like, "How old are you" and "So. Where did you go to school?" If this is how he acts in public, one can only imagine the kind of examiner he was behind closed doors with the grand jury. Hamilton Burger, eat your heart out.
If jurors of the inquest can determine that Sery murdered Perez, even with a DA who is clearly on the side of the accused, why couldn't jurors at the grand jury do the same? One can only surmise that the "evidence" presented must have been different; that the questions asked were not quite the same.
In any event, once the verdict was in, the corporate media went to work spinning the story. I confess that I caught the mindless television news that night, just to see how they would handle the story. Channel 12 waited till more than halfway through their newscast to even mention the verdict. The biggest story in the city, and it barely got noticed. And what did they say about it? They said, "A jury determined that Jason Sery shot and killed Jahar Perez. He will not face criminal charges because a grand jury cleared him of any wrongdoing."
We already knew who shot and killed Jahar Perez, didn't we? But the corporate media was careful to tow the line: There was no wrong doing, just a death. Remember, the grand jury said he did nothing wrong.
Similarly, the headline of the Oregonian the day after the verdict was not "Sery found guilty" or "Inquest finds against Sery," or even "Verdict In." Instead, the huge headline splashed above a picture of Jason Sery read, simply, "'I Feared for my Life.'"
So now we are through the "second step" in our search for justice. Have we lost focus yet? If not, sit back and wait some more. There'll be an internal investigation soon. And then probably yet another report on what they could have done differently.
In fact, the PPB has accumulated mountains of reports over the years detailing what they could have done differently after every one of their slayings. But every recommendation of substance made in these reports is "still in review." Even cheap and easy solutions to police murders have been ignored. Why? Because the purpose of these reports wasn't to actually do anything differently; it was, like the grand jury and the inquest, to dupe the public into thinking something was being done.
No, there's no need for the police to do anything differently. Indeed, they're doing their jobs just as they were intended to do: They're keeping The People in their places.
The pattern at work here stretches far beyond the murder of Jahar Perez. As heinous as this was, it was only one in a long line of police attacks on innocent civilians. The corporate media is ALWAYS complicit in these attacks, smearing the names and characters of the dead. Jahar Perez was a druggie, they told us. Kendra James was a crack addict. Jose Mejia Poot was a psycho. The people who were beaten and pepper sprayed in the streets on A22 had "thrown a bottle." Always, always there is some reason to explain away the brutality of the police, to blame the victims of their attacks.
This IS martial law. The police are raging in our streets, acting as judge, jury, and executioner. City officials are either unwilling or unable to control them. We don't even know the extent of their violence, because most of their crimes are quickly covered up. It is only every now and then that a case like this one sheds light on their activities, because there were too many witnesses to ignore. We are living in a police state, but the control over our lives is so seamless that most of us are not even aware of it. (There can't be anything wrong, after all, the TV says so. It's only the druggies and crackheads who are killed, only the rabble rousers who are harassed and beaten.)
Pay attention to the pattern, though. Pay attention, and then speak out while you still can. Because this is how it starts. If they can get away with this, it's only going to get worse. If we allow them to butcher people in the streets and then pass it all off as "reasonable" and "legal," they could be at our doors next.
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