Killing Civilians Without Due Process

police brutalityA drone is an idler, one who lives off the labor of others. P.G. Wodehouse named the gentlemen’s club that Bertie Wooster belonged to “The Drones”. The club members, the drones, were the wastrel sons and grandsons of men who built industries and built the British empire. Bertie and his friends lolled around the club and partied through life, dissipating themselves and their inheritances.

Today, we talk of drones as active devices, delivering death and destruction to the enemies of a new colonial empire. Quite the opposite of P.G. Wodehouse’ drones. This sleight of word is foisted on us by the corporations that control the “liberal media” and that don’t want us seeing drones when we look in the mirror. But it is not the drones actively killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan that threaten us, but rather the drones lounging in front of TVs on the homefront as our rights and freedoms slip further and further away.

While Faux Noise blathers about our Kenyan born, Moslem President ignoring due process when killing foreign civilians, we are quickly losing any pretense of due process here at home. And Faux Noise applauds, along with the rest of the “liberal media”. Killing our own civilians without due process is increasingly the norm for “law enforcement,” particularly when the person(s) killed are unpopular, or defined in the press as crazy, terrorist, or minority.

To start February, the FBI executed Jimmy Lee Dykes, who was accused of shooting a school bus driver and kidnapping a 5 year old boy. For several days, police negotiated with Dykes, he accepted food and medicine for the 5 year old. He communicated with police forces. Police acknowledge that he did not appear to harm the boy (more than kidnapping inherently harms a child).

But Dykes made a terrible mistake. He wanted to make a statement to the press. Did he want to say how proud he was about his long time NRA membership? Did he want to blow the whistle on corruption in his small town’s politics? Did he want to complain about the Veterans’ Administration’s failure to provide treatment for his post-service mental health?

He demanded to speak to the press. So the FBI demanded his death. The FBI explained how they were able to execute Dykes. During negotiations, they delivered food and medicine into Dykes’ bunker. To receive the deliveries, Dykes had to climb up an 8 foot ladder, open a door and reach through for the delivery.

The FBI says that while Dykes was on the ladder, stretched out reaching for a delivery, they shot him. No “firefight”. No imminent threat. They simply used the negotiated supplies delivery to get Dykes off guard and kill him. No effort to “taze” him. No effort to stun and capture him. It was, simply, a planned execution, with no intention or effort to capture him for charges and trial.

It was less glamorous than, but with the identical intention of, Navy Seals executing Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden and Dykes were bad men, so executing them without filing charges, without trial, without due process of any kind, is now OK in the view of too many.

Last week, local police in southern California followed the same policy in response to three murders and at least two attempted murders, allegedly by defrocked LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. All of the victims were either cops or related to cops. Dorner, like bin Laden, has allegedly promised a campaign of death and violence against people he identifies as his oppressors. As with bin Laden, the government has decided that Dorner should be executed without charges filed, without trial, without due process.

When bin Laden was executed, there were other casualties, men and women gunned down by the Navy Seals as “collateral damage” in the raid. Most Americans seemed not to care, because the collateral damage was, after all, merely foreigners, and women at that. But the underlying policy works as well here in the U.S. as in Pakistan.

When Chris Dorner was identified as an alleged “domestic terrorist” authorities also identified the type and color truck he was driving. Word quickly spread among patrol officers that the one(s) who brought Dorner down could expect commendations, public approbation, maybe even promotions and medals. Every cop knew that Dorner, an alleged cop-killer, an ex-one-of-their-own, was not to be taken alive. No charges, no trial, no due process. He was a traitor to the uniform. He was to die while “resisting arrest”.

The result was predictable. Early in the morning, in a neighborhood where at least one LAPD officer lives, a pickup truck with the same description as the one Dorner was supposedly using, drove slowly along the street, tossing newspapers onto people’s yards. The driver and the paper thrower were women. Not African-American as Dorner is, but much lighter skinned women.

But a patrol car of police didn’t care. They saw the pickup truck. They didn’t call for backup. They didn’t try to set up a road block. They didn’t shine their car-mounted spotlights to see if it was Dorner driving. Instead, they drew their guns and unloaded a fusillade at the women in the pickup.

Perhaps it was their instant dreams of those commendations, promotions and medals that affected their otherwise perfect professional shooting skills and aim. Amazingly, both women survived, seriously injured, but alive – “collateral damage,” acceptable damage in the hunt for a killer.

It’s hard to believe that any patrol officers wanted to shoot up two women, just because they were driving a vehicle similar to that of an alleged cop-killer. But we have gotten to a point in the militarization of our police operations that civilian casualties are seen as nothing more than acceptable “collateral damage” to the purpose of keeping police control. If the 5-year old child held by Jimmy Lee Dykes had been struck by a ricochet from the FBI fusillade, he would have been nothing more than “tragic collateral damage” in the course of “the mission.”

Ronald Reagan used Iranian money to build up the crack cocaine trade, promising that it would “only be” urban, poor black people who would be affected by the flood of cheap crack. But it was not “only” urban, poor black people who suffered. Crack cocaine flooded the suburbs and the office towers and the factory floors. The victims of this Republican controlled, Iranian funded flood were just “collateral damage” – acceptable costs of “the mission”.

President Obama promises us that drone strikes and collateral damage will only happen in inferior foreign lands, where the people don’t have the same values that we have. But collateral damage and non-judicial executions of “bad people” are now coming home, as the execution of Jimmy Lee Dykes and the soon to be execution of Christopher Dorner show us.

The “liberal media” has maintained silence about the Dykes execution and the newspaper delivery women collateral damage, as instructed by its corporate controllers. But worse, we the people have been silent.

Bertie Wooster and his fellow Drones frittered away their inheritances, playing, drinking and letting other people run their world. We fritter away our heritage of freedom and due process, watching reality TV, the superbowl, and salacious reports of too much side-boob at the Golden Globes and the Grammies, while letting other people run our world.

P.G. Wodehouse’s Drones ignored the issues that would end their leisure class and their empire, and bring on the first global industrial war, aptly named WW-I. If we ignore the increasing consolidation of corporate governance, and the denial of due process, as colonial control processes like drone strikes and un-judicial executions, are brought home to our own neighborhoods, we like the drones, will squander the birthright of freedoms won for us by our forefathers, and defended for us by our fathers as recently as WW-II.

The classic definition of “drone” is not of a remote-controlled aircraft. Rather it is of an idler, living off the work and decisions of others. So long as we allow corporate decision makers and the politicians they own to decide our fate, we are the drones.

Tom HallAs we allow others to decide our social policies, we also allow them to decide to continue to erode and eventually destroy the middle class, our voting rights, and ultimately the elimination of our freedoms.

We are the drones. We will be the collateral damage.

Tom Hall

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on February 12, 2013
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About Tom Hall

Tom Hall is a family lawyer in West Los Angeles. He is from Boston, and was raised in Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quakers) to think that religion was a progressive force. During the Vietnam War, he organized draft counseling centers and worked with groups training people in techniques for disciplined nonviolent demonstrating. After the war, he became just another yuppie working to make a comfortable life. The Bush administration shocked him back into social concerns. Now he’s working to see that the Obama administration lives up to its progressive promises. Tom can be reached at