“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” - Henry David Thoreau
So I often read the writings and scribblings of the nineteenth century abolitionists in America and come away confused by the lack of taking their sophisticated arguments about the ownership of other humans to the obvious conclusion. While they fought mightily against chattel slavery, they tend to give a Gallic shrug to taxation and regulation slavery or not even address the implication of their introspection. The harnessing of individual time, resources and volition in the fields in perpetuity with the deed to their lives held by the plantation owner certainly puts a finer point to slavery but the more ”civilized” variations on human ownership in modern nation-states begs the questions. Somewhat like being opposed to killing unless it came with government approval from the newest slave masters on the block – the state. War is the health of the state but as the old saw goes, if you kill privately, you will be held to account but if you are conscripted, handed a rifle and play “plink-a-pinko” for the state, you get a free pass; much like the police state in America today where the cops have a literal license to maim and kill and charge the taxpayers for the cleanup. Whether Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison or other abolitionist worthies from the nineteenth century, with the noble exception of the great Lysander Spooner, none took their umbrage at human ownership by others to its logical conclusion. Most dared not understand the foundational relationship between the state and the institution of slavery. It was the mortar and glue that maintained the depth and breadth of Greco-Roman civilization in the West. The feudal variations may have been the embryonic foundation of the modern slave societies in the West where total ownership was not in the mix but freedom was conditional on the amount of tribute, time and resources was surrendered at gunpoint in the name of civilization. After the West abandoned chattel slavery, the more hidden and tangential forms of slavery started to advance and spread throughout the body politic finding champions and apologists across the political spectrum. Excepting the anarcho-capitalists, rare is the Western political construct that calls for a total abolition of all forms of human slavery Turning to my trusty Oxford English Dictionary, I find the following happy tribe of definitions:
  • A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.
  • A person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation.
  • A person who is excessively dependent upon or controlled by something.
  • An ant captured in its pupal state by an ant of another species, for which it becomes a worker.
The last one is especially unnerving because it speaks to the Constitutional implied consent that is the holy writ both Left and Right in America binding the infant with the misfortune of US citizenship to become one of the tax cattle administered by the government and its innumerable regulatory hydras haunting the fruited plain. Whether the cradle to grave welfare system for the poor, the corporate welfare class or the tens of millions saddled with enormous tax bills and regulatory burdens, American fish swim in a vast ocean festooned with dozens of statist remoras sucking the lifeblood out of them on a daily basis. There is no choice unless one goes underground to conduct daily business. It could be that the main difference is the plantation dwellers get to apparently vote for selected plantation owners every four years at the highest level and sub-plantation owners at different intervals across the vast tax jurisdiction. But what did those nineteenth century abolitionists mean then when they were opposed to all forms of slavery but not all?

  Publisher’s Note: Yesterday, 24 August was both my birthday and fortuitously, the day the British burned down the White House and other government edifices through the DC swamp area in 1814. The siege or burning of Washington was an attack during the war of 1812 by British forces and those of the United States of America. The American troops had been defeated by at the Battle of Bladensburg by troops led by Major General Robert Ross. His forces later went on to occupy then Washington City and destroy a number of buildings, including the White House. To quote the Architect of the Capitol (yes, you or your unborn children pay for that, too) recently: “The British focused their destructive work on the principal rooms, foregoing the lobbies, halls and staircases, thus securing their escape route. In the south wing, soldiers ignited a giant bonfire of furniture slathered with gunpowder paste in the Hall of the House of Representatives. The heat from the fire grew so intense that it melted the glass skylights and destroyed much of the carved stone in the room, including Guiseppe Franzoni’s life-size marble statue of Liberty seated on a pedestal, located above the Speaker's rostrum. Downstairs, the Clerk's office was transformed into an inferno of burning documents and furniture; this fire produced a heat so great it forced the British to retreat from the south wing, leaving half of the rooms on the first floor unscathed. In the Supreme Court Chamber, on the first floor of the north wing,...

Publisher's Note: Due to some WP eccentricities, I have turned the comments function off until we fix it. If you wish to comment, I would urge you to join the conversation at my forum here. You can find my email in the Contacting Me tab. -BB The days of Mayberry RFD are long over and done with. The police serve and protect the rulers and no one else. Frequent visitors to my site know that cops are a favorite topic here. No political bad actor can possibly deny the freedom of one human being absent the police enforcement mechanism to do so. Police have been and remain the primary existential threat to human liberty; all on display in the latest clown posse shenanigans in Missouri. The huge statist police occupation of America is Exhibit A of how important that maxim seems to be to the powers that be. The latest mischief by the law enforcers in Ferguson, MO point to some systematic and oft-repeated concerns about police brutality, quickness to violence and secure blanket immunity to ensure that bad cops (is there any other?) evade punishment for crimes that would put the taxpaying proles in the hoosegow. Like a raft of turkeys or a murder of crows, the city of Ferguson, MO is suffering an intrusion of coproaches and the qualifier appears to be quite accurate. There is a silver lining to this event. Much like the Boston bombing episode where the cops overreacted and crushed rights and created police victims out of whole cloth, the Missouri episode demonstrates a very important observation. Even though the cops are kitted for war with all their fancy equipment, they have no clue how to use it. Now this is married to the fact that the cops will become increasingly savage over time but a tipping point may be reached where reaction may not be as pleasant as the “black and blue line” anticipated. For the old infantry hands in the readership like myself, Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad in FM 7-8 or the coffee table book variety in FM 3-21.8 in addition to the Ranger Handbook (SH 21-76) have plenty of information and guidance to fight the coming Endarkenment the Feds have planned for America. Even the SWAT clown posses across the land rarely if ever come up against seasoned lone wolves or fire teams that are trained in the warfare they pretend at like overgrown adolescent boys playing at soldier unfit to actually fight in the Legions. Modern policing depends on a posture of domination that demands immediate submission and in most cases, the coproaches thugscrum an unfortunate human who hesitates a second or two in compliance. One can on one hand count the incidents in the last decade in which the police have battled a hardened and savvy dismounted light infantry foe toe to toe. They will not fare well. Fitness is a key component of success in a fight and the natural slothfulness of government employees and police unions have worked to underwrite obesity and lack of fighting trim in the ranks. Fitness also speaks to discipline and the ability to face adversity, fat cops speak to neither but also dim their chances of ramping up the militaristic occupation of American streets they presently envision. Take a look at the clown on top of the armored vehicle that has been such an iconic photo from the police antics in Ferguson, MO. Brian Merchant does a terrific analysis here. A few observations. He is sporting a large scope that may be ideal for 300 meters and beyond but certainly not the anticipated 100 meter minus shooting customarily used by police overwatch for hostage or barricaded suspects. The weapon is an expensive .308 caliber AR platform replete with tac-latch for the charging handle and all the goodies one would find bedecked on the hardware of a gun hobbyist or competitive shooter. Indeed, he is wearing Marine Pattern camo (MARPAT). You will also note there are no backup iron sights (BUIS) mounted on the weapon. See a better picture here. This additional picture helped to clarify my confusion at the placement of the RMR for a right-handed shooter. The biggest question is why dress like a soldier in the first place if you don't plan on going to war? Also, black is a tricky camouflage to use in environments that lack any natural shadows. In the heat of a summer day, a black helmet is problematic. There is a reason military forces rarely wear black in vanilla combat operations. The human eye detects movement. The US Army banned the carry of black umbrellas because the sudden opening of the device would startle horses. I suspect the department just likes the sexiness of the color since it is the universal color of death in modern times.
“We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them…you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden.” - Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum (also known as Ayn Rand) Atlas Shrugged
The modern state and government have one primary goal in mind: the maintenance and expansion of political power to horizontally and vertically regulate and tax every transaction of human behavior within its jurisdiction, individuals and firms alike. For America, that means the unfortunates living in the confines of the common geographical boundaries recognized as the US and it possessions and according to the IRS, any place on Earth an American holding current citizenship resides. The US has been a military garrison state since 1860 with short interregnums of less war-like times. With the end of the Civil War and the tyrannical consolidation of the Lincolnian imperial project, the American military apparatus was focused on continuing its campaign to eradicate or threaten into docility the aboriginals who had originally peopled the continent. By the 1890s, the aboriginal extinction/resettlement plan had everything but a bow tied on it. The politicians in Washington started to get restless and set their sights on the exclusive colonial empire club and wanted to carve out some extraterritorial gains while the going was good thus the annexation of Hawaii in 1893 and the wholesale expropriation of the Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and the Philippines by 1898. The empire has barely stopped for breath ever since. My frequent readers will recall that terrorism is the threat or use of political violence against non-combatants and innocents. You will note that absence the use of this method, no government on earth could exist. The existing government merely cherry-pick the non-state actors for not implementing terrorism under the more reputable banner of government. The FBI definition is somewhat more obtuse and circumspect but they need to keep their masters out of hot water: The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. You'll notice the rulers are careful to couch the word unlawful in front of violence as opposed to the lawful violence dealt out by American political authority at home and abroad.. Despite the perilously close grasp of a totalitarian state by the US government in the first half of the twentieth century, it never quite took but the last half-century provided the means and the apparatus to finally make it work. The attack on the Twin Towers in New York provided an overwhelming justification for both secret and not so clandestine measures to turn America into the Orwellian wet dream it is proud to be today. The twenty first century provided the American state with the collectivist accelerant it needed, a reason to pry ionto the most private affairs fo its millions of subjects at will. Many others have chronicled the rise of the police state, the new charter for an omniscient NSA and security apparatus and the various notions that inaugurated the nod and the wink towards torture. All of these things have integrated a tapestry of both real and potential oppression that may not have even existed in the now extant Soviet empire under new management. The US government stands as the premier existential threat to human liberty everywhere it casts its evil eye. The crux of the notion is that a government-sponsored war on terror knows absolutely no legal or statutory limits. Whether the White House Office of Legal Council (OLC) approved use of torture, the massive campaign by the spy agencies to vacuum up every human transaction by Americans at home and abroad to include every other human they can place under surveillance or the burgeoning epidemic of police violence against taxpayers, the game is afoot. On the approved American political stage where the stumbling players act out an unconvincing kabuki dance of differing philosophies, all the key officials and their sycophantic executive agency apparatchiks dance to the same tune: to clamp an iron fist over every possible blush and activity of human existence trying to wring out reasons to watch them, tax them, fine them or jail them. Or worse.
Publisher’s Note: I met Ben last year via the airwaves and he was kind enough to interview me on his show and we had several conversations on his podcasts. We talked the gamut from the police state to liberty to history and formed a tight friendship. We met for the first time this year at PorcFest in NH in June. Ben has a natural sonorous voice made for radio and a quite deep understanding of not only what history means but why history is; he groks that the key to a free world is knowing that if you establish where you’ve been as a species, you may have a better road-map on where to go in the future. After years in the aerospace industry and in private business, Ben Stone is spending his retirement years traveling around North America in his RV, working on his mission to spread the knowledge of liberty and the desire for freedom. Ben's podcasts can be found at www.badquaker.com and Ben is a regular co-host on the Freedom Feens radio show, heard coast to coast on the Genesis Communication Network. He can be reached at badquaker@badquaker.com. Enjoy. -BB

Tell us about your evolution to abolition.

 In a way, I was raised as an abolitionist by my parents. They were about 80% there and I just took the ball a little further. So by the time I was 16, I was more like 95% across the finish line. As I often say, my dad was a self-taught pilot who refused to get a pilots license because he didn't believe a government could own the sky. And my mother was an amateur historian who almost always assumed the pro-government official history was fake. The little faith I had in government was first challenged in the 1970's when I worked with NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Then, after I wasted time, money, and effort on the 1988 Ron Paul campaign, I came to the conclusion that the American Democratic-Republic model of government was flawed beyond repair, but I still couldn't let go of the last 2-3% of statism. It wasn't until about ten years ago that my daughter began using the Socratic method, along with gentle logical arguments, to crush the last remaining strongholds of statism in my mind. By 2008 I still supported Ron Paul, but only for the purpose of getting the message out to a wide audience, not as an actual politician. In 2009 I had a moment of clarity when I realized that coercive government wasn't just a bad idea, but it was the actual source of evil in the human experience. You can't have a coercive government and freedom at the same time. They are mutually exclusive concepts.

What’s a Bad Quaker?

I find there's a lot of confusion as to what a Quaker is, so let me answer that first. Quakers are officially called The Religious Society of Friends or casually referred to just as Friends. They are often confused with Amish or Mennonites because an oat company uses the name and made up an image of a guy with a hat. But real Quakers don't care about how a person dresses. Also Mennonites and Amish have a Swiss Anabaptist origin based on conformity, whereas the Quakers originated in England and are an older sect based on freedom, individual spiritual discovery, and a peaceful life. Modern Quakers tend to be pacifists and often lean toward socialism. The reason I consider myself a "Bad Quaker" is that I don't attend Quaker meetings, I'm not even remotely a pacifist, and I view any form of coercive socialism to be evil. So in a way, the phrase "Bad Quaker" is an oxymoron, but it tickles the ear and plays well with Google.

Can you draw any secular object lessons from the Quaker, Amish and Mennonite communities for advancing individual freedom and liberty?

Quakers rarely form communal societies, although there are some exceptions. But the Mennonites and Amish are good examples of how people can live without police or coercive government while settling their disputes through voluntary arbitration.

Your podcasts draw from a deep well of historical knowledge and understanding, what lessons can be gleaned?

I think the most important thing to understand about history is that almost every aspect of the government-approved narrative is either an outright lie, or it's so deeply twisted that it doesn't even remotely resemble the actual events it depicts. State-approved schools intentionally teach history using a method that makes it as boring as possible while leaving a perverted view that almost always glorifies some government "Great Man" as the hero. But once you're set free from that mind numbing schoolhouse history, and you start to view the human story as it actually happened, it becomes a never-ending journey into fascinating ages gone by.
[caption id="attachment_7011" align="aligncenter" width="1306"] Erik Scott was shot and killed by Metro Police Officers at the Summerlin Costco store on July 10, 2010.[/caption] I read Bill’s book, The Permit, and was aghast at the more intimate and grim details on his son’s murder by cops in Las Vegas in 2010 depicted in the novel. This site is no stranger to reports of predation and rampant misbehavior and mayhem wrought by American police today. My twitter posts three-five new incidents of cop brutality daily. The police state in the US may be the most far-reaching residual of the American War on Terror which has become a self-fulfilling Orwellian prophecy with the use of the campaign as a means to institutionalize maximum government to keep the tax cattle safe no matter the expense in liberty and freedom. Bill has been kind enough to grant this interview with me. Bill Scott is now a full-time author, writing techno-thriller novels. The latest is “The Permit,” which is based on the murder of his eldest son, Erik. He co-authored two other novels, “Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III,” and a sequel, “Counterspace: The Next Hours of World War III,” plus one nonfiction book, “Inside the Stealth Bomber: The B-2 Story.” Bill can be reached via the Contact section of my website, www.williambscott.com, or e-mail at: bill@williambscott.com. While Bill and I may not agree on everything, we do agree that the US police state is a clear and present danger to any human being living within the borders of the US. -BB

 Tell the readers some of your background.

 My wife and I have been married 44 years, and we were blessed with two incredible sons, Erik and Kevin. In 2007, I retired as the Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief, concluding a 22-year career as a writer/reporter for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. I’m a Flight Test Engineer graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS), and flight-tested aircraft for 12 years, both as an Air Force officer and civilian FTE. My undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering. While on USAF active duty, I flew classified nuclear debris-sampling/collection missions, served as an R&D engineer with the National Security Agency, and was a flight test instrumentation engineer, prior to being selected for USAF TPS. As a civil pilot with a commercial certificate and instrument and multi-engine ratings, flight test engineer, AvWeek reporter, and USAF aircrew member, I logged about 2,000 hours of flight time in 80 different types of aircraft.

Many condolences on the loss of your son; I read Erik’s story when it first happened in 2010 and then read your cathartic novel, The Permit, which fleshed out more details in a fictional narrative of the murder of your son by Las Vegas Metro cops and the subsequent cover-up. Were you surprised at the cover-up, stonewalling and general nastiness of the police after they murdered your son?

Yes, very surprised. Before Erik was shot to death, I was one of those naïve American military veterans, who thought all but a few rogue police officers also were honest public servants dedicated to protecting and serving. I quickly learned that cowardice, corruption and cover-up were the standard for about a third of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department—including the sheriff, Doug Gillespie, and his chief cover-up “spook,” Captain Patrick Neville. I arrived in Vegas two days after Erik was murdered, convinced that a sloppy, transparent cover-up was well underway. When I asked, “Why would they cover up an officer-involved shooting, which appears to be a massive screw-up, not an intentional murder?” my lawyer, several of Erik’s friends, and long-time Vegas residents looked at me as if I’d parachuted in from Mars. They unanimously replied, “Because they always cover up their murders! There’s nothing special about Erik!”

Most Americans are living in what I consider an illusion in thinking the police protect and serve anyone but the rulers and bureaucracy of the various levels of government. This especially appears to be the case with the consistently egregious behavior of the LVM. Do you consider the LVM to be a viciously compromised and self-serving entity?

Most definitely. Las Vegas Metro PD is an integral arm of the Clark County/Las Vegas Cartel of Corruption, which comprises billionaires, powerful politicians, immoral, appalling cops, a complicit district attorney’s office, compromised judges, the coroner’s office (which now encompasses Public Administrator functions), and an absolutely venal, obstructionist police union. This cartel is controlled by a Cleveland branch of the Mafia or Mob, which has its dirty paws in several of the big resort-hotels and casinos. In short, this Cartel uses LVMPD cops as its enforcers of evil, ranging from stealing the wealth of elderly citizens to beating and executing those who can’t pay gambling debts, and forcing runaway kids into child sex rings. Paying off low-IQ cops is more sophisticated than hiring a bunch of knee-breaking “Guidos,” as the Mob does back East. Instead, the Las Vegas Cartel developed a quasi-legal “coroner inquest” system that guaranteed any murder committed by a police officer was found “Justified.” Since the late 1970s, about 200 coroner inquest hearings were held in Clark County, NV, billed as a quasi-judicial “fact-finding” exercise. Of course, not a single cop was ever found at fault. Every killing by a LV Metro cop was ruled “Justified.” Incredible.
The nation state marshals resources for war better than non-state entities through economies of scale and the ability to command and direct central planning efforts although it suffers a concomitant lack of agility and innovation due to the necessity of creating large bureaucracies to execute the formation of large armies and still Clausewitz’ Trinitarian notions are certainly relevant today.  Subject to misinterpretation by non-German speakers, his complex theory is just so because the notions are…complex.  Bassford and Villacres make the best summation I have found: Clausewitz defines the components of the trinity as (1) primordial violence, hatred, and enmity; (2) the play of chance and probability; and (3) war's element of subordination to rational policy. [1] As with so much multilingual literature in history, proper translation is key. The Trinitarian notion is much greater than the sum of its parts. The last clause is the operative measure of effectiveness in harnessing what van Creveld would call “fighting power.” Like so much that we discover when divining the auguries in strategy and grand strategy, Clausewitz provided a solid basis from which interpretations could be rendered. The rationality of policy must be embraced through the parochial lens of the respective sides in a conflict. Risk and the assumption thereof is a major component of daring and combat calculus that when it fails may look irrational but had a rational intent to begin with. I think that Schuurman and Echevarria are wrong in their assessment of Lind and van Creveld. The latter confreres posit generations of warfare and Echevarria especially fails to see that they are not distinct succeeding stages or a new mode of warfare but simply additional permutations outside of conventional warfare. Both Lind and Van Creveld will certainly acknowledge that irregular and non-state warfare practices are as old as mankind. The Vietnamese campaign against both the French and Americans clearly used both conventional and irregular means to fight a simultaneous war against invaders. There is no doubt that a Trinitarian analysis can be useful in prosecuting the irregular wars and conflicts that pepper the planet but van Creveld and Lind are simply saying that additional factors are at play and bigger is not necessarily better. Echevarria is not all wrong, he makes a great point: “It also means that one-sided, McNamaraesque formulae and facile, prescriptive theories like effects-based operations will always be around because the arrogance that underpins such thinking seeks to control the variable nature of war. Finally, it means that it is possible for war to have a changeable nature, and yet still be war.” [2]
By statist standards, the Weinberger Doctrine is a sound, deeply reasoned and frankly pragmatic doctrine that gets plenty of lip service but no real world observance in the 21st century in American foreign policy and export of violence. One would be hard pressed to come up with a guiding template that more keenly fuses Clausewitzian realism with Tzu’s admonitions for the “indirect approach.” (1) First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies. That emphatically does not mean that we should declare beforehand, as we did with Korea in 1950, that a particular area is outside our strategic perimeter. [1] One can observe that this was certainly the case with Afghanistan in 2001 even though the deployment of conventional forces prematurely after the burgeoning success of the Northern Alliance to best the Taliban with US/Allied special operations assistance spoiled the recipe in place for a long-term self-determination. The US had no such national interest in hand despite the 21 causus belli enunciated by President Bush during the run-up and actual invasion of Iraq.  Tremendous intelligence tension was evident and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was so affronted by this that he stove-piped and forced conclusions with his Office of Special Plans to convince the skeptics that a removal of Saddam Hussein was necessary. The concomitant disastrous missteps of the dismantling of the Iraqi military and the evident ignorance of the resistance brewing to American long-term intervention went unheeded and history tells the rest of the story. (2) Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning. If we are unwilling to commit the forces or resources necessary to achieve our objectives, we should not commit them at all. Of course, if the particular situation requires only limited force to win our objectives, then we should not hesitate to commit forces sized accordingly. When Hitler broke treaties and remilitarized the Rhineland, small combat forces then could perhaps have prevented the holocaust of World War II. [2] GEN Shinseki lost his job as America’s top Army General because he refused to submit to rosy predictions and ludicrous force projections necessary to sustain a long-term occupation of what was becoming the birth of several Islamic republics in the vacuum left behind by Hussein’s brutal yet essentially secular Arab state.  The US simply did not have the force structure or culture to occupy and transition the country to a state that would be neutral or beneficial to American national security interests in the region.  Optimistic talk of increased oil outflow to Western countries and the discovery of mysterious weapons of mass destruction (outside of US supplied chemical weapons) saw no fruition. (3) Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives. And we should have and send the forces needed to do just that. As Clausewitz wrote, "no one starts a war -- or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so -- without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war, and how he intends to conduct it." [3] The objectives kept changing over time for the entire theater.  In Afghanistan, it was at first the removal of the Taliban then it became the creation of a Western state that would increase women’s rights and suffrage in an Islamic nation in cooperation with Pakistan which had actively supported and harbored the Taliban and Al Qaeda during the entire prosecution of the war. In Iraq, one could find no milestone of strategic or grand strategic value and in a counterinsurgency (COIN) conflict, this is a slow death for occupation forces who are asked to work in a haphazard and whimsical fashion as the policy vacuum slowly grows larger and more mercurial over time.
Publisher’s Note: I was intrigued when I ran across D. Brian Burghart on the web. He is the editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, a dual-master’s student and journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He started Fatal Encounters, www.fatalencounters.org, which went live on Feb. 27, 2014, to create a crowd-sourced, objective and comprehensive database of people killed during interactions with police and the circumstances surrounding the killing. Please understand that while Brian may not be a subscriber to the philosophy of this website and the abolitionist community, he is working toward a common goal. My questions are in italics. -BB

What brought to this Fatal Encounters project? Give us a little background on your interest in this.

 This project was metaphorically conceived on May 18, 2012, as I was driving home from my job at the newspaper. A bunch of police cars had a street cordoned off, and I could just see that something serious had happened. My guess, and I was right, was that police had shot and killed somebody. When I got home, I was just curious how often that happened. I couldn’t find the information for the city, county, state or country. In my research, I discovered there was no national database focusing on circumstances in which police killed people. In the 21st century, I just could not accept that absence of data. I was offended that our government wanted us ignorant with regard to this. I thought about the ramifications of this lack of information for quite some time. That’s when a naked, drug-addled, unarmed, 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, was killed by a police officer at the University of Southern Alabama. No less lethal methods of restraint were tried. On that day, I realized that somebody was going to have to create a system by which regular people could build this database, otherwise it was never going to exist. To sustain the metaphor, that was the day Fatal Encounters was born.

With over 19,000 departments and nearly a million statist badged police in the US, the culture of violence has ramped up significantly. Is police violence against civilians reaching epidemic proportions?

 My numbers suggest closer to 1.2 million full- and part-time sworn and full- and part-time “civilian” state and local police, and that doesn’t include federal officers, but my information is a few years old, maybe its gone down. I don’t know the answer to this question. It certainly seems like incidents have increased, but since the database is not yet complete, we have no way of knowing whether numbers of incidents have increased, or whether it’s just our awareness has been raised by things like social media, but the numbers of incidents have actually decreased.

Why is it worse now?

 Again, I’m not willing to say it is worse without the solid numbers. From my own experience as a journalist, I can say that government agencies are more antagonistic to giving out public documents or being transparent with their actions. I know that ex-military personnel get preferential treatment in hiring for government jobs. I know that there are a lot of military surplus weapons and vehicles being made available to state and local law enforcement. I know that government surveillance of citizens has increased post-911, which creates a society that flip-flops the citizen/government relationship, which would tend to make those who represent government authority more willing to take forceful action against citizens.

What is the impact or negative contribution of the DoD/Pentagon 1033 program and other lend/lease deals for the police departments?

 Increased militarization of gear, personnel and training creates situations in which police response is already heightened and more intimidating, which tends to escalate crisis situations. While the apparent intention is to tamp down crisis situations with ostensibly overwhelming force, my feeling is that the result is often the opposite.
Publisher's Note:  Gavin and I are acquaintances and he sent me this brilliant essay to publish for your delectation. Please enjoy and feel free to comment here or email Gavin directly at Gavinflanagan@hotmail.com. -BB Before we begin: There is no ‘The People’. There is six billion individuals with very similar needs but differing interests and desires. Sure we all need food but some want a vegan diet and others love a good burger. ‘The people’ is a meaningless term, like ‘the poor’ and ‘the rich’. I recently watched a documentary on Brazil, one section covered a family who lived on a rubbish dump, the parents, of seven children, made a living collecting and selling recyclable materials. They had a small hut with a microwave, a coffee machine and a flat screen television, two mattresses that served as beds for the whole family, and an old small truck with no brakes. Both the children and parents looked happier and more grateful than most people I know, including myself. Yet we would look upon this economic situation with patronizing sympathy and consider it poverty. Perhaps it is, but if indeed it is, what is the true meaning of ‘poverty’ and what is the true meaning of ‘wealth’. The majority of us in the West are considered economically wealthy. Economically I would agree, but ‘wealth’ ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ I think are words that encompass much more of a persons state than just financial. This is where politicians proposing to ‘help the poor’ becomes a muddy self serving ideal. Not everyone wants to be helped, and not everyone wants the actual help that is on offer, as in most cases the help is what the politician or some civil servant determines suitable, rather than what would be helpful to the receiver. Of course I would consider Bill Gates rich, but I’m not sure at what point he became rich, his first billion? First million? First hundred thousand? Who decides the figure? Can we each decide the figure? Can we each define what ‘rich’ actually means to us? Or will some elected narcissist define those words for us? Will that definition be set in stone, worldwide, forever and ever? Will all of us taxpaying slaves agree with the definition? Unlikely. I’m immediately suspicious of any person who holds instant answers for any of these questions.