Publisher's Note: I met Anthony at Libertopia in October 2011 and was captivated by his speech on the police and the clear and present danger they pose to all humans on Earth and especially in the Untied States. He was kind enough to take the time for this interview. -BB
Why are the police such a threat?
All states are institutions of organized, legitimized violence, and the police are the enforcement arm of these institutions. So police are always and everywhere a threat. In our own time and country, the police have been more than the mundane threat inherent to the nature of government. They have become the occupying army Malcolm X identified, but much worse. The wars on drugs and terrorism have dramatically militarized our police forces. Most laws they enforce are morally bankrupt, most of their techniques are atrocious, and the personnel employed by these forces have tended to become increasingly aggressive and lacking in curiosity. The way they dress—as though about to stage a Third-World coup—should tell you all you need to know. The vast numbers of arrests, the allure of seizing goods through asset forfeiture, the steady erosion of the Bill of Rights, the proliferation of SWAT raids—100 a day in America—and the doctrine that police are virtually immune for their wrongful conduct have all conspired to create a most formidable police state in our land of the free.
How would you suggest the average person take precautions for a police encounter?I don't know what my advice is worth here. I am fairly cowardly around these agents of the state, as they are armed and dangerous and often unpredictable. I would just suggest being polite, not overly subservient but certainly not confrontation. Standing up for your rights, while always moral, is not always wise, if survival is a high priority. It also depends on the type of encounter. All are potentially dangerous, especially today, but you can still get a feel for the cops who are probably less likely to ruin your day or life.
Do you suppose that the institution of police in America has simply been ramping up in violence against the citizenry over time? What is causing the increased brutality that is becoming so commonplace?A large part of it is the drug war. The modern police were born largely in the progressive era and got much worse when they got vehicles, huge departments, fingerprinting databases, jails of significant size, and powerful weapons. But in the last few decades, the drug war has completely obliterated whatever protections of common denizens previously existed. The standards for search and seizure have been greatly compromised, which makes everything else worse, and the huge rise in federal subsidies for municipal police in the forms of military hardware has been particularly pernicious, especially in terms of the police's attitude. They have been taught to look at our cities and towns as war zones, and all of us as potential enemy combatants. Plenty of other laws, like those against "resisting arrest," certainly tip the balance further toward the police state. After the drug war desensitized the American people to invasive police searches, raids, and brutality, the war on terrorism and all that has transpired in the last decade have simply been a mop-up job. So long as we have a large government—with a strong regulatory apparatus and paternalistic criminal code—police state will be with us. The immigration laws and gun laws make the problem much worse. But at root is a cultural issue: Many American people are used to this, support it, or remember nothing else.
How severe do you suppose is the under-reporting of police brutality in America?I think it's a big problem. A YouTube is available showing how difficult it is to file a complaint with the police department. I think the vast majority of brutality against the youth, the poor, and minorities, is never officially reported. For years feminists have said sexual abuse is probably under-reported, and I would agree with their reasoning, but it would seem to apply even more so to police brutality, where the imbalance of power between cops and citizens is far greater than between men and women.