Updated: When good intentions fail

Well… it happened again.

David Perdue, a caucasian, was mistaken for Dorner (who is black) by Torrance, CA police, who slammed into his vehicle and opened fire.  Fortunately(?) they seem to be lousy shots, as Perdue was unhurt.

“I don’t want to use the word buffoonery but it really is unbridled police lawlessness,” said Robert Sheahen, Perdue’s attorney. “These people need training and they need restraint.”


The past week or so has seen several stories emerge that, while not related in any usual sense, are necessary to consider in conjunction for the overarching questions they raise.

First, there was the rescue of the kidnapped six-year old in Alabama, through the unconventional devices  of the FBI.

From this, we were given to understand that the same technology that aided in the location and capture or liquidation of America’s foreign enemies was now entering the toolbox of domestic law enforcement.  Good news for the child who was safely freed, but somewhat chilling to some of us who recall J. Edgar Hoover’s unhinged vendettas against those he saw as his enemies.

Then came revelations about the Administration’s drone policies, and it crossed my mind that a spectacular rescue like the FBI had just completed, demonstrating the real benefits of related technologies of war, might just be the spoonful of sugar to make news of further compromises to our presumed liberties go down a little better.

Both stories suggest that we may indeed be facing a “brave new world” in which no one will be out of reach or unobserved.

Then yesterday, as a tense manhunt gripped LA, we had an object lesson in human failure that only served to deepen my concerns.

The L.A.P.D., understandably on edge as crazed ex-cop and trained sniper, Christopher Jordon Dorner, eluded capture after issuing a threatening manifesto against the entire department and murdering three people, became a little trigger happy and shot up a van with two innocent women inside!

As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn’t gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn’t Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.

Apart from a real concern with the threat these new stealth capabilities pose to national values of justice, privacy and  personal freedoms, I think there is good reason to distrust the human factor of simple operator error.

“Boom goes London, boom Paris…”

Boom goes the homeless guy who lives up a tree.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

25 thoughts on “Updated: When good intentions fail

  1. “We must be able to arrest people before they commit crimes. By registering guns and knowing who has them we can do that. .If they have guns they are pretty likely to commit a crime.” Vermont State Senator Mary Ann Carlson ”

    At first I thought it would be a quote from Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report!

    To think that someone, anyone, said, “We must be able to arrest people before they commit crimes.”  What?  That in and of itself is so outrageous so as to disqualify that person from any position of authority, even dog catcher!

    After saying people should be arrested for not having committed any crime, the last sentence, “If they have guns they are pretty likely to commit a crime”, seems right in line with the first thought, both being completely unfounded in fact and law.

  2. Since this has devolved into a discussion of Mary Ann Carlson.

    When Mary Ann Carlson was in the Senate I worked very closely with her on housing legislation. She was a very liberal Democrat and very committed to tenants’ rights on the bills that I was working on with her. The early 1990’s were a time when housing legislation, particularly trailer park legislation, was a pretty hot issue there and Mary Ann could always be counted on to be on the right side.

    I recall one debate in particular in which she was the floor manager of a bill that had considerable opposition from the Republicans, but she skillfully and successfully managed the debate and got the bill passed. I later heard one of the other housing advocates say it was the best debate he’d ever seen on the floor.

    Thanks to farjas for researching this issue. I never believed the quote but didn’t pursue it. I don’t remember the bill we’ve been discussing but I’m sure I would have been in favor of it. I think it’s important to keep in mind that there is a difference between bad policy and bad politics. It’s entirely possible that her advocacy of this bill cost her her Senate seat, the same way that support of civil unions when they were very controversial cost some very good legislators, possibly more Republicans than Democrats, their seats, but I wouldn’t let that mislead me into thinking they were in the wrong.

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