Hope Steffey's night started with a call to police for help. It ended with her face down, naked, and sobbing on a jail cell floor. Now, the sheriff's deputies from Stark County, Ohio who allegedly used excessive force during a strip search 15 months ago face a federal lawsuit, and recently released video won’t help their case.
Steffey's ordeal with the Stark County sheriff's deputies began after her cousin called 9-1-1 claiming Steffey had been assaulted by another one of their cousins. When a Stark County police officer arrived, he asked to see Steffey's driver's license. But instead of handing over her own ID, she mistakenly turned over her dead sister's license, which she contends she keeps in her wallet as a memento. That's when the situation became complicated.
Things are out of control when people can do things like this and think they are doing “the right thing.” Check their faces- an odd sort of professionalism, going through the motions pinning this defenseless woman to the ground and essentially raping her, and no one stops to think it is inappropriate for men to be in the room (not to mention against clear procedures). No one asks “why are we doing this?” No one asks “Why is this woman here” (she was the one who called for help- I bet she will not make that mistake again). No one asks why she needed to sit for hours naked, humiliated, hysterical, and alone in a cell for anyone to walk by and gawk at her in a completely vulnerable state. No one thought to give her a blanket or talk to her as she was covering herself in toilet paper to keep warm.
What is wrong with our system? What is wrong with the police that it is not a radical belief for me to think “I should probably cross the street, there is a cop walking down this side.”
During the course of the raid, they injured Wilson's year-old son, who was in her arms at the time. The child has since had his finger amputated as a result of the injury. Ms. Wilson's partner, 31-year-old Anthony Terry, was arrested and removed from the premises.
... If the officers who stripped Ms. Steffey had been punished immediately for their behaviour, it is possible that Ms. Wilson might be alive today. If police officers were given better staffing levels, better training, it is possible that Ms. Steffey's ordeal and the orphaning of the Wilson children would never have occurred.
Law enforcement is a very tough job. Imagine yourself in the position of a cop, knowing that at any moment you could lose your life or limb or job because of one incorrect assessment, one second extra in making a decision. Understandably, cops get pretty fucked up after working a job like that day after day for years. The pressure on one's personal life, one's family life, one's relationships, has to be unreal. But that does not excuse the actions of those officers involved in either case. Ultimately, what it points to is an inability by these men and women with guns and badges to understand that people who are not white or male or do not have guns and badges are still people and should be treated humanely. We do not have to follow the precepts of the madman in charge who tells us that torture is OK, and humans have no innate rights. There is a better way. And most of all, law enforcement officers need to learn not to exercise inappropriate levels of force against others just because they can.
Ed Coghlan was just starting to prepare his dinner in the northern San Fernando Valley the other night when the phone rang. The caller was very friendly. He identified himself as a pollster who wanted to ask registered independents like Coghlan a few questions about the presidential race and all the candidates for Super Tuesday's California primary.
Ed, who's a former news director for a local TV station, was curious. He said, "Sure, go ahead."
But a few minutes into the conversation Ed says he noticed a strange pattern developing to the questions. First of all, the "pollster" was only asking about four candidates, three Democrats -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, who was still in the race at the time -- and one Republican -- John McCain.
Also, every question about Clinton was curiously positive, Coghlan recalls. The caller said things like, if you knew that Sen. Clinton believed the country had a serious home mortgage problem and had made proposals to....freeze mortgage rates and save families from foreclosure, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for her?
Ed said, of course, more likely.
Every question about the other candidates was negative. If Ed knew, for instance, that as a state senator Obama had voted "present" 43 times instead of taking a yes or no stand "for what he believed," would Ed be more or less likely to vote for him?
"That's when I caught on," said Coghlan. He realized then that he was being push-polled. That malicious political virus that is designed not to elicit answers but to spread positive information about one candidate and negative information about all others under the guise of an honest poll had arrived in Southern California within days of the important election.
First, came the controversies about the innuendos about Senator Barack Obama, the apologies and the occasional resignation (after the info was thrust into the news cycle). Next came The Bill Clinton offensive and display of the race card. And now comes this L.A. Times’ blog report about push polling — again coming from supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton[.]
And the Clinton campaign? Did they immediately deny it and/or denounce it and say they not only had no part in it but they completely repudiate such tactics?
Phil Singer, the spokesman for the Clinton campaign. was contacted by e-mail last night. He answered that he was there. He was asked if the Clinton campaign was behind the push-poll, knew who was behind it or had any other information on it. That was at 5:27 p.m. Pacific time Saturday. As of this item’s posting time, exactly eight hours later, no reply had been received.
Silence is sometimes eloquent — particularly if it seems to be part of a distinct pattern.