By Perry R. Sanders, Jr.
The media's parsing of details related to the traffic stop of Sandra Bland in Texas underscores what an "ostrich society" we are. Rather than trying to debate the details of this particular traffic stop, the media should be focused on the national problem that has existed for decades...driving while black, hispanic, and now with Colorado plates.
The cops who do highway patrol have used the bum's rush -- forced lane change gag -- for at least the 25 years since I first did civil rights work and criminal defense. They have used this classic cop trick with impunity for so long, along with such lies as "I pulled you cause you were following so close, you almost rear ended that car in front of you," that they actually believe they have a right to make this crap up.
The fact that prosecutors and judges won't call their hand on it and have allowed this criminal police behavior to persist for so long has created a de-facto nationwide fraternity of rogue cops. These guys live to beat the very system they are sworn to uphold. The choice of who to pull over -- with or without a basis -- somehow now feels like a God given right to them.
These tactics and how to get away with them used to be discussed at seminars the road cops attended. They got great kudos and awards for seizing the most vehicles and money for their county's and parishes (Louisiana). The lure of FREE money for the given government agency has long created the conflict of interests that keep the prosecutors and judges from calling these cops the pathological liars they have become. Everybody, except the person who gets pulled, wins when you get to keep the money!
The national attention on Ms. Bland's unnecessary and tragic death should help us get out of the leaves and elevate above the forest to see that we are a nation of very crooked cop trees. Prosecutors and judges everywhere should put an end to it. They are the only ones who can. This editorial is a call to arms of citizens to hold their prosecutors and judges responsible for policing the police.
The best civil rights or criminal defense lawyer has no chance if prosecutors and judges have made their minds up to let the cops win every swearing contest with citizens. The prosecutors and judges know that these particular types of cops are professional witnesses and they can cut and paste their testimony from case to case. Some prosecutors and judges have the backbone to stand up to the men in blue and their obvious lies.
The media should focus on putting a spot light on fake traffic stops nationwide and on the prosecutors and judges who can stop buying the crap anytime they feel like it. This is not what America is supposed to be like.
LeadStories.com co-founder Perry R. Sanders, Jr., is a lawyer who challenged asset forfeiture practices in Louisiana by successfully suing police officers and agencies on behalf of clients who were illegally stopped and had cash and property confiscated. His clients stories and his and his co-counsels' work were documented by NBC Dateline in January 1997, a highly-watched episode that helped raise citizen awareness to the issue.