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What's Going On?

Abby Zimet

Bodycam screenshot, via Reuters

Man, it just never ends. Even as another cop pointlessly kills another black guy in Minneapolis - this time for having air fresheners in his car, reportedly accidentally mistaking a gun for a taser - harrowing video has surfaced showing a pair of yahoo, frantic, racist, inept small-town cops in Windsor, Virginia stopping, tasing, harassing, pulling guns on and otherwise terrorizing a black and Latino lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, in uniform yet, for....NOTHING. The police bodycam footage from December - yes, it took four months for anyone to notice, and only after the video went viral, because duh, America, racist police, so nu? - shows model victim except for the black and Latino part 2nd Lieut. Caron Nazario getting pulled over by fat white bozo cop Joe Gutierrez and his young punk partner Daniel Crocker for the crime of pulling into a brightly lit gas station before stopping, having tinted windows on his new SUV, and not having tags displayed on the back except actually he did, with a temporary dealer plate plainly visible in the video, which makes it kinda a mystery why clueless itchy-fingered redneck cops in Virginia would pull over a black dude in a nice new SUV: "In the car: professional soldier. Outside the car: ragebeast with a GED, a few months of half-assed training, and a gun." At first, Nazario is calmly curious, chewing gum and repeatedly asking, "What's going on?" Evidently because he wasn't acting suitably intimidated, Gutierrez goes ballistic, whipping out his gun and hysterically screaming at the scary black guy in uniform - Stars and Stripes infuriatingly visible on his sleeve - both to "Get out of the car!!" and "Keep your hands outside the window!!" as he tells Nazario, "What's going on is you're fixing to ride the lightning, son," understandably referencing....the electric chair.

Things escalate quickly. Crocker keeps his gun on Navario as Gutierrez yells, rages, snarls at Navario, "You received an order - obey it!", pepper-sprays him in the face, yanks him from the car, kicks him to the ground, and handcuffs him. Navario grows ever more distraught: "Why am I being treated like this?...I'm serving my country and this is how I'm treated?...This is fucked up, this is fucked up." Once he's cuffed, the cops search his car and find...nothing, except Nazario's dog suffering from the pepper-spray. Cue classic, shameless, oh-shit-what-did-we-do bullying that passes for cop remorse as Gutierrez threatens Nazario with repercussions if he complains about being brutalized. After higher-ups viewed the footage, Gutierrez was fired; Crocker remains on the force. In early April, Nazario sued both officers, seeking $1 million for violating his rights through excessive force and unlawful search and seizure, part of what his attorney Jonathan Adler calls "a disgusting nationwide trend of (police) who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage (in) racially biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly abuses of authority." Like many before him, he cites the need "to stop this conduct...to hold these officers accountable." Others fiercely argue we must "revolutionize police accountability" so that ordinary people of color don't have to live in terror of racist, ill-trained, "hair-trigger" police whose violence is "fucking outrageous." Also fucking outrageous: It's been 75 years since another infamous attack on a black soldier; 50 years since Marvin Gaye asked what's goin' on; a year since George Floyd cried he couldn't breathe. "This is racism," wrote Julian Castro. "It's about domination and humiliation of a black man because he asked questions and 'didnt comply.'" And still and all, it continues.

'Murica. Getty Image


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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