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Posted Aug 24th, 2015 (11:14 am) by Heather Starks

With a growing number of stories about excessive force, it's starting to look less like "home of the free" and more like "home of the police state."

By now you've probably heard the news. On Saturday, Wiz Khalifa was arrested at LAX for refusing to get off his "hover board" while in the airport. The majority of the incident was caught on two separate videos and posted to Wiz's Twitter account:



Wiz commented on the situation with this tweet:


In the first video, you can see Wiz calmly tell the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers that they can't do anything about it, and that they can talk all they want. Per the time stamp on the two videos, there is only a one minute span between when he is speaking with the officers and the next video in which he is being wrestled to the ground. The officers can be heard yelling, "Stop resisting," while Wiz, still in a relaxed and calm tone, repetitively responds, "I'm not resisting." It doesn't appear as if he was resisting either. The situation escalated from a rather congenial discussion to full blown take down in under 60 seconds.

When asked for an explanation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection would only give this textbook answer:

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States. All travelers arriving into the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection, and for their own safety and the safety of other passengers, must follow officers' instructions while in the Federal Inspection Service area. CBP officers are conducting their critical national security mission while facilitating the entry of legitimate travelers. An uncompliant passenger or any disruptive behavior could put many at risk in this highly secure area."

So a man scooting around the airport is suddenly more concerning than the fact that just this year, TSA agents failed 95% of contraband breach tests, in which a variety of items were smuggled through security without so much as a red flag being raised. Let's think about this. Wiz Khalifa is a celebrity, a fairly recognizable one at that. He was in a celebrity hot zone, full of cameras and paparazzi just waiting to catch a glimpse of the rich and famous. There is nothing about his actions that were aggressive, criminal, or nefarious. The agents, apparently terrified of what amounts to a Segway without wheels, aggressively took down a man with force that should be reserved for violent offenders. Of course, the unfortunate first thought is that this is another case of police targeting African Americans. Despite Wiz's wealth and social status, the color of his skin was the over riding factor in the way police handled the situation. But there is one other glaring fact that played a part in all of this: Cops think they can do whatever the fuck they want, and this does not just apply to the black community.

Unfortunately, the excessive use of force from officers of the law is nothing new. Sandra Bland was arrested simply because she refused to put out her cigarette while in her vehicle, and we all know how that ended. Eric Garner was put in an illegal choke hold for disagreeing with police about their claims that he was illegally selling cigarettes. But it's not just black people experiencing this phenomenon:

Brandon Wyne was pepper sprayed, tased, and arrested for simply informing the officers that he was underage and required an adult on the premises before he could be questioned. The driver, Courtney Griffith, captured the incident on her phone, only to have police attempt to erase the video. Oddly enough, Wyne was charged with assault and battery and Griffith was charged with simple marijuana possession, although those charges were later dropped. Griffith told a local news station, "I asked him, (the officer) 'Who deleted my video?' And they all started laughing."

While the majority of these instances in the news have involved African Americans, the tactics that are currently being used by police ensure that everyone, regardless of race, age, or affiliation, CAN be mistreated by the boys in blue. With all of the riots, marches, and protests that are burning across the country, police are on edge. There is a palpable fear in the air - police feel as though they've lost control along the way, and are using excessive force to regain the upper hand. But when has that ever been a long term solution? It didn't work when they were hosing black people down with fire hydrants and it sure as hell isn't working now. All it does is incite further uproar over police brutality.

For Wiz Khalifa, his celebrity and money did nothing to protect him from the unlawful arm of the law. For the teens in the car with a little pot, simply stating their basic rights earned them a night they will never forget. At this point, police are under the impression that their word is the only one that matters, and that citizens have no right to disagree with baseless accusations or attacks. This is something we should ALL be scared of, skin color be damned. When we lose the right to stand up for ourselves and fight back against oppression, you can be guaranteed we are all headed for hell in a hand basket.

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