Thursday, 20 March 2014

6. Officer Obie

Knock, knock, knock...

"Yes? What can I do you for?", asked Officer Obie.

"Hello Sir. Are you Officer Obie with the Baum Fauk Police Department?", asked the visitor.

"Yes, I am. Who are you?"

My name is John Smith and these are my associates. We're from the Brotherhood and we have a problem with you that we’d like to discuss.

What sort of problem?

In February you arrested four of our Brothers at Baum Fauk park. Your actions were technically against our law and we’ve come to discuss this with you.

WTF are you talking about? The bums you are referring to were in the park illegally. I asked them to leave and they refused. So it was my legal duty arrest them. End of story.

Actually, it’s just the beginning of a fairly long story and we really hope you can take some time to discuss this with us. We’re not here in any threatening way but it’s very important that you discuss this with us. If you have time now then perhaps we can sit out here on the porch and have a civil discussion about our issues. Or perhaps you’d prefer that we return at a better time?

Ok... sure. Let's talk now. Have a seat. So WTF are you talking about? What’s going on here?

We work with an organization called The Brotherhood. Its mission is to reach out to the victims of the economic crisis and political repression that your country is presently suffering from, and to organize those people so that they can improve their lives.

In our opinion, the only way to improve our lives is to engage in peaceful protest and non-violent civil disobedience in order to obtain our demands. Although peaceful and non-violent, our methods will in fact often be illegal. We will therefore inevitably encounter people such as you.

Our purpose here tonight is to introduce ourselves to you and discuss how we may both do our duty with a minimum of trouble.

"There’s nothing to discuss." said Officer Obie. If you break the law in our town, then we will issue citations, make arrests, and/or call in reinforcements.

Yes, I thought that would be your first reaction. That’s why it’s important that we proactively discuss this issue now so that we may minimize trouble later.

As you are certainly aware, citations, arrests, reinforcements, air strikes, what-not, are not without cost. We are not afraid to deal with these methods and we think we can exhaust the resources of any government or person who deploys these methods against us. And that is what we intend to do.

Why are you telling me this? What do you want from me?

The first thing we want to accomplish is to put a human face on this problem. Look at us. We are just four ordinary men. We are unarmed and are not threatening you. In fact, we will leave here soon with you, your family, and property unharmed. But there is a vast economic crisis underway. It’s been festering for the last several years and its only getting worse. We have no money, no jobs, and no homes. There was a time when we each did have those things. But now those days are gone.

The economic crisis has taken those things from us. And not merely the "economic crisis" but the political choices and policies behind the crisis have taken them from us. And not merely the "political choices and policies" but the actual human beings who go to work everyday and just "do their jobs." They are the people who hold personal responsibility for harming our lives and livelihoods and have made it necessary for us to resort to extreme measures to rebuild our lives. And to quote our Dear Leader... "they will be held responsible."

Most people when confronted with this sort of situation would become very angry. Many would even resort to violence. For example, how would you react if you lost your job, home, and family because somebody somehow fucked around with all that? They fiddle the system for their personal gain and you and your family lose. How would you feel? What would you do?

I’d fuck somebody up, that’s what I’d do.

I feel your pain man. And here you are as a law enforcement office saying "you’d fuck somebody up." How do you think ordinary people would react? How about all the inner city ghetto people? They’ve never had anything in life except EBT, Section 8 and crack? You take their crack pipe away, what are they going to do? That’s right, they’re gonna go ape-shit!

Ok... I can see your point. But you still haven’t answered my question. What do you want from me?

Well... First, I wanted to make our introduction. Done.

Second, I want to discuss what I’ll call a "Scale of Aggression." And I want to begin a discussion with you about where we and you will meet on that scale. In fact, I have a diagram of it right here.

On the top of the diagram, nearest to heaven, we have friendship. Although you’re apprehensive about us and our motives at this time, there’s no reason we cannot become friends. That’s our ideal situation.

Moving down the diagram, getting closer and closer to hell, you can see that we’ve identified various actions that you and we can take. These actions take us further from friendship and push us closer to being enemies.

Maybe you have heard of us before. Maybe this is the first time you’ve ever heard of us. In any event, you know who we are now. And in the future you’re going to see more of us. As a government official you may be called upon to deal with us in an official capacity. So we must discuss how we will each react in these encounters.

As I mentioned earlier, we are peaceful and non-violent. We do however train and prepare to defend ourselves. Most of us have training in various forms of martial arts. Some us carry weapons, including firearms, as our right of self-defense allows. Some of us have military backgrounds and our organization engages in military style training for the purpose of maintaining discipline and physical fitness as well as to develop our ability to cooperate and work together.

It is important for you to understand that all of this is for defensive purposes only, against private sector hoodlums and troublemakers. However, when dealing with government officials, we have strict rules-of-engagement which prohibit using our training or weapons against them, even for self-defense. So for example, police would easily be able to arrest any us, despite our numbers, training, and armaments.

We are also trained to deal calmly and civilly with law-enforcement personal. That said, let me describe some scenarios of contact and how we should both ideally react.

For example, suppose somebody calls BFPD and complains. "There’s a bunch of bums camping in the forest lot behind the library.".

The best reaction on your part, from our POV, would be for you to simply turn a blind-eye. Look the other way. Play bureaucratic games and ignore us. That will buy a lot of brownie points with us, and that may come in handy for you someday.

"Maybe with some minor things we can do that. But in the example you give, we could not. Also, it depends upon the exact location of your campsite." said the officer.

"How so?" asked the Brother.

If you’re camping on the front lawn of City Hall, that’s City property and BF PD would deal with it. But if you’re camping in the green space around the clover leaf at Highway 1 and Main Street, then that’s the State Highway and that’s for the State Troopers to deal with. We’d call them.

Ok, I see. Yes, that makes sense. But why call the Troopers? If we’re not affecting City property, it’s not the City’s problem is it?

Well... when people call us we have to forward their complaint to whoever is responsible.


No why. That's what we have to do.

This is an excellent example of playing bureaucratic games in order to avoid aggressing against us and not being responsible at the same time.

Wait a minute... If the State Troopers are beating your asses, how is that my responsibility?

If you are the one who called them, then you share the responsibility.

But let’s stay focused on dealing with the City.

Using your example of camping in the front lawn of City Hall. I agree that doing so would be needlessly antagonistic on our part, so in deference to you, we could easily avoid doing that. And this is an example of how our dialog can minimize our mutual trouble.

So let’s find a more realistic example. How about we setup camp in the woods behind the defunct Sears store? That’s not even City property, that’s probably owned by a bank. And fuck the banks!

Yeah, you got that right! But it’s against City ordinances to camp inside City limits, so if somebody complained I’d have to ask you all to leave.

How much time would you give us to evacuate?


Ok great! You have some discretion there. Instead of ordering us out in 15 minutes, you could simply write up your report "asked them to leave." End of story.

That would maybe work one time. The next day when the same crazy lady calls back again, the Chief would insist on citations.

You are not responsible for the orders that your Chief gives. He is. And that’s why we’ll assign a squad to him also, and go have a talk with him. You understand that when you issue citations, we will ignore them?

Then I’d have to start making arrests.

How big is the BF PD Lockup?

We’ve got 8 cells.

That would fill up pretty fast, don’t you think?

Sure, but we also can send any extras to the surrounding towns and the County.

But you also have to pay per day?

Sure. Of course.

Probably cheaper to put us up at the Hilton instead?

Maybe. But that’s not my concern. I have to follow my orders.

I understand that and I have sympathy with your position. Nevertheless, you do understand that arresting us constitutes moving down the ladder of aggression, ever closer to hell?

I don’t have a choice! I have to follow my rules.

Calm down, we’re not going to make a big deal about that. How long does anybody get locked up for breaking the camping ordinance?

I don’t know. I've never seen it happen. I can’t imagine for too long.

We don’t expect to intimidate or persuade you to not do your duty. However, I’d like to re-iterate what I said earlier about civil treatment and non-violence. It works both ways. When the time comes to arrest us, we expect that you will do so strictly by the book.

Well of course.

Well not of course. As I’m sure you’re aware, there is a lot of police mis-conduct in this country. This is another example of trouble that we can avoid. Let me give you a few specific examples of things what would seriously escalate down the Chart of Aggression:

  • Interfering with our rights to record our encounter. You must not touch our recording equipment. You must not view or erase anything nor damage the recording media or equipment.

  • Stealing or damaging our property, including any of our firearms. If we are arrested, we expect that all of our property will be diligently accounted for and returned upon our release.

  • Any physical assault is unnecessary.

That’s how we handle any arrest.

Ok, that’s great. As long as we can play by the book, we can keep it civil. And I must state that an arrest is the upper limit of violence that you can indulge in before we must seriously escalate ourselves.

What are you talking about?

Although we would have little luck suing government officials who act in their official capacity, in your court system, we would have much better luck going after officials who engage in mis-conduct. Beatings or damage or theft of property are examples of mis-conduct and will result in endless vexatious litigation that is intended to bankrupt the individual persons responsible.

But wait, there’s more.

We won’t merely file complaints with the city, we won’t merely litigate in your court system, but we will also litigate in our own court system as well.


Yes, that's right. We have established our own court system complete with our own rules.

Hahaha. Very funny. What good is that?

I hope you don't ever get the chance to experience firsthand how effective this really is. You'd be unpleasantly surprised. Did you by chance ever see the movie Brazil?


Well, it’s kinda hard to explain, but the hero is one of us. He's an anti-bureaucratic kinda guy to say the least. But in the end there’s a scene where a piece of wind driven paper blows onto his foot. And then another and another and another... until he’s totally buried in paper. Whereupon he disappears. Presumably consumed by his enemy paper.

Our court system has similar properties. In fact, it's very much like your system.

You would be served with a complaint and invited to respond. It is your choice to respond or not. But if you don’t respond then you may receive a default judgment against you. We will report this to credit agencies, file these judgments in the county courthouse, and that sort of thing.

"Big fucking deal!" snorted the Officer. That’s all bullshit anyway. You can’t do any of that!

Sure we can can. Perhaps most of it will be deflected but some of it will stick. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the next time you apply for a mortgage or a car loan there's a hold up because of one of our judgments? Or maybe you try to get a security clearance! And your name is mixed up with all this crazy stuff!

At this time, we cannot make arrests or seize certain property such as bank accounts. But we can come and homestead your front lawn.

Yeah, right... You're going to camp in my front lawn!? Better get ready to "say hello to my little friend!"

Understandable... But you better make sure you know the law, have the facts on your side, and make sure the encounter is thoroughly documented before you open fire. Rest assured we will do the same. We can also return fire in lawful self-defense. No, no, Officer Obie... there is no chance that killing any of us is going to provide any net benefit for you.

Think of us as like those little pieces of paper. Right now our demands are simple. Give us our fair share of natural resources and leave us alone. Apparently that’s too much to ask for so we attract a lot of heat. But as the individual people aggress against us, and we collect the evidence, litigate in our court system, and judgements accumulate, then our demands will increase to include compensation for these transgressions.

And we will continue to apply heat via protest, vexatious litigation, and a myriad of other nuisances that we are perfecting. So imagine when the day comes to negotiate a grand-bargain settlement with the City of Baum Fauk and our demands include your ouster?


Life’s a bitch ain’t it? How loyal is the Mayor to you personally? Maybe he expects that you’re the one to be kissing his ass, not the other way around? Sure would be a shame if political machination throws you under a bus. Nice life ya got here... Sure would be a shame if anything happened to it.

Ok! Ok... Uncle! I understand your point of view and I'll think about what you have said. I'm not going to be vicious with you but I do have my duties to follow.

I understand that this is a big and new idea for you Officer Obie. We're not going to push you to make any big decision today. Our goal today has been to make our introduction, and that we have done. I hope that when we next meet we can do so civilly and professionally, with a minimum of trouble.

Ok Mr. Smith. I can't say "it's been a pleasure meeting you." It's going to take me some time to digest this. I think our meeting is over now so I'll ask you all to leave now.

Very well Officer Obie. We'll be on our way. Have a fine evening.

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