Footage from Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown’s arrest
Screenshot: YouTube

Before the Milwaukee police released the bodycam footage of the violent arrest and tasing of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown, the city’s Police Department went on a PR campaign to soften the backlash the police knew would be coming once the video was released.

Before the tape was released Tuesday, Assistant Police Chief Michael Brunson Sr. attended a Ceasefire Sabbath at a Milwaukee church to ask the over-policed community for help.

“There’s going to be a video that’s going to come out soon, in the next couple of weeks, involving the department, and I’m going to be honest with you, we’re going to need your support during the challenges,” he said, according to a video posted on WITI-TV.

If you haven’t been watching or reading the news (I actually don’t blame you), here’s what happened to Brown:

Police noticed Brown’s car around 2 a.m. on Jan. 26, parked across two handicapped-parking spaces. They began writing a ticket when the 6-foot-6-inch baller walked out of the store. At some point, multiple police cars rolled up on the scene, and a compliant Brown was attacked, wrestled to the ground and tased. Police claimed that Brown was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, whatever that means. No charges were filed against Brown.

Now that we’ve all seen the video, I have a a bunch of questions for the Milwaukee police.

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Why haven’t the officers’ names been released?

I could have this wrong, but officers are public servants, so I’m unclear why their identities are being protected. To date, the Milwaukee Police Department has refused to name the officers involved in the violent attack on the Bucks rookie, and I’d like to know why.

Is the Milwaukee Police Department trying to protect the officers?

Of course they are. The MPD, all police departments, are a good ole boys’ club. Say what you will about the “no snitching” code of the streets, but the thin-blue-line gang’s “no snitching” policy bests that of any gangster.

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As it stands, some six police officers rolled up on an unsuspecting target, attacked and tased him for no reason, blamed him for the assault and then worked to soften the community’s response to said violence. I don’t know any private citizen not named George Zimmerman who could get away with this type of terror and then be protected in a cone of silence. Forget asking that charges be brought against the cops for assault—the Police Department won’t even say their names.

What discipline did the officers receive, if any?

Conflicting reports have emerged since the news of the incident was released, and that’s partly because the police aren’t being forthcoming about what punishments the officers received during Brown’s violent arrest. According to the Journal Sentinel, the responding officer received a two-day suspension, and two supervisors who arrived later, and escalated the situation, were suspended for 10-15 days, sources said. The Police Department has not confirmed these suspensions.

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The MPD hasn’t even stated which department rules the officers have broken. Hell, we can’t even get the names of the officers who were disciplined. Here’s the problem with this: Let’s say that the Police Department decided that a fair punishment for the officers involved in Brown’s assault was to switch out their comfortable reclining desk chairs with regular, straight-back desk chairs. They have technically been disciplined, but surely the public would argue that the punishment didn’t fit the crime. Stating that the officers have been disciplined but not saying what that discipline might be proves that the police aren’t forthcoming, even when they are wrong.

What does an officer have to do to get fired from the Milwaukee Police Department?

I’m not being facetious here. Seriously, if an officer’s job is to protect and serve the community, and video footage shows officers tackling and tasing a man who has done nothing to deserve such treatment, then I’m concerned as to what constitutes a fireable offense at the Milwaukee Police Department.

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Not only did the police officers escalate a nonviolent situation into a violent one, but they grossly overstated and in some cases outright lied on the police report as to the events that led to Brown’s being detained. If tackling and tasing a compliant citizen over a matter that could have been solved with a traffic ticket doesn’t lead to these officers being fired, then what does?

Why don’t police unions or other police ever come out against bad police officers? 

If you want to know one of the reasons that the black community is distrusting of police, it’s in part because you’ve made it that way. The police don’t ever go against the police, even when the police are dead fucking wrong. The police in the Sterling Brown case were dead wrong. All. The. Way. Wrong. Not even close to right. Yet the police union issued a statement blaming Brown, the stresses of being a police officer, and everyone but the police. From the statement:

Use of Force will never look pretty, but it is – unfortunately, a necessary component of policing. The cause or need for force is always dictated by the subject confronting the police officer. Inevitably every Use of Force will be scrutinized and often opinion gets in the way of fact. Unfortunately, society and local leaders only take issue when the situation is sensational, or the individual is of prominence. Our officers are routinely injured during Use of Force applications; rarely is there an outcry of support from civic leadership.

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It’s victim-blaming at the highest level, and not only is it wrong, but it’s also indefensible. Think about it this way: I’ve got a group of friends who just rolled up on a dude at 2 a.m. and tackled and tased him. When I’m questioned by the police, I tell them that I know who did it, but I’m not telling them their names. Not only that, but I have a big-time father who points fingers at the dude being out at 2 a.m. and adds that police only look to prosecute crimes that are sensational. I also have a friend who goes to the church to rally support for me and my friends before the video of the beatdown is released. See how absurd it all sounds?

I guess my last question for the Milwaukee Police Department is, why are you this way? No, seriously, why are you this way?