Many people were surprised when some of the officers involved in the beating death of Kelly Thomas were actually put on trial. It was a departure from the normal procedure of the pretense of an internal investigation that the public cannot find out anything about. The trial is public. Yes, it was only three of the six officers, but still it was far more than people were expecting.
Yet the surprise turned into cynicism when Officer Manuel Ramos, Corporal Jay Cicinelli, and Officer Joseph Wolfe were found not guilty. It seems that even going to an official court trial is not enough when an officer is a criminal. Protests erupted as a result of the verdicts. Protests took place at the police station and at the site of the beating. Police responded by ordering the dispersal of the protestors after some of the people at the protest claiming to be protestors turned violent.
These protests are well intentioned, but unfortunately are unlikely to achieve any practical result. They are demanding that the criminal officers be placed in prison, which is very unlikely without violating double jeopardy or violating habeas corpus. This does not mean that protests cannot achieve a positive result. These protests need to be directed in a new direction, though to achieve that result.
When a dangerous sex offender is released from prison, the community that receives the criminal often erupts with protest at the site of the offender’s residence. Flyers are printed up and distributed all over the surrounding neighborhood announcing that a sex offender is moving in. These flyers include the name, address, and picture of the offender so that the offender can be easily identified.
If protests were to take place at the homes of the officers, then and only then would the criminal officers actually feel some pressure for the crimes they committed. These protests would alert neighborhoods that they are living next to dangerous and violent criminals. And the officers would know that their neighbors know they are violent and dangerous. Flyers posted on street lamps, a common practice, will lead to neighborhood shunning.
This leads to neighborhood shunning, especially if these flyers made it to the stores the officers shop at. Neighborhood shunning is the desired goal since there won’t be any official punishment. Officer Ramos feels so entitled that he’s actually trying to get his old job back. Protests in front of his house, flyers in his neighborhood and at his favorite stores, children signing rhymes about how there is a bad person living at his house, all of those will put pressure on him to realize that no matter how innocent he thinks he is others do not think a badge absolves bad behavior.