Domestic Tool of Torture: The Taser

This post is part of: A day of blogging for justice: Standing up against the police pre-trial electrocution of black children, women and men by taser.

Tasers are instruments of torture.

Tasers are instruments of torture.

Torture talk has been all over the news recently. The unfortunate [yet understandable] focus of the conversation is on torture in a military & international context.

This causes us to overlook the torture and murder of citizens here at home, victims of racial profiling, police brutality, and excessive use of lethal force by law enforcement.

This issue is not new, but the instruments of this type of torture are ever-evolving. While military torture involves tools like the waterboard, our domestic version uses the taser. 

Torture mentality has perverted our entire system

What happens at the top always impacts the bottom. Lawless leadership leads to lawless practices on the ground. When the Bush Administration OK’d torture, low-level interrogators became torturers. On the local level, when police chiefs embrace tasers as “non-lethal” alternatives to guns, people get killed unnecessarily.

Leadership complicit in torture and murder must be held accountable at all levels.Further, we need to preemptively demand that our leaders craft policies that prevent death, not enable it.

Our wars here at home on petty criminals and the disenfranchised should not be ones that result in capital murder.

What you can do

Contact your local police chief and ask whether officers are carrying tasers. Look up their contact information by searching for their zip code on USACOPS. If they’re using tasers not, thank him or her. If they are carrying, do the following:

  • Sign this petition calling on the Congressional Black Caucus to investigate this phenomenon.
  • Ask: Is the entire force armed with tasers?
    If not, which units have them?
  • Ask: Do officers carry both tasers and guns?
    Ask what the motivation is for this policy.
  • Ask: What’s the usage protocol for tasers?
    This will answer the question “when should tasers be used in place of guns?”
  • Suggest: Stop carrying tasers
    Direct them to our site documenting taser abuses in the US. Let them know that you’ll feel safer if police enagaged in non-lethal ways whenever possible. You know that the officers are well-trained and highly professional, and you just want them to do the best they can without taking lives.

Simply asking these questions will cause leadership to reflect on their policy. Reflection is the first step to change.

Let’s prevent this from spreading further.

One Love. One II.

Photo Credit: strangedays on Flickr

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora and am a National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I currently live in Washington, DC with my beautiful wife Ellen. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. Today I work at the crossroads of traditional political organizing and online activism. I speak before diverse audiences on empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation though emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet.

4 responses to “Domestic Tool of Torture: The Taser”

  1. Villager says :

    I appreciate your suggestions and I agree with you totally about taser torture being the result of leadership that allows this sort of thing to occur as often as it has in the past.

    I invite your blog readers to see what I had to say about taser torture in America.

    peace, Villager

  2. Garlin II says :

    @Villager,

    Thanks for stopping by. I encourage everyone to read his post on this subject and check his blog daily for great insights and analysis.

    I also added a link to the petition you pointed me to for this issue, asking the Congressional Black Caucus to investigate this.

    One Love. One II.

  3. Brandon says :

    Thanks for this!

  4. Pat Vulgata says :

    The use of cattle-prod-harpoons on human beings is a global problem analogous to the introduction of gunpowder. Activists around the World must share information and strategies in the spirit of international cooperation. I represent the British group ‘RESIST CARDIAC ARREST’. We publish a FREE newspaper, ‘The Limpet’, available at http://www.savetheholyheadland.blogspot.com
    Our primary tactic is lobbying for ratification of extant anti-torture legislation. We also run a Public Outreach & Education Programme. The staff of RESIST CARDIAC ARREST would like to hear from our friends overseas.
    Peace ‘n’ Justice!
    Pat Vulgata

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