How many people have been lost?
How many times have people been unnecessarily slaughtered in order to maintain an image? How many times have we been lied to by our own story tellers?
So every neighbor, teacher, parent, baby-sitter, family member and friend of this 18 year old are now affected. It becomes a community problem because the community sees potential corruption and want answers, however in most cases throughout American history, the ruling authority has never been accountable for its past. How did we get this way, allow me to tell you how we did:
Origins of Law Enforcement in the United States
Hundreds of years ago, the Kingdom of England was broken down into a number of what were called "shires", later renamed to "counties". Each shire would elect their own special person to carry out duties on behalf of the crown, such as serve orders, enforce rules and regulations, or collect taxes. These people were called "reeves". Over time the words "shire" and "reeve" would come together to become "sheriff". The sheriff was important to the Crown, but so powerful that when King John of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, twenty-seven of its sixty-three clauses had to do with limiting their powers. Once elected, a sheriff can deputize others, who then become sheriff deputies and they in turn would form posses to fight crime.
The sheriff would use local militias at times to help keep the piece, though they were often routy and hard to control. A sheriff's jurisdiction is within the county in which they were elected.
The first "indentured servants" (slaves) came to Jamestown in 1607. "Indentured servitude" was allowed under the English's "Headright system", an agreement to provide seven years of free labor in return for a trip to the Americas and after the seven years was up, the "servant" was freed and given a plot of land to start their own farm. Yet, about half of the "servants" that arrived wouldn't survive in Virginia's climate and many that did would have their "servitude" extended for various reasons. England had been sending its orphans and unwanted poor to the Americas for only a short time, but soon some of them stopped being poor. They learned how to exploit others and made a lot of money bringing people over and working them to death, then passed that tradition to others.
As an Independent Union
Thomas Jefferson called for criminalizing the slave trade in 1806 and factions soon emerged. By 1820, these factions in Congress compromised on the issue of slavery: In the new Louisiana territory, minus the future lands of Missouri on parallel 36°30′ south, slavery would be prohibited. In return, Maine would enter the Union as a free state. When Mexico gained their independence from Spain the following year, they decided to abolish slavery, but many slave owners living there got around this by declaring their slaves as “indentured servants”.
As populations swelled in the United States and the industrial revolution took hold in the northern states, it became more difficult for the sheriff and his deputies to keep order in a single county. As night watches began to spring up across the northern states, workers kept going on strike for higher pay and safer working conditions. Instead of negotiating with them, the factories would simply hire more workers, who would cross the picket lines to work. To protect the strike breakers, factories hired private police from a firm called the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to escort them to the factories.
Created in Chicago in 1850, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency (or the "Pinkertons") were one of the first private police agencies created and its creator, Allen Pinkerton would go on to lead Abraham Lincoln's private security on several occasions (excluding that night of his assassination, as the Secret Service was established earlier that day by Lincoln's pen, but not for Presidential or personal protection, but to combat money fraud). As they escorted strike breakers to their factories, the Pinkertons would often beat pro union workers. The Pinkertons were also the first to use mugshots and would hold the largest collection of them.
From 1846 -1848, the United States was at war with Mexico and as a result of Texas' annexation with the US. By the end of that war, the United States gained what was known as Alta California and Nueva Mexico territory. This is especially important because San Diego lies at the border between Alta and Baja California, splitting the native Kumeyaay tribe in half. We will get more into the consequences of the U.S. takeover of California in a later chapter.
Meanwhile in the 1850s, the southern states remained agricultural and full of African slaves. These slaves would occasionally escape into the northern states, where slavery had been banned. To help prevent this, some white southern residents would take it upon themselves to become fugitive slave catchers and started slave patrols. They didn't just limit their duties to catching runaway slaves however, they would also be the judge, jury and executioner of slaves who simply wandered too far from the tree line. In cases where a slaves life is spared, they are still usually beaten to a pulp.
Philadelphia was the first city in the United States to organize a police force in 1833, followed by Houston in 1841. New York followed in 1845, New Orleans in 1853 and Baltimore in 1857. The main difference with police was that instead of being elected or deputized, they are hired, not by a factory or by a wealthy citizen, but by a city. As more and more cities started their own police forces, many deputies, Pinkertons, night watches, and slave patrols would be hired into them.
Roots of the U.S. Civil War
Sectional tensions started to became violent in May 22, 1856 when two days after Senator Charles Sumner gave an impassioned antislavery speech, a Representative named Preston Brooks beat him with a cane in the Senate Chamber. Really, he came up to him, shared few words and went to town, beating Sumner up. He beat him so bad; Brooks broke his cane and nearly killed Sumner. That same year, a new political party, the Republicans, put out their first presidential candidate: John C. Freemont from California. The Republican Party became known as an abolitionist party when it came to slavery.
“It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its [a slave State's] own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon public affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.”
-Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of the United States Supreme Court, Dred Scott V. Sandford, 1857
In October of 1859, the same year the African slave trade ended, a white man named John Brown, along with twenty-five others, entered Jefferson County, Virginia, with the intent of raiding an armory in Harper’s Ferry. Brown was an abolitionist who was hoping to break into an armory and give stolen guns to run-away slaves in order start a full scale slave revolt. When the raid started though, he received little help. President James Buchanan called in a unit of Marines to quell the rebellion. A "hero" of the Mexican American War named Colonel Robert E. Lee, led the unit.
Brown didn’t last long, his small band of fighters were killed and when he tried to make a final stand, the Marines broke in and he was subdued. He was taken to Charlestown, VA, tried and sentenced to death by hanging. About two thousand people had arrived in Charlestown to participate in or witness the execution, including some notable figures, as Nora Titone writes in “My Thoughts be Bloody”:
“Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson watched the scene intently, noting that the coffin was a handsome affair of dark walnut, protected by a poplar crate. Brown was conveyed a short distance out of town to an open pasture where his gallows loomed… John Wilkes (Booth) had been awake since dawn, along with the other Richmond Greys. They lined up by height close to the scaffold, no more than 30 feet away, and stood at attention in the rough grass.”
“Booth watched Brown scan the tree-line hemming the field. No mob armed with hand grenades made its appearance. The surrounding forest was undisturbed. Watching comprehension dawn on Brown’s face, John Wilkes later said he felt ‘a throb of anguish in his chest’. ‘He was a brave old man’, John Wilkes told Asa, ‘his heart must have broken when he felt himself deserted’. Brown may have been a villain and a vigilante, but John Wilkes could not help honoring the man for his courage.”
“His arms below the elbows flew up horizontally. His hands clenched, and his arms gradually fell, but by spasmodic motions. Only then did a strong wind blow the lifeless body to and fro.”
The American Civil War began and was fought mostly over the issue of slavery. Lincoln had been elected November 6, 1860. By December 20th, before he was even inaugurated, South Carolina declared their independence from the Union. Mississippi soon left on January 9 1961, followed by Florida on the 10th, Alabama on the 11th, Georgia on the 19th, Louisiana on the 26th, and Texas on February 1st. These states then joined to create the Confederate States of America, which was born on February 8th.
Back at the Capitol during Lincoln’s inaugural address, on March 4, 1861, his message to the South ended:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”
“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact… The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature… Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.”
In return for the South, Rutherford B Hayes was declared President elect, and Union troops finally left the south. Reconstruction was now over and it has officially failed.
Moving Towards Civil Rights
Until the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, State and local officials established laws separating blacks and whites from schools, cafes, universities, churches, restrooms and even drinking fountains. Discrimination against African Americans prevented adequate funding for schools and stopped them from being hired at high paying jobs or buying homes in prominent neighborhoods. The murder and lynching of African Americans continued without those responsible being arrested or charged. In many cases, law enforcement was complicity in the murders.