Killer Cop’s Appeal Fails

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Fifth Estate # 350, Fall, 1997

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All of a sudden the media has discovered police brutality after years of denying its existence. The spotlight on this public secret came as a result of a particularly hideous incident of police torture recently by New York City cops who rival their L.A. counterparts for racism, brutal behavior and right wing politics.

In August, several of the city’s finest beat a Haitian resident and then raped him with a plunger handle following a police raid on a nightclub. Now, even mainstream types are gnashing their teeth about “the few bad cops who give the rest a bad name,” and are beside themselves urging the city to root out the “rogue cops.”

The poor, minorities and social activists know that kicking the shit out of people is the cops’ hobby, and brutality is the rule, not the exception. Cries for reforming the police are nothing new; these calls usually follow particularly egregious episodes of police brutality or corruption. Of course, nothing ever really changes.

Trying to keep the sadists that gravitate to police forces on a shorter leash would take more political resolve than anyone in, the ruling apparatus is willing to exhibit. The rulers know there’s a limit to which you can punish your pit bull and still command his loyalty. The cops are the thin blue line between them and the unruly masses, labor strife or even revolutionary upsurges.

All over the country, cops who have choked, shot and beaten citizens to death, even under the most suspicious circumstances, routinely have charges against them quickly, dismissed. Non-lethal brutality is so rampant that local municipalities allocate substantial sums to pay off victims who sue the police. Detroit, for instance, spent $12 million last year to settle such claims, but no disciplinary action was taken against the cops who committed the offenses.

The message is clear to the police. Unless you have the bad luck to get caught breaking someone’s head on video or commit an act which horrifies the nation, you can usually get away with almost anything.

Unfortunately for two Detroit cops, Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn, a couple of old-time shitkickers, their brutal bludgeoning to death of a black, unemployed steel worker, Malice Green, outraged this city. They were convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to long prison terms in 1993.

In August, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Nevers who smashed a two-pound flashlight on Green’s head numerous times, but overturned that of Budzyn. Nevers’ post-appeal statements confirmed every charge of racism leveled against him. He told the press he “had no remorse” in Green’s killing, but worse, called the Supreme Court, “more white people without spines.”

He also questioned the validity of his conviction based on the racial composition of the jury. “The jury was made up of (Detroit ex-mayor) Coleman Young’s peers, not my peers.”

It couldn’t be clearer. Killer cop Nevers wanted an all-white jury, one which would have had the “spine” to find him not guilty of a brutal murder.

Nevers’ suburban supporters ‘similarly expressed disbelief that a white cop could have been found guilty of killing a poor, black man.

Though the police aren’t going to be reformed by this one conviction, it’s heartening to have a cop who beat and killed so many citizens for a quarter century behind bars.

In answer to Nevers’ whining about “justice,” we say, “Rot in jail, Larry; then, rot in hell.”

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