No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Emphasis mine)
This is kind of a “follow up” to my last post, “If Not Now, When?”.
In Dallas, after a standoff with the shooter that killed five police officers and wounded seven others, Dallas Police employed a rather unusual method to stop the shooter. A bomb robot with bomb was sent inside to where the suspect-Micah Xavier Johnson, an Army vet-was holed up and detonated the bomb-killing the suspect.
Now you may read this and say Johnson got what he deserved. However, there are those within and without the police profession that are questioning the use of the robot to terminate Johnson; there are plenty of article on line. However, I want to add my thoughts. This is what I posted in Facebook today:
When a drone/robot is used as was in Dallas, it puts distance between law enforcement and the suspect. Now, law enforcement becomes desensitized as the suspect becomes objectified.
In the Dallas case, the right of due process gets tossed out the window. The suspect still had the legal right (under the Constitution) to due process and trial by his peers. Even if trial resulted in the death penalty, it would have been done legally.
This removes the court’s involvement in the process altogether; allowing police to be judge, jury and executioner. The saddest part of all is that it was Black suspects who received this, whilst White suspects received due process.
Many will argue that the suspects deserved this, however let’s see what happens when White suspects get this treatment.
As you see there is a dangerous precedent that could come about in law enforcement. We already decry the militarization of law enforcement with equipment more suited for the battlefield than in the local community. Bomb robots were first used in battle and later adopted by local police. As I stated above, we now see the removal of due process when this comes about. Plus, with the increasing affordability of drones-both ground and aerial-it would be all too easy for law enforcement to pick up a few of those babies to use against dangerous suspects.
As I said above, police can become judge, jury and executioner thanks to the drone’s potential elimination of due process. Also, this desensitizes police to the humanity of the accused and turns him/her into an object.
Another factor was that the suspect was Black. This incident smacked of the 1985 bombing of the Black organization MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia by Philadelphia police. Here a Philadelphia PD helicopter dropped an incendiary bomb onto the buildings housing MOVE-killing 11, including five children. If you want to take it even further, racist Whites in Tulsa, Oklahoma used planes to drop incendiaries-and fire upon-Blacks in the Greenwood District-the wealthiest Black community in the city-in 1921 (with law enforcement’s full knowledge). This reinforces the idea of dehumanizing Blacks-suspect and otherwise-whilst their attackers can distance themselves, be desensitized and still come out in the right.
Save for the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, and the Weaver family in Ruby Ridge, Idaho we never seen this treatment on White suspects. Even those who have killed Blacks still make it to jail alive and get due process. And for any White out there who would read this and tell me to “deal with it,” remember that you too can be next. Just as a drone could be used in Dallas, one can be used in Palm Springs or Scarsdale, NY against White suspects.
As we adapt robots, computers, and other forms of “artificial intelligence” into our daily lives we run the risk of becoming more desensitized. Drones delivering packages could desensitize us to the fact that a human courier could lose their job. Computers in ATMs (automatic teller machines) are being programmed with algorithms that allow them to dor more of your human tellers jobs 24-7, desensitizing us to potential layoffs of tellers. Social media can desensitize us to human-to-human contact and put virtual distance between us. Now with bomb robots (and possibly drones) being used to execute suspects, we desensitize ourselves to the right of due process for the accused.
While we still have the capacity to think for ourselves, lets be sure to keep this in the forefront of our collective mind. We need to stand up and bring this to our elected officials’ and police’s attention. For if we don’t we run the risk of ceding our Constitutional rights to computers and robots, and not just here in America; but anywhere in the world.
As we focus on drones and due process: let’s be careful not to have it become drones over due process or we’re screwed.