Sunday, November 15, 2015

Policing For Profit in Pagedale, MO: Kafka Lives

If ever there were a American dystopian story of sinister corruption embedded into government it is not a story involving the President or Congress but of local government and local police:  It is that vicious  little town of Pagedale, Missouri.

An editorial in today's New York Times describes a little hell hole of a place, at least for Black citizens, in which the town sends out its police as cynical tax agents, issuing tickets for not having a screen on your front door, for crossing on the wrong side of a crosswalk, for having a front yard barbecue except on specific holidays, for driving while Black, for any number of gottcha infractions, some not even written into the actual code of city law, and then when the ticket is issued, to be sure the fine is not paid on time, they hold court only twice a month at 6 PM, just when hard working men and women are headed off to their second jobs. 

Is it any wonder the local Black population is seething?  They are the cash cows for the Pagedale police and courts. 

Why this travesty? Because little towns like Pagedale are so small they cannot support a police department with a tax base--so the solution is to make the poor and the struggling provide that tax base through fines for you-name-it and to create Kangaroo courts which engender nothing but rage and resentment from the local citizenry. If King George III had conjured up anything this egregious, the American Revolution would have happened much sooner and with no loyalists left to speak for him.

Once again, our free press has shown a spotlight on a festering wound. Police, judges, city officials all in on the game, as the Times notes. 

And the most appalling thing is these local police, local judges and mayors probably don't even see themselves as evil.  One can only imagine them shrugging and smiling and excusing this Kafkaesque poor excuse for local government as business. Just playing the game and trying to get by best we can. If we ruin the lives of a few score of local Blacks, well, all they had to do was to obey the law as we wrote it and disguised it and promulgated it and they'd have stayed out of trouble, until, that is, we could figure out a way to put them back into trouble, so we could collect our pound of flesh.

We may have to add Missouri to that hallowed pantheon of Arizona, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi.  Nice group, that.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Agreed, a horrid story of police misconduct and one more reminder that the idea that blacks experience life in this country the same as whites-that they have the same opportunities- is a myth. There isn't anyone I know who would not be incensed if they were betrayed by their own town officials like the people in this little Missouri town. How do they teach their kids that the police are there to help and protect them when the reality is the police are there-at least in their neighborhood-to arrest them in order to financially survive. Being killed by law enforcement gains the headlines, but there are other smaller, more common abuses, like the ones in Pagedale, that chip away at the soul as well..

  2. Maud,
    It's not your grand daddy's racism. It's more a socioeconomic status related race related oppression. You can just see those white police and white townsmen not preventing Blacks from voting or preventing Blacks from using the public swimming pools or toilets, but they know they don't have to treat them as people who might have any power. In some ways like the way women were treated when they were more powerless, less economically potent, or the ways poor people of many ethnic ancestries are treated. The police and petty bureaucrats know these people don't have the money for lawyers, so they just beat up on them.

    Mad Dog