Machinery of Death: When the Government Acts as Judge, Jury and Executioner

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Headline News | 18 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute. 

    “Police fail to grasp that they are public servants for peace. They should provide a civil service, to enforce the laws equally, without bias and with discretion. They must understand that they do not have immunity or special privileges and — most importantly — are just responsible for apprehending suspects, and should not act as judge, jury and executioner, which too many of them truly believe themselves to be.”—Frank Serpico, former police detective who exposed corruption within the NYPD

    The government should not be in the business of killing its citizens.

    Nevertheless, the U.S. government continues to act as judge, jury, and executioner over a populace that has been pre-judged and found guilty, stripped of their rights, and left to suffer at the hands of government agents trained to respond with the utmost degree of violence.

    That the death penalty was recently abolished in Virginia is just the tip of the iceberg.

    While any effort to scale back the government’s haphazard application of the death penalty—meted out as a punishment, a threat, and a chilling glimpse into the government’s quest for ultimate dominion over its constituents—is a welcome one, capital punishment remains a very small part of the American police state’s machinery of death.

    Yet it’s not enough to declare a moratorium on federal and state death penalty executions.

    What we need is a moratorium on federal and state violence in all their varied forms (on police shootings of unarmed citizens, innocent civilians killed by the nation’s endless wars abroad, unknowing victims of secret government experiments, politicians whose profit-over-principle priorities leave Americans vulnerable to predatory tactics, etc.), because as long as government-sanctioned murder and mayhem continue unabated, the right to life affirmed by the nation’s founders in the Declaration of Independence remains unattainable.

    The danger is real.

    Everything about the way the government operates today (imperial, unaccountable, and manifestly corrupt) flies in the face of what the founders sought to bring about: a representative government that exists to protect and preserve life, liberty, property, and happiness of its people.

    Police violence is but one aspect of the government violence dispensed without restraint or respect for the rights of the people, but it is widespread.

    The casualties are legion.

    At a time when growing numbers of unarmed people have been shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety, even the most benign encounters with police can have fatal consequences.

    Unfortunately, police—trained in the worst-case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—increasingly pose a risk to anyone undergoing a mental health crisis or with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.

    Indeed, disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers. (People of color are three times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.) If you’re black and disabled, you’re even more vulnerable.

    For example, California police sent out to deal with a 30-year-old Navy veteran experiencing a mental health crisis reportedly knelt on the man’s neck for nearly five minutes until he stopped breathing. Angelo Quinto died days later. The circumstances are unnervingly similar to the death sentence meted out to George Floyd, who died after Minneapolis police officers knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.

    In South Carolina, police tasered an 86-year-old grandfather reportedly in the early stages of dementia, while he was jogging backward away from them. Now, this happened after Albert Chatfield led police on a car chase, running red lights and turning randomly. However, at the point that police chose to shock the old man with electric charges, he was out of the car, on his feet, and outnumbered by police officers much younger than him.

    In Oklahoma, police shot and killed a 35-year-old deaf man seen holding a two-foot metal pipe on his front porch (he used the pipe to fend off stray dogs while walking). Despite the fact that witnesses warned police that Magdiel Sanchez couldn’t hear—and thus comply—with their shouted orders to drop the pipe and get on the ground, police shot the man when he was about 15 feet away from them.

    In Maryland, police (moonlighting as security guards) used extreme force to eject a 26-year-old man with Downs Syndrome and a low IQ from a movie theater after the man insisted on sitting through the second screening of a film. Autopsy results indicate that Ethan Saylor died of complications arising from asphyxiation, likely caused by a chokehold.

    In Florida, police armed with assault rifles fired three shots at a 27-year-old nonverbal, autistic man who was sitting on the ground, playing with a toy truck. Police missed the autistic man and instead shot his behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, who had been trying to get him back to his group home. The therapist, bleeding from a gunshot wound, was then handcuffed and left lying face down on the ground for 20 minutes.

    In New Mexico, police tasered, then opened fire on a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, all in an attempt to get James Boyd to leave a makeshift campsite. Boyd’s death provoked a wave of protests over heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.

    In Ohio, police forcefully subdued a 37-year-old bipolar woman wearing only a nightgown in near-freezing temperatures who was neither armed, violent, intoxicated nor suspected of criminal activity. After being slammed onto the sidewalk, handcuffed, and left unconscious on the street, Tanisha Anderson died as a result of being restrained in a prone position.

    This is what happens when you empower the police to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

    This is what happens when you indoctrinate the police into believing that their lives and their safety are paramount to anyone else’s.

    Suddenly, everyone and everything else is a threat that must be neutralized or eliminated.

    And then you have U.S. Marshals—the federal government’s de facto national police force—who may be even more violent and unaccountable.

    “One reason for the high level of violence,” according to an in-depth investigation by The Marshall Project, USA TODAY and the Arizona Republic: “The Marshals Service’s rules are looser than those of many major police departments. Marshals are not required to try to de-escalate situations or exhaust other remedies before using lethal force. And marshals are allowed to fire into cars. Though body cameras have become routine in major police departments, marshals do not wear them.”

    Marshal task forces, which are made up of local law enforcement officers who get deputized as federal agents but are not necessarily given any special training, are also shielded from prosecution by the Justice Department.

    Look more closely and you may find that many of the same cops who serve on marshal task forces also serve on local SWAT teams.

    For instance, 23-year-old Casey Goodson was shot and killed outside his family home in Columbus, Ohio by a deputy police officer who also happened to be a member of a marshal task force and the local SWAT team. Although the cop claimed to have shot Goodson in the back for waving a gun while driving, that police account conflicts with other accounts, which suggest Goodson was shot on the doorstep while holding a bag of sandwiches. Goodson was not a target of a police investigation.

    Sariah Lane, 17 years old, was killed on her way to the grocery when an Arizona cop, also working as a marshal task force member, fired into a Toyota Corolla in which she and her boyfriend were passengers. Taskforce members, out to get the driver of the car for violating his parole, used an unmarked car to ram the Corolla in a parking lot, boxed it in with other unmarked cars, and then started firing into the car. Lane was shot in the back of the head with a hollow-point bullet.

    Lane’s alleged killer, Detective Michael Pezzelle, trains police officers around the country to “be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

    Talk about a recipe for disaster: take poorly trained cops, deputize them as federal marshals, grant them immunity from prosecution, and authorize them to use deadly force to kill someone who poses an “imminent danger.”

    To that noxious stew add the government’s interest in adopting domestic terrorism legislation to “better monitor and regulate the environments in which extremist ideologies proliferate” and the Biden administration’s pivot to have FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assist states and cities in their fight against domestic extremism.

    Not to be outdone, the Department of Homeland Security is also considering ramping up its initiatives to combat domestic terrorism by expanding training, providing technical assistance to local jurisdictions for threat assessment investigations, and developing strategies to combat the influence of false online narratives.

    Translation: the government is about to rapidly expand its policing efforts to focus on pre-crime and thought crimes.

    Given the government’s tendency to manipulate labels to suit their purposes (case in point: consider how interchangeably the government uses the terms terrorist, extremist and anti-government), that could easily put a target on the back of any American who dares to challenge the government’s agenda or hold it accountable to the rule of law.

    This is how “we the people” become enemies of the state.

    The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American an extremist in word, deed, thought, or by association.

    Yet where many go wrong is in assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or challenging the government’s authority in order to be flagged as a suspicious character, labeled an enemy of the state, and locked up like a dangerous criminal.

    Eventually, all you will really need to do is use certain trigger words, surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, drive a car, stay at a hotel, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, question government authority, or generally live in the United States.

    We’re playing against a stacked deck.

    As journalist Sharyl Attkisson observed, “What’s been most striking to me is just how one-sided the rules are when Americans take on their own government…. It has been dismaying to learn the extent to which rules and laws shield the government from accountability for its abuses—or even lawbreaking…. It’s been a long and frightening lesson…. The rules seem rigged to protect government lawlessness, and the playing field is uneven. Too many processes favor the government. The deck is still stacked.

    Because the system is rigged—because there are no real consequences for agents of the police state who inflict violence on the American people—and because “we the people” are at the mercy of a government that has almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they are supposed to “serve and protect”—Americans will continue to die at the hands of a government that sees itself as judge, jury, and executioner.

    Something has to give. Something has to change.

    What remains to be seen, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, is whether any of that change will be for the better.


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      1. Well said John W. Whitehead. In an age where all levels of society’s governance have forgotten the “Founding Principles” of our republic, nobody wants to serve the nation. Original principles dictated that those in governance find ways to serve their constituents while finding benefits for themselves. Today, the first part of the idea has been disregarded.

        I invite those that hold positions of power to visit the Hillsdale College site for on-line instruction about the relationship between the governed & the state.

      2. The government has made it clear that they view us all as the enemy.Most cops(not all)
        view us as prey while they have become the predators.
        Is it any wonder that so many Americans distrust/despise both the police and the
        government as well??

      3. There is no logical way to conflate freedom with a govt empowered to enact force.

        • Skippy – What the hell does that mean?

          Of course there are means to ensure freedom.
          Try reading the constitution for starters.
          We the people can do whatever we want – Its up to us to choose what kind of government we want. Unfortunately 1/2 of Americans are hard wired too stupid, so we get the government they want.
          I have said many times on this site
          If an illegal alien harms one of my family – they will get my personal justice along with the political folks responsible for them walking our streets. I would suggest to you that if more American did this, things would change. The argument that we are a nation of laws is BS if only one side follows the rules – These people are breaking our laws and should not be here – Its really that simple as is the solution. Male family members of the injured need to grow a set. Mine our already fully mature organs!

          • jm said, “Try reading the constitution for starters.”

            I took advanced placement American History and graduated with extra credits, in my GPA.

            Whatever you may think of my opinions — and, I suspect we have more in common — I can retrace all of my steps, mentally.

            jm said, “Unfortunately 1/2 of Americans are hard wired too stupid…”

            (Your figure was more hopeful than mine.)

            Do you believe that all men are equally endowed by the Creator, with certain inalienable rights, in spite of their ability or worldview?

            • Your question about “… equally endowed…” needs to be placed in context. Physically endowed? NO. Mentally endowed? NO. Do we all begin with the same (God-given) inalienable rights? YES. Just like my country provides an opportunity for Citizens. It’s up to that person in the mirror to take the upportunity – or not.

              I believe the folks you labeled as “stupid” are actually LAZY thinkers. They just don’t wanna do the homework. Form a thesis-do the research-challenge the thesis (experiment)-analyze the results. It’s just easier in the short run to be a snowflake. In the long run they condemn themselves to hardship.

            • The equality of citizens in the USA – Not the rest of the word comes from our constitution and its rights not GOD
              Man a a animal specie, are NOT born equal – I am not as good looking as Brad Pitt and not as smart as Elton Musk. – simple

              • jakartaman, the NATURAL RIGHTS endowed to every human (I call them God-given rights) are not bequeathed by any document, even my precious Constitution.

                I enjoy your comments but think we might see this issue in a different way.

            • Are foreign enemies born with those same rights, as a matter of natural law?


                God, or nature, or a legal document has made all people moral equals, even under a hypothetical scarcity of resources, which may use up all the hot water or make the internet run slow or otherwise keep a normal person in a state of neglect.

              • All humans are born with those NATURAL RIGHTS. Enemies that INFRINGE on the NATURAL RIGHTS of Americans have asked for the consequences.

                Those brave souls that represent our nation in military conflicts have opted for the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). This legal regimen supports the stringent discipline required for a highly functional military. So these great Americans risk their lives & give up (postponed during service) some legal benefits to represent our nation.

                • (Don’t do what I did. Unless you have a fast track or inside line, you will never succeed in any socialist institution.)

                  I studied the physical and academic requirements, in the public library, so I would place high in your tests. I asked ordinary hiring sorts-of questions from the quota-case recruiters, and the social studies teacher yelled at me. These were innocent, apolitical questions, meant to prepare me. These brave souls would avoid me, during the lunch period for the rest of the year.

                  Actually, you have no realistic expectation of owning any means of transportation, basic shelter, a farm, dirt, water, the essential means of production, or any business interests in freehold, in this so called free country — not even intellectual property — where everyone’s freedom is supposedly being fought-for.

                  There was a custom *against having a standing army, so they would never become a reiteration of intrusive, redcoat tax collectors. The responsible citizen would never have outsourced this function to a state monopoly on the use of force.

                  In short, this means that you sedentary people acquire potable water, put out your own fires, and get rid of your own poop.

      4. I read that the DOJ dropped a lawsuit filed by a group of female athletes against the gov’t for sanctioning biological males competing in female sports. The problem is of course the biological males are totally dominating female sports, consistently crushing the female athletes, and winning the scholarships. I bet if this wasn’t the case and the biological males made no impact in female sports the female athletes wouldn’t care.
        Many if not most females (athletes or otherwise) have gone along with the propaganda that “the science is settled”, there is absolutely no biological differences, that sex is merely a social construct. That being the case, why the lawsuit. (I say the word sex because it is actually a scientific and objective biological term that can’t be twisted, leftists uses the word gender so that they make the sexes more subjective).
        Most young females support Dems, and they will continue to do so again and again even when they are victims of Dem. party policies, and even when Dem. politicians consistently fail to keep their promises. No matter how irrational or stupid Dem. party decisions, most females will still continue to vote for Dem. politicians no matter what.
        I actually believe one should only be allowed to compete in a male or female sport based on their biological sex. But do I feel sorry for the female athletes – no. They want it both ways.

      5. Indiana is working on a bill to make it easier for their psychotic cops to get a bigger body count of conservatives. They are going to pass a law that anyone that can legally carry a gun, can do so without getting Federal permission I.e. a permit. This will be a godsend to the psycho cops that want to get their first kill. Now every car that they pull over and they pretty much know who the person is by the license plate, will be automatically assumed to be carrying a hand gun. So even if the person has his hands on top of his head the cops will say he was going for a gun he had hidden in his hair. Or the drivers license he was pulling out of his billfold was one of those new (non existent) 3-D printed credit card guns. And they will shoot anyone that has been deemed an enemy of the state for speaking out against windmill farms or whatever. They will be able to get away with it because the Mossad trainers that taught them in their shoot to kill classes told them the civilians (not citizens) are just like the Palestinians. Shoot first and the lawyers will get you off with only a paid leave as punishment because you said. “I feared for my life”. I expect to see thousands if not hundreds of thousands of patriots killed by the cops in Indiana in the next couple of years.

      6. Darth Skippy, I agree with most of your well-thought-out points. They are the impetus for my suggested-adherence to “Founding Principles”. The Federalist Papers; written by John Jay, James Madison, & Alexander Hamilton; spell out the arguments for a limited Federal influence on the nation. In fact, the Constitution was written with very limited tasks for the Federal Govt. Idiots in “D.C.” disregarded those limitations and have grown this blob of Fed. govt. we enjoy (sarcasm) today.

        You mentioned the “quota-case recruiters”. I find that method of hiring to be particularly offensive. EQUALITY means treat people the same. Super-Citizens that are associated with “hate-crimes” fall under the same criticism. EQUAL protection under the law means we do NOT have super-Citizens. This is stated by a person of mixed ancestry. Proud to be an American mutt, stress on American.

        • When these people came out of service, I oriented them to other career roles.

          I’m talking about making minority status your one and only job qualification.

          I know what are customary, civil rights.

          I don’t think that 90ish percent of people are capable of free agency.

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