Equality Under the Law (Some Restrictions May Apply)

On December 3, 2014 the New York Daily News reported that a “… hulking brute grabbed a 28-year-old MTA employee up in a bear hug at a Bronx train station, shoved her onto the platform and began choking her in an unprovoked attack — then ran away smiling …” (emphasis added).

Curiously, only a day later they reported that, “Police Officer Mirjan Lolja, 37 was suspended after he allegedly attacked the 28-year-old transit employee on a Bronx subway platform by putting her in a bear hug, throwing her to the ground and choking her” (emphasis added).

Two different perpetrators? No, Mirjan Lolja is the same “hulking brute” the Daily News described in the first place.What changed?

Naturally, the alteration was due to Lolja’s occupation as a police officer. As Reason‘s Robby Soave points out, “Many in the media possess an overriding presumption that everything the police do must be justified — even when police actions would be considered horrifying if carried out by anyone not wearing a badge.”

To make matters worse, “Photography Is Not A Crime” founder Carlos Miller recently revealed that instead of being charged with a felony as the law dictates, Lolja will face three misdemeanor charges instead.

Terry Raskin, spokesperson for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, “defended” the charges. “There is an adequate scope of punishment (one year) covered by a misdemeanor charge,” Raskyn said. “Charging is always at the discretion of the District Attorney.”

In other words, unlike the vast majority of New York residents, who presumably would face the fullest extent of the “criminal justice” system’s wrath in a similar situation, Lolja will get special treatment — in the form of a reduced sentence — because of his status as a member of the New York Police Department.

Make no mistake, prisons aren’t the answer to the cop problem. Making the police obsolete as a function of the state is. But the inherent flaw of the criminal justice system is also important to note here. This flaw can be described as letting the state dictate, through its own mechanisms and personnel, how justice should be handled. This, as opposed to prioritizing the victim’s  agency in matters of law.

Given this structuring of justice it shouldn’t be any surprise that Lolja isn’t facing the felony counts like he should. Police officers seem bent on acting as like Judge Dredd, repeating to themselves that they are the law. Saying it so many times that they themselves believe it. Of course, it’s a frivolous formality, because even the rare cop who doesn’t believe she’s above the law will ultimately receive support from the same corrupt justice system.

What we should take away from an event like this isn’t that we need more tweaking to what “equality under the law” means. Instead, we need to look toward the more radical demand of equality with the law. We need to radically alter the system so we all have equality of authority with each other, instead of being equal under the law which helps perpetuate subservience and illegitimate hierarchies.

The longer we delude ourselves into thinking that the justice system is working, that the cops will eventually get what’s coming to them and that the state is on our side, the more dangerous it becomes.

It’s time to reclaim justice by smashing prisons, abolishing the police and creating a more anarchic world where equality with the law is more important than the law itself.

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