The video of Seattle cops stomping on a Latino man, one telling him "I'm going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you homey. You feel me?", has sparked outrage. Led by El Centro de La Raza Executive Director Estela Ortega, activists from local minority and social justice groups filled the steps of City Hall this week, demanding that the officers involved get sacked.
But they're both still collecting a paycheck while on desk duty, Mayor Mike McGinn explained minutes before the gathering, thanks to bureaucracy.
It's all part of a war between process and bloodthirstiness that goes back to the beginning of the American justice system. Here's each side's best shots this week:
* It just sounds so easy. El Centro arrived at at City Hall with a list of demands. Get the officers involved off the force and pursue criminal charges. They stomped on a guy for chrissake.
* Don't be racist like Arizona. This week the city council passed a resolution supporting a boycott of the border state in so far as it's practical. We don't want to seem tolerant of racial prejudice here at home either.
* Those jerks deserve justice too. We're innocent until proven guilty in this country. Interim Police Chief John Diaz says the department is pursuing both a criminal and administrative investigation, but neither is concluded and in the meantime, the officers are entitled to "due process." As we all know, alluding to the Constitution is a rhetorical trump card.
* If you want them to really be punished, be patient. The process for firing a cop is carefully laid out by their union contracts. Get something wrong and not only can the officer keep her job, she can sue the city. "This case won't be lost on a technicality," Diaz says.
The Odds-on Favorite:
A million to one for bureaucracy. We've treasured our paper-pushing form of justice, whether criminal, civil or administrative, since we formed this little country of ours. But that doesn't mean we can't exact our vengeance in other, Seattle-specific, ways. Next time you see one of the two cops in the video trying to merge onto I-5, don't let them in. Or if you have 37 items to check out at Trader Joes and you see one of them standing behind you carrying only a mango, make 'em wait.