Do Not Resist

Column by Alex R. Knight III

Exclusive to STR

A somewhat obscure documentary that first debuted in selected screenings and film festivals in 2016, was just earlier this year released on DVD, and I became intrigued enough to buy a copy.

Do Not Resisttakes a look at policing in modern America. And what emerges is hideous.

I will start by saying that, cinematographically speaking, Do Not Resist lacks luster. It has a kind of disjointed, non-linear feel, and a lot of the raw live dialogue – both unnarrated, and in some cases, uncaptioned – is hard to follow. That said, the film still offers a rude awakening into the machine-like, self-righteous, and sociopathic mindsets of law enforcers in the 21stCentury, as they carry out the will of the politicians – all the while fueling their own egos and twisted passion for violence against the populace.

The documentary begins with footage from the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri – ignited by the shooting of Mike Brown by officer Darren Wilson. The entire city population had been placed under a midnight curfew, and when demonstrators refuse to disperse when the hour strikes, cops in full body armor, driving multiple armored vehicles, fire tear gas canisters into the crowd.

This chaotic scene then cuts to a police training seminar headed by Dave Grossman – the number one trainer of all military and law enforcement in the US. In fact, Grossman's books are required reading at the FBI Academy, and other police academies throughout America. In speaking to the assembled audience, Grossman says, "You are men and women of violence! Violence is your tool!" He then goes on, incredibly, to say that after arriving home from raiding homes or gunfights, that law enforcement couples report having, "...the best sex I've had in months. Both partners are invested in some very intense sex." There is no laughter from the audience at this. Only silence. 

The focus shifts then to Orlando, Florida, where SWAT teams from across the US gather annually to compete in training games and to trade tactics. One smiling officer recalls executing his first search warrant as "so fun" and "so cool." He then remarks that new recruits – called SWAT "pups" – always likewise wear big smiles when going on their first raid, "like they're on top of the world."

We then see clips from the International Police Chief Convention, where then-FBI Director James Comey speaks of warrior cops and militarized police as necessary because, "Monsters are real. They wait inside apartments for law enforcement with rounds that can pierce a ballistic vest." He then opines that all law enforcement agencies must adhere together to "respond to a metastatising threat."

We are taken from this to Concord, New Hampshire on August 12, 2013, to a public hearing on whether the city council should accept a $250,000 federal grant to purchase a BEARCAT armored vehicle for Concord PD. (If you recall, advocates of this purchase initially contended, in part, that libertarians and Free Staters were part of their reason for wanting such a vehicle.) Several residents spoke in opposition. One, a retired USMC colonel, who points out that police are engaging in military-style task organization – attaching units to a central command – just as he did in Iraq. He ends his statements by saying "There's always free cheese in the mousetrap." A lady comes forward to state that the chances of being injured or killed in a terrorist attack are 1 in 20 million. She adds, "We need to put the brakes on the fear. Terrorism works because it makes people irrational. It makes them destroy themselves. And that's what's happening here." Still another military veteran expresses his disbelief that anything of this nature could even be considered in America – that it is more akin to the tactics of the USSR which he joined the armed forces to oppose. He also remarks that the $250,000 is not "free" money, but dollars taken from taxpayers – and moreover, additional debt.

The city council then votes on the measure. They vote 11-4 to accept the money and give Concord PD the BEARCAT.

Back to Ferguson, then Red River Army Depot in Texas – where armored MRAP vehicles come back from overseas action in the Middle East – to be cleaned up and either sold to other "friendly" foreign governments . . . or given free of charge to domestic law enforcement agencies. One such recipient is Sheriff Brent Oleson of Juneau County, Wisconsin. He and his lieutenant remark that they will use the MRAP for situations involving suspects with firearms, and for all drug interdiction raids.

On next to the US Senate, where senators like Tom Coburn, Claire McCaskill, and Rand Paul grill Alan Estevez of the Department of Defense, and Brian Kamoie of the Department of Homeland Security on provision of "free" military gear to domestic law enforcement across the American landscape. Rand Paul remarks that 12,000 bayonets were sent to a single small-town police department. Other such flagrant excesses are cited, as is the fact that this military gear – much of it brand new and never used – is dispersed to police with no questions asked and zero oversight.

Richland County, South Carolina is the next stop, where the sheriff's department SWAT team – comprised of 40% ex-military – train in fully-automatic weapons and charging tactics at a local shooting range. We also see one "SRT" member with a skull and crossbones insigniaon his ballistic vest. This same department then dispatches via armored vehicle on a marijuana raid. The windows of a home are smashed, the door kicked in, and the entire family handcuffed. The entire grounds are searched, revealing only a very small personal-use amount of pot held by the owners' son – a student at Denmark Technical College, and owner of a small landscaping business. He also has roughly $1,000 in cash which he claims is to purchase lawnmower equipment, which the cops promptly seize. The raid's young commanding officer states that "I have a job to do," and that the "moral of the story is, don't deal drugs from your residence." He also remarks that drug raids are about "fifty-fifty" in terms of there actually being any drugs present.

The chilling statistic is also superimposed by caption on the screen that in the 1980s, there were about 3,000 SWAT raids nationally per year. By 2005, that number had climbed to about 45,000. As of 2016, the number was between 50 and 80 thousand per annum, and rising.

There is a brief segment with Barack Obama visiting with federal prisoners in Colombia, South Carolina, then one featuring Anderson Cooper walking through Ferguson – seemingly oblivious to the fact that local police are not wearing nametags or badge numbers, despite a local resident's vociferous attempts to get Cooper interested in this fact.

We're then back in Richland County, where local SWAT assist the BATFE in a federal warrant for allegedly stolen firearms at a "stash house." One of the cops remarks that he's afraid the guns in question might eventually be used against him and his team. At this point the federal BATFE officers tell the filmmakers to stop filming entirely.

Back in Ferguson, the crowds await the grand jury's verdict as to whether officer Darren Wilson will be charged. When the answer is no, the rioting begins in earnest, and police actions intensify.

At the President's Teask Force on 21stCentury Policing in Cincinnati, bodycameras and facial recognition technology are discussed. A smash cut back to the US Senate shows that military aerial surveillance of Ferguson was used to assist police. We're also shown how emerging private firms, like Persistent Sureveillance Systems– the brainchild of a 20 year USAF veteran with experience in aerially surveilling Fallujah in Iraq – are now aiding police in watching entire cities, sometimes with as many as 50 individuals monitoring various data and footage garnered.

Richard Berk of the University of Pennsylvania tells us that we are fast approaching Minority Report-style crime prediction capabilities – which are almost certainly going to be used in the near future, along with smart drones, which will increasingly fill all kinds of police and military applications in the years ahead. "In fact, in many ways, we're already there," he states.

Sergeant Pauola Davidson of LAPD seems to be an enthusiastic advocate of both license-plate and facial recognition technology – and even demonstrates its use from the laptop in her patrol car. "You just hope everyone who runs them [plates and faces], runs them for the right reasons." Indeed.

LAPD, we are shown, has an entire computerized info-gathering center that operates 24/7, and monitors over 1,000 cameras placed across the city, along with all online social media. Virtually everyone in the city is monitored both on the Internet, and physically.

The film ends with Dave Grossman again – wild-eyed and zealous as ever: "We are at war! And you are the frontline troops in this war! And when they come to disarm the cops, they'll be hunted down, spit on, driven into their slimy little holes, and they'll never come out again! In the near future, the idiots trying to disarm cops . . . folks, there ain't no one in Mexico right now complaining about militarization of police! There ain't no one in Russia right now complaining about militarization of police! In the very near future you will be vindicated! The news? The wolf's at the door. The good news? You have job security! 'Cause the world desperately needs what you have to give!"

As 1984becomes our reality, as the push for gun control becomes more hysterical, Do Not Resist -- for all of its flaws as a piece of cinema, perhaps – offers what may well prove a final beacon of warning to us all.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 152

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His Facebook page can be found here.  Receive Alex's occasional Tweets here.

Comments

Ed Nelson's picture

Welcome to the max security panopticon. There is no escape. Growing up in the 60's and 70's was better for sure.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Agreed.

emartin's picture

Thank you Alex, for putting out this information. I think the rest of us would be wise to share it at every opportunity.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

You're most welcome.  Thank you for reading, and sharing.