by Christian Duque
When IFBB Pro Nathan DeAsha’s arrest went viral, all news stations around the world took to the airwaves, websites, and social media. Everyone was reporting that three men, Nathan among them, were victims of excessive force by the Merseyside Police (UK). Video evidence clearly shows what can only be described as assault. Although video footage of arrests is often edited and/or only shows one angle of what could otherwise be a normal police interaction, this video paints a very full, unjust picture. What the viewer sees is men being violently taken into custody, not flailing their arms, not jumping around, not appearing to flee, but just men standing still and then be taken to the ground and kicked. And when I say the video went viral, we’re not just talking the bodybuilding media, but the BBC as well!!
What begins with a few officers rushing the men, turns into a throng of them, all kicking men in custody, quite possibly already cuffed. There’s no justification for what the viewer sees. Although the videos I’ve seen are all silent, the picture quality is second to none. Now, it is possible that words were exchanged – in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least, but as we get more into the article, maybe you’ll see why. In any event, whatever words may or may not have been exchanged, nothing can justify the degree of force used against Nathan and the other men who were arrested with him.
News coverage of the story has been great, focusing on the assault, but a few pieces have included that the men were arrested for possession of illicit drugs. Were they initially detained for drugs? Were they being surveilled for drugs? No, they were not. The entire arrest centered on the fact that Nathan has a gym, UK has strict Covid19 rules for businesses, and the gym was deemed to be violating them. The mention of the drugs may be good reporting (covering all aspects of the story), but it really doesn’t factor into the treatment the victims of the police abuse were subjected to. If anything, the mention of drugs as being anything more than a trivial fact, could take some of the attention away from the abusive officers.
Nonetheless, the outrage this video has created, has swept the drugs issue largely under the table. The bigger question is, to what lengths are governments – from local boards to national bodies – willing to go, to criminalize business owners who remain open despite stringent government controls?
Public Safety is a key concern for governments. In many cases, when a government acts for the general welfare of it’s people, just about anything they do, will pass muster. In America, we have a system called federalism. Marc Lobliner has described America in a really great way, calling it a nation of 50 sovereigns. And that it is!
Although our nation’s capital is Washington D.C. and that’s where the three branches of our federal government are based, there are checks and balances throughout the entire American system of government. That much, at least, is consistent all throughout. No one branch is more powerful than the other two – at the federal level. The federal government is responsible for matters within its purview (e.g. national defense, national parks, and national taxation). State governments, on the other hand, are able to set their own course, deferring to the feds in areas they operate in, while the feds do the same for state actors.
Every so often, Washington may have something it absolutely needs to have done. When the feds are adamant about getting states to comply, they’re usually able to do so, using a variety of different legal and fiscal tools. The one area where the feds have to kick rocks, is public safety. Not only can’t the feds force their agenda on the states, but the states can insist upon public safety guidelines that no other state and/or the feds want. In America, the states’ best friend is the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution – it’s both their sword and their shield. And this is why you have states as liberal with guidelines, as say TN, and other states with some of the most conservative Covid-based guidelines, like New York, Michigan, and California. But how aggressive are we talking about? Surely not as aggressive as Merseyside, right?
What happened to Nathan in the UK, has happened here in the States. It’s probably happened elsewhere in Europe, as well as other places all around the world. In many instances, law enforcement have been forced to be hall monitors. When it comes to policing, there are many protections that each country gives its citizens; these protections limit how authorities can surveil, question, and detain citizens. With Covid19 regulations, if police see lights on and people in businesses (from gyms to coffee shops), they have the green light to arrest everyone, close the business, and scare anyone else in earshot of doing the same thing. There’s no investigating or deliberating, they see lights on, they move in! And as governments create more and more restrictions, the population accepts them, almost blindly, out of public safety concerns. In reality, the vast majority of people are willing to part with their freedoms, whether temporarily or indefinitely, if it means beating the pandemic. They want their lives to go back to normal and they’re willing to pay a very heavy price for it. But should they? Should the government, any government, anywhere, be allowed to get as authoritarian as they want in a free society?
In DeAsha’s case, he raises a very good point. Why are our supermarkets able to bypass rules on the maximum number of people allowed at one point, if they’re failing miserably at the pertinent guidelines aimed at combating the virus? Think about it. If gyms are keeping everything clean, gym goers are socially distancing and wearing masks, and the facilities make PPE readily available, then why should such a business like that be forced to operate at 25 or 33%, be open less hours per day, and be pointlessly scrutinized by government, when supermarkets are dirty, shoppers don’t social distance, and there may or not be PPE available?
Politicians will say supermarkets serve a far more important function than say, gyms, but even if that’s the case, why are businesses treated differently, anyways? Isn’t the point of all this to increase public safety? If businesses abide by the guidelines, shouldn’t that be enough? And that’s even assuming that social distancing, masks, and PPE really reduce the spread. If there’s any chance, then it’s worth doing, but I still think it’s necessary to point out that all the preventative measures being advocated, are speculative at best. If they weren’t the virus would have been contained much ago. So, again, I have to say that Nathan’s question is a very valid one.
Another factor that’s increasingly concerning – and it isn’t to you, it should be – is the increasingly heavy-handedness of the law. If they can’t fine you to bankruptcy, they’ll lock you up and prosecute, but you will do what you’re told. That’s the gist of it. And in the defense of police, they’re increasingly being made into code enforcement officers.
Cops are used to dealing with gangbangers, robbers, and in a lot of times, your run of the mill lowlifes. Now, they’re tussling with mostly law-abiding, tax paying citizens who are tired of being cooped up in their homes and who want to work.
Police officers also yearn for normalcy. Certainly, they’re not enjoying the government’s attempt at criminalizing the will to stay in business, to stay afloat. What happens when a small business can’t pay the rent? The landlord comes and locks the doors. If the small business owner can’t pay the note on the equipment, the creditors will come and take it away. There’s no relief for the mom and pop shops, they either work or they die out. The fact cops throughout the world are being used against good, hard working people, has many up in arms. Then again, public safety trumps all other liberties, whether in America or elsewhere. Any sort of discrepancy, let alone defiance, could easily enrage those writing laws to those tasked with enforcing them. Is that what happened to Nathan? Was it the first time these officers acted in this fashion? Maybe there’s others who possibly didn’t get it on tape?
So what say you? Is there any excuse for the fashion in which cops in Merseyside treated Nathan and his mates? Do you see any justification? Do you think there’s anything they could have said that would warrant that type of a takedown? I mean cops must hear the worst of the worst, when it comes to insults (provided that’s what was said); therefore, I can’t think of much that would set off a police officer, let alone an army of them, to kick neutralized men on the pavement.