ArrestTok x Bodycam ACAB
An All Cops Are Posters double feature.
Hey all, long time no ACAP.
I’ve been out of newsletter commission for most of this Hot Vaxx Summer for some mundane but consuming reasons (depression, socializing, organizing commitments, little vacations, professional turmoil, etcetera etcetera) but I want to get the ball rolling again—because real posters never clock out, so neither can I!
I don’t have one long piece in me this edition… at least, not on anything timely, and I want to keep it a little current as I break the seal. Instead, I’ve got a few half-baked offerings on the Gabby Petito body cam footage and one of the most freakish TikTok trends I’ve ever come across which, trust me, is really saying something. Plus a treat at the end :) Enjoy!
What we talk about when we talk about cops fucking up
Everything about the news cycle surrounding the disappearance/murder of 22-year-old Gabby Petito has been sick and sad. If you haven’t heard much about her disappearance, here’s a quick summary: the van life blogger embarked on a cross-country trip with her fiancé (and presumed killer) Brian Laundrie in June of this year; Laundrie returned home from the trip alone on September 1; Petito’s parents reported her missing on the 11th; her body was found on September 18, and Laundrie is currently a missing person. As Petito’s case became local and national news, a bunch of “true crime” “creators” on TikTok attached themselves to the case and attracted a social media feeding frenzy of amateur sleuthing and breathless “coverage” that sometimes produced blatant misinformation.
I honestly tried to look away from this story as much as possible—I feel horrible for Petito’s family, and wasn’t really intrigued by the “mystery.” But the fact that Petito and Laundrie were pulled over by police in Utah a little less than a month before she was reported missing came across my radar anyway—as did the fact that it was captured in an officer’s bodycam footage.
Per the footage, Petito and Laundrie were pulled over after someone witnessed Petito hitting Laundrie in the face as he drove their van—although the release of dispatch audio has also indicated that police were informed Laundrie hit Petito first. The cops, who work for the Moab City Police Department, take a little less than an hour and 20 minutes to question Laundrie and Petito, who’s visibly crying throughout the encounter. Eventually, the police let them go with a warning and advise them to separate for the night.
The fact of the stop—and the existence of the footage—led a lot of people to blame these cops for Petito’s death.
But… take time, sorry… I personally find this line of thinking a little… off. Are the cops truly capable of addressing or preventing domestic violence in the micro or the macro? I don’t think so, and not because they have insufficient training to recognize it, but because they’re a fundamentally reactive force. Police don’t stop crime—they usually don’t even solve it. Should Laundrie have been arrested, charged with domestic violence, and jailed? Should Petito have been? We know that mandatory arrests for domestic violence incidents aren’t actually effective at curbing domestic violence. In fact, women (especially Black women) often decline to report DV because of the threat of arrest and jail time, for their partners and themselves.
I’d love to blame the police for Petito’s death, because I hate the police—but I just have a hard time imagining a world where a cop with a cop’s toolbox could have kept Petito safe and alive.
POV: I’m arrested for being an e-boy
On a much much much lighter note, can I bring your attention to a late August TikTok trend that is both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply fucked up: pretending to get arrested, sexily. Seeing is believing:
The smolder… the playful bucking… the fact that these videos all probably took a bunch of takes… it’s a lot to drink in. These videos tend to be posted with captions (not all in English, for what it’s worth) like “POV: I got arrested to save your life…….” and “All to defend her!” or “Your boyfriend was arrested.” I think a few of them might even be a part of a fucked-up role play thing that I don’t have the bandwidth to look into any further.
I don’t like “sexy guys” pantomiming legal trouble for the sake of a thirst trap—in fact, the prospect of this kind of guy thirst-trapping within my line of vision is one of so many reasons I’d cross the street if I spotted a bunch of them sauntering and cartwheeling in my direction. I don't want to see that shit. It creeps me out. I also despise the ammunition it gives our TikTok-savvy boys in blue:
But most disturbing of all is the idea that arrests are ever imbued with… heroism and romance? That there’s a world where people get arrested for saving the life of *~the girl watching this TikTok~* instead of for violating parole or possessing a quad of weed “with” “intent” in the wrong neighborhood or talking back during a traffic stop—you know. Real crimes.
Also, oh my God, in case you missed it, here’s an Albuquerque cop eating three burritos with his body camera on while driving someone to jail
H/T Rachel Miller. Please read the whole story.
Blocked and Reported
Here’s the latest in cops felled in the line of duty by their own insatiable need to post.
As of July 19, two of the four (total!) police officers in Crewe, Virginia were facing termination for posting TikToks that they called “dark humor” and that I would describe as “uninspired, racist.” (In one video, Caleb Lafferty, who is white, dons a KKK mask as a… COVID bit. In another, Rondell White, who is Black, is transfixed by a watermelon.) No update on their status has been reported, although around a dozen Crewe residents protested against the potential termination when it was floated in July.
On the same day, two different cops in Bedford, New Hampshire were suspended for TikToking on the clock—and one, Nicholas Fiorentino, was even disciplined for making between $500 and $1000 from the platform’s Creator Fund.
Chicopee, Massachusetts cop Michael Wilk was rehired on July 20—after being fired over some classic summer 2020 Facebook racism—due to “understaffing” at the department.
On August 17, Matt Randolph, a cop with the San Diego Police Department, came under internal investigation for posting a little anti-vaxx QAnon content on a department forum. In it, Randolph warned his fellow officers “myself and another God fearing Patriot on this Department are building up a coalition of Cops who will stand up for our God given freedoms and are willing to risk it all” to duck the department’s vaccine mandate and exercise his “free will” not to get vaccinated, tested, or to “wear another face diaper.” No r/HermanCainAwards but… good luck :)
Knoxville, Tennessee cop Chip Braeuner was cleared of wrongdoing by the FBI on September 7 after an investigation into Facebook posts where he expressed the desire to “hunt the left,” writing, “May God grant them martyrdom in the name of their BLM racial purity and communism.” OK, Chip.
On September 20, nine Oakland, California cops—seven current and two who’ve since jumped departments—were put on unpaid leave for circulating racist, sexist, Impact font memes department-wide on Instagram. In related news, free speech is fucking dead.
Questions, comments, corrections? (“You don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer” is not a correction.) Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, send “business” “inquiries” to email@example.com, or DM me on Twitter.