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Occupy Houston: Unnamed HPD Cops Reprimanded for Blacking Out Their Badge Numbers

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A verbal reprimand
Police officers who intentionally concealed their identity before arresting Occupy the Port protesters Monday hardly got a spanking for deceiving the public, according to their unamused daddy, Chief of Police Charles McClelland.

He admitted that several of his officers used tape to cover their names on their uniforms as well as their badge numbers during the event. They have since been verbally reprimanded for their "misguided actions," he said.

"We are not ashamed of our badge numbers or our names," he said, speaking on behalf of the whole force.

As for the impact this had on the relationship between HPD and the Occupy Houston movement, McClelland said it didn't really matter.

"We are still a professional institution with professional employees," he said.

But what kind of professional law enforcement officials knowingly prevent the presumably innocent defendants they arrest from recording the identities of their captors?

We agree with McClelland that the HPD officers are unashamed of their actions, otherwise they would have come forward by now and introduced themselves to the public they serve. But even when faced with a crowd of people screaming "SHAME" at them, as protesters did on Monday once they saw what was going on, the officers were silent.

Such behavior sent a mixed message to Houstonians, who were watching the charade unfold on the Monday night news and who haven't been able to shake the uneasy feeling that the police we pay for don't think it's necessary for us to know who they are.

It was because of that creepy feeling that neither party's take-home message made much of an impact on the public that day.

Occupy the Port's original purpose was to "disrupt and blockade" coastal industries, which protestors succeeded in doing by lying on the exit ramp of Loop 610 for several hours. In addition to annoying the 1 percent, they kept some of their fellow 99-percenters from clocking in at work on Monday.

The message that the police wanted to drive home was they had successfully cleared the blockade and protected the public from the Occupiers, some of whom were charged with "use of criminal weapons." Those weapons amounted to chains and PVC pipes that literally bonded eight of the 20 defendants together by the arms. (Those felony charges were dropped the same day as the press conference.)

This charade is hardly new or even particularly educational anymore, despite being presented alongside the best visual graphics our local news stations have to offer. We've all seen the extremes that both parties can reach on behalf of the latest episode of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which comes on TV as regularly as a sitcom.

Instead, it was the disrespectful actions of some officers, who decided they were exempt from taking personal responsibility for their actions by hiding their identities from the police lineup, that made the loudest statement.

It's acceptable for protesters to don Guy Fawkes masks for the sake of sending a political message about one for all and all for one. But it is highly unethical for members of the arresting party to hide their own identity just because they don't feel beholden to the 100 percent of us who pay their salary.

By not coming forward to identify themselves and apologize for their unprofessional and unethical behavior, those officers are essentially saying that they don't care whom exactly we scream "SHAME ON YOU" at, as long as they are a member of HPD.


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