Because they could

I’m supposedly an expert on the “Gangster Era” and yes, it does have something to do with the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor.

Let’s go back to January 1935, Lake Weir, Florida.

Federal Agents surrounded a house that was occupied by Ma Barker and her son Fred. Those two were wanted for bank robbery and murder, although only Fred was actually guilty of that.

The Feds demanded surrender. What they got was an hours-long shootout. Ma and Fred ended up dead. The shootout risked the lives of agents and locals, but fortunately, all of them survived.

The Barker Gang was run by a dynamic duo, and its second principal, Alvin Karpis, was still on the loose as Public Enemy No. 1. Federal Agents tracked him to New Orleans.

As it happened, bossman J. Edgar Hoover was being ridiculed by some members of Congress. Hoover was a weak bureaucrat, they said, who’d never done any real police work and had, in fact, never even made an arrest.

So J. Edgar decided to show them Congress boys.

When his agents located Public Enemy Kapris, they just tailed him for a while. In early May, 1936, when they figured out his patterns, they alerted the boss.

J. Edgar flew to New Orleans. As Karpis left his apartment to go fishing, agents trapped him in his car. He was handcuffed without a struggle. At this point J. Edgar showed up to take credit for the arrest. When it made front page news, Hoover was a hero and the Congress boys had to shut the hell up.

So the point is, police can make sensible, non-violent arrests when they want to. In the Karpis case, it was in Hoover’s interest to make himself a newspaper hero.

But that wasn’t an issue in the Fred Barker case. In fact, Federal agents had been tracking Fred for weeks. One of them even chatted with Fred at a local fishing pier. Agents watched him on shopping trips. They could have arrested him at any point. But they chose a wild west shootout.

Fred Barker was a stone-eyed killer, but his mother, despite her infamy, was guilty only of raising awful sons. She did not deserve to die in a shootout with government agents.

This case has many parallels, and the one that comes first to mind is the siege of the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, resulting in 76 deaths, including four Federal agents and 25 children.

I say again. 25 children.

Attorney General Janet Reno had approved the raid, arguing to President Bill Clinton that Federal agents were “tired of waiting.”

In another context, President Clinton did the world a favor when confessing about his many sexual indiscretions. “I did it because I could,” he said. When you examine that statement, it become apparent that it’s a confession about the abuse of power.

So back to Lake Weir Florida, house mom Kate Barker and her vicious son Fred. The FBI might have arrested Fred on the fishing pier, or in town at the hardware store. But they chose a shootout because they wanted one. Because they could. Because they had the power to do it.

But in New Orleans, they chose to peacefully arrest Karpis. They had the power to do it either way, put a peaceful arrest suited their purpose.

In Waco, the Federals passed multiple chances to arrest cult leader David Koresh. Instead, they chose a siege that killed … did I mention the 25 children?

What it comes down to is … shamefully enough, administrative convenience.

The details are out there for anyone who cares to read them, so I won’t delve into the Breonna Taylor tragedy, except to say that an innocent 26-year-old woman was shot dead by police. They were serving a “no-knock” warrant, bursting in during the dark hours in search of drugs. No drugs were found.

The cops were after, get this, a bag of cocaine.

Breonna Taylor, an EMT worker, a solid citizen, was killed because police wanted to seize ….

A bag.



They burst in while she was sleeping because a judge signed a warrant empowering them to.

They did it because they had the power.

They did it because they could.

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