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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Riots and racism

I don't even know what or how to talk about what's been going on with the brutality/execution by police and recent riot in Baltimore after the funeral of a man there after being chased and apprehended by police, having his spine severed and dying as a result while in custody. 

I hear people say don't run from the police, and in general  that's good advice. If you're white. White people and black people have entirely different experiences and perceptions of even the simplest interactions with police. White folks have a very Sesame Street or muppet version of these interactions where they call them up if there's an intruder in their house or they have an accident or if they're a lost kid, find a policeman and they'll help him or her find the way home. Black folks, who are often assumed to be guilty unless they can prove innocence and routinely racially profiled have good reason to want to keep a safe distance from police to avoid unreasonable searches. I'm sure some white people will say well no, they've had plenty of complications and run ins with police, and while that may be true, I don't think this is helpful in understanding what is really going on. Segregation may have been struck down and we now promote equal rights outwardly, but there are historic wrongs and racism is institutionalized. I don't know how to fix it, but it certainly won't be by ignoring those facts and saying well I'm white and have suffered but I'm not angry like you. That's just self-righteousness and frankly, inexcusable ignorance.

There is a lot of condemnation of the riots for various reasons and I can see that on one level.  We want there to be a correlation. If I'm angry at news coverage, throw things at news bureaus. If I'm angry with large corporations, protest or loot those. 

A kind of funny response I heard was why can't people peacefully protest? Here's one reason. When I first heard about the riot in Balitmore, I heard nothing about the peaceful protests. The media showed up and only bothered to cover it when the violence erupted. Peaceful protests are ignored. And when it doesn't work (have we not seen peaceful protests about racism EVER??) and people who are supposed to be protecting you are killing you, THEN WHAT? Is rioting the answer, I don't know, I would say it's more of a result than a planned activity or solution. In the same way, the police killing these individuals recently isn't a planned policy, it's the result of the atmosphere, the profiling that isn't policy, but happens anyway, the broken system. 

And this is kind of what I just said but better. I heard it the day after I wrote this post:
When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." --The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Yes we want to say that violence is never the answer. We want to believe there's always a peaceful way. (What would Iraq war supporters say about that. . . ? Never mind.)


"It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard."
--Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968

Before cameras were on almost all phones, white people were able to explain away police brutality, say it was rare, that racism was over. There is understandable anger, now that there is visual proof that police statements of innocence on the killings are patently false after all this time of having these things easily swept under the rug for so many years.

There is another line of reasoning saying there were peaceful protests and thugs turned it into something very different. That may be true to some extent, but it doesn't mean we can or should ignore or explain away the cause or the riot. There is systemic injustice and racism and that needs to be addressed.  (old- Ferguson)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Volunteer cops?!?!

Another detail came out about the killing of Walter Scott (or details). Something called a reserve police officer in his 70's mistook his gun for his taser, going for the wrong hip to draw. And on top of it, the department falsified his training records so he'd be eligible. 

There are so many questions that need to be answered.

How does one become a volunteer- is it a large donation, is there an interview or application process, something that qualifies one besides desire to shoot people?

What are their duties- crowd control or making arrests and being issued a service weapon?

What SHOULD their duties be? Minimal I'd say! Be there for that old fashioned idea of asking directions, helping people with groceries or to cross the street. Maybe crowd control at festivals or road races or something. They should NOT be armed.

If you want to play cop, there should be a CrossFit for police where you can do physical tests, obstacle courses, shoot inanimate dummies, do self defense, but I guess that doesn't quite satisfy those who want to hunt down and arrest people whether they need it or not.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Walter Scott murder in SC

Since overall very little action is really taken (yeah, a point of contention) when police officers kill, one Congressman entered a list of recent victims for the record:

Hank Johnson: ‘It feels like open season on black men in America’

In one of the recent murders, a man who was late on child support was shot in the back 8 times. Police originally released a version of the story that included a struggle, the victim grabbing the taser and putting the officer in danger.

In other cases, this police version of a life or death struggle and the fact that the victim had committed an offense (late child support, shoplifting, smoking pot, holding a toy gun, or the very general "troubled"  in other cases) in the distant or recent past eclipses the main fact of a man being executed without trial for a crime (and there's not always a crime!) that doesn't carry the death penalty. 

A good interview  What if There Was No Video

This time, there was a continuous video and the police had to recant that story:

A handy guide to your rights in filming police officers publicly:

Republicans succeed in getting Obama to capitulate to Israel on Iran

This is late, but I've been wanting to say something about it for awhile.

The whole ridiculous letter to Iran from Senate Republicans is here:

Letter From Senate Republicans to the Leaders of Iran

It's condescending, ostentatious, threatening, egotistical and pretty much a pack of lies. But Obama folded anyway. The Republicans intended to conduct diplomacy on behalf of a foreign power (ISRAEL, in case you missed it) with Iran outside of diplomatic and official and presidential channels, but they ended up crippling the president more directly (and helping their bedfellow, Israel). Why do liberals have to be so darned reasonable?? I don't expect a stunt like this from Democrats when the Republicans gain control of the White House. And not only because they'll go to war at the drop of a hat and before trying any kind of diplomacy!

Here is the best rundown on all the lies and implications of the Republican letter to Iran:

Also, 10 Frightening Facts About Tom Cotton, the architect of the stunt.