Thursday, June 25, 2009
by John Donne
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The entire article is, IMO, an outstanding and blindingly clear assessment of the current state of race and race relations in America.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
H/T Crooks and Liars.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Sorry for screaming at you, but I am literally sick to my stomach. I am pissed off and I'm not gonna take it any more. There is, by all appearances, a concerted effort in the law enforcement and criminal justice system to violently oppress black and brown people. If this type of crap was happening in white communities across the country on an almost daily basis, white folks would have declared war right back on the police. In fact, let's not pretend they haven't done so in many places on far less provocation.
And let me be perfectly clear on this, Black folks also have responded wrongly on far too many occasions. We get mad, march a little, preach a little, pray a little, sometimes even burn and loot a little, but then we go right back to business as usual. Much like radical right wingers, we react without a clear understanding of what the problem is. If we are ever going to change this, we have to understand it for what it really is. This case offers an opportunity to examine the problems in detail. Let me break it down for you.
First of all, why do these police officers feel the need to tell this man to zip up his jacket? Problem number one, the police have grown accustomed to interjecting themselves into the lives of minorities on the least little pretext. At times, and I can say this from experience, they go out of their way to exercise police power, often simply to show that they can do it with impunity. That is in all likelihood what happened here. And, as most often happens, the Black man complies, with obviously less than good graces, but that should be expected when a grown man is accosted by authority figures who are abusing their authority.
What happens next is indicative of how the entire police culture is corrupted. Notice in the video that only one officer felt compelled to physically confront the man. The other officer obviously realized that what was going on was improper and unnecessary or else she would have tried to assist her partner. But the police culture is designed to foster a philosophy of us against them, our gang against theirs; and officers who don't fully buy into that are shunned and ultimately find it all but impossible to maintain both their position and their sense of individuality. That other officer could not, would not, move to intercede, even to simply cuff the man and stop the physical assault of her partner. This is why no officers can be trusted to police their own. The pressures against that happening are far to great. The ones who might feel compelled to speak out against other officers abuse of power simply don't last.
The video is ridiculously cut and dried. There is absolutely no way that officer's behavior can be justified. But the sad story goes and will go much farther than the video. Check out the story. This man, after being viciously assaulted and beaten by a police officer is charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and "wandering for the purpose of obtaining controlled dangerous substances". Here is where the entire criminal justice system adds it's weight to the oppression already heaped upon the poor man. It's bad enough that he is charged with disorderly conduct (I suppose it is disorderly for a chubby black man to have his jacket open on a warm day) and the resisting arrest (even though his resistance was vividly futile and largely ineffective). I'm sure that officer ran to the emergency room to document some specious injury allegedly sustained while the big dangerous Black man was struggling violently to keep this brave officer from performing his sacred duties.
But that other charge is indicative of the bigger problem. "WANDERING FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES". Where do I even begin with this patently unconstitutional law. I shouldn't even have to say anything. How many of you would appreciate the police rolling up on you while you are taking your daily walk in your neighborhood, and arrest you because they think you are walking around trying to by drugs? How many of you would have even thought before today that such a thing was even possible? Well it is, in far too many areas. This type of law is enacted by the local representatives that we elect, that pretend to have the best interests of our communities in mind when then give the police permission to confront the people in our neighborhoods for any reason or for no reason at all, in the name of law and order. This type of law is prosecuted and sentences handed down by district attorneys and judges that we elect, who claim to be looking our for the safety and welfare of our communities, as they cosign on the illicit activities of rogue cops. Some prosecutor in NJ right now is trying to make a case against that Black man so the police officer can be exonerated of his lawlessness.
And I promise you, if you hear a peep from the Black community, or from some Black collaborating politician, it will be to pretend outrage and shock over the actions of this "one rogue cop" while still defending the good work of the police and court system overall. There won't be any discussion about laws that are in place, just like the Black codes of old, simply to allow law enforcement to operate with impunity with regards to Black people. I would bet anything that such a ridiculous law has rarely if ever been enforced against any non-minority or poor person. They wouldn't dare, and besides that's not how they operate.
If we are ever going to see an end to police butality we have to start with the laws that are on the books and with the people and institutions whose responsibility it is to apply those laws equally and fairly. We have to stop letting legislators get away with creating useless law after useless law, in the name of stopping crime. It is well known that new laws don't stop crimes, they just create new criminals. We have to hold prosecutors, district attorneys, and judges responsible to the constituency that elected them rather than to the cops that keep them occupied. AS long as the police know their actions will be sanctioned by all the higher levels of the "justice" system, there will be no incentive for them to change.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
It's high time somebody stood up and told the truth about how Black people are getting all the advantages in America today.
Monday, June 01, 2009
What I have to say may sound insensitive, but it needs to be said. Officer Edwards' death, like all untimely deaths of young people is a tragedy.
But the worse tragedy is ongoing and can, in no small part, be laid at the very feet of those who feel the most aggrieved. Those brown skinned members of the brotherhood in blue, who yesterday joined arms (literally and symbolically) with Rev. Al Sharpton must have felt no small measure of hypocrisy. These Black and Latino officers are daily both witness and participant in the very behavior which they now publicly decry.
But that rings very hollow indeed to one who knows who the Blue line works. In fact, this is the classic case of "chickens coming home to roost". These officers of color, and very likely Officer Edwards himself, have turned a blind eye to the actions of their brother officers. Perhaps even to the previous excessive force of the very officer who ended Officer Edwards life. And now the shoot first and ask questions later tactics that had previously been at best ignored and at worst encouraged, has resulted in an unintended, though certainly forseeable, tragedy.
Forty years ago, Blacks were not allowed to be police officers in most of this country. The few places they were allowed were primarily to keep their own populations in line. One of the tactics of the civil rights movement and other racial equality activists was to push for more Black police officers. The thought process was that these officers would be more responsive to their communities, less inclined to use brutality as a control mechanism, and also would serve as a check on the activities of their white counterparts, who could not be expected to make an immediate 180 degree turn from centuries of heavy-handed law enforcement practices in the Black community. It seemed like a logical idea.
And forty years later you will find a significant minority presence in every urban area. Blacks and Latinos are head of many major metropolitan law enforcement agencies. Yet here we are forty years later, still marching down the same streets about the same thing. Instead of the minority officers changing the police culture, it appears that the police culture has corrupted the minority officers. That's the only way these incidents of excessive police force and general police lawlessness and depredations could continue to plague our communities.
To be fair, some of them really are trying to make a difference and help their communities. But that gets lost in a misguided police culture that requires a certain loyalty, and evaluates job performance by arrest stats. There is very little chance that an officer of any color can be in it, but not of it.
But that cannot excuse them. Claiming to be working from the inside to make things better only goes so far when the observable signs of your work indicate that you have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
I'm not speaking hypothetically. I've been there, and I know exactly what I'm talking about. I've seen it with my own eyes. Those black officers with Rev. Al probably feel doubly devastated. They have turned their backs on their community in solidarity with the Blue line, but they have to know that they are only honorary or provisional members of the club. they have all probably bee the victim of police profiling; something they generally shrug off because they have a badge that gets them out of most hassles. Something like this should bring home to them that they are part of a serious problem, and that they are all the more culpable because they know it and yet have chosen not to act.
It's not what most people want to hear, especially on the heels of a death like this one. But unless somebody in a position to make some changes stands up and says it, tomorrow as Field suggests, will be much the same as today.
(and about those suped up pistols)
BE AFRAID!!! BE VERY AFRAID!!!
I just read that statement, from the Black Officers association and in it they politely prove my point.
"Consider that Dutton’s weapon is limited to a three round burst. Six to seven rounds were fired. This means that Dutton pulled the trigger at least twice."
This is going to slip by 99% of the population. But I've had my fair share of combat training, and I'm sort of a combat buff. Believe me when I tell you that there is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER FOR ALLOWING A POLICE OFFICER TO MODIFY HIS SERVICE WEAPON TO FIRE THREE ROUND BURSTS(aka "TRIPLE TAP").
Especially an officer who works in a heavily populated urban area. If this is true, and it's the first time I've heard of it anywhere, then it explains how a young brother can get shot at 50 times after his bachelor party.
Just a little background. This modification came into vogue in the early 60's, by Special Forces in Vietnam. They expected to be outnumbered typically 3-7 man long range patrols against everything out there if they got caught. And they fully intended to kill anything and everything they ran into, with overwhelming firepower, so it made sense for them. So who do you suppose the police are at war with?
The modification allows a well trained person to start with a low left center aiming point and put three rounds on target with the natural rise of the barrel. The other reason you want to start low is that in stress situations, most people tend to shoot high to begin with, so training to start lower made sense. It is not something that police officers are trained to do. They are trained to put two shots, center mass, then re-assess. Of course much of that training goes out of the window when you're under fire, so most tend to pull the trigger until the threat is stopped.
Perhaps if it were the tactical weapons of NYPD ESU officers, or other places SWAT officers, it would make a bit more sense. But this statement reads like it is a common practice and allowed to any officer. I can tell you that none of these cops ever gets enough firearms training and range time to be properly trained for that three shot modification. The majority of police never even fire their weapons, except a few times a year for required range time. So I would expect these officers to be throwing a lot of rounds high and right. IN CROWDED URBAN AREAS. (Did you know in some states, if you are committing a felony and the police shoot at you and accidentally kill someone else, you could be charged with felony murder because that person died as a result of your felonious activity?)
I'm shocked the collateral damage isn't through the roof, and can only attribute it to brothers an sistas being fast on their feet when they hear gunshots. Does anyone know how many bullets struck Officer Edwards, since we now know that 7 rounds went downrange?
And to bring this around full circle, you mean to tell me there is not one Black officer in this whole association who has a problem with these cops running around with weapons modified to make them more lethal than they already are?
If you ain't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.