The Oscars Grew Tired of Us.

Academy Awards to Ava DuVernay: “Love your movie. You, not so much.”

It’s not so much I’m mad about Selma and its directory Ava DuVernay being screwed over by the Academy Awards, because I haven’t seen Selma yet and I thinking I’d get around to it in my own good time but since Selma and DuVernay were snubbed now it’s a holy mission.

There’s a certain irony Martin Luther King fought a strategic battle in Selma, Alabama against racial discrimination and 50 years later along comes a woman who makes a movie about the battle ends up facing racial discrimination all over again.

Columnists, bloggers and social media blew up with a collective Now this is some bullshit when the Academy Awards nominations were announced and Selma was limited to one category it won’t win (Best Picture) and another nobody cares about (Best Song).   New York film critic David Edelstein summed up how Selma got screwed, “I tend to think that the Academy collectively thought it had discharged its duty to the African-American experience with 12 Years a Slave. How else, in a year in which black people confronted inequality with greater urgency than any time in the last 50 years, can you account for the omission? You say it wasn’t a very good movie? You’re wrong. Selma has scale and depth. Ava DuVernay was robbed.”

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Too black, too strong to be honored by the Academy

Here’s a plausible reason for the exclusion and  it’s right there in the title of an 2014 article in The Atlantic:Oscar Voters: 94% White, 76% Men, and an Average of 63 Years Old.” Blacks make up only two percent of the Academy Awards voters and to drive the point home of how White the folks are who decide who goes home with the little gold man, if they were a state, Oscar Voters would be the eighth Whitest state in America.

Well. Damn.

How embarrassing it must be for Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy of Motion Pictures to be the diversity hire thrust in the spotlight and have to represent, but represent she did.   Or at least she tried as Boone Isaacs looked to score a few brownie points,  “In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members. And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories, “

The sad thing is Boone Isaacs knows what she said is a steaming load, but she has to say it anyway.  The old White guys who hired her in the first place exactly for a bit of cover provided by the a Black face in a formerly all-White place.  Let’s cut the crap.  Cultural diversity was the big hit of 2014 with all that 12 Years A Slave stuff.   Throwing an Oscar, if not jobs at Lupita Nyong’o gave all those good liberals a warm, fuzzy feeling especially when Brad Pitt showed up to free the slaves,  but there’s no time to linger on faded glories.  Hollywood is getting back to doing what it does best:  Celebrating White men making movies about White men doing White men stuff.

We gave you people a holiday. You want Oscars too?

Being blown off by withered old bastards of the Academy is nothing new for someone like Spike Lee, no stranger to Oscar snubs for both Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X had some explicit advice for DuVernay about being passed over by the bosses,  “…That doesn’t diminish the film. Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded,” said Lee. “There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, Steve [McQueen], Lupita [Nyong’o], Pharrell. It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year [in 2002] with Halle Berry, Denzel [Washington], and Sidney Poitier. It’s a 10-year cycle. So I don’t start doing backflips when it happens.”

You can’t go to awards like the Oscars or the Grammys for validation. The validation is if your work still stands 25 years later.’”

Absolutely motherfuckin’ right, Spike.

It’s possible Selma marches to a Best Picture victory even with DuVernay denied a shot at Best Director and David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. passed over as Best Actor, but it’s obvious the fix is in. How can a movie be nominated and win as Best Picture of the Year but the director, screenwriter and none of the actors aren’t? Does that mean the movie was great but everybody who made it sucked?

I have nothing against Boyhood,  The Imitation Game, Birdman or any of the other nominees for the Picture of the Year, but I don’t have anything for them.  Every movie is not for everyone and this movie  tells a story about people who look like me and not the Academy membership.    DuVernay probably pissed off some movers and shakers in Tinseltown when she dismissed  the film’s critics who griped she didn’t give President Lyndon Johnson enough credit by clarifying,  “I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie.”

“Oh yeah?  Then we’re not interested in giving you an Oscar, so there!”

King deserves his praise.  A lot of folks believe Selma does too, but the voters of the Academy doesn’t have anything for them either.

A man who knows something about getting spiked.

The NYPD Has A Victim Mentality

The New York Police Department is the nation’s largest and the most pissed off at their boss, Mayor Bill De Blasio.  Following the killing of two cops by an assassin as they sat in their car,  the police and their unions  lashed out against De Blasio blaming him for creating a hostile environment placing their lives at risk.  I get it the cops are angry at the mayor. What I don’t get is how with that anger, how the police can expect respect when they don’t show any?

De Blasio requested the protests to suspend so that the funerals would not be politicized. The police union should have done likewise. All protests aren’t nearly the same thing. Most protests have a point. This was a public tantrum by the cops as much as any sort of “protest.”   There’s a right time and right place for everything.  In this time and this place where contemptuous cops who exploited the funeral of Officer Ramos to turn their backs and show their asses wasn’t it.

This whole “it’s a cop thing and you wouldn’t understand” thing is a crock. Cops have the same rights as anybody else. They can protest to their little hearts content and when they do they can be called out on it.

Same. As. Anyone. Else.

Officer Ramos wasn’t even in the fucking ground before the cops decided to try to show up the mayor. De Blasio showed more respect and class for the slain officers than his supposed brothers in blue did by pulling the kind of stunt had Rev. Sharpton done it he would be roundly condemned for.

It might be relevant to go back to what was actually said by De Blasio that so royally pissed off the police unions. The flash point seems to have been the comments made by the mayor in the wake of the Eric Garner decision about “the talk” and his wife, Chirlane have had with his 17-year-old son, Dante on how to deal with encounters with the police.

 

This is profoundly personal to me. I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens. And I said to him, I did.

Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face. A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him—as families have all over this city for decades—in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.

And that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us, and we honor that, and at the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome, because for so many of our young people, there’s a fear. And for so many of our families, there’s a fear.

So I’ve had to worry over the years. Chirlane’s had to worry. Is Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities—crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods—but is safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.

That’s the reality.

That’s outrageous!  How dare the mayor suggest even his son’s life is at risk?

The impression Bill de Blasio was trying to make is his son will be seen first as a Black male and that precludes all other considerations.  The impression Dante de Blasio should be aware of is Blacks are stopped, searched, arrested and imprisoned at rates higher than other races.  Dante should know the incarceration rate for Blacks is six times higher than the national average.

English: NYPD Dodge Charger #2909 in midtown M...

Cops under siege or hunkering down into a bunker mentality?

 

However, what Dante should really worry about isn’t so much isn’t simply being stopped and frisked, handcuffed, jailed and sent to prison as it is Black male teens are 21 more times more likely to be shot than a White male teen.  These facts are shrugged off as an unfortunate side effect of Blacks simply committing crimes disproportionate to their numbers in the overall population. Rudy Giuliani on Fox News have referenced this phenomenon and the implication could not be clearer: White cops shoot Black suspects because so many Black suspects are committing crimes.

Where this oversimplification falls apart are the “crimes” committed by Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice or John Crawford were trivial at best or in the case of Akai Gurley, no crime at all was committed

Putting on a badge doesn’t grant any extra rights to the police and pointing it doesn’t make someone a cop hater for doing so. Some defenders of the cops are incapable of distinguishing between criticism and disrespect.

No cop who thinks his authority to kill makes him untouchable, unquestionable and above criticism deserves respect. In fact, they don’t even deserve to be a cop.

The protestors marching in the streets of New York didn’t kill the two officers. Ismaaily Brinsley did that but by latching on Eric Garner’s death as the excuse to commit double-homicide (and nearly triple as he first shot his ex-girlfriend), it provides an opening for anyone looking an opening to discredit the protestors and repudiate the criticism directed at the police to say, “Look what you made happen!”

Such shrill charges are bullshit. The protests aren’t happening in a vacuum. They are in reaction to grotesque acts of police brutality and a justice system which time and again declines to hold officers responsible for it.

In fact, I don’t consider the protests to be “anti-cop.” That’s generalizing. The protests are anti-BAD cop. Citizens unhappy with how they are being served and protected are well within their rights to air their grievances and demand bad cops be held accountable.

Any cop who doesn’t think they should be held accountable has an option: quit! There’s always work for security guards.

Related articles

 

…And Justice For All?

cop car on fire

These are my last words for the foreseeable future on the series of shooting by the police of Black men and it’s not because I don’t have more to say.   Actually it’s more that this is a topic that first fills me with blind, irrational anger, followed by nauseated disgust and finally fatalistic pessimism.    It’s unhealthy to allow any one subject become so pervasive it becomes all-encompassing, so I have to let this go and move on.

This is going to be long, but I hope it makes sense.

There’s a degree of certain cognitive dissonance associated with the killings of Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford II among the other recent examples of cop-vs-civilian citizens.

Only the most angry of anarchists could boldly state there is no need for the police. Time and again it has been demonstrated the police are the only organization between order and chaos. Whether it’s some thoughtless neighbors blasting their music too loud in the wee hours or an old woman who’s fallen down and can’t get up or a child doesn’t arrive home after school or some guy has just rear-ended your brand new Chevy, there needs to be the person who comes along and makes a crazy world sane again for a while.

Most of us were brought up to respect police as figures of authority worthy of respect equal to that of doctors, lawyers, clergy and politicians. They were the Good Guys protecting us all from the Bad Guys.

Of course, the reality is never that black and white and the cracks in the facade become even more acute when the reality is Black and White.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

I don’t know if Akai Gurley was a good man who didn’t deserve to die in a darkened staircase or a bad man who would have likely met with a bad end sooner or later. But what I do know is when something happens and keeps happening and it’s always reasoned away and waved off as merely “an accident” that isn’t an explanation as much as it is denial.

It didn’t surprise me when Darren Wilson walked. Mike Brown was viewed as a threat. It didn’t surprise me when Daniel Pantaleo walked. Eric Garner was a physically unhealthy man who refused to be taken into custody without resisting. It didn’t surprise me when the cops who blew away John Crawford II in a Wal-Mart walked because he had no business walking around with a realistic looking BB gun.

Neither did Tamir Rice so it won’t surprise me if Officer Timothy Loehmann walks despite being judged unfit for duty by a small town police force but apparently OK for the Cleveland cop shop.

That same dysfunctional Cleveland cop shop following a U.S. Justice Department investigation into acts of excessive force recently agreed to a consent decree which will doubtlessly lead to possibly hundreds of officers fired and forced into retirement. Getting bad cops off the street is a help to good cops, but you’ll rarely hear them say it out loud.

I have communicated with several ex-cops and those who aspired to be cops and they comment regularly on  a discussion board I patronize on several officer related shooting threads as well as high-profile non-police involved deaths such as the Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride cases. They offer insights and perspectives on police procedure, protocol and perspectives civilians are on the outside of peering in. They offer a valuable contribution in the ongoing process of building bridges and not walls between the police and the community.

However, when it comes to matters of police misconduct, corruption and brutality, their default setting seems to be to close ranks with their brethren in blue and fall back to the now familiar stance of “us vs them” and if you aren’t one of us, you must be one of them.

Frank Serpico was one of “us” until he broke the cop code of silence and testified about corruption in the NYPD. Hollywood made Serpico the flawed hero in a movie starring Al Pacino, but the NYPD still regards him as a snitch, a rat, and a villain.

Want to see a hero cop? Frank Serpico qualifies.

Serpico says police brutality now is as bad as police corruption was back in his day and for many of the same reasons: a permissive culture that looks the other way, closes ranks, protects bad cops and persecutes good cops trying to do their jobs the right way.

And today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.

Things might have improved in some areas. The days when I served and you could get away with anything, when cops were better at accounting than at law enforcement — keeping meticulous records of the people they were shaking down, stealing drugs and money from dealers on a regular basis — all that no longer exists as systematically as it once did, though it certainly does in some places. Times have changed. It’s harder to be a venal cop these days.

But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.
I tried to be an honest cop in a force full of bribe-takers. But as I found out the hard way, police departments are useless at investigating themselves—and that’s exactly the problem facing ordinary people across the country —including perhaps, Ferguson, Missouri, which has been a lightning rod for discontent even though the circumstances under which an African-American youth, Michael Brown, was shot remain unclear.

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)

It wasn’t any surprise to me that, after Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, officers instinctively lined up behind Darren Wilson, the cop who allegedly killed Brown. Officer Wilson may well have had cause to fire if Brown was attacking him, as some reports suggest, but it is also possible we will never know the full truth—whether, for example, it was really necessary for Wilson to shoot Brown at least six times, killing rather than just wounding him. As they always do, the police unions closed ranks also behind the officer in question. And the district attorney (who is often totally in bed with the police and needs their votes) and city power structure can almost always be counted on to stand behind the unions.

In some ways, matters have gotten even worse. The gulf between the police and the communities they serve has grown wider. Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

At 77, Frank Serpico is an old man and old men are susceptible to being scoffed at as behind the times and out of the loop. Even the film was made over four decades ago. Yet, Serpico says he loved being a cop. He just wishes he could have been allowed to be the honest cop he wanted to be and not the threat he became because he refused to be a dishonest one.

I honestly do not believe most cops are racist, but in all honesty, there are racists who are cops.  Their default setting is to side with the cops because they were cops that is no less understandable than mine is to side with a Brown, Garner, Gurley, Rice, Martin, Ferrell, Grant, Bell or Diallo because I look like them.

I’ve said before nobody needs the protection of the police more than the Black community. If Black people are disproportionately killed by the police, and more specifically, by White police officers that is in no small part due to the disproportionate numbers of Blacks committing crimes and incarcerated for those crimes. But that’s a much more complicated problem than finger-pointing idiots like Rudy Giuliani or Charles Barkley can resolve with their simplistic solutions.

Serpico doesn’t have all the answers to society’s ills either, but he does have some suggestions deserving of being included in any discussion of the bloody schism between cops and communities of color.

1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;
2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;
3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;
4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;
5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;
6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

If Number One of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in Cleveland, Timothy Loehmann might have remained a washed-out small-town cop and never moved on to become a big-city cop and Tamir Rice might still be alive instead of shot down in less than three seconds when Loehmann encountered him.

police-brutality

If Number Two of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York, Peter Liang might have been paired off with a more experienced veteran officer instead of another rookie like himself.

If Number Six of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, the grand jury decisions not to indict Pantaleno and Wilson might be less subject to suspicions of prosecutors manipulating the results.

There will never be a solution to the problem of police brutality and community hostility until all sides involved own up to their own vested interests, sacred cows and protected turf. Any meaningful progress means giving up, compromising, hammering out and forging a new deal between polarized enemies.

I don’t want to view the police as an occupying force. I need them to tell my noisy neighbors to turn that racket down as much as anyone else does. At the current state of things, I’m far less concerned about ISIS or Ebola taking me out than I am Officer Friendly doing me in because he didn’t like a gesture I made during a traffic stop.

Don’t tell me being a cop is a tough, thankless gig. Who doesn’t know that? Any cop who was expecting applause should have never cut their hair, formed a rock band and learned how to play Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Most cops never pull their guns to shoot anybody. When they do most times they’re justified and every time they have to kill someone they don’t have to be probed like a visit to the proctologist.

That doesn’t give cops a license to kill and a badge does not bestow extra rights the rest of us don’t get.

It is not playing the Race Card to wonder why there are so many encounters between unarmed Black men and armed White cops end up fatal for the Black men. If the shoe were on the other foot and White cops were being mowed down by Black assailants would there any puzzlement of what the hell is going on?

The agitation of a New Black Panthers plotting acts of murder and revenge against persons and property deserves condemnation by any responsible citizen, but so does Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association when he calls Pantaleo “a model police officer.”

The demagoguery has to end. The distrust has to end. The polarization and politicking has to end. I want to say it can end if all sides resolve to find a way to come together and force it to end. Yet while I try to be hopeful because it doesn’t make much sense to be anything else or you might as well not get up out of bed, I can’t say I’m optimistic.

Reconciliation is possible but not if our differences remain irreconcilable. We can wait for the next Akai Gurley or Eric Garner or Mike Brown or Tamir Rice to come along and do this now familiar dance over again; five steps back and no steps forward, but if police reform is impossible a  revolution against the police is inevitable.

The odds are excellent we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

oscar wilde

Ijeoma Oluo’s 25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops.

Sometimes it isn’t so much that I’m at a loss for words than it is the words of somebody else says it so much better.

Not everyone reads New York magazine, but then not many people read magazines at all anymore.  I’m one of the holdouts.   I still subscribe, buy and read magazines and probably will as long as they keep featuring excellent writing such as this.

Following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner the reaction of many Americans has run the gamut from shock, confusion, anger, apathy and resignation.   Ijeoma Oluo, a marketing manager, writer and mother of two boys added another emotion:  righteous rage.

Here are a series of Tweets published in New  York (along with links) by Ms. Oluo of the 25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops:

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo

Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddies and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her. Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you. I’m done for today. My heart can’t handle any more.

Ijeoma Oluo writings can be found as a contributor to xojane and her personal blog.

The System Didn’t Fail. It Was Supposed to Work This Way.

Great White Hunter.

“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world’s most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson and the return of violent unrest in Ferguson, I’ve read and heard a lot about how Blacks and Whites need to stay calm and have a rational discussion.

Okay. Let’s calmly talk rationally about the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer last Friday, why don’t we?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Cleveland police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving his moving patrol car while his partner stayed at the wheel, surveillance video shows.

The video showed Wednesday by police captures the Saturday afternoon shooting at a West Side recreation center in which 12-year-old Rice was shot.

The video contains no audio.

A rookie officer pulled the trigger, said Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.

Police were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. when someone called 9-1-1 to report a “guy with a gun pointing it at people.”

The caller told dispatchers twice that the gun was “probably fake,” but that detail was not relayed to the responding officers, Follmer said.

Over the past few days I’ve read so much amateur analysis, part-time forensic experts and ex-cop war stories and “woulda/shoulda/coulda” scenarios made up of skewing some facts and misinterpreting and excluding others of what happened and all the while with fawning deference for Support Your Local Police Officer no matter what because gee they do a tough damn job and they are they only thing that stands between the nice people and the jungle predators.

Frankly, it makes me want to vomit.

I see no point in holding a rational discussion with anyone who can rationalize the actions of a murderer. A rational discussion serves no purpose when the intent to shame and embarrass one member of a racial minority into apologizing for the actions of a few while assuaging the fears of the majority that “we’re all not like that.”

I have no interest in having a rational discussion with anyone more upset by broken windows and the looting of cheap stores and shoddy merchandise and are untroubled by a young man losing first his life and then his humanity.  They shrug it off with a blase “Well, I wasn’t there but he must have done something to deserve it.”

Something like boosting some smokes, jaywalking and maybe smarting off to a cop? Yeah, that’s some serious flaunting of the law there. Better pump 12 in him since he’s such a big target.

a System cannot fail

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”W.E.B. Du Bois

A rational discussion is a pointless waste of time when the same “rational discussions” have followed after the cops killed Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Patrick Dorismond, Darrien Hunt, Joseph Ferrell,

Now add Tamir Rice to the roll call of the dead. What happened to him wasn’t a shooting. It was an execution. The trail of Michael Brown’s blood has flowed all the way from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland Ohio.

Some say the problem is the BB gun Rice was carrying looked too realistic.   Okay,  I see how that come lead to complications but how about training rookie cops better so they don’t zoom up to a 12-year-old suspect and fucking immediately blow him out of his shoes? Would that work?  Shoot first, shoot last and keep shooting and asking no questions later is a prime example of piss-poor policing. You could paint the toy guns in all the colors of the rainbow and it still wouldn’t stop some of these trigger-happy cretins.

This is a problem situation which has to be resolved by addressing the issue of the realism of the toy and the overkill response of the cops. You have to start demilitarizing the warrior cop mindset when they zip around in their cars, never know anything about the people in the neighborhoods they patrol and start trying to change the adversarial relationship between cops and communities of color. Until both sides meet each other halfway nothing will ever change.

Changing the “I am a hammer and everything is a nail” philosophy of the warrior cop would help.  Community policing isn’t a new idea and has had both its unqualified successes and dismal failures, but an adversarial relationship between cops and the communities they patrol is poisonous. Nothing positive can come from cops calling civilians as “fucking animals” while the civvies serenade the cops with a chorus of “Fuck the Police.”

The cops have the bullets and the weaponry to fight the community, but the community has bullets and weaponry too. Neither side can win so where does that get us to but M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction)?

 

ferguson

White critics think violence and destruction are indefensible. They need to ask what brings people to react this way. Tweet by Steve Chapman

Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson police department and possibly with a million dollars raised from supporters for a trial he was never going to face.  Like George Zimmerman before him, Wilson has become the recipient of  charity from supporters who hate the idea just because you shoot and kill and unarmed teenager that’s no reason you should be punished for it.

A million dollars. Imagine that. Who would have thought one dead Black kid was worth that kind of money?  For Darren and George, despite being the ones with the guns its okay to take Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin’s lives a long as they claim were frightened for theirs.  Not only will you go free, you’ll get paid too!

Get rich or kill trying.

While rioting is terrible a riot is not the most terrible thing.   People never really understand something until it happens to them and sometimes not even then.

Peace will never be present where justice is absent.

It's settled down for the moment, but at any moment Ferguson could go up in flames again.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bill Cosby: American Dad…and Rapist?

“So you see, what happened was…”

Bill Cosby’s PR firm had an idea. They put out a request across the Internet to create memes about the 77-year old comedian, actor and philanthropist.

The Internet responded. Oh, did it ever.

On Monday, the comedian — or whomever was in charge of his social media — put out a challenge with a jovial picture of Cosby in a cap: “Go ahead. Meme me! #cosbymeme.”

The Internet immediately reacted, but probably not in the way Cosby expected.

“Claire, have you seen my … nevermind, found my raping hat!” tweeted Trill Withers over the cap picture.

“My two favorite things (–) Jell-O pudding & rape,” tweeted E.J. Coughlin over a photo of Cosby smiling.

“Look at this wacky shirt I’m wearing (–) also I am a serial rapist,” tweeted Jason Steele over a picture of a thumbs-up Cosby in a patterned shirt.

Now comes the social media fiasco.

For years, Cosby has denied the rape allegations. In February, after Newsweek ran an interview with one of the purported victims, Tamara Green, Cosby’s representative said, “This is a 10-year-old, discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.”

Nine years ago, when Green was interviewed by Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, his lawyer issued a statement: “Miss Green’s allegations are absolutely false. Mr. Cosby does not know the name Tamara Green or (maiden name) Tamara Lucier and the incident she describes did not happen. The fact that she may have repeated this story to others is not corroboration.”

In the case of Andrea Constand, who sued Cosby in 2005 over an incident the year before, Cosby says the sex was consensual.

At the time of Constand’s lawsuit, Cosby had been in the news for a sexual affair once before. In 1997, a woman named Autumn Jackson claimed to be Cosby’s love child. Cosby admitted to a relationship with Jackson’s mother but denied paternity. Jackson was later convicted of extortion.

Cosby has been accused by 13 women of rape. Vulture published a timeline of incidents since 2002. The story took on new life when comedian Hannibal Buress called out The Cos during a performance.

At Mic.com, Maureen Shaw wondered, “Why do celebrities seem to get away with sexual assault? Cosby isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, mainstream celebrity to be accused of sexual abuse. This past February, Dylan Farrow accused Woody Allen of sexually assaulting her. Then there’s CeeLo Green, Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, R. Kelly — the list goes on and on. And yet, these men’s careers rebounded and their accomplishments somehow overshadowed any wrongdoings.

As one of Cosby’s victims, Barbara Bowman, explains, “The media creates this idealized image of celebrities: that they are untouchable, that they’re not one of us. … I don’t think people want to believe it; to believe would shatter the illusion.” Specifically in the case of Cosby, Gawker nailed it: “Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator.”

Correction:  Accused sexual predator.   The predomination of accusations does not equate to a preponderance of evidence.

Bill’s got less friends now than when he wore that shirt.

Reading the CNN and Vulture articles is unsettling to say the least and deeply troubling even for someone like myself who has a great deal of respect for Cosby. It’s difficult to shrug off the multiple incidents as ambitious gold diggers scheming for a payday. There may not yet be a fire burning, but Cosby’s good name and reputation has certainly suffered serious smoke damage.

If it is unfair to brand the women whom have accused Bill Cosby of rape as being schemers or liars, it is equally unfair to convict Bill Cosby as a rapist without further proof–any proof.

It’s important to note that for all the troubling allegations and damning information that has gone from a slow drip to a raging torrent, Cosby has never been indicted, arrested, prosecuted, convicted or sentenced for rape. He’s been accused and the accusations were enough for him to settle the cases for money in exchange for silence. Silence is golden and buying silence has allowed Cosby to keep his golden halo from being tarnished as a sexual predator.

I am not objective about Cosby. I’ve laughed at his stand-up, watched his television shows and films and generally agreed with his sometimes harsh critiques of Black Americans. I won’t call him a role model or a hero but I will call him a man I respect.

I’m not yet convinced of Cosby’s guilt merely because The Internet and a hostile lynch mob of bloggers have found him guilty. The Internet rushes to judgment and get things wrong often.  It might be wrong again.

If it is proven Bill Cosby has put his pudding pop in somebody’s Jell-O against their will I will never respect him again.

But I won’t be happy about it.

Plausible is not the same thing as proven and preponderance is not the same thing as evidence.   Being found guilty in the court of public opinion in not the same thing as being found guilty in a court of law and thank goodness for that.    When death comes by a thousand cuts of ugly innuendo and unproven allegations, that’s not justice, that’s wrong.

Maybe Cosby doesn’t deserve to be considered innocent until proven guilty any more than any other suspected sexual predator, but he doesn’t deserve it any less.

 

Mugging and acting cute isn’t going to make this go away, Bill.

 

The Republicans Are Really Proud of Their New Special Black Friends.

If you close your eyes, you'd never know they were Black.

“Sure, we’re Black, but we’re not angry Blacks like Obama.”

 

Geraldo Rivera, hack “journalist” and one of the world’s most useless human beings took to Twitter to unleash his righteous rage upon the NAACP for not joining in on the celebration after the elections of Tim Scott in South Carolina to the Senate and in Utah, Mia Love became the first Black Republican woman elected to the House. Rivera sniped on Twitter, “The NAACP refuses to embrace the success of Republicans Senator Tim Scott and Rep elect Mia Love because though black they are not victims.”

This is obviously a REALLY BIG DEAL for the G.O.P. as they can’t stop talking about how superbad it is that they have finally voted for a Black man to the Senate and a Black woman to the House.  Democrats are a little less hyped because they have done this for decades.

It’s less impressive when you consider Scott won with 88 percent of the White vote, but only 10 percent of the Black vote. White South Carolina voters believe and trust Scott will represent their interests while Black South Carolina voters disbelieve and distrust Scott will represent theirs. We don’t have a similar breakdown for Love, but in Utah? Take a wild guess.

If there’s a reason I should take any special pride in Scott and Love’s personal triumphs nobody has explained what it is.  Aren’t Republicans supposed to be the party that says race is no big thing?   Well, let’s be gracious in defeat and extend congratulations to the GOP’s token Black friends and particularly Love who becomes the first Black Republican woman elected only 45 years after Shirley Chisholm did the same thing for the Democrats.

I’m long past getting hyped over putting Black faces in formerly White places. Once elected what a Black politician does next matters more than being the first. The ascendancy of Black conservatives in South Carolina and Utah may be a cause for celebration in conservative circles but it’s no big deal for Black Americans whom are not conservatives.

Love had her high-profile moment at the 2012 Republican National Convention but it didn’t spark an exodus from the Democratic Party by African-Americans and remarks like these won’t either.

She told the Desert News in 2012 that if elected, she would join the Congressional Black Caucus and “try to take that thing apart from the inside out.” She accused black Democrats of “demagoguery,” saying, “They sit there and ignite emotions and ignite racism when there isn’t [any]. They use their positions to instill fear. Hope and change is turned into fear and blame.”

Racism is only a problem today, she told Newsweek, as long as people allow themselves to be victims. “I’m no victim. I’m perfectly comfortable in my skin. My parents always told me, In order for people to see you as an equal, you need to act as an equal and be an equal, not make excuses for what you look like. I’m proud of having the skin color I have. It’s a feature I’m not ashamed of.”

“I’m a much bigger asshole than you are!”

Going by The World According to Mia the only reason a Michael Brown or Eric Gardner or Trayvon Martin became victims isn’t because they were Black but because they allowed themselves to be victims. If only they had realized that before they were killed they might still be alive!

I’m sure Love will be a credit to the race she doesn’t believe matters and to all the Republicans who will trot her out, squeeze in tight, cheese for camera, point to her as the only Black Congressional representative and squeal with glee, “See! We got one! Look at how diverse we are”

Forget Love’s race. Forget her gender. Close your eyes and listen to her words and she sounds the same as Allen West, Tim Scott, Gary Franks and J.C. Watts did when it was their turn to be the Black Special Friend of the White Republican Party.

I really don’t know enough about Love yet to decide one way or another. What I do know doesn’t give me any cause to believe she gives a shit about issues of importance to me or will be any different from every other Black Republican before her.

My heroes have always been more like Martin and Malcolm, and not Clarence and Condoleezza. I don’t have a problem with Black conservatives whom have a functional spine and speak their mind and not simply parrot the party line. I have a huge problem when they bring nothing new to the table and are only about their personal advancement.

A true Black hero has a love for Black people and I don’t get that vibe from these two.  I won’t say Love is an Aunt Jemima, but it’s clear she’s no Angela Davis.

Mitt meets all the Black people who voted for him in 2012.

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The Last Democrat Standing

Down? Yep. Out? Nope.

 

Hey, Democrats! Let this be a lesson to you. If you run like a coward don’t cry when you get shot in the back. Run away from Barack Obama. Refuse to say whether you even voted for him like Alison Lundgren Grimes before Mitch McConnell turned her into so much yard waste. Deny, dodge, and fake it all the way to Election Day, but it won’t save an extraordinary putrid crop of nominal Democratic candidates from humiliation. The waxing the Democrats received from the Republicans was the voters saying, “We see through your act.”

Grimes lost to McConnell which is fine by me.  Better a committed enemy like McConnell in your face than a sometime ally like Grimes quivering behind your back.

It’s hard to see it now crawling from the wreckage, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing for the Dems. This should be a teachable moment. Whatever your strategy was, whatever the consultants and the pollsters and the experts told you would work but clearly didn’t, whatever delusion you labored under telling a dude who won two presidential elections to stay the hell away from you because he’s suddenly a loser, it’s over now.

Say what you want about the Republicans. Say they hate science and reason and logic and plain ol’ common sense. Say what they’re for anyone with an I.Q. higher than a cold glass of water should be able to see is nothing but rank bullshit designed with only helping the wealthy and corporations. Say they deep french kiss extremists, racists, homophobes, rape advocates, environmental terrorists, war monger, dictators, arms merchants, tax cheats, vigilantes, xenophobes, gun nuts, and religious fanatics.

Say whatever you want but don’t say the Republicans don’t stand for something even if that something is horrible.

I hate your guts and you hate mine but we both hate Obama.

Mr. Cruz and Mr. McCain don’t like each other, but both despise Obama.

 

What do the Democrats believe in? Besides believing they just got their asses kicked?   Act like swine and you get butchered with the hogs.

At some point after another of these Democratic debacles, liberals and progressives (no, they are not the same) are going to wise up to what conservatives already know: political parties are a vehicle and it’s not the masses but the ideologues who offer the direction it goes in. If you want some real Left-wing politicians whom really believe in liberal politics, then you’re going to have to fight your way in, kick the party bosses and detached from reality dinosaurs out and stop being afraid of calling yourself an upper-case “L” for “Liberal” because its going to piss off talk radio and Fox News.

As long as your enemy defines you and you don’t define yourself, you’re playing their game and its a game that can’t be won. They hold all the cards and all the Democrats are doing is gasping for air like a beached whale.

Ma Pelosi and Pa Reid have got to go!

 

Now the Republicans are the dominant force in American politics, I’d like to take this opportunity to both extend both a “congratulations” as well as “welcome back.” Welcome back to the role of participating in the political process, a role the GOP abdicated on January 20, 2009 when Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

The Republicans opted out of their historic role as the opposition party and instead opted in for aggressive open hostility toward the newly elected president as they denied him both respect and cooperation as they ignored Obama’s initiatives, blocked his nominees, sniped, sneered and took every cheap shot they could at every turn.

The lesson for the Republicans is to hide how far to the Right you really are. Talk about how much you love your family while soft music plays real pretty in the background and how you’re committed to building strong communities, safe schools, being a watchdog for the middle class and their money while hiding you’re a sock puppet for money and power and just how deeply up your ass the hand of the Koch Brothers goes. And it works! Being bastards pays off.
But that’s politics. Don’t play if you can’t stand losing. The GOP has had six years of sitting on the sidelines, but that doesn’t mean they’ve done nothing. They laid back in the cut hatching schemes and making plans. There’s a reason the stock market soared today. For Big Business happy days are here again, Whatever nominal resistance Obama and the Democrats offered to their plans has been brushed aside.

The Republicans have a window of opportunity and it will only be open for a short time before the 2016 presidential elections. With a solid grip on the House (because gerrymandering works too!) and the Democrats in the Senate reduced to trying the same foot-dragging cockblocking tactics Mitch McConnell and company pulled off so successfully, they are going to ram so much legislation thru and on President Obama’s desk he’s going to be swamped under a series of bad bills he won’t possibly be able to veto them all.

Oh, for sure, Obama’s going to need a shitload of Bics to put his “HELL TO THE NAW!” on the trash McConnell and John “Agent Orange” Boehner are going to send up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but he’s got no allies, no good will build up and no help coming.

McConnell meeting with President Barack Obama.

“Nothing personal Mr. President, but I’m going to make your life hell for the next two years.”

Obama is The Last Democrat Standing. He’s marginalized, surrounded by enemies and all empty on friends. Now might be a good time to start working on his post-presidency memoirs and he might want to skip the State of the Union address for the next two years. It’s not as though he’s gonna get anything done.

Still, there’s no reason for Obama to act as though the GOP has a national mandate.   As the president pointed out  in his post-election press conference only two-thirds of voters bothered going to the polls.   Obama’s refusal to bow down to the Republicans was pounced upon by the pundits as proof that the president still wasn’t getting how discontented the American people are with him.   Despite the overwhelming losses, the side effect of Republicans taking control of Congress may free Obama to be more bold and less passive as his presidency winds down.

Going forward, the Democratic brain trust (is there such a thing?) will try to shake off the shellacking they took and try in 2016 to rally around a presidential candidate not named Obama. Good luck with that. While Hillary Clinton is the preemptive front-runner because neither Elizabeth Warren (too green) or Joe Biden (too goofy) can win, the evil mind of Karl Rove and other Republican mad geniuses are already preparing traps for her even Jigsaw from the Saw movies couldn’t dream up.

I want the Republicans to do well.  Not because they’re going to do anything for me, but if  they enjoy some success, maybe that would frighten the Democrats to rebuilds, reinvents, reinvigorate and revitalizes itself  and finds a way to winning  in non -presidential years

One more thing: Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi should both be voted out of their leadership roles by their shriveled caucuses and immediately resign from Congress They’re old, obsolete and in the way.   For the Dems to move into the future they need to shake off the dead hand of the past.

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